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  1. Updates on Tuesday 24 February 2015

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Good evening

Lloyd Watson

BBC News

That's all from BBC Local Live today. We'll be back from 08:00 on Wednesday. Keith Blackburn sent us this picture of the sun trying to break through the clouds in Tynemouth.

Sun in Tynemouth
Keith Blackburn

You can send your pictures by email to or tweet
@BBCNewsNE and we may feature them on BBC Local Live tomorrow.

Star Wars toys sold for £24,000

A Star Wars fan is urging people to check their attics for toys after he sold off more of his collection for more than £24,000.

Craig Stevens, 45, former chairman of the Star Wars UK fan club,

made headlines last month when a collector paid £18,000 at auction for his pristine Boba Fett figure in its perfect packaging.

Craig Stevens

He sold a further 15 rare figures at Vectis auction house at Thornaby, Teesside, which fetched a further £24,650. A figure of the IG-88 droid which still had its £1.40 original price sticker on went for £4,200.

Peers start three-person baby debate

Peers have

begun debating whether to make the historic move to allow the creation of babies with DNA from two women and one man.

The modified form of IVF would be used to prevent mitochondrial diseases. If the House of Lords votes in favour, then the UK would be the first country to introduce laws to allow the creation of babies from three people.

Earlier this month, 382 MPs voted in favour, with 128 against, during a free vote on a draft regulation approving the use of mitochondrial donation to prevent children being born with a genetic disease.

Scientists at Newcastle's Centre for Life could be the first in the country to offer the treatment following a decade of research in the North East.

On tonight's BBC Look North

Ian Reeve

BBC North East Business Correspondent

The offshore oil and gas industry - which employs about 15,000 people from the North East -

has reported bleak findings.

The yearly report from the industry body, Oil and Gas UK, says that investment and drilling in the North Sea fell last year, and the prospect of job losses is looming.

Oil rig in North Sea

So how are our offshore workers feeling, and are there any bright spots in a sector under pressure? I'll have more on this story on

BBC Look North at 18:30 on BBC One.

Any showers should die out

Paul Mooney

BBC Weather presenter

Although some eastern parts of the region may stay dry overnight, most areas will see some showers. Showers wintry at times, especially over the Cheviots and Pennines, but tending to die out by Wednesday morning.

Weather forecast

Minimum temperature: 0C (32F).

Check the forecast near you.

News on the hour

The top local headlines at 17:00 include:

  • BBC Tees: Investigations are under way after thieves stole £6,000 from a pensioner in Hartlepool.
  • BBC Newcastle: Martin Emmerson and Lisa Shaw have a round-up of the day's news.

Can't get to the match?

Phil Shepka

BBC Sport

There's virtually a full compliment of Championship fixtures this evening, and if you can't get to the

Middlesbrough v Bolton game, the BBC Sport website can help you out.

They will be providing extensive coverage of every match in a special Championship live text, dedicated solely to English second tier.

So join us from 18:30 on the

BBC Sport website and use #bbcfootball on Twitter to get involved and share your thoughts. You can also listen to commentary on your radio on BBC Tees from 19:00.

Killer told to expect jail sentence

Sunderland Echo


killer is facing years behind bars after the death of Sunderland dad-of-six John Potts in an attack outside a bar.

Floral tributes outside bar
Sunderland Echo

Newcastle sign England sevens player

Newcastle Falcons have completed the signing of

England sevens player Marcus Watson for next season.

The 23-year-old elder brother of Bath's Antony Watson came through London Irish's academy and has had a full-time England sevens contract since 2012.

Marcus Watson
Getty Images

Watson, who plays on the wing, made two Premiership appearances for the Exiles. "He is a very talented player who has developed a vast array of skills in his time on the sevens circuit,"

said director of rugby Dean Richards.

Dad's funeral savings stolen

Neil Green

BBC Tees

The daughter of an elderly man

who had his life savings of about £6,000 stolen from his Hartlepool home tells me she can't put into words just how angry she is feeling.

She said: "I ran straight down to his house and he said 'everything's gone'. My dad was in a state, I was in a state. It was money he was saving for his funeral.

"He's trying to get on with his daily routine, but up until yesterday, he was devastated. I absolutely adore my dad, he's a well-respected man and he'd help anybody."

Hear the rest of the interview on BBC Tees.

News on the hour

The top local headlines at 16:00 include:

  • BBC Tees: Thieves have left a Hartlepool man devastated after stealing his life savings.
  • BBC Newcastle: Martin Emmerson and Lisa Shaw have a round-up of the day's news.

Middlesbrough v Bolton

A win for Middlesbrough could see them return to the top of the Championship as they

host Bolton at the Riverside Stadium.

