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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

Witness appeal after teen hit by vehicle

BBC Newcastle

A teenager was seriously injured when she was hit by a vehicle on a busy Sunderland road yesterday afternoon.

She was flown to Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary by the air ambulance after the crash near the Sainsbury's on Wessington Way just after 16:30.

Northumbria Police has appealed for witnesses to get in touch.

Cash boost for groups supporting victims

Victim services across the Northumbria Police area are set to receive more than £1m from the force's Police and Crime Commissioner.

The Supporting Victims Fund has awarded the cash to a range of organisations helping those considered to be the most vulnerable - domestic abuse and sexual violence victims, young people, victims of hate crime, and those with mental health needs.

It is the first round of victims funds to be announced this year, with more funding to be allocated to specialist services and charitable organisations over the coming weeks.

The latest beneficiaries include Sunderland Counselling Services, The Angelou Centre in Newcastle, Tyneside and Northumberland Mind, and Streetwise Young People’s Project.

Angelou Centre, Newcastle

Northumbria PCC, Kim McGuinness, said: “My top two priorities are to help our force prevent crime and ensure that when a crime does happen, the victim is central to all we do.

“With access to the right help at the right time, people can feel better, even stronger, but it can take time.

"Through coping strategies, therapies and opening up conversation, we can help people to recover and successfully move forward with their lives."

'Eyesore' and parking concern over housing plans

Herbert Soden

Local Democracy Reporter

Plans to build 69 homes in Tynemouth have been described as an “eyesore” by one resident, and others have noted concerns about parking.

The mixture of town-houses, flats and duplex apartments would be next to the Metro station.

Residents have submitted 12 objections to the scheme, raising fears that it would spoil the village.

One wrote: "This inappropriately oversized urban block would completely overshadow the elegant Victorian glass canopied architecture and will not be an in keeping introduction to our pretty village."

Another said: "This plan is an eyesore given the conservation area that is Tynemouth."

A further one said: "Adequate parking provisions have not been made in a village already pressed for parking.”

Artist's impression of housing development

The plans submitted by Station Developments also feature a basement car park, and a surface car park for public use on weekdays.

It said the new homes would be a boost for Tynemouth’s already “thriving” economy.

Artist's impression of housing development

North Tyneside Council is expected to decide on the application by late May.

Missing South Shields woman seen near pub

Police searching for a woman missing from South Shields have issued a fresh appeal for help.

Natalie McIntyre, 31, left her home in the Mill Dam area of the town on the evening of 11 February and has not been seen since.

Police say they have fresh information that someone matching Natalie’s description was walking near the Sundial pub on the seafront at about 08:00 the following morning.

Natalie is 5ft 3in with brown eyes and blonde bobbed hair.

Natalie McIntyre
Northumbria Police

She was thought to be wearing black pump style shoes, khaki green cargo trouser and a black top with gold bands on the sleeves.

Det Sgt John Baines, of Northumbria Police, said: “We have received some fresh information suggesting that Natalie was seen near the Sundial pub on the seafront last Wednesday morning.

“This is a busy path near the seafront which attracts lots of walkers, and we now want to hear from anybody who was in that area between 7.45am and 9.30am and who can provide any information as to whether they saw Natalie or not.

“We are continuing to offer support to Natalie’s family at this time and would ask anybody who has seen or heard from her, or might know her whereabouts, to come forward.”

Fender misses out on Brit Awards prize

It was a disappointing night for singer Sam Fender at the Brit Awards.

The 25-year-old, from North Shields, was nominated for best new artist but lost out to Lewis Capaldi.

You can read all about the night's winners and losers here.

In December, Sam was forced to cancel dates due to laryngitis, but he returned to the stage in Newcastle this week and will perform again in the city tonight.

Sam Fender on the red carpet ahead of the 2020 Brit Awards
AFP/Getty Images

Motorist guilty of string of driving offences

Uninsured driver Lewis Nesbitt was arrested and charged with a string of motoring offences, after a high speed persuit near Houghton-le-Spring.

The 25 year old reached speeds of 70mph in residential streets and drove the wrong way around a roundabout, after refusing to pull over his Vauxhall Corsa last September.

