A PRELIMINARY hearing has been set for five people charged as part of a major investigation into the alleged murder of a 26-year-old Carlisle man.

Detectives launched a large scale murder probe after the body of Lee McKnight was found in the River Caldew, in the area of Blackwell Hall, near Cummersdale, at about 5.25am last Friday morning.

Jamie Andrew Davison, 25; Carol Diane Edgar, 46; her 25-year-old daughter, Coral Edgar; and 51-year-old Paul Roberts each face one charge. This alleges that they murdered Mr McKnight on July 24.

Davison, of Beverley Rise, Carlisle; Carol Edgar and Coral Edgar, both of Charles Street, Carlisle; and Roberts, of Grey Street, Carlisle; all appeared at the Carlisle Crown Court today (July 31), via video links from custody, for a preliminary hearing lasting 15 minutes.

A fifth person, 40-year-old, Janice Edgar, of Dale End Road, Carlisle, faces three charges. One of assisting an offender and two allegations of possession of drugs with intent to supply. These relate to heroin (class A) and diazepam and pregabalin (class C).

Judge John Altham, and three legal counsel appeared via Skype while other barristers appeared from the courtroom.

The five defendants spoke only to confirm their names and dates of birth, and no indications of pleas were given by their respective lawyers.

They will next attend a plea and trial preparation hearing which was listed for September 7. A provisional trial date was set for May 4 next year. The court heard the possible time estimate for such a trial in front of a jury was four to five weeks.

In the meantime, all five defendants were remanded in custody by Judge Altham.