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  1. Updates on Friday 1 April 2016

Live Reporting

By Rebecca Turner

All times stated are UK

Get involved

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 Monday 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.  

Burglar let themselves into house, stole keys and took car

A burglar has let themselves into a house, stolen some car keys and taken a car in North Tyneside.

Police say burglars often take advantage of unlocked doors, and although many people leave their keys near the door, "burglars are wise to this".

The car was later found by police abandoned in the Walker area of Newcastle.

Weather: Cloudy with spells of drizzle

Cloudy or overcast through the evening and night with spells of rain or drizzle, this sometimes persistent and locally heavy over western hills.

Eastern areas will be drier.

Southwesterly winds will be strong and gusty at first over hills.  

Big night for Boro down at QPR

BBC Tees

BBC Tees Sport

It's a big night for Boro in the Championship. They can go second in the Championship with a win at QPR.

The conditions are perfect for tonight's game:


Follow live coverage online here.

Travel: Slow traffic on A1 after accident

BBC Travel

One is lane blocked and there's slow traffic on the A1 Western Bypass northbound in Dunston at the Metro Centre because of an accident involving a lorry and a car.  

And there's slow traffic on the A1231 Wessington Way in both directions in Sunderland between the Dene Road junction and the Northern Way junction in the roadworks.  

Finally there's slow traffic and one lane closed on the A66 westbound in Thornaby between Teesside Park and the A1130 Acklam Road junction because of a police incident.  

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

Watch Cowgate Roundabout become Cowgate junction in 20 seconds

Man who used farm to dump waste 'on an industrial scale' jailed

A County Durham man who used his parents' farm to dump waste "on an industrial scale" has been jailed for a total of 14 months. 

Officers from the Environment Agency found electrical items, rubble and plastics. 

Some had been buried or burned. 

Stuart McCarroll, 27, admitted breaching environmental permit rules at Sun Ridge Farm in Thornley. 

 Durham Crown Court heard he ran a skip hire business and used the farm as a "free tipping ground." 

He was jailed for eight months for the environmental offences and a further six months for breaching a suspended sentence for a separate offence.

You the pundit: Are Newcastle safe under Benitez?

Company fined for storing 30,000 tyres next to busy rail route

A company and boss have been fined for illegally storing up to 30,000 tyres and creating a fire hazard next to a busy rail route.

James Robb and Rethink Waste Ltd appeared at Peterlee Magistrates' Court yesterday.

It follows an investigation by the Environment Agency after large numbers of tyres were stored next to the East Coast Mainline in Gateshead.

Robb, 57, of Braeside, Burnhope, County Durham, and Rethink Waste Ltd, registered at the same address, pleaded guilty to operating a waste facility for the storage of waste tyres without a permit.

Both Robb and Rethink Waste Ltd were fined £2,000 and both ordered to pay costs of £3,870.

New victim support service in Tees

Victims of crime in Tees will have an advice and support service from today.

Safe in Tees Valley will provide a free, independent and confidential service to help victims cope and make a full recovery. 

PCC Ron Hogg, PCC Barry Coppinger, John Bentley (Safe in Tees Valley)
Durham Police

Schoolgirl sexually assaulted in Middlesbrough

A 14-year-old girl has been sexually assaulted in Middlesbrough.

The teenager was walking towards the entrance of Albert Park at 10:30 on Wednesday when a man stopped in front of her and sexually assaulted her. 

The man then walked along Park Road South towards Westminster Road, Cleveland Police said. 

He is white, about 5ft 10in with short dark hair and was unshaven. He was wearing a hooded grey coat, beige trousers and black shoes. 

Video: Tributes to Denise Robertson

Denise Robertson, resident agony aunt for ITV's This Morning, has died aged 83.

The Sunderland-born presenter revealed in February that she had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Her This Morning colleagues today paid moving tributes to her work:

This Morning tributes to Denise Robertson

Northumbria Police says there's 'not a chance' it will replace dogs with cats

Following the news that Durham Police was considering introducing "police cats" after a five-year-old girl suggested it, Northumbria Police has tweeted its thoughts on the idea:

View more on twitter

Newcastle Turkish Baths and City Pool saved from closure

Turkish baths which were earmarked for closure as part of £100m council cuts have been saved.

The Grade II listed City Pool and Turkish Baths in Newcastle shut in 2013 due to the "high investment" needed.

Fusion Lifestyle Ltd has now been granted a lease for the site and plans to renovate the building and restore the historic baths.

The Re-open Newcastle Turkish Baths campaign group said it was "delighted" by the news.

The Turkish Baths opened in 1928 and is one of only 11 of its kind in England
Newcastle City Library

Man steals cash from 59-year-old woman in the street

A 59-year-old woman had cash stolen from her this morning in the back lane of Keats Avenue in Marley Pots, Sunderland.

