Man charged with killing girlfriend

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A MAN has appeared in court accused of the manslaughter of his girlfriend.

Ben Michael Ferguson was charged with unlawful killing after a 10-month investigation by detectives into the circumstances surrounding Sarah Peachey’s death.

During a short hearing yesterday, Peterlee magistrates were told the case was related to drugs. Ferguson, of Cotswold Place, Peterlee, spoke only to confirm his name and address.

The 26-year-old is charged with causing the unlawful death of his 21-year-old partner in the town, between July 22 and July 25 last year. He is also facing offences of supply of a class A drug, and a class C drug, during the same dates.

Simon Crowder, prosecuting, said the matter could only be dealt with by a crown court and asked magistrates to commit the case.

“The defendant appears before you today in custody. You will be aware the offences date back to July last year, and the defendant has been attending his bail appointments with the police.

“As you will note, there are two other matters and this is drug-related.

“There have been toxicology reports, and that’s why it has taken so long to come before the court.”

Ferguson, who was represented by Martin Scarborough, was not asked to enter any pleas to the allegations.

Mr Crowder, who did not ask for Ferguson to be remanded, proposed conditions of bail, which were agreed.

They are to that he must report to Petelee Police Station at specified times, not to interfere with prosecution witnesses and reside at his home address.

Ferguson will next appear before Newcastle Crown Court on Friday, for a preliminary hearing.

Police say Ms Peachey, from Shotton Colliery, was taken to the University Hospital of Hartlepool after paramedics were called to a house in Peterlee on July 23.

An inquest into her death is expected to be opened by the Hartlepool coroner, following the conclusion of the police investigation.