James Allen was remanded in custody after appearing at Teesside Crown Court.

Mr Allen, 36, is charged with the murder of Colin Dunford, 81, in Middlesbrough and Julie Davison, 50, in Whitby last month.

He is also charged with rape, assault, witness intimidation and false imprisonment. Recorder Peter Fox, presiding, also added a separate charge of sexual assault to be taken into account.

Mr Allen, who appeared in a blue and white shirt with a gash on the right-hand side of his head, spoke only to confirm his name. No pleas were entered.

Judge Fox added he would like a High Court judge to come to Teesside because of the apparent seriousness of the case.

Judge Peter Fox, recorder of Middlesbrough, presiding at Teesside Crown Court, requested that a High Court judge to come to Teesside due to apparent seriousness of the matter.