A judge has refused to lift a 23-year-old arrest warrant for a Herefordshire man until he is given more information about why the Crown Prosecution Service want to drop the historic case.

Magistrates in Coleford issued the warrant for Andrew Hunt of Cobhall Common, Allensmore, Herefordshire, in 2001 but he has never been found and his case remains outstanding.

At Gloucester Crown Court last Wednesday (January 24) Judge Ruoert Lowe was told that the CPS have applied for the warrant to be discontinued and for no further action to be taken.

But there was no prosecution lawyer in court to provide the judge with any further detail about the case or explain why the arrest warrant has never been executed.

Judge Lowe said he was not prepared to lift the warrant until he had been given more details and assured that there was a good reason for the outstanding charge against Mr Hunt, who would now be aged 55, to be dropped.

No details of Mr Hunt's alleged offence  – said to have been committed in the year 2000 –  were given in court yesterday.

The warrant was issued at Forest of Dean magistrates Court in Coleford, which was closed down in April 2011.

Judge Lowe said: “I have little information about this case and no legal representative to help me progress this application. 

“I understand that the Crown has failed to track down Mr Hunt in over two decades.

“I am not prepared to lift the warrant without more information. I don’t want to reward the alleged offender for staying out of the way and not getting into trouble with the police in the meantime.

“I need to hear from the Crown about this situation and why they have chosen now to withdraw the warrant. 

“There is nobody from the CPS or any lawyer connected with this case to help progress it.”