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Murder accused James Rutherford may stand trial early next year accused of killing Andrew Saint.
Rutherford is accused of attacking the 64-year-old, who died three weeks after he was allegedly assaulted in Bedlington, Northumberland.
Rutherford, 37, made his first appearance at Newcastle Crown Court via a video-link to HMP Durham on Thursday.
The charge was not put to him but a provisional trial date was set for January 12 next year, with a time estimate of seven days.
Judge Paul Sloan QC told him: "I'm going to adjourn this case to a further pre-trial hearing. That will be listed on September 1 and you will be linked in on that date as you have been today.
"You should understand, if you have committed any offence or offences arising out of these allegations, the sooner that's communicated to the court, the better for you, the more credit you will receive. The longer you leave it, the worse it will be for you."

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Still reeling from the shock death of her beloved dad, Toni Saint has made an emotional plea for help to find out what happened to him.
Fun-loving great-grandad Andrew Saint died in hospital weeks after he was allegedly assaulted.
The 64-year-old had gone to his local shop in the hours before the incident, which happened in Bedlington Station, Northumberland.
When Andrew - who was in poor health - did not come home, his family became worried and asked friends to help look for him
But the next time his loved ones saw him he was in hospital, hooked up a ventilator and in a coma. Andrew never regained consciousness and passed away almost three weeks later.
A 37-year-old has now appeared in court charged with his murder.

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Murder accused James Rutherford has today appeared in court over the death of Andrew Saint.
The 64-year-old died in hospital almost three weeks after he was allegedly attacked at a home in Bedlington.
Northumbria Police say Mr Saint was found with a serious head injury after emergency services were called to the home, on Pioneer Terrace, at around 7pm on February 23.
He was taken to hospital where he passed away on March 13.
A 37-year-old man was arrested on the night of the incident and released under investigation.
Yesterday Mr Rutherford, of Pioneer Terrace, was charged with murder.

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More than 4,000 jobs will be created and another 3,500 safeguarded after the Government backed 18 schemes around the region with £47m from its infrastructure fund.
The schemes include project to improve town and city centres, put the North East at the forefront of the green recovery and boost key employment sites, as well as creating 1,300 new homes.
High profile projects such as the Gateshead Quays convention centre and the Aykley Heads business park in Durham have been backed, along with town centre regeneration schemes in Newcastle, North Shields and Bedlington.
There is also backing for a new landing area for the Tyne ferry at the North Shields Fish Quay, plans to improve the digital infrastructure of the city centre and riverside area of Sunderland, better cycling and pedestrian links around Gateshead town centre and investment in a planned energy park at Blyth.
The projects are part of the £900m Getting Building Fund which was announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in June to support “shovel-ready” housing and infrastructure projects.
It is hoped the schemes will create 2,253 new jobs, 1,839 construction posts and safeguard 3,551 positions in the North East.

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A man has been charged with the murder of 64-year-old who died after an alleged assault in Northumberland.
James Rutherford, 37, of Pioneer Terrace, Bedlington, was due to appear before Bedlington Magistrates' Court on Tuesday accused of killing Andrew Saint.
Mr Saint died after an incident at an address on Pioneer Terrace, which police were called to at about 7pm on Sunday February 23.
He was found with a serious head injury, believed to have been sustained in an assault, and was taken to hospital but he died as a result of his injury on March 13.
A 37-year-old man was arrested on the night of the incident but later released under investigation while a police investigation into the alleged assault was conducted.
On Monday he was re-arrested by police and charged with Mr Saint's murder.

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Four men have been arrested as part of a police operation to crack down on rural crime in Northumberland.
Officers carried out a string of dawn raids at properties in Stobhill, Blyth and Bedlington on Tuesday as part of an investigation into drug supply, burglary and theft in the area.
As a result, four men were detained on suspicion of burglary, handling stolen goods, public order and insurance fraud.
A number of suspected stolen items were also seized, including a cable locating system worth almost £2,000.
Neighbourhood sergeant Ian Pattison, of Northumbria Police, said: “Organised crime can devastate communities and often spearheaded by heartless individuals only out to make a profit.
“Yesterday, as part of our ongoing proactive activity, we were able to arrest four suspects who have been assisting officers with their enquiries, while we also seized evidence that will prove invaluable moving forward.

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When Hayley Cadman was diagnosed with stage two Hodgkin's lymphoma, her world was turned upside down.
Last year, the mum-of-two experienced intense pain in her back and arms and medics thought she had a trapped nerve.
But after trips to see a chiropractor and sports massage therapist, Hayley’s symptoms continued and became worse.
She began to lose weight, suffered from heart palpitations and had a persistent dry cough.
Hayley had recently started a new job as a learning disability nurse and her GP thought it was causing her anxiety and stress.
But she knew that something wasn’t right and asked for blood tests to be taken.

Work to reopen the former Northumberland Line could start "in a matter of months", regional leaders have said.
Plans are currently being worked on to resume passenger services between Newcastle and Ashington, with the project expected to cost about £162m.
And although transport bosses are still waiting for a decision on more Government funding for the scheme, it is hoped construction could begin soon.
“Now is an opportunity for us as a region to actually make this ripe for significant investment,” said Peter Jackson, the leader of Northumberland County Council.
“The Northumberland Line would be transformative to the whole area and our county, but it’s also a regional project and I’m very proud it’s actually getting nearer and nearer to being a reality.
“We could have spades in the ground in a matter of months on that one.
The crumbling, overgrown stations that could become a lifeline for Northumberland
Keep up-to-date with all the latest news in the county by visiting our new Northumberland Live homepage.
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I want to thank the care committee and drivers for taking me to the doctor's after my heart attack and valve replacement operation. Thank you each and every one of you. You looked after me so well. Also thankyou to Mr Windsor for your help with my passport I couldn't have done it without you. When things are settled down  I will give a donation.

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