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  1. Updates on Thursday 31 March 2016

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

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Our live coverage across the day

Rebecca Turner

BBC North East

Live updates for the North East have now finished for the day. 

We'll be back from 08:00 on Friday with more news, sport, weather and travel - we hope you can join us then.

If you'd like to get in touch you can tweet usemail us, or contact us via Facebook.  

Man suffers fractured cheekbone after being 'kicked repeatedly'

An 18-year-old man who tried to break up a row between a man and woman was then assaulted by a gang. 

The group of five or six men knocked him to the ground in Collingwood Street in Newcastle before kicking him in the face a number of times, leaving him with a fractured cheekbone.

He'll now need plates to be fitted into his face and further surgery. 

BBC to cover Yorkshire and Durham cricket matches

Great news for Yorkshire and Durham cricket fans - For the fourth year in a row, the BBC will be providing commentary from every first class county cricket match played in England and Wales across its local radio stations and online.

There will be coverage on BBC Tees and BBC Newcastle. 

Read more here.

Tim Bresnan
Getty Images

Allardyce questioned over Adam Johnson sentence

Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce has been facing questions concerning the Black Cats' former winger Adam Johnson, who has just begun a six-year jail sentence for grooming and sexual activity with a girl aged 15.

"As a professional you have to deal with it and in the only way you can do," says Allardyce.

Adam Johnson
Durham Police

"The decision has been made and you have to accept it and make sure it does not affect the dressing room - and I'm confident it won't do.

“We’ve lost a hugely talented player in Adam Johnson, irrespective of his indiscretions. He obviously got what he deserved but we’ve lost a talented player I would’ve liked to keep but it was taken out of our hands by other factors.”

Travel: One lane closed on A1

BBC Travel

One lane is closed and there's very slow traffic on the A1 Western Bypass southbound in Gosforth at Kingston Park because of a broken down vehicle.  

And there's very slow traffic and heavier than usual traffic on the A19 in both directions in New York between Holystone Roundabout and Silverlink Roundabout.  

But the good news is there are no major problems reported in Teesside.

Get the latest travel news for Tyne and Wear and Teesside.

Tonight's weather: Dry and chilly

BBC Weather

Any showers will die out by late evening, leaving a dry and chilly night with light winds and clear spells.

Patchy frost is likely to form during the early hours.

Becoming a little cloudier and breezier by dawn.  

Man attempts to burgle house while homeowner is in garden

A man broke into a house in Kenton Lane in Newcastle while the homeowner was in the back garden.

Police say the burglar searched the house but didn't steal anything.

Around the time of the burglary a man had knocked on a number of neighbouring doors asking for "John".

Northumbria Police want to identify this man as they think he may have information about the burglary.

He is white, about 5ft 1in and of skinny build with a mousey coloured goatee style beard.

Valencia 'eyeing move for Boro boss Karanka'

BBC Sport

Middlesbrough bossAitor Karanka is a candidate for the Valencia job, reports the Daily Star.

The Spanish club sacked Gary Neville yesterday after four miserable months in charge.

Neville won just three of his 16 league games in charge and paid the price with his job.

Former Liverpool assistant Pako Ayestaran has taken on the role on a temporary basis until the summer.

Karanka and Pellegrini
Getty Images

Stranded trawler with three fishermen on board towed to safety

A trawler with three fishermen on board was towed to safety by Tynemouth RNLI lifeboat yesterday morning after the vessel became stranded 12 miles east of Whitley Bay.

Trawlers on Whitley Bay

Adrian Don, spokesman for Tynemouth RNLI, said that the fishing boat "got its trawl wires wrapped around the propeller which is just something that happens from time to time".

He adds: "It would have been dangerous for the fishermen to attempt to free the fouled prop at sea so they did the right thing in calling for help".

BreakingMan charged with murdering man following 2013 attack

A man has been charged with murdering a man who was attacked two-and-a-half years ago.

Karl Pascoe, 31, from Blackfell in Washington, has been charged with the murder of Joseph Leach. 

Mr Leach, 32, suffered serious injuries in Woodland Terrace in Washington on 23 December 2013. 

He was taken to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle where he died on 2 April 2015. 

Mr Pascoe is due to appear before South Tyneside Magistrates' Court on 15 April.

