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Two bodies found in Sunderland house

The bodies of two people have been found inside a house in Sunderland.

Police were called to an address on Satley Gardens just before 10:00 thi morning following a report of concern for a woman.

No details of their identity have been released, but their next of kin have been informed.

Northumbria Police said inquiries were ongoing to determine the circumstances surrounding the deaths, but at this early stage it was not believed that there was any third-party involvement.

Officers remain in the area and police said there is no wider threat to the public.

Prison officer 'wrote to governor over abuse trials'

PA Media

A prison officer at a top security jail emailed a prison governor asking him to have a "quiet word" with a guard who was giving evidence at a series of abuse trials against former officers, a jury heard.

John McGee, 50, from Burnopfield, County Durham, told Durham Crown Court the email was a "moment of madness" after his father had been convicted for his part in the mistreatment of inmates at Medomsley Detention Centre in the 1970s.

He denies a single count of perverting the course of justice, saying he did not think Phil Husband, the number one governor of Durham Prison, would act on the email he sent.

Deborah Smithies, prosecuting, said an officer called Hugh Cockburn gave evidence at three trials at Teesside Crown Court about seeing young inmates being assaulted in the reception at Medomsley.

He now worked at Durham Prison, where Mr Husband was the boss. McGee's father, also called John, was convicted of misconduct in a public office in December 2018, in the second of three trials of ex-guards.

The trial continues.

Video views of Extinction Rebellion protest

And here's a view of the Extinction Rebellion protest against the expansion of a mine near Dipton, County Durham.

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Police name man found dead under rubble

Police have named a man whose body was discovered in the rubble of a fire in Sunderland.

Mark Herron, 53, of New Silksworth, was found under rubble inside the garage of a property on Tunstall Village Green on Tuesday.

His family are being supported by specialist officers.

Mark’s family said: “We are absolutely devastated by Mark’s death. Words can’t describe the pain we are feeling as we try to come to terms with our loss.

“He was a much-loved member of our family, and whilst he would have been the first to acknowledge he had his problems in recent years, he was a kind man at heart.

“We would like to thank the community for the messages we have received since this tragic news, and would ask that our privacy is respected at this time.”

A post-mortem examination found he died as a result of the fire.

Police are currently treating his death as suspicious.

On Sunday, a 38-year-old man was arrested in connection over the death and has been released while investigations continue.

Mark Herron
Northumbria Police
Max Power celebrates

Max Power salvages a point in the sixth minute of stoppage time as his dramatic late strike secures Sunderland a 1-1 draw against Fleetwood.

Read more

'Rogue fish trader' sentence welcomed by consumer watchdog

A trader who filled a disabled South Lakeland pensioner's freezer with fish without her permission, and then charged her £200, has been sentenced to 150 hours of unpaid work and a three-month curfew at Preston Crown Court.

Paul Dawson, 54 of Pelton Fell, Chester-le-Street, County Durham admitted an offence under trading standards legislation at Preston Crown Court.

Councillor Celia Tibble, the county council cabinet member for trading standards, said the case should be a warning for other unscrupulous door-to-door sales people.

"Rogue traders such as Mr Dawson charging exorbitant rates for unwanted goods are not just cowardly criminals; they are also damaging the security and confidence of the elderly and vulnerable."

I am delighted to see that justice has been served for the aggressive and deceitful practices that this criminal pursued.”

Celia Tibble

Man released by police after body found in fire rubble

A man arrested after human remains were discovered in the rubble of a fire in Sunderland has been released while investigations continue.

Officers found an as-yet unidentified body beneath dense rubble from a domestic garage fire on 18 February in Tunstall Village Green.

Northumbria Police said a 38-year-old man arrested on suspicion of murder had been released pending further inquiries.

Det Insp Graeme Dodds said: “First and foremost, this is an absolutely tragic incident and specialist family liaison officers continue to offer the suspected victim’s family support at this devastating time.

“A huge amount of specialist fire and forensic investigation is ongoing at the scene and that will take a considerable amount of time to complete, before any identification process can be carried out

“We have already interviewed one man in connection with the incident, but remain open-minded and officers with support from specialist fire crews will remain in the area to carry out inquiries.

“I’m now asking anybody in the community who saw anything suspicious on the day of the fire, or who has received any information whatsoever regarding the incident, to come forward.

“That could prove the key to ensuring swift and robust action is taken against anybody found to be responsible.”

Man arrested in hotel damage investigation

A man was arrested on suspicion of causing damage to a hotel on Newcastle Quayside.

Northumbria Police investigated reports of a disturbance at the Premier Inn on Lombard Street at shortly after 21:30 on Sunday.

It said some water pipes were damaged and there was flooding in the hotel and an adjoining business. Guests were evacuated as a precaution but no-one was injured.

A 48-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of causing criminal damage and is in custody.

Dragonflies and damselflies bounce back after extreme weather

The North East's dragonfly and damselfly population has bounced back after being hit by extreme weather.

