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  1. Updates on Friday 15 April 2016

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

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Our live coverage across the day

Rebecca Turner

BBC North East

Updates for the North East have now finished for the day. 

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

If you'd like to get in touch you can tweet us, email, or contact us through our Facebook page.  

Tonight's weather: Cloudy with sleet, snow and rain

BBC Weather

Starting cloudy with outbreaks of rain and hill snow, and with sleet or snow increasingly to lower levels before clearing to scattered wintry showers from the north overnight.

Becoming frosty away from the coast by Saturday morning.  

Sunderland AFC: How's it gone for them so far?

BBC Sport

Sunderland play Norwich tomorrow at Carrow Road. Here's some match facts:

  • They have gone six games without a league win, and their only victory in 11 attempts came against Manchester United two months ago (D6, L4).
  • Sunderland have won just three of their last 27 Premier League away matches (D9, L15).
  • The Black Cats have kept four clean sheets this season, the fewest in the division, and managed only one in their last 17 away games.
  • They average a point per game under Sam Allardyce, losing half of his 24 league matches in charge (W6, D6, L12). Allardyce has never won at Carrow Road (D1, L2).
  • Sunderland suffered five defeats out of six in the reverse fixtures against their remaining opponents.
  • Jermain Defoe has scored nine goals in 13 Premier League away appearances this season.

'Operation Rogue Trader' kicks off in Durham, leads to one arrest

A national campaign codenamed Operation Rogue Trader kicked off in Durham yesterday, and they made one arrest.

The day of action formed part of a week-long national campaign led by Operation Liberal, the national intelligence unit for distraction burglary and cross border criminals, and Trading Standards. 

Its aim is to "disrupt criminals and bring rogue traders and distraction burglars to justice".

Durham's activity happened yesterday in Tursdale just south of Durham City.

In total nine vehicles were checked, resulting in one arrest for drunk driving.

A vehicle was seized for no insurance, two tickets were given out for "not being in proper control", a ticket was given out for "contravening the double white lines" and there was one prohibition for leaking fuel.

Newcastle United team news ahead of Swansea match

BBC Sport

Some team news for the Magpies from manager Rafa Benitez ahead of the Swansea game: "Dummett is coming back. Taylor, Janmaat and Coloccini are not available. We have to manage with the players we have.

"When you are fighting to stay up, you feel the pressure for sure. I am asking the team to give everything and finish without regret." 

Benitez added of their opponents: "They have confidence. They are organised. They aren't at risk of relegation so they will play football.

"The other scores don't matter. We have to win our game. I think we can win games and get the points we need to stay up."  

Newcastle United striker Papiss Cisse admits driving offences

Newcastle United striker Papiss Cisse has appeared in court over motoring offences.

He admitted the tinted front window in his black Range Rover was too dark when police stopped him in the city centre in February 2015. 

It was so dark, police told him to drive with the window down. The prosecution said officers found at the time he held a licence issued in Senegal which would allow him to drive in the UK for a year, but he had been driving here about three years. 

Papiss Cisse

He was advised by police to take a test in the UK, Sue Baker, prosecuting, said.

Police stopped him again in May and July, once in his Range Rover registration DC0009 and once in his Bentley registration PC0009, and he was still using the foreign licence. 

Cisse, 30, of Darras Hall, Ponteland, admitted three counts of driving other than in accordance with a licence. He was handed four points and ordered to pay more than £500.

Newcastle man wanted after failing to turn up to court

A Newcastle man is wanted by police after failing to appear at crown court for burglary offences. 

Steven Burr
Northumbria Police

Steven Burr, 35, from Wilbury Place is wanted after a judge issued a warrant for his arrest. 

Police believe Mr Burr is currently in the West End of Newcastle and that he is being "assisted by associates".

Sam Allardyce: Sunderland relegation worse for club than me

BBC Sport

Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce says Premier League relegation would damage the club more than his own career.

Allardyce, 61, is in charge of his fifth top-flight team but has never been relegated.

Sam Allardyce

The Black Cats are third-bottom of the table, four points behind Saturday's opponents Norwich with a game in hand.

"If I had that one relegation against my career from the Premier League it would hurt, but it's more important for the club than me," said Allardyce.

Teenagers in court over kidnap of Newcastle toddler

We can now bring you more detail on the case of two girls charged over the kidnap of a toddler.

The teenagers have appeared in court charged with kidnapping the two-year-old child with the intention of committing a sexual offence.


The toddler went missing from a Primark store in Northumberland Street in Newcastle city centre shortly before 17:00 on Wednesday.  

She was found more than an hour later, a few miles away in Gosforth.

The girls, aged 13 and 14, are also charged with shoplifting dummies, baby milk and a bottle.

Nine-year-old boy's job application to sweet shop pays off

A nine-year-old boy who applied for a job at his local sweet shop has had the chance to give it a go.