There could be a way back for Eboue - Allardyce

BBC Sport

One last quote from Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce on Emmanuel Eboue, the full-back who earlier today was handed a one-year ban by Fifa for owing money to a former agent.

Eboue is set to be sacked by the club, but Allardyce says the 32-year-old could still play for the Black Cats - if the issue is resolved very quickly.

"There could be a way back if he gets it sorted out," added Allardyce.

Emmanuel Eboue
Getty Images

"There has been a denial (from Emmanuel) in the early stages but it does not just get to Fifa and a ban - it's a long process," he said.

"He has relied on other people and other people have let him down. He was going to be in my squad for us because he is fit enough but that all has gone now."

Angela Wrightson accused 'not a raging monster', court hears

A girl accused of murdering a vulnerable woman "was not a raging monster out of control" but was so distracted by messaging friends she could not have been aware of what was going on, a court has heard. 

Angela Wrightson was found dead and in her blood-splattered Hartlepool home in December 2014.

Two girls, then aged 13 and 14, deny murder. The older girl has admitted manslaughter.

The prosecution argues the girls were both "volatile" and an argument with Ms Wrightson, who had been drinking alcohol all day, spiralled into murder when both girls attacked her.

Angela Wrightson
Family photo

Jamie Hill QC, defence for the older girl, has argued she did not understand the consequences of her actions, citing her low IQ, psychological problems, and troubled upbringing

"It is just a terrible moment in history when these three people collided in the most appalling and tragic way".

He told Leeds Crown Court the older girl was "led" by the younger, who had "the stronger personality" of the two.

But the younger girl's defence, John Elvidge QC, said that was not the case, and the fact the younger girl was using her phone indicated she "was not a raging monster out of control" but was so distracted by messaging friends she could have been unaware of what was going on.

Allardyce: 'The past has caught up with Emmanuel'

BBC Sport

Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce has been giving his views on full-back Emmanuel Eboue, who is set to be sacked by the club after receiving a one-year ban from Fifa for not paying an agent.

"The problem is what has happened in the past has caught up with Emmanuel, for whatever the reason," says Allardyce.

"He hasn't sorted it out and we were completely in the dark until we found out a few days ago. He has got a ban and the contract gets terminated on that basis.

"I'm massively disappointed like everyone else is."

Girl accused of murdering Angela Wrightson 'given alibi by phone'

A girl accused of murdering a vulnerable woman has been "given an alibi by her mobile phone", a court has heard.

Angela Wrightson, 39, was found dead and half naked in her Hartlepool home in December 2014

Angela Wrightson
Durham Police

Two girls, then aged 13 and 14, deny murder. The older has admitted manslaughter.

In summing up the defence for the younger girl, John Elvidge QC said the fact the girl was using her phone to message friends during the time of the attack showed she was not participating.

The two girls, who are now both 15, are accused of using a variety of weapons to beat Ms Wrightson to death over a period of several hours. The trial continues.

Police outside Wrightson's home

Lauren Laverne set to be the new voice of BBC Newcastle

BBC Newcastle has announced that Sunderland-born presenter Lauren Laverne will be the new "voice of the station". 

Lauren Laverne

Lauren has recorded a number of jingles and idents that will be played on the station in a couple of months.

She'll be taking over from the lead singer of ACDC, Brian Johnson, who's been the voice of BBC Newcastle since 2013.

Lauren says: “I have enjoyed listening to Brian’s voice on the station over the last few years and it’s an honour to step into his shoes."

Police carry out drug raids in Stockton

A series of police raids have been carried out in Stockton this morning aimed at cracking down on drug dealers and anti-social behaviour.

Teams of officers targeted two flats and two shops in Harrington Road. 

Two arrests were made and a sniffer dog discovered a quantity of illegal tobacco. 

Police consider recruiting cats because a five-year-old asked them to

A police force could become the first in the country to introduce cats in the fight against crime, after a five-year-old girl wrote to the chief constable.

Eliza Adamson-Hopper contacted Durham Police chief Mike Barton suggesting cats would be good at listening out for danger and rescuing people from trees.

View more on twitter

She received a reply saying he would pass the idea on to an inspector.

The force has now confirmed it will consider using felines in an as-yet unspecified role.