View more on twitter

He knowingly and willingly endangered the lives of other road users as he drove down residential streets at excess speeds with only one thing on his mind – getting away from police."

PC Steven HackettNorthumbria Police

Fender expects Capaldi to clean up at Brit Awards

BBC Newsbeat

North East Singer Sam Fender will represent the region at the Brit Awards tonight, but he doesn't fancy his chances of winning!

"I'm just going to turn up, watch Lewis Capaldi win everything and then go home," joked the North Shields singer, who's nominated against Capaldi in the best male category.

Speaking to BBC Radio 1's Newsbeat, Fender acknowledged he'd beaten Capaldi in the Critics' Choice category last year, but said he didn't expect a repeat performance.

"I think they gave me that award last year because they could see 2020 coming," he said. "They were like 'Oh Lewis Capaldi's going to win everything next year.'

"Even I've voted for Lewis."

Sam Fender playing his guitar
Getty Images

Woman, 89, seriously hurt after being hit by car

An 89-year-old woman has been seriously hurt after being struck by a car in Newcastle.

The pedestrian was hit on Gosforth High Street near to the junction with Hawthorn Road, shortly before noon.

A Northumbria Police spokesman said: “This was a serious collision which has left a woman with significant injuries in hospital.

“We are trying to establish a clear picture of the moments leading up to the collision and are appealing for anybody who witnessed the incident or was in the area at the time to get in touch."

Signal fault causes Metro disruption

Service suspended between Chichester and South Shields in both directions due to a signalling fault.

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Checkpoint project sees re-offending rates drop

BBC Newcastle

A scheme by Durham Police which gives people the chance to go into rehab for drink and drug problems while avoiding a criminal record appears to be cutting re-offending rates.

More than 2,600 offenders have taken part in the project, which began two years ago, with only six percent going on to re-offend.

The force's experiment called Checkpoint, lets people responsible for offences like thefts and burglars avoid a criminal record, so long as they get treatment for problems like drug and alcohol addiction.

It'll be discussed later this month at the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC).

Stay with BBC Newcastle for the latest on this

'Distinctive' motorbike seized during raid

Northumbria Police is looking to reunite a suspected stolen motorcycle with its owner after it was seized during a dawn raid in Newcastle.

A quantity of cannabis was also recovered when officers executed a search warrant at an address on Scafell Drive in Cowgate, after receiving intelligence about suspected drug dealing.

The "distinctive" Husqvarna motorcycle had false number plates and its serial number scraped off, leading police to believe it was stolen.

Officers have been working with local motorcycle shops in a bid to trace the owner, but so far have been unsuccessful, and have appealed to the public for help.

Anyone who recognises it, or has any information, is asked to contact the force.

Northumbria Police

Heart transplant teen: I thought I might not make it

BBC Newcastle

A North East teenager says his life has been transformed after a heart transplant.

Jack Brotton, from Darlington, was on the urgent transplant list at Newcastle's Freeman Hospital before a donor was finally found.

The 13-year-old is telling his story in a CBBC documentary called My Life: My New Heart, which will be broadcast later.

"It's really amazing," he said. "I was very scared, I never knew what would happen. I thought I might not make it."

Jack's mum, Sarah, added: "It's been a rollercoaster. Life was very challenging. He's had the ultimate gift of life."

Jack Brotton being treated in hospital

Northumbria Police holds rural recruitment drive

People interested in a career with Northumbria Police have been invited to talk to officers about what it involves, especially in rural areas.

As part of its ongoing recruitment the force is hosting a number of events to give potential candidates a chance to speak to those already in the role.

One will be held on tomorrow at Coquetvale Hotel in Rothbury and another at the Twice Brewed Inn in Bardon Mill on Thursday.

All who join Northumbria Police are able to develop a wide range of skills. We are passionate about supporting both the professional and personal progression of our colleagues and offer flexible working options to cater for people’s work-life balance."

Supt Craig Metcalfe
Northumbria Police officers
Northumbria Police

Watch: BBC's Joe goes back to operating theatre

One of the north's most experienced heart surgeons gave a BBC presenter a major heart bypass operation, and then welcomed the patient and his microphone back into his "office".

