AN alleged burglar has refused to leave HMP Hewell, between Redditch and Bromsgrove, to appear in court unless he is transported in a minibus rather than a custody van.

Jason Macleod, aged 36, is said to suffer from 'an exaggerated form of claustrophobia' and cannot stand the thought of being locked in a tiny cell in one of the usual prison transport vans.

He refused to get on a van at HMP Hewell on Wednesday, August 20, and again, two days later, when his case was re-listed before Gloucester crown court.

It had been planned that a specialist minibus style vehicle would be sent to collect him on the rescheduled date but one was not available and an ordinary van arrived.

One court insider said "He said he would not come to court because of the claustrophobia but also because he wouldn't get a good lunch here. He wanted to stay in his cell and have a prison lunch as usual."

Because of Macleod's repeated refused to travel in prison transport arrangements will now be made for him to face the court via video link from the prison for future appearances.

Macleod, of Clyde Road, Brockworth, and co-defendant Jason Sparrow, also 36, of Warley Road, Blackpool, are charged with conspiring to burgle in Gloucestershire in January and February this year.

Sparrow, who is on bail, did attend the hearing on Friday and wanted to enter his plea to the charge but was told by Recorder Nicholas Atkinson that would not be right in Macleod's absence.

The Recorder granted bail pending the next hearing but said he would not have to attend and he could enter his plea just before the trial is about to start.

At the last hearing on Wednesday, Macleod's solicitor Matthew Harbinson told the court: "He suffers from some form of post traumatic stress disorder or syndrome and has an exaggerated form of claustrophobia.

"When he was being accompanied from his cell today he asked about the nature of the transport and said 'I'm not going to be transported in that'."