Fabio Borini ready to take on West Brom

Man writes thank you letter to the people of Newcastle

The Chronicle

Steph Houghton named Uefa ambassador

County Durham-born England captain Steph Houghton has a new job:

View more on twitter

Pub fined for filth, out-of-date food and structural defects

The owners of a pub have been ordered to pay more than £30,000 in fines and costs after inspectors found filth, out-of-date food and structural defects.

Redcar and Cleveland Council officers closed The Grapes Inn at Scaling Dam in Easington to protect the public.

Filthy pub
Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council

Steel workers still facing uncertainty

The future of more than 1,700 jobs across the North East remains unclear following an emergency meeting of government ministers. 

David Cameron admitted there is no guarantee that the government will be able to save the British steel-making industry.

He also said he doesn't believe that re-nationalisation is the answer. 

David Cameron has held talks with key ministers to discuss the steel crisis

Tributes paid to Ronnie Corbett

Tributes have been paid to entertainer Ronnie Corbett, best known for BBC comedy sketch show The Two Ronnies, who has died aged 85.

His publicist said: "Ronnie Corbett CBE, one of the nation's best-loved entertainers, passed away this morning, surrounded by his loving family.

"They have asked that their privacy is respected at this very sad time."

Geordie duo Ant and Dec hailed the "comedy great":

View more on twitter

CCTV appeal after assault in city centre

Police have released CCTV images of a man they want to speak to in connection with an assault that happened a few weeks ago. 

Earlier this month, a 31-year-old man was assaulted inside the Empress Bar in The Side, Newcastle.

He sustained an injury to his nose.

CCTV image
Northumbria Police

Newcastle hospital to carry out genetic tests on children with cancer

New genetic tests are going to be carried out on tumours from children with cancer

Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary is one of several hospitals which will be trialling the new method.

The aim is to find alternative treatments to chemo and radiotherapy.

Why pubs are shutting across Britain

BBC News Magazine

There's a craze for craft beer, and more breweries than there's been since the 1930s, but pubs are still closing.

Prince Charles is one of the most well-known proponents of traditional village pubs. He has said their disappearance risks "pulling threads" from the '"delicate tapestry'' of the British countryside.  

Here he is pulling a pint at the Holly Bush Inn in Hexham, Northumberland, back in 2006.

Prince Charles and Camilla
Getty Images

That pub is still going strong, but you can read about why many are closing here.

Man shot by police in South Shields fights for his life

The Shields Gazette

The shooting of a man by armed police in a South Shields street has sparked a debate among readers. Click here to find out what they had to say.

James Carlo Wilson
The Shields Gazette

Parents 'laughed 'as children punched a stuffed owl

Parents accused of laughing as their children repeatedly punched a stuffed owl at a visitor centre have been criticised online.

Three children aged about eight attacked the owl at the Guisborough Forest and Walkway on 30 March.

Stuffed owl that got punched
Friends of Guisborough Forest and Walkway

Neil Thirkell from the centre, said instead of intervening, the adults they were with watched and laughed.

The £300 preserved owl replaced a previous bird which was stolen.

Mr Thirkell said: "It's just really sad that the kids think it is ok to do that and the parents think it is funny, that just encourages the children more."

Two fire engines and a special rescue unit sent to Elstob Lane

County Durham and Darlington fire and rescue sent two appliances and a special rescue unit to Elstob Lane, near Great Stainton today.   

They say there were casualties, who were assisted by the fire crews before being seen to by paramedics.

The mysterious North East 'tradition' of punching horses

Rebecca Turner

BBC North East

Right now, #FolkloreThursday is trending on Twitter.

People are sharing ancient tales, pictures of ghostly buildings and local folklore traditions.

But what local folklore do we have here in the North East?

Well.. according to some, there's a tradition of Geordies punching horses.

It all began back in April 2013 when a man named Barry Rogerson, having just watched Newcastle lose to Sunderland, took a swing for Bud the police horse.

It's become a bit of a moment in North East folklore, and Sunderland fans now taunt their local rivals with horse masks.

Man in horse mask

Then, there was Herby the fibreglass horse who lives outside The Herb Garden restaurant on Westgate Road in Newcastle.

