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Rise in number of right-wing extremists

Stephanie Finnon

BBC Newcastle

The number of potential right-wing extremists in the North East who have been referred to the government's anti-extremism programme has risen to more than 300.

The figures from the Prevent scheme relate to 2018 and 2019 and are across the areas covered by the seven North East and Yorkshire police forces.

In total, there were almost 1,000 referrals to the programme from the region - the highest total in England and Wales.

The figures show that more than 300 of those were about children aged under 15.

Police begin speeding crackdown

BBC Tees

Cleveland and Durham Police are starting two weeks of speed checks on the region's roads.

They say they are trying to reduce fatal and serious crashes caused by people driving too fast.

More than 60,000 people were caught speeding in the the North East in the two years between January 2018 and December 2019.

Speed check
PA Media

Police say stolen medicines 'could kill'

Jill Archbold

BBC Look North

Medication stolen during a burglary in Sunderland could kill, police say.

Offenders broke into a vehicle on St Bede’s Terrace and stole a small locked metal box containing three bottles of medication.

The medication is for animals and would be fatal should it be taken by humans or given to animals in the wrong dosage, a Northumbria Police spokesman said.

The force has asked anyone with information to contact them.

Sunderland University finds hundreds of abusive tweets to Meghan Markle

BBC Newcastle

Sunderland University has found that hundreds of abusive Tweets were posted about Meghan Markle following the announcement that she and Prince Harry were stepping back from Royal Life.

Researchers found around 400 misogynistic and racist messages, which included the most severe category of abuse.

The experts warned there will be many more Tweets their software didn't capture, simply because it used more subtle language.

Meghan Markle
AFP / Getty Images

Police drop concerns over new Newcastle aparthotel and rooftop bar

Daniel Holland

Local Democracy Reporter

A new aparthotel with a rooftop bar looks set to arrive in Newcastle city centre after police dropped objections.

The Malhotra Group’s £7m plans to transform a historic building next to the Swan House Roundabout had sparked concerns among city licensing chiefs, with fears that drinkers would be spilling out of the venue in the early hours at one of the city’s busiest junctions.

But a hearing to determine whether or not to grant an alcohol licence for the luxury aparthotel, which will boast rooftop and ground floor bars as well as a pavement cafe, was called off after a breakthrough in negotiations.

After Malhotra offered new conditions to reassure council and police bosses that the development at 1 Mosley Street would not have a negative impact on the city centre, their licence looks set to be approved.

Atul Malhotra, operations director at Malhotra Group plc, said: “We are delighted the plans for Mosley Street can now go ahead.

“It’s an iconic city centre site and, alongside our development at Market Lane and the planned regeneration of Pilgrim Street, heralds an exciting time for the city.”

A spokesperson for Newcastle City Council said that talks over the licence conditions for the site, which was formerly offices for the GMB union, “remain ongoing”.

They added: “Previous objections to the application from key city stakeholders have been withdrawn but no decision can be made until details relating to the operating style, in line with council licensing policy, have been resolved.”

Plans for a new aparthotel and bars at the corner of Mosley Street and Pilgrim Street in Newcastle city centre
Space Architects/Malhotra Plc

Thirty-four University of Sunderland staff could lose their jobs

Stephanie Finnon

BBC Newcastle

Thirty-four staff at the University of Sunderland could lose their jobs after a decision by its governors.

The university says it will be streamlining its approach to teaching courses through more efficient approaches to timetabling and space usage.

Three charged after man suffers life-threatening injuries

Three men have been charged with attempted murder after another man suffered life-threatening injuries in Gateshead.

The 46-year-old man was found on Falla Park Road, Felling, on Saturday afternoon with injuries consistent with a stabbing, Northumbria Police said.

He was taken to hospital and is in a critical condition.

Three Gateshead men, aged 52, 50 and 26, have been charged with attempted murder and possessing an offensive weapon. They are due to appear before South Tyneside magistrates later.

A woman who was also arrested has been released with no further action and a 51-year-old man has been released under investigation.

Whitley Bay women knit to help Australian animals
A mother and daughter join knitters across the world to help animals injured in Australia's bushfires.

Pub praised for tyre fire evacuation aid

A Wallsend pub which opened its doors to residents forced to flee their homes due to a nearby fire has been praised by police.

