By Court Reporter 11/07 Updated: 11/07 10:21
AN APPEAL will be made on Crimewatch later this month to help trace a man still on the run 12 months after being convicted in his absence of possessing a sawn-off shotgun.
Stephen Blake faces eight years behind bars when he is eventually caught after skipping out on his trial just before it was due to begin.
The 28-year-old, whose last known address was his mother's home in Heronfield Close, was so confident there would be no forensic evidence to link him to the sawn-off shotgun found under a ferret hutch at his home in Crompton Avenue, Bidford he insisted DNA tests should be carried out.
But when Blake, who had also denied an offence of harassment, turned up for a pre-trial hearing he learned his attempt to mask his DNA by getting another man to fire the gun had failed - and he fled from court and went on the run.
He was convicted and sentenced in his absence. The case was listed again so Judge Robert Orme could get an update and at a recent hearing he said he found it 'very odd' Blake had yet to be found.
"He’s a local man, and the police were confident he would be found - but here we are a year later - and nothing. He has been remarkably successful at keeping a low profile."
DC Carl Buckley said it was believed Blake is with his partner Kelly Smith, with whom he has two children, who also disappeared just after the conclusion of the trial and has not been seen since then.
And he added the hunt for Blake has been featured on Crimewatch Road Show, which is broadcast on weekday mornings – but is now due to feature on the main prime-time Crimewatch programme a week on Thursday (July 19).
During the trial the court heard how Blake had threatened to go round to the home of another couple - Ben Simmonds and Jade Pheasey - and shoot Mr Simmonds.
As threats became more and more intimidating, they included one referring to him having ‘a tool in a bag.’
And when the police went to his address found the illegal weapon wrapped in a tarpaulin under Blake’s ferret hutch and some cartridges for it in a Tesco bag.
Blake claimed he knew nothing about the gun and that it must have been planted there by Ben Simmonds.
Previously he had asked Mr Simmonds to go round and test the gun - and he mistakenly believed Mr Simmonds’ DNA would therefore mask his own on the weapon, said Mr Drew.
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