She'd just taken out money from the TSB cashpoint on The Green and was walking along the lane when she was approached by a man. 

He demanded cash and took some of it before making off.

He is white, aged about 20, and was wearing a coat with the hood up and grey jogging bottoms. 

The woman was shocked but otherwise uninjured.

More tributes to Denise Robertson

Here's some more tributes to Sunderland-born agony aunt Denise Robertson after she died today aged 83.

View more on twitter

And Lisa Faulkner, who has presented cooking segments on This Morning, said this:

View more on twitter

Rafa Benitez focused on eight games to play

BBC Sport

Toon boss Rafael Benitez has whipped out some classic football cliches to describe Newcastle's relegation clash with Norwich on Saturday. 

"We still have eight games to play and have to concentrate on one at a time," said the Magpies boss. "Norwich are organised. They have a lot of players who know their jobs. We have to work hard from the first minute to the last."  

Rafael Benitez
Getty Images

Newcastle are 19th on 25 points. Norwich are 17th on 28 points. Are we allowed to call it a six-pointer?

Passengers won't pay for rail investment, says operator

The company that has taken over some rail services in the North East says it doesn't expect passengers to foot the bill for its investment plans. 

Arriva North is taking over the Northern Rail franchise today. It's promising to spend £1bn improving services. 

But rail unions say the company wants to cut back on the number of trains that have a guard on board, and this will compromise passenger safety and lead to job losses. 

But Alex Hynes from Arriva North says: "We're going to transform the quality and capacity of rail services in the next 44 months. Faster journeys, new trains, more seats, more services." 

Benitez calls on fans to support Karl Darlow

BBC Sport

Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez has been speaking about their goalkeeping crisis, as they prepare to take on fellow strugglers Norwich.

Rob Elliot has joined Tim Krul on the sidelines, so third-choice Karl Darlow is now in the frame. 

"Rob Elliot's injury is bad news for us and for Rob," said Benitez. "He is very positive. We have to support him and hopefully he can come back asap. 

"We have to support Darlow. He is training well and has a lot of confidence. We know he can do well."

Rob Elliot
Getty Images

Tomorrow's Sunderland match a 'must win' for manager Sam Allardyce

Nick Barnes

BBC Newcastle's Sunderland commentator

Sunderland are at home to West Bromwich Albion tomorrow afternoon in a match which manager Sam Allardyce admits is a must-win game.

I've been preparing for the match:

Match preparation sheet

Allardyce has a fully fit squad to choose from, apart from the longer term absentee Duncan Watmore, whose progress has been quicker than expected, though the striker is still some weeks from a return. 

Lamine Kone and Whabi Khazri, who missed their internationals for Ivory Coast and Tunisia are both fit, as is Younes Kaboul who limped off against Newcastle United.

Jack Rodwell is expected to continue in midfield having started Sunderland’s last three matches.      

Is the new National Living Wage enough to live in the North East?

The National Living Wage has raised the minimum wage from £6.70 to £7.20 an hour for workers over 25, and will see a pay bump for nearly two million people.

But what kind of lifestyle can you enjoy on that salary? 

Well, the good news for us is the North East is the second cheapest place to rent.

On average, a one-bedroom property costs £485 a month to rent here, compared with £920 in Greater London.

Redcar MP 'disgusted' by 'horrific animal abuse' video

Politicians have spoken out over the two men who filmed themselves abusing a dog, including Redcar Labour MP Anna Turley.

View more on twitter

She's asked Justice Secretary Michael Gove to review the sentence, saying: "I am disgusted by their actions.

"Lots of my constituents have contacted me expressing their horror at this cruel attack and the disbelief that the perpetrators have avoided jail".

Arrest after cyclist assaulted while unconscious following collision

A man has been arrested after a 22-year-old cyclist was assaulted while lying unconscious on the ground following a collision with a car, police say.

It happened last month on Lonsdale Street, Middlesbrough.

The injured man was taken to James Cook University Hospital where he was treated for facial injuries including broken teeth, a broken nose and stitches to his lip. He was later released.

A 20-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of grievous bodily harm and has been released on bail.

Denise Robertson 'stayed behind to keep answering calls'

The agony aunt for ITV's This Morning programme, Denise Robertson, has died after a short battle with cancer. She was 83. 

Richard Madeley, who hosted This Morning with his wife Judy Finnigan for many years, described her as "a wonderful, warm-hearted, wise woman".

He said: "She was probably the best agony aunt in the business and I think was underrated somewhat in that regard, because she wasn't flashy. 

"She didn't come on with all bells and whistles. She just got on with giving incredibly good advice. 

