THREE men have denied murdering 43-year-old Ian Bendall, who was alleged to have been assaulted near Century Mill, Farnworth.

At Manchester Crown Court William Coughlan, Alex Smith, Ellis Hampson and Kathryn Colgan appeared via video link before Judge Patrick Field QC.

Coughlan, aged 25, Smith, aged 28, both of Ramsay Avenue, Farnworth and Hampson, aged 19, of Oakfield Drive, Little Hulton, all pleaded not guilty to murder. Colgan, aged 24, of Ramsay Avenue, Farnworth, did not enter a plea.

All four were remanded in custody and will next appear in court for a further hearing on October 6.

The defendants' trial is due to take place in November.

On Friday, June 9 police were called at 5.55pm to a report that a 43-year-old man had been assaulted at around midday near Century Mill, George Street in Farnworth.

He was taken to hospital but discharged himself the next day. He was readmitted to hospital two days later and died on June 13.

Mr Bendall, a father from Farnworth, was known locally as Taffy.

In a tribute his family described him as a "cheeky chappy who carried a permanent smile and was always one to lift people’s spirits".

He had moved to the Bolton area from Wales 10 years ago.