A major trial was brought to a halt because the Old Malden defendant’s clothes had not been washed by the prison service, a court heard, writes Emily Ford.

Billy Midmore failed to appear for his trial at Southampton Crown Court yesterday because he had been wearing the same clothes for seven days and wanted a clean outfit.

Now it is revealed it’s a failure which could cost the public purse up to £10,000 in court costs according to legal experts.

Midmore, 22, is currently on trial after Carla Whitlock was left with virtually no eye sight in September last year when she had a highly concentrated form of drain cleaner sprayed in her face outside Turtle Bay in Southampton.

But on the second day of the trial he failed to attend court and the Judge said it was not his fault.

Judge Ralls QC told the court he could only “hold his hands up in horror” after discovering that prison officers in Winchester had not washed Midmore’s clothes, which he had brought from home and been wearing for seven consecutive days.

The dirty clothes meant that Midmore failed to attend court and Judge Ralls was forced to cancel proceedings yesterday.

Judge Ralls was told by prison staff that Midmore had asked for his clothes to be washed after returning from court on Wednesday, but because the correct member of staff was not available they had not been cleaned.

Defending Midmore, solicitor Mark Ruffell told the court that he had no doubt Midmore wanted to be in court but said wearing the same clothes for that length of time was “disgusting.”

He told the court that Midmore had asked prison officers to make sure his clothes where clean but had said he would be willing to appear in court wearing the prison outfit of a grey tracksuit or would wear his second outfit which he had brought into prison with him instead if this was not possible.

According to Mr Raffell this did not happen and Midmore had not got on the bus to come to court yesterday.

Judge Ralls said that he had contacted the duty governor about the issue who seemed “embarrassed” by the problems, and added that he would be writing a letter to the prison expressing his concerns.

He told the court: “I do not understand why there were not enough members of staff available. I understand normal procedure if an inmate is wearing their own clothes is for them to wear a grey tracksuit while their clothes are not being washed but this has not happened.”

The judge decided that because of timing constraints it would not be possible to proceed with the trial and jurors were told to leave court.

It is believed that one day in court can cost the public purse up to £10,000 and a spokesperson from the Crown Prosecution Service said that their services for one day at Crown Court can be around £2,500.

The latest figures from 2013 by the HM Courts & Tribunals Service suggest that court running costs for one day are on average £1,548 and staff costs are up to £1,600.

The trial, which is expected to continue today, was opened this week and it is claimed that the acid attack was jointly carried out by two brothers who blamed Ms Whitlock for a drug deal which went wrong.

Opening the case against Billy Midmore, prosecutor Kerry Maylin told the jury at Southampton Crown Court how he and his brother Geoffrey Midmore were both responsible for attacking Carla Whitlock by throwing the highly concentrated form of acid into her face.

Billy Midmore, of no fixed abode, denies one count of causing GBH with intent.

A spokeswoman from the Ministry of Justice said: “As criminal proceedings are ongoing we will not be making any comment.”

The trial continues today.