THE Ministry of Justice has issued an apology for the "inconvenience" caused after the trial of a man accused of dropping a dead rat outside a cafe will have to be held again.

On Monday, January 14 the second day of the trial of Peter McKenny, 54, of Rainford Road, Windle, who is charged with leaving the rodent close to the kitchen door of Toast cafe in Dentons Green on May 2 last year was held.

However, a magistrate ordered that a new trial will have to take place because he knew one of the witnesses.

The trial at Merseyside Magistrates' Court had lasted for around four hours having started on Friday, January 4 and then continued on Monday.

On the first day of the trial, six witnesses were called by the prosecution, including Toast owner Lisa Whittle, who had either viewed CCTV footage, or a recording of the incident posted on Facebook, who said they were in “no doubt” McKenny is the man depicted due to his clothing and "distinctive" manner of walking.

On Monday, the prosecution concluded its case and the court then heard McKenny give evidence in his defence, followed by McKenny's brother, Anthony, who claimed footage of a man tipping a rat out of a bag outside the cafe was "definitely not" his brother.

The two magistrates retired to consider their verdict and returned a short while later to order that a new trial will have to take place.

One of the magistrates told the court: "I am not prepared to give a verdict on this, I know the witness.

"As a result, there will have to be another trial."

He added: "We are not presented with a list of witnesses. I live in the local area and know certain people, it wouldn't be right."

A new trial has been scheduled for a full day at Sefton Magistrates' Court in Bootle on Friday, April 5.

Some Star readers branded the situation a "farce" and questioned what the costs are due to the case taking up so much court time.

When the Star contacted the Ministry of Justice, a spokesman for HM Courts and Tribunals Service apologised for the "inconvenience" caused, stressing that circumstances like this are "very rare".

He said: “Events like this are incredibly rare as we take steps to ensure those presiding over cases have no links to those involved. However, in this case a witness set to give evidence was known to the magistrate by a different name.

"We apologise for the inconvenience that this has caused.”