Charges have been dropped against a man who was accused of driving a hearse onto a football pitch causing a match to be abandoned.

Darren Kay, 29, of no fixed abode, was not at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court to hear that the case against him was being discontinued.

Stephanie Cook, prosecuting, said the Crown accepted there was an “unrealistic prospect of conviction”.

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Robin Ford, defending, said: “There is not enough evidence and there never has been.”

Magistrates accepted the submissions and said the case will be marked as “discontinued”.

Mr Kay had been charged with criminal damage to the pitch and a gate at Dunston Football Club on July 21 last year.

Spectators watching Dunston play Gateshead in a pre-season friendly were shocked when a hearse and a Subaru were driven onto 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 onto the pitch.

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They then threw leaflets onto the pitch, driving away in the Subaru before police arrived, but leaving the hearse on the grass.

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

Mr Kay had also been charged with intending to cause the spectators harassment, alarm or distress.