A 26-YEAR-OLD man has appeared in court charged with murdering his 48-year-old neighbour after a pub row.

Maurice Rowell, 26, spoke only to confirm his name and address at Newton Aycliffe Magistrates’ Court, in County Durham, where he stood accused of murdering Stephen Wilson, from Bishop Auckland.

Mr Wilson was found with serious head injuries outside The Beehive pub, in Kingsway, Bishop Auckland, at about 1.20am on Monday.

He died the following afternoon at The James Cook University Hospital, in Middlesbrough, following emergency surgery.

The victim and the accused lived in Hardisty Crescent, on Bishop Auckland’s Woodhouse Close Estate.

Mr Rowell, the son of The Beehive landlord, also called Maurice Rowell, stood in the dock wearing a white T-shirt as the clerk read out the charge.

He indicated to magistrates he understood, but was not asked to enter a plea. The case will eventually be dealt with at crown court.

Mr Rowell has been remanded in custody until he appears for a preliminary hearing at Teeside Crown Court, on Monday.

His relatives sat in the public gallery, including father Maurice and his sister, Rachel Rowell, who also helps to run the pub.

The Sunday night when the tragedy happened was set aside for The Beehive’s annual barbeque in celebration of the landlord’s birthday.

A 49-year-old man and a 28- year-old man, both from Bishop Auckland, were also arrested in connection with the incident, but were released pending further inquiries.

A 25-year-old man arrested on Wednesday has also been bailed pending further inquiries.

A post-mortem examination was carried out on Mr Wilson’s body on Wednesday and County Durham and Darlington Coroner Andrew Tweddle is expected to open an inquest into the death soon.

Mr Wilson’s family chose to give up his organs for donation.

His liver, kidneys and spleen were given to four critically ill patients shortly after his death.

Anyone with information about the incident at the pub is asked to contact Bishop Auckland CID on 0345-60-60-365 or Crimestoppers on 0800-555-111.