More than 100 people took refuge in the Anson Public House on Sunday after the blaze at a tyre yard on Sunday.

A large number of tyres caught light, and gas cylinders also exploded, so as a precaution a cordon was set up and a number of properties were evacuated.

As well as providing temporarily shelter, pub staff served free tea, coffee, juice and water during the night, and helped accommodate beloved pets.

Officers from Northumbria Police joined North Tyneside's elected mayor Norma Redfearn in presenting them with an Area Commander’s Commendation.

Anson Public House staff
Northumbria Police

People in Wallsend are the salt of the earth and this is about what real communities do for each other in their hour of need. I’m incredibly proud and grateful for the way everybody has responded and taken care of each other during a very serious incident.”

Norma Redfearn,Elected mayor of North Tyneside

Durham police thanked for helping family robbed of Christmas presents

Hadrian's Wall 'covered' Roman fort gifted to the nation

A North East family has donated an unusual gift to the nation - a Roman Fort.

Carrawburgh Fort is between Chesters and Housesteads in Northumberland.

It housed a garrison of 500 troops who protected part of Hadrian's Wall from enemies in the north.

It has been gifted to Historic England by the Du Cane family who have cared for it since 1950.

Most of the site has grassed over but is open to the public and will be managed by English Heritage.

Carrawburgh Fort
Justin Minns

Police continue to investigate 'suspicious items' found after report of 'loud bang'

Stephanie Finnon

BBC Newcastle

Police are continuing to question a man after an explosion and the discovery of chemicals in South Shields.

On New Year's Eve there was a loud bang in the area of Temple Memorial Park and officers found a hole in the ground from a small explosion.

This week police searched a house on Hathersage Gardens and found suspicious items including chemicals.

The bomb disposal team has now been called and houses nearby evacuated but it is not being treated as terror related.

A 51-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of making or having explosives in suspicious circumstances.

Fire crew issues tea light warning

Crews from the Marley Park station responded to two tea light fires within an hour yesterday.

The Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service has warned people to take precautions when using them.

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Man shot by suspected air gun following South Shields burglary

A man has been shot by a suspected air gun following a burglary in South Shields.

A masked man forced his way into the property on Manet Gardens, at about 17:30 yesterday and demanded money.

The 84-year-old occupant confronted the burglar with a broomstick, and was then shot at by the suspected air gun, police said.

Emergency services attended and the victim was taken to hospital with a minor chest injury.

Northumbria Police are appealing for anyone with information to come forward.

Det Ch Insp Sean Mcguigan said: "This is clearly a very serious incident that has resulted in a pensioner being taken to hospital.

"The victim showed incredible bravery when confronting the raider but has been left understandably shaken by what happened."

He added: "We are satisfied that there is no wider threat to the public, but an increased police presence will be seen in the area as officers carry out inquiries and offer reassurance to residents."

Manet Gardens, in South Shields

Ron Hogg: Funeral held for Durham Police and Crime Commissioner

Funeral procession arrives
Durham Constabulary

Family, friends and colleagues gathered for the funeral of former Durham Police and Crime Commissioner Ron Hogg.

Mr Hogg died in December, aged 68, several months after he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease.

Picture of Ron Hogg at his funeral
Durham Constabulary

He was posthumously appointed Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in the Queen's New Year Honours list for charitable and political services.

A ceremonial service was held at Durham Cathedral and was attended by hundreds of people.

Mourners in Durham Cathedral at Ron Hogg's Funeral
Durham Constabulary

Durham teen neo-Nazi became 'living dead'

The youngest person to be convicted of planning a terrorist attack in the UK identified potential targets in his hometown, began drafting a "guerrilla warfare" manual and tried to obtain a chemical used in terrorist bombings.

The 17-year-old from Durham, who was 16 when he was convicted, has been locked up for more than six years.

The case also focused on the radicalisation process itself, hearing the 16-year-old's preparations for an attack involved a deliberate effort to dehumanise himself and become like the "living dead".

Aged 14, he noted: "I wasn't always a fascist, my red pilling process was slower than most", adding that less than two years earlier he advocated "punk rock ideals and Marxism".