A survey by the Durham Wildlife Trust showed the insects thrived in 2019 - 1,296 were counted, which was 324 more than the previous year.

A dragon fly
Mal Wilkinson

A spokesman for the trust said the extreme cold of early 2018, dubbed the "Beast from the East", badly hit populations.

The insect counts were carried out at Rainton Meadows, Low Barns, Malton near Lanchester and Barlow Burn in Gateshead.

Firefighters still at Peterlee blaze

Fire crews are still tackling a large blaze on an industrial estate in Peterlee.

County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service was alerted in the early hours of this morning.

At its height, 50 firefighters were involved but resources at the scene were scaled back later.

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Theatre to close for £500k revamp

A theatre in County Durham will shut for five months to undergo a £500,000 upgrade.

Durham County Council is investing the money in Consett's Empire Theatre which needs essential roof repairs.

Empire Theatre
Durham County Council

The project will also involve refreshing the auditorium's decor, as well as updates to lighting and backstage facilities for visiting acts.

The 500-seat venue, which was built in 1885, will shut on 1 April and reopen in early September.

Snow-covered Angel looks over region

One of the region's best-known landmarks hasn't escaped this morning's snow.

This picture of Gateshead's Angel of the North was taken by photographer Owen Humphreys, of PA Media.

We can't tell if the dog is enjoying its morning walk or not!

A man walks his dog past the snow-covered Angel of the North
PA Media

More North East snow scenes

Here are a few more photos of snowy scenes around the North East.

At the top is Sunniside, near Tow Law, County Durham, taken by Bobby Sheen and below that Consett taken by Iain Kempson.

If you want to send us photos you can tweet us, contact us via our Facebook page or email us.

Snow in Sunniside
Snow in Consett

Heavy smoke at industrial estate fire

This is the scene this morning of a fire at South West Industrial Estate in Peterlee.

People are being urged to avoid the area.

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Public urged to avoid fire area

People are being urged to avoid the area around a large fire on an industrial estate in Peterlee.

County Durham and Darlington Fire and rescue Service has seven fire appliances and one aerial ladder platform at South West Industrial Estate.

"Please take care and avoid the area if possible," a spokesman said.

View more on twitter

Police urge public to avoid river search

Durham Police is asking people not to go to Bishop Auckland to help search for someone who reportedly fell into the River Wear.

Overnight police said they were searching after receiving "reports that a person may have gone into the river near Toronto Bridge".

Officers said the area is particularly hazardous

View more on twitter

Snowy scenes across region

Snowy scenes can be found across the region this Monday morning.

These were the views in Consett and Chester-le-Street this morning.

You can send us your photos by tweeting us or contacting us via our Facebook page or email.

Snow in field
Snow on estate

Severe disruption: A692 County Durham both ways

BBC News Travel

A692 County Durham both ways severe disruption, between Leadgate and A1 Western Bypass J69.

A692 County Durham - Snow and Impassable on A692 Lobley Hill Road between the Leadgate junction and Dunston Interchange in Gateshead.

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time

Patrick van Aanholt (left)

Saj Chowdhury

BBC Sport

Crystal Palace secure their first win of 2020 thanks to Patrick van Aanholt's superb first-half free-kick which saw off visitors Newcastle.

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Reward offered over abandoned snakes information

A £2,500 reward is being offered after 29 snakes were abandoned in Sunderland.

Fifteen corn snakes and one python were found in two pink pillowcases inside a bin behind Farringdon Fire Station on Saturday.

That came two days after 13 royal pythons were found at the same spot in a Buzz Lightyear pillowcase.

Animal welfare group Peta is offering the reward for information that leads to an arrest and conviction.

The group's Elisa Allen said: "It takes a disturbing and dangerous lack of empathy to dump so many animals."

The RSPCA officer who collected the snakes said they were "incredibly lucky" not to end up in landfill.

They were taken to a vet to be checked over before going to a specialist reptile centre for further care.

The corn snakes

Kevin back on home turf for Any Questions

A prominent North-East born journalist will return to his roots to take part in popular Radio 4 show Any Questions next week.

Associate editor and political columnist on the Mirror, Kevin Maguire, will be among the panel for the BBC discussion programme which will be hosted by the University of Sunderland on Friday28 February.

In a career-spanning more than 30 years, Kevin has become one of the country’s most recognised journalists.

The South Shields-born pundit has already forged strong links with the university as a visiting professor of journalism, while in 2018 he was made an honorary Doctor of Arts.

Kevin Maguire
University of Sunderland

Will Young set for free North East show

Will Young is set to sing at a free North East show this summer.

He joins the list of artists for South Tyneside Council's Sunday concert series at South Shields’ Bents Park in July.

Ella Henderson will open the series on 12 July, with other names still to be announced for the final two dates.

Will Young will headline the second show on Sunday 19 July.

The concerts are free.

Will Young
Will Young

Officer sniffs out '£2m cannabis farm'

A cannabis farm the size of a football pitch has been uncovered thanks to the nose of community support officer.

