THREE teenagers accused of murdering a 'caring' and 'free-spirited' father-of-three in Didcot have pleaded not guilty at court.

The public gallery at Oxford Crown Court was packed yesterday as the three men entered their pleas to the charges for the first time.

After the trio had denied any role in the alleged murder of Darren MacCormick in January this year a court judge adjourned the case for a trial, which will be held next month.

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Isaac Boyland, 19, of Marlborough Road, Oxford, Brookton Lagan, 19, of Robin Way, Didcot, and Taison Cyrille, also 19, of Market End Way, Bicester, all appeared in the dock yesterday.

They each denied one count of murder and two counts of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm upon two men.

Two of the men also denied a charge of conspiracy to supply a controlled drug of class A.

The violent offences are all alleged to have taken place in Mendip Heights, Didcot, on January 9 this year.

The incident is alleged to have taken place during an altercation in the early hours.

Mr MacCormick was taken to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford after he was stabbed in the chest.

The 44-year-old died an hour later at 4.56am from a stab wound which was close to his heart.

As well as denying murder the three accused men also denied two counts of wounding with intent.

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Those counts relate to alleged attacks on two other men who are aged in their twenties and thirties.

The trial was originally due to be held in June but in the wake of the Covid 19 pandemic many jury trials were put on hold.

Now, the court has introduced new measures aimed at reducing the spread of the virus while keeping the centre open to the public.

After the not guilty pleas had been entered to the offences yesterday presiding Judge Ian Pringle QC agreed to adjourn the case for a trial.

That trial will be held at the same court on October 26.

Prosecutors said at the brief hearing that the Crown Prosecution Service's case would take 'three to three and a half weeks.'

All three of the accused men were remanded in custody to await their trial.

In the wake of the alleged killing tributes were left for the slain man, described as 'amazing' and 'caring.'

His three children, brothers, sisters, parents and friends all paid tribute to what they described as the 'life of the party'; a 'free-spirited', 'happy-go-lucky', 'funny' guy.

His mum also released a tribute of her 'caring' son, who was in the process of getting his own house.

Paying tribute, his brother Wayne said: “An amazing brother with a big heart, leaving so many funny childhood memories. An amazing uncle to my children, leaving them with so many great times and memories with you."