A man has admitted stealing items of mail after entering a Durham University college as a trespasser.

But Van Elvin Courchene is to stand trial after denying a second similar charge relating to an attempt to steal mail at another college on the university campus on the same day.

Appearing at a Durham Crown Court plea hearing, the two-count burglary indictment was put to Courchene.

The 44-year-old defendant admitted the first charge, relating to mail stolen by him as a trespasser at St Mary’s College, at Elvet Hill, Durham, on Friday February 11, last year.

The Northern Echo: Defendant, Van Elvin Courchene, admits stealing mail after entering St Mary's College at Durham

But when the second count was put to him, that he entered South College, at Mount Oswald, Durham, with intent to steal mail, also on February 11, 2022, he denied the charge.

Read more: Man jailed for robberies at County Durham filling station and college

Martin Towers, prosecuting, said witnesses say they saw the defendant with his hand in the mail box at South College, that day, and, so, he would, therefore, expect that count to be the subject of a trial.

Read more Durham City stories from The Northern Echo by clicking here

Helen Towers, representing Courchene, said a letter has been submitted to the court relating to him suffering with Asperger’s, a form of autism, to which he is subject of an assessment.

She said it may prove “beneficial” to have a further case management pre-trial hearing in the case, once the assessment is completed, while she would make an application for an intermediary to assist the defendant at trial.

Read next:

Durham college building targeted during Christmas holiday

'Opportunistic' burglar raided student's flat

Now 'fourth-strike' burglar took advantage of open window at Durham student digs

Take advantage of the latest flash sale offer for each new Premium Plus subscription for The Northern Echo, of £5 for five months, which runs until October 18, by clicking here

A case timetable was set, with a potential trial to be staged at the court on Wednesday March 20, next year, estimated to last little more than a day.

Recorder Jonathan Sandiford bailed the defendant to return to the court for a further case management hearing, which was set for Thursday January 18.

Bail was granted on condition that the defendant, of Newcastle-under-Lyme, in Staffordshire, does not enter any premises operated by Durham University.