An appeal against conviction had to be adjourned – after a key witness reported developing coronavirus symptoms.

Peter Lavery, 72, from Minety, was found guilty at the magistrates’ court last October of damaging a van in Malmesbury in June 2019.

Swindon Crown Court had been due to hear an appeal against that conviction on Monday morning.

Chloe Griggs, appearing for the Crown Prosecution Service, said the complainant had got in touch the witness service at the end of last week warning lawyers he was starting to show coronavirus symptoms. Over the weekend those symptoms worsened and he had got back in touch saying he was getting a Covid-19 test.

She applied for the hearing to be adjourned. The application was objected to by Stefan Bisson, for the defence, who pointed out there was no police officer present for the hearing either. Ms Griggs said the officer in the case and a stand-in were both on annual leave.

Judge Jason Taylor QC, sitting alongside two magistrates, adjourned the hearing for the complainant’s test results to come through.

He apologised to Lavery for the delay, telling him: “I am sorry you are going to be understandably disappointed your case cannot proceed.”