A dead man will give evidence against his alleged killer when the story of a Hartlepool street attack is played out in court next year.
Gary Hart, 41, made a statement to detectives before he died on April 16 last year.
Prosecuter Shaun Dodds told Teesside Crown Court that the statement will feature in the trial of Daniel Rochford, 25, and Kurtis Gretton, also 25.
Rochford is charged with Mr Hart’s manslaughter and both men are charged with affray in the incident nine days earlier.
Rochford of Henderson Court, Hartlepool, and Gretton of Thornton Street, Hartlepool, pleaded not guilty at a plea and case management hearing yesterday.
Their trial before the Recorder of Middlesbrough Judge Simon Bourne-Arton QC is listed for two weeks starting on January 25.
The Crown’s case is that Mr Hart was chased through the centre of Hartlepool on April 7 last year by a group of men and that Rochford struck him in the chest with a metal drainpipe.
He was taken to James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough, with fractured ribs and a punctured lung and he was released on April 11.
His girlfriend discovered him dead at his home on April 16.
Mr Dodds told the court: “The deceased provided a statement before he died.”
Judge Bourne-Arton QC said: “It will be treated as hearsay evidence.”
Both men were granted bail on the same terms as before.
Rochford has had to surrender his passport