A man has appeared in court charged with criminal damage and a public order offence after a hearse was driven on to a football pitch, causing a match to be abandoned.

Darren Kay, 29, of no fixed abode, formerly of Chester-le-Street, attended South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court for a brief hearing on Wednesday.

He is charged with criminal damage to the pitch and a gate at Dunston Football Club on July 21 last year.

Spectators watching Dunston UTS play Gateshead in a pre-season friendly were shocked when a hearse and a Subaru were driven on to the pitch at half-time.

Video shared on social media showed the vehicles being driven around in circles on the turf and a group of males wearing balaclavas then got out and walked on to the pitch.

They then threw leaflets on the pitch, drove away in the Subaru before police arrived but left the hearse on the grass.

The match between the two non-league sides was called off.

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The Northern Echo: Kay is also charged with intending to cause the spectators harassment, alarm or distress.

Magistrates adjourned the case for four weeks and no pleas were entered.

Kay, dressed in a grey tracksuit and grey Nike trainers, was granted conditional bail to return to the same court on March 1.