Middlesbrough goalkeeper Dimi Konstantopoulos is available after completing a three-match ban. Midfielder Muzzy Carayol (cruciate) and defender Ryan Fredericks (knee) returned to training this week and are available for selection.

Dimi Konstantopoulos
Getty Images

Match fact: Middlesbrough have won the last two meetings at the Riverside Stadium. Bolton's last win there was 3-1 in the Premier League in November 2008.

Motorcyclist to visit 16 countries

A keen motorcyclist is going to visit 16 countries in seven days in June to raise money for the animal organisation Border Terrier Welfare.


Paul Duce from Teesside will be visiting England, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Italy, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary, Austria, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Poland, Germany, Holland, Belgium and back to England - a journey of some 2,200 miles.

Chemical firm gets cash boost

Chemical firm Chemoxy, based in Billingham in Teesside, has landed a £20m boost.

The company specialises in oil and gas services. It makes solvents for a range of products including paint and fragrances.

The cash boost has come from a combination of grants provided by The Business Growth Fund and The Royal Bank of Scotland. Management hope the cash will allow further expansion and increase revenue to £100m by 2020.

News on the hour

Winds will ease

Lisa Gallagher

Weather Presenter, BBC Look North

Sunshine and occasionally heavy showers. Some showers will be wintry over the Pennines, and possibly even at lower levels at times, but no significant accumulations are expected. Winds will gradually ease through this afternoon.

Weather forecast

Maximum temperature: 6C (43F).

Check the forecast near you.

Warning issued over energy theft

Stephanie Finnon

BBC Newcastle

Crimestoppers is in the North East today warning people about the dangers of energy theft and tampering with meters.

The charity is trying to find out more about the crime as they say a lot of it is going unreported.

They say energy theft costs the UK public £400m every year and are appealing for people to come forward with information.

Joyride taken on three-tonne dumper truck

A three-tonne dumper truck was

stolen and taken on a joyride round an estate in Northumberland before it was abandoned, Northumbria Police say.

Offenders forced entry into a storage yard at the old fire station in Albion Terrace, Cramlington, and drove the truck around Northburn Estate before abandoning it on a cycle path and making off on the evening of Tuesday 17 February.

News on the hour

Give us your feedback

What do you think of BBC Local Live? It's written by reporters across the North East and brings you the latest news, sport, travel and weather all in one place.

We'd like your feedback about this service.

Star Wars toys auctioned

A Star Wars fan who made £15,000 selling a single Boba Fett figure is auctioning another 15 items from his collection.

Craig Stevens, 45, sold the toy at auction house Vectis last month. He will return to the sale room in Thornaby, Teesside, to witness the sale of the remaining items, which have an estimate of £28,000 to £42,000.

Boba Fett
Vectis Auctions

The most highly valued item this time is a Palitoy FX-7 medical droid from The Empire Strikes Back. A similar item sold last year for £8,400.

Kilbane complains over West Ham chant

BBC Sport

Former Sunderland winger Kevin Kilbane

has made a complaint to the Football Association over an alleged chant by West Ham fans mocking disabled people.

The ex-Republic of Ireland winger has received abusive messages on social media since his complaint was revealed. Hammers fans sang the chant

during the 2-2 draw at Tottenham on Sunday.

Kilbane was not at the game but was told of the language by a close friend and says he spoke to the FA, which is investigating the complaint. The word used in the chant is a derogatory one against people with Down's Syndrome.

BBC football pundit Kilbane's daughter, Elsie, has the condition,

and he is also a patron of the Down's Syndrome Association charity.

Plant will create 25 jobs

The Gazette

A waste management firm is building a recycling facility

creating 25 jobs after clearing an unsightly rubbish tip next to its headquarters.

Man surrounded by waste
The Gazette

News on the hour

Mulvey signs for Sunderland

We'll now move on to some other news happening today in the North East - Scotland international striker

Suzanne Mulvey has signed for FA Women's Super League side Sunderland Ladies.

The 30-year-old has moved from Rangers Ladies to England's North East ahead of Sunderland's inaugural season in the eight-team top flight.

Suzanne Mulvey

Her previous clubs include Hibernian, IBV Iceland, Hamilton, Celtic and Glasgow City. She will now vie for a starting place at Sunderland with Abbey Joice, Beth Mead and Sophie Williams.

Attacker to be sentenced later

So to reiterate, Richard Gatiss will be sentenced in April for attacking pensioner Alan Barnes, for whom more than £300,000 was subsequently raised in donations.

You can read the full BBC News Online story here.

