A 36-year-old man accused of murdering two people in their homes made an obscene gesture to magistrates when he was remanded into custody.

Photograph: PA

James Allen, of Middlesbrough, smiled during proceedings at Teesside magistrates' court, where he faced two counts of murder, and charges of rape, grievous bodily harm, false imprisonment and witness intimidation.

Colin Dunford, 81, from Middlesbrough, and Julie Davison, 50, from Whitby, North Yorkshire, were found dead in their homes last week with head injuries. The discovery triggered a manhunt.

During the brief hearing Allen smiled as an error was made during the proceedings and said "apology accepted" when the mistake was acknowledged.

He showed his middle finger to the magistrates as he was led away by two security guards.

Allen was remanded in custody and the case was adjourned until Thursday when he will appear before Teesside crown court.

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