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Neil Taylor and Caroline Rushworth in court charged with James O'Rourke's murder in Chatham as inquest opens

A man and a woman accused of murder after a half-naked body was discovered at flats in Chatham appeared at Maidstone Crown Court today.

Neil Taylor, 35, and Caroline Rushworth, 34, both of Shipwrights Avenue, were due to be in the dock with 34-year-old Daniel Fox, of no fixed address, but he will now appear on Thursday.

The three are alleged to have killed James O’Rourke, 29, who was found wearing just his boxer shorts in the stairwell between floors four and five at Caulkers House in Shipwrights Avenue last Monday morning, August 28.

James O'Rourke
James O'Rourke

Homeless Mr O’Rourke, who died from trauma to his face and head, was discovered by a man visiting his mother at the flats shortly before 8am.

Taylor, who had two black eyes, and Rushworth, were remanded in custody until September 28, when they will enter pleas along with Fox.

Philip Sinclair, defending, indicated a bail application would be made for Rushworth.

James O'Rourke
James O'Rourke

Judge Jeremy Carey set a trial date for February 26 next year.

Rushworth waved and smiled at people in the public gallery and blew kisses.

Earlier today, an inquest was opened into Mr O'Rourke's death.

James O'Rourke
James O'Rourke

The hearing was told he worked as a carer and was single. Police identified his body using his fingerprints.

A post-mortem examination carried out the day after his death gave the cause as head injuries.

The hearing was attended by Detective Sergeant Steven Biddiss, who detailed that a criminal investigation was underway.

Forensics officers investigating the alleged murder in Shipwrights Avenue, Chatham
Forensics officers investigating the alleged murder in Shipwrights Avenue, Chatham

He asked that the coroner open the inquest and adjourn it pending the conclusion of the trial.

Patricia Harding, senior coroner for Mid-Kent and Medway, agreed to his request.

She also noted that Mr O'Rourke's body would not be released to his family until the police had determined whether a second post-mortem examination was necessary.

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