A FORMER Hells Angel has appeared in court accused of stabbing himself in the chest to frame his neighbour for attempted murder.

David Constantine was arrested by police after discharging himself from Newcastle's Freeman Hospital, where surgeons removed the blade from his chest.

Police found him sitting in a chair at his home in Lanchester, County Durham, with the knife sticking out of his body, on New Year's Eve.

Detectives launched an investigation and arrested his 29-yearold neighbour, Stefan Ward, on suspicion of attempted murder.

But the inquiry took a bizarre twist yesterday when Mr Constantine appeared in court accused of plunging the knife into his own chest.

Consett magistrates were told that police recovered knives, axes and air guns following a search of the 60-year-old's house.

The items included 14 knives, two axes, a machete, a Gurkastyle knife and two air weapons.

Mr Constantine has been charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice by falsely claiming he had been stabbed by Mr Ward, resulting in his arrest for attempted murder.

He also faces a further charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice by claiming Mr Ward assaulted him a year earlier.

On that occasion, Mr Constantine claimed he had been hit in the face with a frying pan.

Mr Ward was arrested but released without charge.

Mr Constantine's eye needed six stitches, and the court heard he received £1,000 from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Agency.

Mr Constantine also faces a harassment charge amid allegations he brandished a gun and made false claims of assault against Mr Ward.

Sharon Nevison, prosecuting, said: "Prosecution evidence arises from near neighbours of the defendant and the local authority.

The Wards moved there two years ago from Leicestershire and the problems have continued since then."

She said Mr Constantine was a former Hells Angel.

Ms Nevison said: "When police arrived (on New Year's Eve) he was sitting in a chair holding a knife in his chest.

"He said Mr Ward had stabbed him in the chest.

"The knife went across his chest and was just underneath his skin."

Ms Nevison claimed: "He has injured himself and chosen to blame Mr Ward."

The court was told that Mr Constantine complained to Derwentside District Council about the noise of barking from the Wards' dog, but officers decided there was not a problem. No action was taken.

Defending, Barry Row said Mr Constantine was planning to sell his house and did not want to return to Lanchester.

He said: "He never wants to return because of the trouble he has had.

"He has never been round to Ward's house to complain and has contacted the relevant authorities about the noise."

Mr Constantine, who has a thick grey beard, made no plea and spoke only to confirm his name and address.

Magistrates refused the bail application and remanded Mr Constantine in custody. They committed the case to Durham Crown Court.

His next appearance will be on January 9.