Charges of violence against a well-known North East boxing coach have been dropped after a judge ruled there were flaws in the evidence against him.

Graeme Rutherford was cleared of all charges when he appeared in court where his co-accused John Wright admitted his role in the armed confrontation.

Wright was caught on CCTV taking part in the attack which left a victim with stab wounds on August 26 last year, and initially faced an attempted murder charge.

The 39-year-old pleaded guilty to his role in the attack in the Railway Street area of Craghead, County Durham, alongside another man, who was alleged to have been the 52-year-old boxing coach.

Teesside Crown Court heard how Wright and Mr Rutherford were initially charged with attempted murder - which they both denied - along with wounding with intent, violent disorder, and possession of an offensive weapon in a public place.

Wright, who admitted carrying a baseball bat during the assault, pleaded guilty to wounding with intent and an additional charge of criminal damage.

His co-defendant, who was accused of bringing a scythe to the altercation, was identified by a police officer when he saw a still from the CCTV.

Mr Rutherford, who has long been associated with Birtley Boxing Club as a coach, denied all charges against him.

He was subsequently formally found not guilty of all charges and was discharged when the Crown Prosecution Service offered up no evidence following a judge’s ruling.

Judge Timothy Stead said: “On August 26, 2023, there was a violent incident where the victim was attacked by two men.

“Two men engaged in the attack, the one in the foreground is John Wright, he accepts that is himself and has pleaded guilty. The other man's identity is an issue.”

Mr Rutherford, of Gibson Street, Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, had always denied any involvement in the violent disorder.

Judge Stead said the detective sergeant identified the accused when he opened an email on his laptop but failed to record his opinion in the correct manner and there had been a breach of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act.

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The police officer had never met Mr Rutherford but had not acted inappropriately when he told colleagues he believed he knew the identity of the second suspect.

The judge said there was there was no supporting evidence in the form of DNA or fingerprints to link Mr Rutherford the violent attack.

He said: “Any conviction using this evidence of identification would be unsafe.”

Wright, of Fellside View, Burnhope, Durham, will return to the court on April 5 to be sentenced. He was remanded in custody until his next appearance.