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Arrest over Gina Miller ‘hitman’ funding page

A man has been arrested in connection with a crowdfunding attempt which sought to raise £10,000 to have campaigner Gina Miller killed.

The Sunday Mirror reported in October that the page, which described the businesswoman who twice won Supreme Court cases challenging the government on Brexit, as a "traitor of democracy", had been up for six months.

It had not raised any money, and when alerted GoFundMe took it down and apologised for any distress to Ms Miller, who called the page "horrifying".

Northumbria Police has now confirmed that a 52-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of making malicious communications.

He was later released while investigations continue.

Gina Miller

BBC Radio Cumbria's Joe goes under the knife and puts it on air

The veteran BBC Radio Cumbria presenter Joe Costin was so impressed by his own heart bypass operation that he went back into the theatre to watch his surgeon perform the same procedure on another patient.

Joe Costin in operating theatre to watch surgery

Joe, 73, was diagnosed with heart problems after a routine check-up with his GP, and had his operation done by Prof Stephen Clark, the consultant cardiac surgeon at the Freeman Hospital, Newcastle.

BBC Radio Cumbria will be featuring Joe's story on programmes throughout the day next week, and Prof Clark will be on the Caroline Robertson show from 09:00 to 12:00 on Tuesday.

After the operation, I went to see Professor Clark and was so fascinated by the information he was giving me, and the number of people he told me were affected by heart disease, that I knew it would make a brilliant piece for the radio.

He invited me along to watch an operation and I said yes without thinking, but I thought the issue was so important that I had to see it through."

Joe Costin

Police crackdown on county lines drug crimes continues

Thirty-one people have now been arrested in a crackdown on county lines drug crimes.

Operation Sentinel and has seen a number of dawn raids carried out across Northumberland, Scotland and Merseyside in the past four weeks.

It's recovered a number of drug seizures including 1kg of cocaine with an estimated street value of more than £40,000.

Close up of packet of seized drugs
Northumbria Police

We will not bring this operation to a close until we are satisfied that we have done all we can to ensure this particular county line is stamped out and stays that way."

Jonathan BensleyDet Ch Insp, Northumbria Police

County lines is where criminal networks expand their operations from urban areas to more rural locations and smaller towns.

Police say it often involves the exploitation of vulnerable people, including children and those with mental health or addiction problems.

Brick thrown by child from a bridge hits car windscreen

Police say a schoolboy was lucky not to kill someone when he threw a brick off a footbridge, sending it smashing into a car windscreen.

The boy, aged seven, hurled the brick on to the A182 Washington Highway on 4 February.

It shattered the windscreen of a car that was passing underneath, which had a child sitting in the back seat.

The impact caused the vehicle to swerve but no other vehicles were in the area and the driver was able to stop safely.

The shattered car windscreen
Northumbria Police

Police traced the boy and found that he had thrown the brick off the bridge to entertain his friends.

They have spoken to him and his parents and went to local schools to get the safety message across to other children.

Insp Nick Gjorven said: "Frankly, it is sheer luck that nobody was killed. The driver involved had just picked up his son from school and was driving at 60mph on a busy road when his windscreen shattered, causing him to swerve. It quite easily could have come through the windscreen and caused catastrophic injuries to all inside the car."

The age of criminality in the UK is 10 years old so police could not prosecute the boy.

Motorcyclist dies after crashing into fence

A 34-year-old man has died after his motorcycle crashed into metal fencing in North Tyneside last night.

The bike had been riding off-road at Foxhunters playing fields when it hit the fence between 19:30 and 20:00.

The rider and the pillion passenger left the scene before calling an ambulance.

The 34-year-old man, who is thought to have have been driving the motorcycle, was taken to hospital with critical injuries and died shortly after.

The pillion passenger, a 20-year-old woman, was also taken to hospital, but was not seriously injured.

Police have launched an investigation.

Council tax hike needed 'to close £40m black hole in finances'

Martin Lindsay

BBC Newcastle

More cuts to services and a near 4% council tax rise have moved a step closer in North Tyneside.

The council says it needs to close a £40m black hole in its finances.

