TWO youths have appeared in court and denied robbing and murdering Scott Anderton, whose body was found in the canal at Leigh. The 16 and 17-year-old boys, who cannot be named for legal reasons, appeared via video link at Manchester Crown Court to enter their pleas.

The 16-year-old pleaded not guilty to murder, robbery and two further attempted robberies and the youth, aged 17, denies murder, robbing Mr Anderton of cash, a carrier bag and its contents and one attempted robbery.

Their co-defendant, Liam Bailey, aged 18, of Diamond Street, Leigh, did not enter a plea and there will be a further hearing on August 6.

Police were called shortly before 7am on March 25 to a report of a body in the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

Mr Anderton, aged 33, from Leigh was pronounced dead at the scene and had sustained stab wounds and other injuries.

A statement issued by his devastated family said: “Scott did not have a bad bone in his body and was genuinely the most caring, loving, kindest person you could meet. The love for his family meant everything to him.

“He made time for anyone he met and would always be there if anyone needed help. Even on the darkest of days Scott was always positive and had the cheekiest smile which was infectious.

“Scott was our kid!

“Our family have been robbed of a son, dad, grandson, brother, nephew and uncle.

"There is an emptiness which can never be filled and our family will never come to terms with their loss.

“The only comfort we can find in all this madness is knowing that he will finally be at peace with his precious baby girl back in his arms.

"You are truly loved Scott. We promise you will never be forgotten and your memory will live on so it's not goodbye forever, our kid, but just goodbye for now.

“You will forever be our diamond in the mud.”