James Stokoe death: Alexander Layton denies murder

Image source, Family handout
Image caption,
James Stokoe, 40, died on Trenchard Avenue in Thornaby in May

The trial of a man accused of murder will take at least a year to be held because of delays, a court has heard.

Alexander Layton, 33, of Shackleton Close in Thornaby, is accused of murdering James Stokoe on 15 May.

Mr Stokoe, 40, died from stab wounds in his BMW in Trenchard Avenue, Thornaby.

Judge Stephen Ashurst, who remanded Mr Layton in custody at Teesside Crown Court, said the wait - at least until 16 August 2021 - was a "state of affairs none of us would have wished".

The trial, which is expected to last nine days, is delayed because of a backlog in cases which had to be halted because of coronavirus restrictions.

'Very long wait'

Mr Layton also denies possessing an offensive weapon.

Judge Stephen Ashurst said: "This is a state of affairs none of us would have wished, but has been brought about by the suspension of the vast majority of criminal trials for many months and the very long wait people in custody are having to live with, pending their trials."

Judge Ashurst said he would see if the case could be accommodated elsewhere, or if more hearings could be fitted in at Teesside to bring forward the trial date.

He added: "I think all concerned will understand the difficulties under which courts are having to operate."

After his death, Mr Stokoe's family paid tribute to him, saying: "James was a much-loved husband, father, son and son-in-law.

"He was a treasured friend to so many people. James was a wonderfully kind and gentle person. There are no words to express our sadness.

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