A MAN and woman have appeared in court over the murder of their neighbour on a traveller site.

Hugh Doherty, 45, died of a gunshot wound to the chest following an altercation at the site in Cranfield Park Avenue, Wickford.

His 35-year-old sister Esther was stabbed repeatedly during the brutal attack. Basildon Magistrates Court heard her thumbs were almost severed.

Her “very serious injuries” also included lacerations to the rest of her body. Some went down to the bone, meaning tissue and muscle was exposed.

Levi Draper, 27, of Cranfield Park Avenue, Wickford is charged with the murder of Hugh Doherty and the attempted murder of Esther Doherty

He is also charged with possession of a firearm with intent, possession of an offensive weapon and possession of cannabis.

Harriet Crittenden, 25, of Cranfield Park Avenue, Wickford, is charged with the attempted murder of Esther Doherty and possession of an offensive weapon, which the court heard was a knife.

Magistrates referred the case to Chelmsford Crown Court. The pair will appear in the dock this morning.

Draper appeared at Basildon Magistrates Court wearing a blue Adidas tracksuit, while Crittenden wore red prison-issued clothing.

They spoke only to confirm their names and addresses - both Cranfield Park Avenue - to the court.

Dad-of-seven Mr Doherty - known as Quey or Quie, pronounced Hughie - is understood to be a member of the traveller community who lived on the site.

He was taken to hospital at about 9.45pm on Sunday after police were called to reports of an altercation. A post-mortem exam found he died as a result of a gunshot wound to his chest.

Police continue to guard the scene.

Anyone with information can contact the Brentwood Major Crime Investigation Team on 101.