POLICE are continuing to search for an asylum seeker who did not turn up to court and was convicted of assault and theft in his absence.

Ahmed Haffa, aged 24, a resident of the barge at Portland Port, was due to appear before Poole Magistrates' Court on Thursday, February 29, to stand trial.

Haffa did not attend and a warrant was issued for his arrest following his conviction for assault by beating, common assault and theft from a shop.

The court heard Haffa stole a jacket valued at £59.99 from TK Maxx on New Bond Street and then assaulted a BID Ranger and an off-duty security guard who had chased him around the town centre.

The court heard Haffa bit a BID Ranger in the finger, drawing blood and punched an off-duty security guard in the ribs whilst being retrained.

Judge Austin said: "The defendant failed to attend today, he was notified of the date and time and had sufficient time to get here.

"The trial has continued in his absence as there is no good reason for his non-attendance.

"I am sure he did steal the jacket in question and I am satisfied that both men were assaulted."

A spokesperson for Dorset Police said on Monday: "On Thursday 29 February 2024 a warrant was issued by Poole Magistrates’ Court in relation to a defendant, aged 24 and of Portland, who had failed to attend court in relation to allegations of theft and assault and was subsequently convicted in his absence.

"The charges related to incidents in Weymouth town centre on Wednesday 13 December 2023.

"Officers are currently carrying out enquiries to locate the defendant."

The Home Office was approached for confirmation of Haffa’s status as an asylum seeker and how his conviction will affect his claim to remain in the country and on the barge.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “It would be inappropriate to comment on an ongoing police investigation.”

Haffa was found guilty on all three charges and a warrant for arrest has been issued without bail until he can appear before the court to be sentenced.