The trial heard much about his ideology: an amalgam of neo-Nazism, Satanism and misanthropy, allied to the belief that a collapse of civilisation should be "accelerated" through acts of violence and criminality.

A drawing by the boy
Counter Terrorism Police NE

The boy actively sought to alter himself in line with the texts he read, including the instruction "shed empathy" on a list of things to do.

Speaking constantly online with other neo-Nazis, he told a forum that his Satanic belief system involved programming oneself to lose any feelings of guilt, becoming the living dead in the process.

"I believe there is primal enjoyment to be had in sadism," he wrote in his journal, stating: "How wonderful it is to be an amoral individual".

He searched for synagogues around the UK, wrote a list of local places in Durham "worth attacking", collected explosives manuals, and tried to secure a dangerous chemical from a fellow extremist in the USA.

When the boy was arrested outside his home in March, detectives found a coded note in his pocket, saying: "Killing is probably easier than your paranoid mind thinks. You're just not used to it. Most were caught because they got sloppy."

Terror attack plot teenager into 'occult neo-Nazism'

The trial of a teenager locked up for more than six years for plotting a terror attack in Durham heard the boy was an adherent of “occult neo-Nazism”.

The defendant’s attack preparations included researching explosives and trying to obtain the obtain the dangerous chemical ammonium nitrate.

Jurors heard that, in the course of his internet searches, he looked for a “map of synagogues in the UK”, “newcastle synagogue”, and that he wrote of planning to conduct an arson spree targeting synagogues in the Durham area using Molotov cocktails.

He also visited websites on firearms and was in communication with a gun auctioneer.

After his arrest in March 2019, police found him in possession of instructions showing to make bombs and ricin – and that he had distributed firearms manuals online by uploading them to a neo-Nazi website.

Nigel Evans QC, mitigating, said the boy’s lack of contrition may be “interpreted as part of his autism, his ADHD”, and that he now needed intervention and rehabilitation.

He said the teen’s parents – who previously “didn’t believe anything was wrong” – were “now fully engaged".

Terror plot teenager can only be released early if parole board agrees

A Durham teenager convicted of plotting a terror attack can be considered for release on licence after two thirds of the custodial sentence, but only if deemed safe for release by the parole board.

Addressing the defendant, who cannot be named for legal reasons, Judge David Stockdale QC described him as a widely-read "young man of high intellect”, adding this made it a matter of “infinite regret” that he had persisted on “such a twisted and - many would say sick - ideological path".

He said that, while the boy’s youth was a powerful mitigating factor, it was also a "most disturbing” aspect of the case.

He said the evidence in the trial "tells its own macabre story”.

"You suffer from an autistic spectrum disorder", he told the defendant, saying it was common ground between experts.

The judge also said the boy had written him a letter expressing “remorse”.

Earlier in the hearing, prosecutor Michelle Nelson QC said the boy had been convicted of three kinds of terror offence, saying “this is a gamut of offending across the terrorism legislation”.

She said that gun manuals disseminated online by the defendant had the “potential to endanger life” and post-trial medical reports go to personal mitigation, but do not “explain the offending”.

Police release CCTV of Wallsend arson attack

Police have released CCTV of the moment arsonists targeted a car in Wallsend.

The attack took place shortly before 22:00 on Friday, December 20, in Barton Close.

It shows two men pouring an unknown substance on the car before setting it alight.

The fire was extinguished by the fire service and nobody was injured.

Anyone with information or who saw anything suspicious in the area at the time is asked to get in touch with police.

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BreakingHundreds of people gather for funeral of Durham PCC Ron Hogg

Drivers netted in road safety operation

A woman travelling in the front seat of a car with a six-week-old child on her lap was caught in a police road safety operation.

She was in one of 80 vehicles stopped by a team of volunteer special constables as part of a cross-border day of action carried out by Northumbria and Durham police in Gateshead, Birtley, Washington, Houghton, and Consett.

It also took place in Chester-le-Street, where the new mother was warned about the need to use a car seat, as well as being handed a fixed penalty notice.

Another random stop check led to the arrest of a 62-year-old woman, and 11 drivers being reported for speeding in a residential area.

Special constables in joint operation
Northumbria Police

Sergeant Pinner Rana, of Northumbria Police’s motor patrols department, said: “This has been another very successful operation and once again it has been led by a team of volunteers.

