A FORMER Sunderland Academy footballer is accused of sparking a bomb alert.
Daniel Staples appeared in court accused of blackmail and being behind a hoax that brought at County Durham village to a standstill.
The 20-year-old, who started off his football career as a goalkeeper with SAFC Academy, is accused of walking into Coral bookmakers in Annfield Plain, on July 5.
He is alleged to have left a suspect package in the toilets with a note next to it, demanding cash by a certain time otherwise the bomb would go off.
The village’s Front Street was taped off for four hours, while bomb disposal experts from the Royal Logistic Corps in Catterick were called and carried out a controlled explosion to safely detonate the package.
Staples, of Hare Law Gardens, Stanley, appeared at Durham Crown Court.
He was remanded in custody and is due to appear back in Durham Crown Court to enter a plea on August 25.
In 2008, Staples transferred from Sunderland to Wrexham, in Wales.
Dubbed as being among the best young goalkeepers in North East non-league football, a year later he signed for Consett in the Northern League First Division.
Last season Staples turned out for West Allotment in North Tyneside, and later for Shildon.