Four Hartlepool men in court following widow's death
Four Hartlepool men have appeared in court today following the death of a widow.
William Gales, 44, has been charged with the manslaughter of Joan Barnett.
The 87-year-old was taken to Sunderland Royal Hospital after an incident at her home in Newlands Avenue, Tunstall, on August 18, 2014.
She died in hospital on November 11 that year.
Police said at the time that they were investigating the disturbance at her home as a bogus caller incident.
William Gales also faces - along with Michael Gales, 27, Lee Davidson, 30, and Phillip Orton, 54 - a count of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation.
They are accused of having, between June 1, 2014, and November 30, 2014, conspired together with other persons to commit fraud by representing they were bona fide builders and roofers, intending to make a gain, namely money.
No indications of pleas were given by either William Gales, of Ilkley Grove, Michael Gales, of Borrowdale Street, Davidson, of Shelly Grove, or Oughton, of Windermere Road, all Hartlepool, when they appeared before Sunderland Magistrates Court.
Prosecutor John McGlone said: "These are indictable only matters and I ask you to send them to the Crown Court at this stage.
"They are all on conditional bail to reside at their home addresses and not to enter County Durham or Tyne and Wear, save to attend court."
All four will appear at Newcastle Crown Court on May 24.
A fifth person is waiting to be charged in connection with the case, the court was told.
Police have previously said they believe Mrs Barnett was left lying on the floor of her home in Newlands Avenue, Tunstall, for ten hours after an incident at around 2pm on August 18, 2014.
Officers said she was knocked over after she answered the door to men claiming they were carrying out gardening work in the area, with the group leaving empty-handed
An inquest into her death has been opened and adjourned by Sunderland coroner Derek Winter.