A MAN has appeared in court charged with a murder said to have taken place more than 20 years ago.

Grant Byrom, 30, was stabbed in Forest Road, Colchester, on Boxing Day 1998.

He died from his injuries.

Nobody had ever faced prosecution in connection with his death until Essex Police announced Michael Donnelly, 73, was facing a murder charge.

During a short hearing at Colchester Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday, a legal advisor explained to the bench they could not preside over the case.

Donnelly, of Bromley Road, Colchester, was not asked to enter a plea.

He initially struggled to hear proceedings, but later confirmed he was aware of what was being discussed.

Wearing a dark blue jumper and smart shirt, Donnelly spoke only to confirm his name, date of birth and nationality.

Chairman of the bench Don Wicks told him a preliminary hearing would be scheduled for Chelmsford Crown Court on Thursday.

“We cannot deal with this matter,” he said.

“We are formally sending you to Chelmsford Crown Court for a hearing tomorrow morning.

“You will appear via video link in front of a judge.

“In the mean time, you are remanded in custody.”

READ MORE - This is how the court hearing unfolded live

The Gazette revealed in June that police were quizzing a man in connection with Mr Byrom’s death.

Five years ago, a renewed appeal for information saw a £2,000 reward offered for information which led to a conviction in the case.

At the time, it was reported Mr Byrom had been involved in a scuffle in the Clarendon pub in Harwich Road before he was stabbed.

More than 100 people attended Mr Byrom’s funeral at St Leonard’s Church in Lexden Road.

Known to his friends as Granny, he was described as a unique character and was an ardent Leeds United fan.