Five men accused of the murder of Hartlepool man Michael Phillips appear before a judge for the first time

Five men charged with murder made their first appearance before a crown court judge.

Friday, 30th August 2019, 4:57 pm
Updated Friday, 30th August 2019, 6:17 pm

The five are each accused of the murder of Hartlepool man Michael Phillips, 39.

Mr Phillips’ body was found in a house in Rydal Street on June 11.

Five men appeared before Teesside Magistrates’ Court on Thursday.

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The bench sent their cases to Teesside Crown Court to link with two other defendants who have already been charged and pleaded not guilty to murder.

An administrative error meant the case could not be heard at Teesside because neither of the court’s two judges who are qualified to hear murder cases – known as class one judges – was sitting due to annual holidays.

The case was sent to Leeds Crown Court before Judge Rodney Jameson QC who was the nearest class one judge sitting.

In a brief preliminary hearing, Judge Jameson adjourned the cases against all five men back to Teesside Crown Court on September 27, when it is expected to be listed with the first two defendants.

Judge Jameson remanded all five in custody.

Those dealt with in Leeds: John Musgrave, 54, of Wordsworth Avenue, Anthony Small, 39, of Rydal Street, Craig Thorpe, 36, of Young Street, Sean Musgrave, 30, of Wordsworth Avenue, and Gary Jackson, 30, of The Darlings, all Hartlepool.

The two men have previously pleaded not guilty to murdering Mr Phillips: Neil Elliott, 44, of Briarfield Close, Hartlepool, and Lee Darby, 31, of Ridley Court, Hartlepool, who were both remanded in custody at a court hearing in July.