THE man accused of murdering Frank Betteridge is due to go on trial early next year.

Anthony Hart was also accused of fraud, using someone else's bank card and withdrawing £250 one day later but that charge has since been dropped.

The 38-year-old, of Hartington Road, central Stockton, has not yet entered pleas to the charges.

Judge Paul Watson QC remanded the defendant in custody following the short hearing at Teesside Crown Court.

The 62-year-old, from South Bank, died following a reported incident at his home in Stephens Street in South Bank, Middlesbrough, on Friday, December 27.

The Northern Echo: Floral tributes outside the home of Francis BetteridgeFloral tributes outside the home of Francis Betteridge

Emergency services were called to the bungalow in Stephens Street at 7.55pm to reports of a fire.

Cleveland Fire Brigade confirmed a small fire was discovered in the house and a man was found dead.

Hart’s trial date has been set for seven days on February 3.