The schoolboy dropped off a handwritten letter to Sweets and Treats in South Shields, saying: "I would like to inform you that I would like a job at Sweets and Treats.

"But not a full-time one as I am only nine (nearly ten)".

Letter from Ryan Dobson

Ryan Dobson came up with the plan when his mother Lea Dobson told him that treats and activities in the school holidays had to be paid for.

The shop said it was the "best application form ever".

As a special treat, Ryan took up an offer to visit the shop where he served ice cream and measured out sweets.

Ryan Dobson at Sweets & Treats

Rafa Benitez: We have to start winning games.

BBC Sport

Newcastle United are one place off the bottom, two points behind 18th-placed rivals Sunderland.

At his usual media conference, boss Rafael Benitez admits: "We have to have confidence. It's massive for us, crucial for us. We have to start winning games.

"In training sessions, the team is doing well. Now is the time to show it and play as a team on the pitch."  

Newcastle face Swansea tomorrow at 15:00.

NUFC v Swansea
Getty Images

People with learning disabilities should 'have same opportunities'

County Durham man Paul James on why the Independent Living Fund has been a loss:

View more on twitter

More on Sunday Politics tomorrow morning at 11:00.

Travel: Broken down car causing slow traffic on A19

BBC Travel

One lane blocked and very slow traffic on A19 northbound in East Herrington after Herrington Interchange, because of a broken down car.  

Keep up to date with the latest travel for Tyne & Wear and Tees.

Fifty-two-year-old tortoise Benji stolen from house

A 52-year-old tortoise called Benji has been stolen from a house in High Barnes in Sunderland.

Police say he had been in hibernation for the winter since October, but when the owner went to check on his hutch a couple of weeks ago, he was gone.

They say the owner has had the tortoise since he was a small child and it holds "a great deal of sentimental value for him and his family".

Benji could've been stolen from his home in Mount Road any time during his hibernation.

Steel jobs 'can be saved by tech', says energy researcher

Roger Harrabin

BBC environment analyst

The UK steel industry is doomed unless it embraces cutting-edge technology, a Cambridge professor has warned.

Prof Julian Allwood said the only way to save steel jobs was to make high-value products for industries in which the UK leads the world.

New methods could scrub impurities from recycled steel to make products for the aerospace and car industries, he said.

It comes as efforts are being made to save thousands of jobs at Tata Steel's Port Talbot steel plant in south Wales.

The announcement by the Indian company that it is to sell its UK business is the latest blow to an industry which has seen a succession of job cuts.

The Redcar plant closed last year, and Tata Steel has sold off it's UK operations, including sites in Lackenby and Skinningrove.

Newcastle MP fears schools into academisation will create teacher shortage

The Chronicle

BreakingGirls in court charged with kidnapping toddler

Two girls aged 13 and 14 have appeared in court charged with kidnapping a toddler with the intention of committing a sex offence and two counts of shoplifting.

It follows the alleged abduction of a two-year-old girl from a Primark store in Newcastle city centre on Wednesday afternoon. 

The youngster was found an hour later in Gosforth, three miles from the city centre. 

Both girls have also been charged with the theft of dummies from a Boots store, and the theft of a baby bottle and milk from a Sainsbury's store.

Bail was withheld and the pair were remanded to an address approved by Northumberland County Council. They will reappear in court on 13 May. 

Durham captain gets dressed up at airport

Durham cricket captain Paul Collingwood writes: Been playing Fireman Sam this morning at Newcastle Airport with the Durham lads. Heavy hose! #training#teambuilding#hot#wet

View more on instagram

Woman headbutted to death by cow in Northumberland

A 61-year-old woman has died after being "repeatedly headbutted" by a cow in Northumberland. 

Marian Clode from Manchester was on holiday with her family, who were "attacked by the herd" while out for a walk in Belford on 3 April.

The family's solicitor says they had been walking along a public bridle path which runs through a farm from the national trust site St Cuthbert's Cave when they were approached at speed by the herd of cattle.

One of the cattle became aggressive and hit Mrs Clode. She was airlifted to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle but died last Tuesday, JMW Solicitors said.

Hartlepool Council defends spending £12,205 on fertility court case

Hartlepool Council has defended spending thousands on trying to prevent the closure of fertility services in the town.

The council incurred £12,205 in legal costs to prevent the planned closure at the town’s Holdforth Road hospital at the end of March this year.

University Hospital Hartlepool

Officials say they took High Court action against North Tees & Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust after hospital bosses "failed to turn up at three successive meetings and wouldn't meet the council’s request for meaningful consultation".

Council chief executive Gill Alexander said: “It is extremely disappointing that the council had to take High Court action and this could have been avoided if the hospital trust had agreed to our reasonable requests."

