Man, 36 charged with boys' killings

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A 36-year-old factory worker appeared in court on Merseyside yesterday, charged with the murders of Robbie Gee and his best friend Paul Barker.

Steven David Heaney, ofEastham in Wirral, appeared in the dock at Birkenhead magistrates' court, amid tight police security.

During the four-minute hearing, Mr Heaney, dressed in a white sweatshirt with a multi-coloured motif and dark blue tracksuit trousers, said nothing except to confirm his name and address. He stood with head bowed throughout the hearing, handcuffed to one of the officers. Reporting restrictions were not lifted. Christopher Thomas, for the defence, made no application for bail.

Bernard Gilfoyle, the chairman of the magistrates, remanded Mr Heaney in custody for a week, but told him he would not be appearing in court against until 16 August, when a date for committal proceedings is expected to be fixed.

Twelve-year-old Robbie, and Paul, 13, disappeared on a fishing trip near their homes at Eastham. They failed to return home on Saturday night and their fathers carried out an unsuccessful search. Police later found their bodies on opposite sides of the Brookhurst Field. Both had multiple stab wounds.

Earlier yesterday, members of the public had joined reporters and camera crews outside the court. A group of men screamed abuse as a white van containing a number of prisoners drew up.

But Mr Heaney, covered with a blanket, had already arrived through the back entrance in a white police van.

After the hearing stones were thrown during noisy scenes when Mr Heaney was driven away in a police van.

Later police disclosed that they had found the weapon believed to have been used in the alleged murders.

A spokesman refused to confirm if the weapon was a knife or where it was discovered.