A 26-year-old man will face trial later this year accused of murdering an animal lover whose body was discovered in farm buildings, writes Rod Minchin.

Luigi Palmas appeared before Exeter Crown Court charged with killing Katherine Bevan, 53, who was found at Coombe Farm in Gittisham, near Honiton, Devon, on the evening of January 3.

Palmas, of no fixed address, did not enter a plea to the charge of murder or an allegation of assault by actual bodily harm, which is alleged to have taken place on January 20.

Judge Peter Johnson, the Recorder of Exeter, said Palmas will face trial on July 16 and that the trial is due to last up to six days.

The Italian national, who appeared via videolink, was assisted during the short hearing by an interpreter.

Richard Smith QC appeared for the prosecution while Joss Ticehurst represented Palmas.

Judge Johnson remanded the defendant into custody until his trial.

Mrs Bevan had worked at the Vale Veterinary Group in Honiton for more than 10 years as stock manager for the practice. Previously she had worked in the retail industry.

Outside of work Mrs Bevan had volunteered for five years at Combe Farm, helping to take care of more than 100 cattle.

She had recently released a book, Knowing Daisy: A True Story, which chronicled her relationship with calves Daisy and Dandelion, which were both rescued and taken to the farm.