TWO men today denied murdering John ‘Jonty’ Hall, whose body was found by a dog walker in a lane.
Nicholas Rought and Stuart Smith both pleaded not guilty to murder during a hearing, where they appeared via videolink to HMP Durham, at Newcastle Crown Court.
Mr Hall was found dead in West Rainton, County Durham, on Sunday, September 15.
The grandfather and father-of-two, of Burn Terrace, Shiney Row, died as a result of multiple injuries.
His body was found in a back lane by a dog walker.
Three men were initially charged with the murder of Mr Hall.
However, one of those men, Paul Tate, 49, was found dead in his cell at Holme House Prison in Stockton, Teesside.
An investigation by the independent prisons ombudsman into Mr Tate’s death has been launched.
Rought, 45, of Princess Street, Shiney Row, and Smith, 42, of no fixed address, will be tried by a jury next year.
Judge James Goss QC told them: “You having pleaded not guilty, I am confirming the trial will commence on March 17, with an estimated length of 10 days.”
A further pre-trial hearing will take place in January.
Rought and Smith were both remanded in custody.