A COURT trial date has been agreed in a case of an alleged racially-motivated assault on a disabled man waiting for a bus.

John Keller was arrested in the wake of the unprovoked attack on the victim, who is said to be of mixed race, while also having physical and learning difficulties.

It is said to have taken place while he was sitting at a bus stand near to the Asda supermarket, in Bishop Auckland, on the evening of Tuesday July 7.

Thirty-seven-year-old Keller denied an allegation of racially aggravated assault by beating when he appeared before magistrates at Newton Aycliffe on Saturday July 18.

The magistrates declined jurisdiction and sent the case to Durham Crown Court, where a review of charges was recommended by the resident judge.

As a result the Crown amended the charge to one of a racially-aggravated assault causing actual bodily harm.

Keller, who is remanded in custody at Holme House Prison, near Stockton, appeared via video link at a short preliminary hearing in the case yesterday (Friday July 31).

The court heard he is to deny the new charge on the basis he was not responsible for the attack.

He will appear again via video link at a plea hearing at the court on October 9 and a two-day trial was provisionally agreed for an as yet unspecified day in the week of December 14.

Keller, of High Street, Eldon Lane, near Bishop Auckland, was remanded to remain in custody.