POLICE have appealed for calm after a man appeared in court charged with a bottle attack that left a nine-year-old girl with horrific facial injuries.

Matthew McCrea is accused of throwing a beer bottle which smashed the window of a passing Fiat Punto, showering schoolgirl Abbie Keers with broken glass.

The Northern Echo: Abbie Keers following the attack

Abbie, of Stanley, County Durham, suffered cuts to her nose and above her eye and needed plastic surgery following the incident on the A693 in Stanley at about 10.30pm on Friday, February 14.

Mr McCrea, 24, of Tyne Vale, Stanley, appeared at Consett Magistrates' Court today (Tuesday, May 6), charged with assault causing actual bodily harm. He did not enter a plea.

Magistrates declined jurisdiction and adjourned the case to Durham Crown Court on Tuesday, May 20. Mr McCrea, who has no previous convictions, was granted unconditional bail.

Afterwards, Sergeant Dave Clarke of Durham Police said Mr McCrea had been the subject of threats and appealed for calm.

"We would ask the public to leave it to the police and justice system to see that justice is done.

"It's important to listen to the family, who have asked that people let justice take its course. If people take matters into their own hands, it could harm that process.

"Emotions do run high when a young girl has been badly hurt but we need to put our efforts into making sure this doesn't happen again, by making sure people know how anti-social it is to throw things at cars."

Magistrates initially imposed reporting restrictions which would have prevented Abbie being identified in any future media reports.

However, following an appeal by The Northern Echo, they agreed to lift the order.

Abbie's grandmother Sandra Webb, who was driving her to Shotley Bridge Hospital when she was hurt, was in court for today's hearing and afterwards thanked The Northern Echo for overturning the ban.