An animal-collector found to have a four-foot-long crocodile in his home by police was on the run today after failing to turn up for trial at court.

Magistrates issued an arrest warrant for Lee Thompson, 36, who had been banned from keeping animals when found with the caiman reptile and other dangerous creatures.

Thompson from Laindon, Essex, had faced six charges including two counts of 'keeping dangerous wildlife without a licence' and two of causing suffering to protected animals.

However he failed to turn up at Basildon magistrates court today.

He has been found guilty in his absence.

Detective Constable Richard Walker told the court how Thompson had disappeared prior to the hearing.

He said: "Mr Thompson was due to stand trial today but this morning his parents received a text from him to say that he could not go through with the trial.

"He said that he was not going to be coming to court.

"He left his home this morning and and took his door key with him and has not been contactable since."

At an earlier hearing at Basildon Magistrates Court on May 4, Thompson denied being the owner of the animals.

Thompson had been wanted by police since November 2015, when police raided a Basildon address and found the hoard of animals.

At the time, police found a collection of animals including, 35 snakes, seven spiders, a bullfrog and a turtle.

Nine snakes and all the spiders died and the bullfrog and turtle had to be euthanised due to their poor condition.

The dangerous snakes included two horned vipers, two uracoan rattlesnakes, two western diamond rattlesnakes and an indochines spitting cobra.

The remaining snakes were not considered dangerous.

Thompson successfully evaded arrest until January 24 this year, where he disclosed to police a new home address in Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex.

Police then searched the second address and found another hoard of animals.

DC Walker added: "When police arrested Thompson, he was co-operative and disclosed a new address belonging to him.

"When officers went to the property they were extremely shocked to find a crocodile in his room.

"There was an overpowering smell of faeces and we immediately alerted the RSPCA."

The RSPCA immediately went to inspect the property and rescued the animals.

As well as the crocodile, RSPCA officers found 23 snakes, 10 of which were considered dangerous.

The RSPCA Inspector Rebecca Benson, said: "Before we even entered the room we could smell a strong scent of faeces and rotting flesh.

"Inside the bedroom, we found the crocodile contained only in tarpaulin and flimsy wooden boards.

"The crocodile had no clean water and its heat lamp was unsecured and the animal could have easily knocked the lamp.

"None of the snakes had access to food or clean water and were being kept in plastic boxes with holes in them.

"The boxes were just piled on top of each other.

"Some of the snakes were alert but several had died and their boxes were infested with maggots."

The dangerous snakes included two albino monocled cobras, four spitting cobras, two copperhead snakes, a rattlesnake.

Inspectors also found a live fat tail scorpion in one oft he boxes.

RSPCA rescued the live snakes and the crocodile.

Thompson had been disqualified from owning dangerous animals at the same court in June 2009.

He was released on unconditional bail.

District Judge John Woollard has issued a warrant of arrest for Thompson.