A man is to stand trial accused of breaking into a house and taking the keys to two cars, in which he is alleged to have subsequently driven from outside the burgled property.

Jacob Johnson appeared at a Durham Crown Court plea hearing today (Wednesday December 6) via video link from the city’s nearby prison, where he is on remand.

He denied a charge of burglary at a cottage in Cockfield, near Bishop Auckland, on October 18, when car keys, cigarettes, bank cards, alcohol and two jackets were stolen.

The 24-year-old defendant, from Bishop Auckland, also denied the theft of both a Mitsubishi Outlander vehicle, and a Range Rover, on the same day.

The Northern Echo:

But he did admit other charges of attempted burglary of a house in Prescott Way, Bishop Auckland, on September 21, two counts of making off without payment for fuel, to the value of £50 and £60, from filling stations at Binchester and Park Head, near Bishop Auckland, and fraudulently using a stolen bank card to buy vapes worth £20, all also on October 18.

Other counts admitted by Johnson were of criminal damage to a fence belonging to a woman and threatening behaviour to the same victim and another female complainant, on the same date.

Shaun Dryden, prosecuting, said those pleas were not acceptable to the Crown, and so would be contested at trial.

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A date for a hearing expected to last a day or slightly more, was agreed for Tuesday April 9, next year.

Johnson was told his defence statement to the charges he denies must be passed to the court by January 19, following the submission of the prosecution evidence, on December 22.

Judge Howard Crowson remanded the defendant to remain in custody until his trial, in April.