A CHILD rapist who went on the run more than three-and-a-half years ago has been jailed for 18 years - in his absence.

Abdelouaheb Delhoum was due to appear for sentence after a jury found him guilty of repeatedly sexually abusing a vulnerable young boy. But despite turning up at Swindon Crown Court for the hearing on the afternoon of June 13, 2014, the 49-year-old left the building before his case was called.

A warrant without bail was issued for his arrest and police went to the address in Oxford where he said he was living and found he had gone. Despite having his passport confiscated when he was granted bail earlier in the proceedings, it is thought he has returned to his homeland of Algeria.

Now Judge Tim Mousley QC, who presided over the trial, had the case brought back before him so he could pass sentence in his absence. That means that Delhoum is tracked down in this country or tries to come back to the UK he will go straight to prison to start serving the 18 years.

Delhoum was living in Laburnum Road, Pinehurst, when he repeatedly abused the boy between February 2009 and February 2012.

He pleaded not guilty to rape of a child under 13, two counts of sexual assault of a male under 13 and three of causing or inciting a child under 13 to take part in sexual activity.

Following a week long trial in April and May 2014, he was convicted of all six offences by a jury.

Hannah Squire, prosecuting, said the abuse started when the victim was 10 years old. As a result of the abuse, she said the victim, who is now an adult, had struggled to tell anyone in authority about what was happening.

The court heard that as Delhoum’s solicitors had not had any contact with them since he absconded they would not attend court to represent him.

Addressing an empty dock, the judge said “On May 1, 2014, the defendant Abdelouaheb Delhoum was convicted by a jury of all six counts on the indictment.

“The defendant absconded before his sentence. I will sentence him in his absence.

“It is quite plain that the victim was someone who was particularly vulnerable at the time he was abused by the defendant. There was a degree of grooming.

“The defendant has no previous convictions. Bearing in mind the nature of these offences and the period of time in which he was abusing the victim, that only provides him with a limited amount of discount by way of mitigation.”

After imposing the sentence he added “If he comes back to the country he ought to be reminded that he has to sign the sex offenders’ register.”