SEVEN teenagers charged with murder following the death of an 18-year-old in Houghton-le-Spring appeared at crown court for the first time in the case today.

The accused, aged 14 to 17, were among nine youths arrested after an altercation near the Britannia Inn, on Newbottle Street, at 9.30pm, on Saturday.

Emergency services attended and found Jack Woodley severely injured.

The teenager, originally from the Durham area, was taken to hospital suffering life-threatening injuries, but his death was confirmed on Sunday night.

All seven accused appeared at South Tyneside magistrates on Wednesday, when their cases were sent to Newcastle Crown Court for today’s hearing.

Four of the seven were remanded in youth custody and the remaining three in local authority care.

They appeared before The Recorder of Newcastle, Judge Paul Sloan, today, three by video link from HMP Wetherby, and the remaining four were produced in the dock, in Court One.

Judge Sloan immediately imposed reporting restrictions forbidding publication of the identities of all of the defendants in the case, who are each aged under 18.

He then set a date for a plea hearing in the case, of Wednesday November 17, and a provisional trial date, starting on March 1, next year, with a time estimate, to be confirmed, of up to eight weeks.

Bail applications were made by counsel representing four of the defendants.

Judge Sloan said there was insufficient time to deal with those today.

He asked for applications to be submitted variously by the prosecution, by 4pm today, listing reasons to oppose the granting of bail, by 4pm, on Monday, by the defence lawyers, and, by 4pm, on Tuesday, by the Youth Offending Team, in relation to each application.

Judge Sloan will consider those applications in four separate hearings, on Wednesday.

In the meantime, all seven defendants will remain subject to their existing remand conditions.

Northumbria Police previously confirmed two 15-year-old youths, also arrested as part of the inquiry into Mr Woodley’s death, have been released, but, “under investigation.”

Detective Inspector Joanne Brooks, who is leading the investigation, has asked anyone with information about the case who has not yet come forward, to do so, by calling 101, quoting log NP-20211016-1193, or ringing the Crimestoppers’ free phone line, anonymously, on (0800) 555111.

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