Alan Barnes story: Timeline of events

Here is a short look back at how the Alan Barnes story developed during the past few weeks

Attack 'motivated by drugs'

Richard Gatiss forced Mr Barnes to the pavement outside his home in Low Fell, Gateshead, and told him "hand over your money" but his victim said he had none.

He ran off when Mr Barnes shouted for help. Northumbria Police traced Gatiss after recovering forensic evidence left on Mr Barnes's jacket pocket.

Richard Gatiss

The attack was motivated by a need for money for drugs, a previous hearing was told.

OAP attacker 'used legal highs'

A 25-year-old who admitted attacking disabled pensioner Alan Barnes used so-called legal highs at the time, it can now be reported.

Richard Gatiss pushed the vulnerable 4ft 6in pensioner over on January 25, breaking his collarbone.

At a previous hearing, details of the case which could not then be reported were revealed, including the fact that Gatiss should not be given bail for his own safety.

Prosecutor Keith Laidlaw told the hearing at Gateshead Magistrates' Court: "Legal highs played their part in this. There is also possession of cannabis on his record and there is a drugs background."

Prison term 'inevitable'

Richard Gatiss appeared at Newcastle Crown Court via videolink from HMP Durham, where he is being held away from other prisoners due to the tensions surrounding the case.

The 25-year-old pleaded guilty to assault with intent to rob. Judge Paul Sloan adjourned sentencing until April 2 for the preparation of reports.

Gatiss had been due to have a brain scan and was being seen by a neurologist before the attack on Mr Barnes.

The judge remanded him in custody, saying: "You will appreciate, an immediate custodial sentence is pretty well inevitable in the circumstances of this case. You will remain in custody."

How the money was raised

Danny Savage

North of England Correspondent, BBC News

Katie Cutler initially set up an online appeal to raise £500 to help Mr Barnes with some home improvements, after hearing he was too scared to go back to his house.

The appeal went viral and global. In a matter of days the total raised reached £330,000. Ms Cutler had never even met the man she was raising money for - she just knew he had been attacked in her community and knew it was wrong.

The two of them first met and hugged in front of reporters - surely one of the most heartwarming images of the year so far.

Alan Barnes and Katie Cutler

Two weeks ago she handed the cheque for £330,135 over to Mr Barnes. He now says he wants to move to a home near the lady who has changed his life. Mr Barnes also says all the money won't be spent on him , he plans to support a number of community projects in the Gateshead area.

Why do people donate to strangers?

Lauren Potts

BBC Local Live

After 25-year-old Richard Gatiss admitted attacking Gateshead pensioner Alan Barnes,

I took a look at why people donate money to strangers.

Examples of fundraising on this scale are becoming more commonplace, thanks to social media appeals and fundraising websites that make it easy to click and donate.

Go Fund Me Alan Barnes Fund
Go Fund Me

Alan to use money for new house

Mr Barnes now intends to use the hundreds of thousands of pounds raised by well-wishers to buy a new home as he does not want to return to the area of Gateshead where he was attacked.

At the presentation of the £300,000 raised, he said: "I've heard of fundraising for charities but I've only got a fractured collarbone, I didn't expect that sort of response. Thank you doesn't really seem to answer it, does it?

Katie Cutler and Alan Barnes

"I've always wanted to do other things that I've found difficult with having my eyesight problem but (Katie) seems to have opened doors and I might be able to do it now. It's sinking in."

OAP attacker 'just a minority'

Lloyd Watson

BBC News

Mr Barnes, 67, has lived with disabilities from birth after his mother contracted German measles when she was pregnant. He is visually impaired and stands 4ft 6in (1.21m) tall.

But now he has a new opportunity in life after Katie Cutler, 21,

began a campaign to raise £500 but ended up raising more than £300,000.

Ms Cutler, a beautician, said it shows "there are so many lovely people out there". "This person that hurt Alan is just a minority."

Alan Barnes and Katie Cutler
Getty Images

'Shocked , horrified and deeply ashamed'

Danny Savage

North of England Correspondent, BBC News

Alan Barnes is the vulnerable pensioner from Gateshead who was overwhelmed by the kindness of strangers. As he went to put his wheelie bin out on a dark January evening he was bundled to the ground by a much younger man.

Richard Gatiss, 25, rummaged through the frail man's pockets before making off. Mr Barnes, nursing a broken collar bone, managed to get back on his feet and tell a neighbour what had happened.

Gatiss now has the notoriety of being the villain responsible for a despicable crime. He cut a sorry figure when he originally appeared before magistrates. He sat weeping in the dock as the court was told his DNA linked him to the assault. He will be sentenced at a later date.

Newcastle Crown Court heard today that Gatiss is "shocked , horrified and deeply ashamed of what he did". He is also conscious of being in the public eye, the judge was told.