A man has admitted killing a devoted mother who was found stabbed to death in a County Durham house earlier this year hours after celebrating her birthday.

The blood-soaked body of Susan Carr, a 38-year-old mother of two teenagers, was found at a bungalow in Palm Street, Craghead, near Stanley, in the early hours of July 7.

Mrs Carr, a telephone operator for a Stanley taxi firm, had been celebrating her birthday at the nearby Craghead Royal British Legion Club and had called in at the bungalow on her way to her Hazel Terrace home.

In a brief appearance at Newcastle Crown Court yesterday, 57-year-old Peter Killeen, the owner of the bungalow, pleaded guilty to her murder.

After a three-minute hearing, Killeen was remanded in custody by Judge David Hodson until Friday, when he will return to court to be sentenced.

The murder of Susan Carr, mother of 19-year-old Lee and 14-year-old Kirsty, shocked the tiny community of Craghead, a former pit village two miles from Stanley.

The day after her 38th birthday, Mrs Carr had spent the night out with friends in the club where she was a member of the ladies' darts team and had left with a man and a woman.

At around 4.30am the following day, paramedics answered an emergency call to the bungalow and discovered the blood-stained body of Mrs Carr slumped in a bedroom. She had suffered multiple stab wounds, including a serious injury to her neck.

Killeen was arrested at the scene and a knife was later recovered from the house, which was sent for detailed scientific tests. The scene was sealed off and an inch-by-inch search of the house was launched.

The painstaking forensic investigation into the death of Mrs Carr was led by Detective Superintendent Dave Jones of Durham Police, who was yesterday in court to hear Killeen admit to murder.