“These men and women have full-time jobs and families at home but they have volunteered hours of their own time to keep the public safe.

“Their hard work and dedication is incredible and I am so proud to be able to work with individuals who are so committed to improving road safety.

'Liquid squirting' bag thief sought by police

An investigation is under way after two teenagers had a liquid squirted in their face when they tried to stop a thief in Newcastle.

Police say the boys intervened after a man stole a handbag from Michael Kors store on Blackett Street yesterday afternoon and then tried to flee on a bike.

They were not seriously injured as the liquid is not thought to be harmful.

Witnesses, or anyone with information about the incident at 15:45, are asked to contact Northumbria Police.

Man critical after two-vehicle crash

Three people have been injured in a crash in Sunderland.

The collision, involving two vehicles, happened on the A690 at Prospect Junction on New Year's Eve.

Two men and a woman were taken to hospital - one of the men, aged 32, is described as being in a critical condition.

Northumbria Police has appealed for witnesses to the incident at 20:15 to come forward.

Warning over Whitley Bay New Year's Day dip

People are being advised not to take part in a New Year's Day dip at Whitley Bay because it is not an organised event with safety cover.

Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade said in the past the event has had an official organiser but that is not the case this year.

It says it is worried a serious incident could happen and those involved might be expecting a level of organisation and safety cover which won't be there.

It says it is concerned with hundreds of people possibly going in at the same time, some might go further into the water than they would normally and could be at risk of cold water shock.

The brigade says it will have a safety patrol in the area and will be joined by the Coastguard rescue team from Blyth.

But it says it is not there to provide safety cover as that would require lifeguards and safety boats which they don't have.

New Year's Day dip at Whitley Bay

Parents hail donor after daughter's Christmas heart transplant

The parents of a 12-year-old County Durham girl have thanked an organ donor after she was diagnosed with a disease and had to have a heart transplant.

Keen footballer Kayleigh Llewellyn (pictured), from Seaham, was taken to hospital after she had trouble breathing.

She was known to have asthma, but doctors also diagnosed cardiomyopathy – a type of heart disease.

Surgeons at Newcastle's Freeman Hospital fitted a pump to help her heart work. But when her condition failed to improve she was placed on an urgent transplant list.

An operation was carried out just before Christmas and Kayleigh is now improving and hoping to go home soon.

Kayleigh Llewellyn

Her father Shaun said: "It's been absolutely unreal, but at the same time it's the best Christmas present we could ever have.

"It came as a shock to us all how ill Kayleigh was. Our world just dropped.

"She was a fit and healthy youngster and played football and did gymnastics.

"But luckily she was offered a heart very quickly, which we are very grateful for."

Mum Sonia added: "We are going to try and focus now on raising awareness about the importance of organ donation."

Kayleigh said: "It was very scary. All I had were questions running through my head about whether I'd be all right again.

"It's been a very different kind of Christmas, but I'm hoping to go home soon."

Man seriously injured in assault by group

A man suffered serious injuries including a fractured knee, fractured ribs and facial injuries when he was assaulted by a group of males, police said.

The 40-year-old was attacked on Albion Terrace, Lynemouth, Northumberland, between 22:00 and 22:30 on Boxing Day and was taken to hospital.

Northumbria Police is appealing for witnesses to come forward.

Image released in jewellery theft investigation

An image of a man has been released by police investigating the theft of "sentimental" jewellery from a house in Sunderland.

A gold box chain, diamond and emerald ring and a 1920s brass jewellery box as well as bank cards were taken from the house on Woodside on 17 November.

Northumbria Police said the victim, an elderly woman, was out of the house at the time.

The bank cards were used in the Houghton-le-Spring and Hetton-le-Hole areas shortly afterwards and police said the man was in the same location when one of the stolen cards was used.

He, or anyone who recognises him, is asked to contact police.

Burglary investigation image

Arrest after driver, 90, dies following collision

A man has been arrested after an elderly woman died following a crash in County Durham.

The woman, who was 90, was taken to hospital after the car she was driving was involved in a collision with a van on the A67 at Winston on Monday.

She under went emergency surgery, but died on Friday.

Durham Police said the driver of the van was questioned on suspicion of causing death by careless driving, and later bailed.