A 53-YEAR-OLD man has appeared in court charged with the murder of St Ives mum Pauline Smith.

John Alexander Mearns, of no fixed abode, was brought before Huntingdon Magistrates' Court this morning. Magistrates immediately committed the case to Cambridge Crown Court where a bail application will be heard on Monday.

Ms Smith, 54, was found dead at her home in Gainsborough Drive, on Thursday last week (October 27). A post mortem revealed that she had died from "compression to the neck".

Mearns, dressed in a blue and red rugby shirt and jeans, and looking relaxed, spoke only to confirm his name and date of birth.

Penny Cannon, prosecuting, said: "Murder is an indictable only offence. Only a judge can consider the question of bail. Mr Mearns must appear before a judge."

Mearns was charged last night (Wednesday) at Huntingdon police station.