"And what very few people will know - the viewers certainly won't know this - is that when a show was over, Denise would stay in the phone-in room, sometimes for hours, well into the afternoon, talking to people who hadn't been able to get on the air."

On this day: Alan Shearer took charge of Newcastle United

BBC Sport

On this day in 2009, Newcastle United announced former striker Alan Shearer would take on coaching duties for the final eight matches of the 2008-09 season, but he was unable to save them from relegation. 

Magpies fans will be hoping Rafa Benitez can go one step further and keep them up this year...

Alan Shearer
Getty Images

Tim Bresnan: Yorkshire all-rounder to miss start of season

BBC Sport

Yorkshire and England all-rounder Tim Bresnan will miss the opening six weeks of the County Championship season with a torn lower calf.

The 31-year-old is set to miss his side's first four Championship games.

Bresnan played for the champions in their defeat by the MCC last week.

"He will now start an intense period of rehabilitation on his torn calf and we hope to have him back fit and strong during the middle of May," physio Kunwar Bansil told the club website.

Tim Bresnan
Getty Images

Politicians and public call for Redcar brothers who abused dog to be jailed

Politicians have joined calls for two men who filmed themselves abusing a dog to be given tougher sentences.

Andrew Frankish, 22, and his brother Daniel, 19, both from Redcar, were given 21-week jail sentences suspended for two years after attacking a bulldog named Baby, who was later put down.

Footage of Andrew Frankish repeatedly throwing Baby down stairs and stamping on her was released by the RSPCA.

Dog attacked

More than 250,000 people have signed an online petition.

Both brothers, who admitted causing unnecessary suffering to Baby, were also given a six-month curfew and banned from keeping animals for life.

Redcar's Labour MP Anna Turley and UKIP MEP Jonathon Arnott both said the pair should have been jailed when they appeared before magistrates in Hartlepool.  

Hospital 'turned patients away as it was too busy'

BBC Tees

Some other news from across the region now.

North Tees Hospital in Stockton had to turn patients and ambulances away because it was too busy to take any more, it has emerged. 

Bosses say the decision was taken to declare a pressure level of five on services - the lowest is one and the highest is six. 

The Trust has since lowered the alert to level four but says the situation is being reflected across the country, and its priority has to be safe care for patients. 

Stockton North Labour MP Alex Cunningham has said it raises wider questions about the service.

How agony aunt Denise Robertson dominated the UK media

Denise Robertson had a long and varied career in the media before she died today at the age of 83.

She joined This Morning for its first broadcast in 1988 and also had her own advice website and wrote a column for Candis magazine. 

Her popularity on This Morning led to her being offered her own TV show in 2000, called Dear Denise. 

Denise Robertson

In 2002 she appeared as a relationship expert on Dave Gorman's Important Astrology Experiment, and she was also a regular fixture on Channel 5's Big Brother's Bit On The Side.

Denise lost her first husband Alex to lung cancer in 1972. In 2006, her stepson John also died of cancer at the age of 44.

Tributes start pouring in to Denise Robertson

How Denise Robertson continued to represent the North East

Agony aunt Denise Robertson, who died today after a short battle with cancer, never forgot her North East roots.

Born in Sunderland, she was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of County Durham in 1998.

And in 2006 she was given the Freedom of the City of Sunderland.

Agony Aunt Denise Robertson

The 83-year-old was also made an MBE in the same year and continued to be a keen supporter of Sunderland AFC.

When she was diagnosed with cancer in February, Sunderland University, which often invited her there as a guest speaker, tweeted: "Thoughts are with honorary graduate Denise Robertson today following the news she has been diagnosed with cancer." 

BreakingDenise Robertson dies after cancer battle

Denise Robertson, the Sunderland-born agony aunt for ITV's This Morning programme, has died after a short battle with cancer, the show said.

Denise Robertson on TV

South Shields Labour Party suspended amid bullying probe

Luke Walton

BBC Look North

South Shields constituency Labour Party has been suspended by the national party until January 2017 over a probe into bullying and intimidation.

We'll have more on this during the day.

Newcastle speedway stars start on mammoth Indian Tuk Tuk journey

Three former Newcastle speedway stars are travelling 1,600 miles across India in Tuk Tuk.

Adam McKinna, Campbell Rodgerson, and Jamie Robertson are one of 50 teams taking part in the Rickshaw Challenge.

View more on twitter

Their two-week journey will help raise money for the Wings for Life foundation which funds research into spinal cord injuries, after Adam broke his neck racing for Newcastle Diamonds.

Photo Friday: Sunny Grey's Monument

BBC Newcastle

BBC Newcastle have been asking for their listeners to send in pictures of their North East #photofriday on Twitter.

Thank you to Andrew Moore who sent in this one of Grey's Monument in Newcastle in the Friday sun.

Monument in the sun
Andrew Moore