The issue over whether a teenager accused of the murder of a 15-year-old girl is fit to stand trial will be resolved at a Newcastle Crown Court hearing in January.

Holly Newton died in hospital from knife injuries suffered in an incident in the Priestpopple area of Hexham, shortly before 5.15pm on Friday, January 27.

The Hexham schoolgirl, from Haltwhistle, was remembered by friends and family at a vigil in the Northumberland market town a week after her death, while her funeral was staged at Hexham Abbey, on February 17.

The Northern Echo:

A 16-year-old boy also required hospital treatment having suffered knife injuries in the same incident.

He was discharged six days later after treatment for non-life-threatening injuries.

The 16-year-old male accused of inflicting both injuries was arrested, initially on suspicion of assault, and he was later charged with the murder of Holly, the attempted murder of the injured boy and possession of a bladed article in public.

But those charges have never been put to the defendant, who remains in youth detention, while the issue of his fitness to plead is resolved.

Holly’s mother, Micala Trussler, recently spoke of her frustrations with the delays in the case against the accused taking place, while the medical professionals assess his ability to understand and take part in the legal process.

The case was mentioned at the court late yesterday (Thursday, November 10) before the High Court judge now assigned to deal with it, Mr Justice Nicholas Hilliard KC.

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Several medical professionals are making, or have made, assessments, which will now be aired at a hearing at the court on January 24, with the provision of running for up to three days, if required.

As a result of the further delay, the judge said there was “good and sufficient” reason to extend the custody time limit for the detention of the defendant, which has now been fixed to run until the last day of the fitness to plead hearing.

Should the accused be considered able to undergo a trial, the judge said he would look for an available slot in his diary after the Easter period, in April, subject to confirmation.