The authority's cabinet backed the moves on Tuesday, saying that a cash boost from the government is insufficient to reverse the impact of years of austerity.

A final decision will be made at the end of the month.

Fire crews assist flood-stranded car couple

Crews from the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service supported colleagues in Northumberland in the rescue of a couple stranded in floods near Ovington.

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Bus funding: Where would it make the most difference?

Boris Johnson is pledging £5bn over five years to boost bus services and cycling in England and campaigners want it to restore "lost" routes in "disconnected" rural areas. Where would new bus funding make the most difference?

We don't yet know which areas will see the biggest shares of the money although the government promises it will benefit "every region outside London".

Official government figures reveal more than half of all England's bus journeys are now made in London.

Highest bus use graphic
Rise and fall in bus use

Storm Ciara: DFDS cancels Amsterdam ferry sailing

DFDS says it has cancelled Monday evening's ferry sailing from North Shields to Amsterdam because of Storm Ciara.

The company said it was contacting passengers to arrange an alternative sailing.

DFDS ferry

BreakingDriver jailed for fatal lorry crash

Jonathan Swingler

Video Journalist

A lorry driver who caused the death of another motorist when he suddenly stopped his vehicle has been given a three-year prison sentence.

John Robinson, 24, hit the back of Marcel Balan’s HGV on the A19 in March last year.

The 57-year-old denied causing death by dangerous driving but was found guilty at a trial last month.

Mr Robinson had been driving home on March 12th last year when his car hit the back of a lorry.

The HGV was driven by Balan, from Romania .

Marcel Balan
Northumbria police

The court had been shown dashcam footage of how his journey was progressing

He’d been driving southbound on the A19 but had stopped the vehicle - his trial heard he believed the load on the HGV had become loose.

Three seconds later after bringing his vehicle to a standstill John Robinson’s car collided with the back of Balan’s lorry.

Sentencing Balan, Judge Penny Moreland told him he carried out a “seriously dangerous manoeuvre on the carriageway”.

He was sentenced to three years in prison, disqualified from driving for four years and will do an extended driving test on his release.

John Robinson
Family handout

Outdoor plans for seafront pub

Proposals to revamp a landmark seafront pub in South Shields have been put before council planners.

The plans, for the Sanddancer next to Sandhaven Beach, include extending the outdoor area timber decking and adding "beach hut style" seating booths and fire pits.

There would also be an outdoor bar in existing storage sheds.

Comments on the application can be made by writing to South Tyneside Council before 24 February.


Undercover police to patrol Metro trains

Alison Freeman

BBC Look North

Teams of undercover police officers are to travel on the Tyne and Wear Metro as part of a crackdown on anti-social behaviour.

It follows a spate of incidents across North Tyneside since the turn of the year, including youths kicking out 10 windows of a carriage, which resulted in the train being taken out of service.

The operation will run over a number of weeks with plain clothes officers on board trains during the day and night.

Operator Nexus said it is forced to spend £500,000 a year cleaning up after vandals.

Council tax hike 'to pay for more police officers'

Stephanie Finnon

BBC Newcastle

Northumbria Police has said it plans to recruit almost 500 new officers paid for by a rise in council tax.

The force's police and crime commissioner, Kim McGuinness, has confirmed a near 2% hike in the police precept, which means some homes will pay £2.67 more a year.

Ms McGuinness said that would generate more than £1m, which will also be put towards better equipment for officers.

She said the tax hike was among the lowest in the country.

'Sentimental' machete stolen in burglary

A "sentimental" knife has been stolen in a burglary in Jesmond.

The address on Mitchell Avenue was targeted on 21 January by intruders who forced entry via a rear window.

Jewellery and a distinctive Kukri machete inscribed with the owner’s details were taken.

Northumbria Police said the knife holds huge sentimental value to the owner as it was gifted to him while he was in the army.

The force is now asking the person who took it to do the right thing and hand it back in to police.

Anyone with information about the burglary, which took place between 08:30 and 17:45, is also asked to contact the force.

Kukri machete
Northumbria Police

Coronavirus: Newcastle University student says she was discriminated against

A Chinese student at Newcastle University says feels discriminated against after being mocked amid the the panic around the coronavirus outbreak.