He had a "run in with some drunks" and ended up looking like this:

Herbie the horse

Youtuber goes on a 'ladventure' to Newcastle for BBC Three

Youtuber Thomas Gray is going on an exploration of modern men, in search of answers to questions such as "How did we go from courting to Tinder?"

This journey of discovery took him to Newcastle.

He plays football, makes some friends, and goes on a night out which he hopes "will follow the exact pattern of Geordie Shore: drink, dance, fight".

Here's how he got on:

View more on youtube

Newcastle United 'will turn to Karl Darlow'

BBC Sport

A small snippet from today's Gossip Column:

Newcastle United are set to rely on third-choice goalkeeper Karl Darlow, 25, to help keep them in the Premier League - even though he only has 90 minutes of top-flight experience. The Magpies are without the injured Tim Krul and Rob Elliot for the rest of the season. (Newcastle Chronicle)

BreakingEmmanuel Eboue sacked from Sunderland

Emmanuel Eboue has been sacked by Sunderland AFC, the club has confirmed.

In a statement, the club say it "relates to a monetary dispute between the player and a former agent, which precedes his time at Sunderland AFC and was not something that the club was made aware of by the player".

They say Eboue signed a contract with Sunderland until the end of the current season, and the club has therefore given notice of its intention to terminate the contract.

The player has two weeks in which to appeal against this decision.

Motorcycle crash victim a 'loving fiance'

A man who died after a motorcycle crash has been described as "a wonderful son, a loving fiancé and a friend to many".

His bike collided with a car on the A693 between Beamish and Pelton on Tuesday morning.

Radoslaw Drzewiecki, 29, from Chester-le-Street was on his way to work at the Hownsgill Industrial Estate when it happened.

Radoslaw Drzewiecki
Durham Police

His fiance, Magdalena Gawel says "words can't describe our sense of loss".

The driver of the car, a 45-year-old woman from Stanley, was arrested on suspicion of causing death by careless driving and released on bail.

Jonas Gutierrez: Lawyer says tribunal claims are 'ludicrous'

Newcastle have described claims by former midfielder Jonas Gutierrez that he was deliberately dropped so the club could release him as 'ludicrous'.

Summing up a disability discrimination tribunal, Newcastle United's lawyer, Sean Jones QC, said the club "still had respect and affection" for Gutierrez.

Jonas Gutierrez

But he said there were "holes" in the Argentine's case.

In response, Gutierrez's lawyer, Martin Budworth, said Newcastle's witnesses had given "knowingly untrue evidence".

A decision and announcement on the outcome of the case could take about a month.

Emmanuel Eboue could have ban lifted if he pays agent

Sunderland defender Emmanuel Eboue could have his ban lifted if he pays his former agent, Fifa says.

Eboue was ordered to pay the undisclosed amount to Sebastien Boisseau by Fifa's Players' Status Committee in July 2013.

That decision was taken on the basis of the agents rules which were in force at the time. 

Eboue was fined 30,000 Swiss francs (£21,675) in September 2014 for failing to comply with the decision and given four months to settle the debut, Fifa said.

The case was then heard by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) but Eboue's appeal was dismissed.

The Ivory Coast international only signed for Sam Allardyce's side in January and is yet to make an appearance.

BreakingSunderland full-back Emmanuel Eboue banned for a year

Sunderland full-back Emmanuel Eboue has been given a one-year ban by Fifa over a failure to pay a former agent.  

Emmanuel Eboue
SAFC website

Hundreds of workers facing uncertain futures at Hartlepool's Tata pipe mill

There are 450 workers at the pipe mill in Hartlepool facing uncertain futures as Indian owner Tata Steel is selling its entire loss-making UK business.

Save Our Steel banner

Labour has urged ministers to "get their act" together and step in now. 

Prime Minister David Cameron is hosting crisis talks on the UK steel industry.

Hartlepool's Jeff Stelling completes his charity marathons

Hartlepool-born Sky Sports presenter Jeff Stelling has walked 10 marathons in 10 days raising hundreds and thousands of pounds for charity.

The face of Soccer Saturday on Sky Sports covered 260 miles between the football ground of his beloved Hartlepool United and Wembley Stadium in aid of Prostate Cancer UK.

Jeff Stelling

He said that if his team could not make it to the heart of the English football season, at least he had succeeded in doing so.

The money will go to fund research to improve diagnosis of the disease.