Boys remanded over churchyard murder

Two 15-year-old boys charged with murdering a homeless man in a churchyard were remanded into secure accommodation today.

They appeared at Newton Aycliffe Youth Court, County Durham, for a four minute hearing following their arrest on Saturday by officers investigating the death of 59-year-old George Akers in Darlington.

A member of the public found Mr Akers' body under a tree in the grounds of St Cuthbert's Church on June 12.

His death was not initially regarded as suspicious until a post-mortem examination revealed he had sustained multiple internal injuries.

Officers later said he was the victim of a "sustained and brutal attack".

The boys, one in a blue designer t-shirt, the other in a white logoed top, nodded when bench chairman asked if they had understood the media was banned from reporting anything which could identify them.

John Robinson told the defendants that magistrates no longer had the power to consider bail in murder cases.

They will appear before Teesside Crown Court on Wednesday.

The bench chairman told them: "In the mean time you will be remanded into local authority secure accommodation."

One youth smiled when he received a gesture of support from a male relative before they were led away from the glass dock by security guards.