The drugs factory, which police said has a street value of £2m, was uncovered by officers on Team Valley in Gateshead,

More than 3,000 plants were discovered in a warehouse by CSO Martin Jobling who was on patrol at the Valentine’s Funfair on Team Valley and noticed a strong smell of cannabis.

Northumbria Police said three foreign nationals were arrested on suspicion of producing a Class B drug with intent to supply.

A spokesman for the force said: “This is a sophisticated drug supply operation that may have seen millions of pounds worth of cannabis supplied to dealers across our region.

“This seizure will have put a huge dent in the pockets of the organised crime group responsible."


Hospice closures warning

James Harrison

Local Democracy Reporter

Ministers have been warned more end-of-life services could shut down if they don’t heed the example of Jarrow’s St Clare’s Hospice.

It is more than a year now since the institution collapsed into insolvency after more than 30 years providing palliative care to families in South Tyneside.

And now leaders in the borough are once again calling on the government to put more funding into the sector to avoid more areas being left without dedicated provision.

“We’re trying to achieve something not just for this area but for the North East – successive governments have failed to meet this and the demand is there,” said South Tyneside councillor John McCabe.

“There is no provision, if it wasn’t for the charities the whole thing would collapse.

“In the 21st Century is that really applicable to something with such a massive effect on people’s lives?

“It needs to be resolved, a lot of hospices are struggling financially, we’ve done the research on that, it’s going to get worse and there will be more St Clares.”

Severe accident: A1068 Northumberland both ways

BBC News Travel

A1068 Northumberland both ways severe accident, at the Ulgham turn off.

A1068 Northumberland - A1068 in Ellington blocked and it's heavy in both directions at the the Ulgham turn off junction, because of an accident involving three vehicles.

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time

Ex-PM Brown to speak at Newcastle museum

BBC Look North

North East and Cumbria

The former Labour Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, will address a conference in Newcastle today.

Mr Brown is a speaker at an event looking at the constitutional history and future of the UK, which being held at the Discovery Museum.

Other politicians, academics, journalists and a comedian will be taking part in discussions today and tomorrow.

Gordon Brown
PA Media

PCC's widow calls for assisted dying law change

BBC Breakfast

The widow of former Durham Police and Crime Commissioner Ron Hogg has told BBC Breakfast she now supports assisted dying and is calling for a change in the law.

Mr Hogg campaigned for it to be de-criminalised before he died in December, aged 68, months after he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease.

Having previously been against such a move, his wife, Maureen, said her views had changed:

"His condition was deteriorating almost by the day. At that point we were just trying to get through each day.

"To see him cry, to be in that situation, was heartbreaking and that's something he had to live through and the memory is something I have to live with for the rest of my life.

"It's not what I would've wished for, so yes, I have changed my thinking."

It is illegal in England and Wales to encourage or assist a death and it holds a prison sentence of up to 14 years.

The Royal College of GPs is set to announce its stance on the issue later.

Ron Hogg in a hospice with his wife, Maureen
Family handout

They're dancing in the aisles over City Hall plan

Daniel Holland

Local Democracy Reporter

One of Newcastle’s most famous venues, the O2 City Hall, is to get a significant revamp.

Removable seats will be installed so that a standing space can be created for music lovers to dance along to their favourite acts.

There will also be a new bar and toilets.

The historic site was taken over by the Academy Music Group, which runs the nearby O2 Academy, last year and its new owners are keen to bring back the glory days to a venue that has hosted some of the biggest names in music history.

The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Elton John, and David Bowie all graced the City Hall’s stage during its heyday, and it is hoped that the upgrade can attract top acts once again.

Newcastle City Hall
NCJ Media

Sing out for Sunderland

A new opera has been written for Sunderland and you can help perform it on stage.

You don't need any experience to take part in A Soldier's Tale as training will be given at a free workshop.

The chorus
North News and Pictures

A taster day is at Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens on 8 March.

The Soldier’s Return is a new opera based on veterans’ real life experiences, premiering at The Point in Sunderland in June.

Organiser, Opera Sunderland, says that it is drawn from interviews with local people involved in past, recent and ongoing combat situations and it explores the impact of conflict when soldiers return home.

The company says that it plans to involve as many local residents as possible, including offering free singing roadshows in partnership with The Cultural Spring, and schools workshops.

Sunderland-born opera singer and Opera Sunderland artistic director Alison Barton said: “I really believe anyone can sing, so even if you don’t have any formal training or experience our friendly team of experts can teach you."

If you can chant at the Stadium of Light on match day or sing along to the radio in the car, then come and have a go!

Alison Barton
Alison Barton
North News and Pictures
Alison Barton

Fire at old police station is extinguished

Tyne and Wear fire crews spent just under two hours dealing with a fire in a former police station in Sunderland this afternoon.

They left the scene in Primate Road just after 14:00.

The building was derelict and nobody was injured.