Elizabeth and her friend were walking near Eldon Square on Saturday at 16:00 when a group of teenagers, which she described as being "high school age", started screaming when they saw them.

"I didn't really know what happened, but later I realised maybe they take us as evil or the people who are already affected by the virus", she said.

Elizabeth asked the group why they screamed and what she had done to them, but says the group didn't say anything and instead stepped back from her.

"I feel humiliated", she told BBC Newcastle.

North East police forces are encouraging anyone who's been a victim to come forward.

Durham Constabulary and Northumbria Police say they've not had any obvious rises in hate crime

Hashem Abedi: Manchester Arena attack brother 'equally guilty'

The brother of the Manchester Arena bomber was "just as guilty" of the murder of the 22 people who died in the attack, his trial has heard.

Salman Abedi detonated a "large home-made improvised explosive device" outside an Ariana Grande concert on 22 May 2017.

His brother Hashem Abedi is standing trial at the Old Bailey over his "role in perpetrating these terrible events".

Hashem Abedi
Julia Quenzler

He denies the murder of 22 people and the attempted murder of others.

Duncan Penny QC said the siblings spent "months" planning the attack.

Hashem, 22, has also denied conspiring with his brother to cause an explosion.

Mr Penny said the effects of the attack had been "both sudden and lethal" and police had identified "nearly 1,000 victims".

In addition to the 22 people, including seven children, who died, a total of 264 "were physically injured", he said, while 670 more had since "reported psychological trauma as a result of these events".

"Inseparable" Chloe Rutherford, 17, and Liam Curry, 19, from South Shields were among the 22 victims.

Chloe Rutherford, 17, and Liam Curry, 19,

Rundown properties turned into affordable homes

Stephanie Finnon

BBC Newcastle

A row of rundown houses in North Tyneside are being turned in to new affordable homes after being bought by the council.

The properties, on Charlotte Street in Wallsend, had been vandalised and were left uninhabitable after much of the interiors were ripped out.

It comes as the council now has new powers to charge a higher council tax premium to discourage landlords who let their properties fall into disrepair.

Missing 87-year-old man believed to be in Amble

Police searching for an 87-year-old man who has been missing since Sunday believe he is in the Amble area of Northumberland.

Albert Gray has not been head from since leaving his house in Wideopen on Sunday morning.

Northumbria Police is increasingly concerned for his welfare.

It said it received a report he was seen getting off a bus at about 13:00 in Amble and heading towards the marina.

He is 5ft 10in, medium build, with short grey hair and is thought to be wearing a flat cap, black jacket and beige trousers and shoes.

Albert Gray

Universities facing strike action

Andrea MacMillan

BBC Tees

Two North East universities are to be hit by industrial action.

The University and College Union says the University of Durham and Newcastle University will be affected by 14 days of strike action in February and March.

The action will start on 20 February and will escalate each week, culminating with a week-long walkout from March 9 to March 13.

The strikes are over pay, working conditions and rising pension costs.

Strong wind uproots tree in Whitley Bay

There have been some high winds around the North East over the last few days.

Gillian Smith took this photo of a tree which has been uprooted in Cliftonville Gardens, Whitley Bay.

Fallen tree in Whitley Bay
Newcastle University films grey seals clapping underwater
Dr Ben Burville spent 17 years trying to become the first person to record them making the noise.

Body found on missing man's boat in the Caribbean

A body was found on board of a yacht belonging to a missing South Shields sailor.

Mark Brennan, 42, was reported missing on 21 December, after he sailed across the Atlantic.

His boat was found with a body on board and taken to Port Antonio in Jamaica, volunteer-run civilian website Boatwatch said on Wednesday.

According to the website, Mr Brennan arrived in Grenada from Barbados on 2 December, before setting off again on 6 December.

Boatwatch described him as as "a somewhat inexperienced sailor" and claimed his boat, named Avrio, had "no radio or cellular telephone" and had lost its dinghy in the trans-Atlantic crossing.

Northumbria Police said that formal identification process in ongoing, but "it is suspected that the body is that of the South Shields man".

Jamaican authorities are investigating the causes of death.