An associate of rapper Jay-Z who allegedly pepper-sprayed singer R Kelly is a fugitive from justice, after missing a December (04) court date on the misdemeanour charges.

TYRAN 'TY TY' SMITH reportedly maced Kelly at New York City's Madison Square Garden in October (04), an attack that Kelly claims in a $75 million (GBP39.4 million) lawsuit was instigated by Jay-Z to force him off their joint tour.

Smith, who works for Jay-Z at Def Jam records, was due to be arraigned in December on criminal charges but is instead nowhere to be found, according to website PAGESIX.

Kelly's lawyer, ED HAYES, says, "To go on the run from a misdemeanour assault seems like he's trying to avoid being a witness in the civil case."

When Kelly left the stage after the Madison Square Garden attack, SEAN 'P DIDDY' COMBS, Mary J Blige, Usher, Ja Rule and Foxy Brown performed in his place.

Last month (FEB05), Jay-Z countersued, charging that the tour was a "nightmarish odyssey fuelled by R Kelly's financial woes, insecurities, unsafe and unpredictable behaviour". Kelly's suit was termed a "calculated stunt by R Kelly to deflect attention from his upcoming felony trial involving an alleged sexual liaison with a 14-year-old child".

18/03/2005 19:34