THERE were angry scenes as a teenage boy appeared in court yesterday morning (Thursday) in connection with the murder of Hailsham father-of-one, Darren Croxton.
Tensions were running high as angry and grieving relatives and friends of Mr Croxton packed into the public gallery at Eastbourne Magistrates’ Court.
Scores of police officers surrounded the court building in Old Orchard Road and more were called inside the court as the 16-year-old boy was brought up from the cells into the dock shortly before midday.
Mr Croxton’s family members including his mother, two brothers and sister, and friends, remained standing during the hearing looking into the dock – and as the teenage boy was taken down, one of Mr Croxton’s family hurled abuse at him.
The boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons as he is under 18, spoke only to confirm his name and date of birth.
Dressed in a blue sweatshirt and jogging bottoms, he was flanked by three security guards.
None of his family members were in court.
The teenager is charged with murdering 25-year-old Darren Croxton during a pre-planned fight in woods off Bramble Drive, Hailsham, on Sunday night.
Mr Croxton, who lived in The Diplocks, was rushed to hospital with his injuries but died early on Monday morning.
The teenage boy is being defended by Eastbourne solicitor Stuart Grace and was remanded in custody to a Young Offenders’ Institute until February 23 when he will appear back at Eastbourne.
Eleven people, aged between 13 and 27, were initially quizzed by detectives from the Surrey and Sussex Major Crime Team at police stations across Sussex, but eight were released from custody with no further action and are now being treated as witnesses.
Two others have been released on conditional bail while inquiries continue.
On Wednesday, more than 60 people staged a peaceful demonstration outside Hailsham Police Station in protest at suspects being released from custody.
Chief Inspector Dick Coates, the police commander for Hailsham, invited family members in to the station and spoke to them about the investigation.
A public meeting is also being held in Hailsham’s Summerheath Hall on Sunday afternoon at 3pm for residents to voice their concerns.