A MAN appeared in court on Wednesday morning accused of murdering a 25-year-old at the weekend.

Richard Alexander Lee, 25, is alleged to have murdered Ryan Thompson, who died of stab wounds following an incident in Gregson Street, Sacriston, late on Saturday night.

Mr Lee, who appeared at Newcastle Crown Court via a videolink to HMP Durham, was told he is likely to stand trial next February.

Prosecutor Peter Moulson said the murder is alleged to have taken place on the evening of Saturday, September 1 into the early hours of the following day.

Mr Lee, of Viola Crescent, Sacriston, spoke only to confirm his name and his nationality as "white British".

Judge Paul Sloan told him: “I’m going to adjourn your case for a further pre-trial hearing, listed at this court on October 1 before me. You will be linked into this court on that occasion.

“Pending that hearing, you will remain remanded in custody. At that hearing a timetable will be set for your trial.

"It is anticipated your trial will commerce on February 4 next year.”

Detective Inspector Lee Gosling, who is leading the investigation, said previously: “We would like to reassure people that this was an isolated incident, and we do not believe there is any threat to the local community.

“There will be increased police patrols in the Gregson Street area, and a cordon will remain in place while our inquiries continue.”