Man appears in court charged with murdering two women on same night

Victims Jodie Betteridge, left, and Lynne Freeman.
Victims Jodie Betteridge, left, and Lynne Freeman.

A 34-year-old man has appeared in court charged with murdering two mothers in separate incidents minutes apart.

Alan Bennett, of Lingholme, Redcar, was at Teesside Magistrates' Court yesterday for the one-minute hearing where he confirmed his name and address.

He was charged by Cleveland Police with the murders of Lynne Freeman, 46, and Jodie Betteridge, 30, who died after being attacked on Wednesday evening.

Small but muscular, wearing glasses and with a goatee beard, Bennett walked into the dock behind glass with two security officers who removed his handcuffs for the brief hearing.

Six detectives sat at the back of the court, with two members of the public watching from the gallery above.

Chairman of the Bench Barry Lomas said the case was being transferred to Teesside Crown Court at 10am on Tuesday.

He said: "Until that time you will be remanded in custody."

The dark-haired defendant, wearing a grey T-shirt, was led away in handcuffs after he confirmed he understood what had happened at the hearing.

Police were called to Mapleton Crescent, Redcar, where Mrs Freeman lived on Wednesday evening, then seven minutes later to Ms Betteridge's address in Byland Close in the town.

Mrs Freeman's children - Sarah Helm, 28, James Helm, 27, Kimberley Helm, 25, and Lauren Freeman, 18, previously said their mother always put others before herself.

In a statement issued through police they said: "We shouldn't have to be writing a tribute to our mother, who was taken from us so early. She should still be here to watch her four kids and grandkids grow.

"She was thriving in life and loved the volunteer work that she did in her church, and as a street angel for Redcar Beacons, always putting others before herself. She adored every one of her children and loved being a grandma.

"She wore her heart on her sleeve, always made an effort for people and she really would go the extra mile. She gave so much and never asked for anything in return, and we'll always be proud of her.

"You are loved beyond words and an amazing soul never dies, you'll never understand how much you will be missed. Our mother was always the angel looking after others, but now the angels are looking after her. We love you so much mam."

Redcar Beacons, who help people on nights out in the town, also paid tribute, saying: "She was a joyful and loving Christian, one whom it has been a privilege to know."

Paying tribute to Miss Betteridge, Theresa Largan, 51, said she was like one of her own children.

"Jodie lived for her kids," she said. "I don't think I ever saw her on her own, she always had the tribe with her. I just want the family to know that we are all thinking of her and them."

A floral tribute for Miss Betteridge was left near the scene at Byland Close. The flowers dedicated to her said that "thoughts are with your beautiful children".