A MAN has appeared in court, where he pleaded not guilty to murdering a 24-year-old maths graduate who hails from Somerset.

Joe Atkinson, 25, is accused of killing Poppy Devey Waterhouse at a flat on December 14 last year.

Emergency services were called to the apartment block in the Richmond Hill area of Leeds, West Yorks., just before 9am.

A post-mortem examination carried out on December 15 found Miss Devey Waterhouse's preliminary cause of death as head and neck trauma.

Atkinson today appeared at Leeds Crown Court wearing a grey prison uniform and flanked by two security dock officers.

The defendant pleaded not guilty to one count of murder during the short twenty-minute hearing.

A trial date has been set for June 17 this year, which is expected to last five days.

Atkinson was remanded in custody until a pre-trial review hearing on May 21.

The Recorder of Leeds, Judge Guy Kearl, QC said: "On trial will take place on June 17 this year.

"You must attend your trial, if you fail to attend your trial it may take place without you being here."

Members of both families were visibly emotional in the public gallery during the hearing.

Poppy was a University of Nottingham maths graduate who is originally from Frome.

She had a Masters degree in statistics and began a job as a quantitative trading analyst at bookmaker William Hill's Leeds offices in 2017.