A PRISONER refused to participate in the hearing of a case as a Worcester News court reporter was in court.

Paul Sheward appeared from HMP Hewell via videolink to Worcester Magistrates Court on Thursday.

The 31-year-old was facing five charges of stealing from shops in Droitwich and Worcester, including B&M Bargains, Aldi and Co-op, as well as a sixth charge for the attempted theft of alcohol from Morrisons.

The string of thefts were alleged to have taken place between July 15 and 21.

But at the start of the hearing, when he was asked to confirm his name and address, instead Sheward answered by asking twice whether a court reporter was present.

When a court clerk confirmed there was a reporter in the court room, Sheward, formerly of Kidderminster, said: "I am not prepared to go any further", and walked out the prison room.

Sam Lamsdale, defending Sheward, told magistrates that she had explained to him before the hearing that a reporter would be in court.

Miss Lamsdale added Sheward was refusing to be part of the hearing as the press had previously covered his offending, which included convictions for robbery, battery, and assaults.

Magistrates were told by the court clerk that the hearing was likely to be rearranged to a time Sheward could be brought to appear in person at the magistrates court.