A MAN has appeared at court accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of pounds from his employers.

Lee Philip Hammond, of Faversham Park, Faverdale in Darlington, is charged with stealing £411,305.60 from Sedgefield and Shildon Development Agency in Newton Aycliffe between October 7 2009 and July 20 2010.

The 29-year-old is also alleged to have stolen £73,437.10 from South Durham Enterprise Agency in Bishop Auckland between July 6 2010 and July 29 2010, and to have committed fraud between June 1 and August 31 2009, in Darlington; June 1 and June 30 2009, in Shildon; and October 1 2009 and January 31 2010, in Newton Aycliffe.

He will appear at Durham Crown Court in relation to these charges on January 14.

At Newton Aycliffe Magistrates Court, new charges of stealing £1,957.91 from Town & City Ltd in Darlington between July 15 and September 1 this yea,r and attempting to steal an additional £3,750 from the same company between September 23 and October 2, were also put to Mr Hammond, along with two further fraud charges.

Mr Hammond, who received unconditional bail, will be committed to crown court for these offences on January 23.

No pleas were entered.