Darlington College students design posters to combat legal highs

Posters designed by Darlington students for Durham Police are being displayed in bus stops across Durham.

They aim to warn people of the dangers of legal highs.

Legal high posters
Durham Police

Sunderland look back: What happened 21 years ago

Free health checks for pets in North Kenton

The charity PDSA is inviting people to come along and have their pets checked over in North Kenton, Newcastle.

The free check covers behaviour, companionship, diet, environment and health.

It says there's also a small range of free preventive services such as nail clipping and ear cleaning.

It's happening at the Kenton Park Sports Centre in Anfield Road. 

Listen: Newcastle Eagles star on tonight's title decider

Here's Newcastle Eagle's Rahmon Fletcher on tonight's decider with the Leicester Riders:

View more on twitter

Reading players charged with violent conduct during Middlesbrough defeat

BBC Sport

Reading players Paul McShane and Danny Williams have been charged with violent conduct by the FA following an on-pitch row in their defeat at Middlesbrough.

CCTV image released after racial abuse on Metro

Police have released a CCTV image after a 28-year-old man was racially abused on a Metro train travelling from Newcastle Central Station. 

They say the offender got off the Metro at Hebburn and when officers got there, the person responsible had already left the scene. 

CCTV image
Northumbria Police

Northumbria Police wants to speak to the man in the image in connection with the incident last month.

Newcastle United 'dismayed' by Jonas Gutierrez tribunal decision

Newcastle United say they are "dismayed" by the decision of a tribunal which concluded that Jonas Gutierrez was dropped by the club because of his cancer diagnosis.

A statement says: "We recognise that the task facing the tribunal was a difficult one, but we are dismayed by its decision. 

"We will now take time to consider the judgement in full and consult with our legal team to understand the options available to us."  

Transporter Bridge closed due to gearbox failure

The Transporter Bridge in Middlesbrough is closed due to a gearbox failure.

Specialist engineers are due on site today to assess the problem and it is a hoped repairs can be carried out shortly.

A Middlesbrough Council spokesman said: "We apologise for any inconvenience caused to bridge users, and hope to have it back in action before long."

Sport: Watmore back for Black Cats

BBC Sport

Sunderland striker Duncan Watmore is back in the squad for the crunch relegation encounter against Norwich at Carrow Road tomorrow.

The 22-year-old has been missing with an ankle ligament injury since the beginning of February, but has returned to training and is an option for manager Sam Allardyce as he looks to end a six-game wait for a victory. 

Man sexually assaults woman while she's asleep on bus

Police have released CCTV images of a man they'd like to speak to after a woman was sexually assaulted while asleep on a coach.

CCTV image
Northumbria Police

Back in March, a 20-year-old woman boarded a Newcastle to London National Express 425 coach. 

Police say she fell asleep, and became aware of the offender’s hands appearing around her seat when she woke up. He then sexually assaulted her over her clothing. 

She got off the coach at Milton Keynes.

CCTV image
Northumbria Police

Redcar lessons for Wales' struggling steel industry

Redcar's steelworks closed down in October, ending generations of steel production on Teesside.

Many steelworkers still struggle to find work. But some have been able to use government taskforce funding to start new businesses.

As Wales' steel industry hangs in the balance, what lessons can Port Talbot learn from Redcar?

Sunderland couple offer reward for return of ‘irreplaceable’ rings taken by burglars

Sunderland Echo


Former secretary of Northumberland Mineworkers Union denies wrongdoing

BBC Newsnight

Labour's trade union spokesman Ian Lavery has denied any wrongdoing after BBC Newsnight learned he received a heavily subsidised mortgage.

The mortgage was from the benevolent fund of the National Union of Mineworkers in Northumberland.

Ian Lavery
Labour Party

Mr Lavery, Labour MP for Wansbeck, was the general secretary of that union from 1992 to 2010, and also faces questions about redundancy money he received when he left.

He says the mortgage was a "private" matter and denies any impropriety.

Weather: Bright start, cloud to thicken.

BBC Weather

After a mostly bright and dry start cloud will increase and thicken, with rain moving across the area by the afternoon.

Becoming colder with snow falling across hills, and perhaps across lower ground during the evening.

Winds remaining light.  

Check the weather where you are.

Jonas Gutierrez: 'Once a Geordie always a Geordie'

Midfielder Jonas Gutierrez was dropped by Newcastle United because of his cancer diagnosis, an employment tribunal has found.

The 32-year-old was suing the Magpies for about £2m on the grounds of disability discrimination.

He's taken to Twitter to thank Newcastle fans for their support:

View more on twitter

Teenagers charged with Newcastle toddler kidnap

Two teenage girls have been charged with kidnapping a three-year-old child in central Newcastle.

The girl went missing from the Primark store in Northumberland Street shortly before 17:00 on Wednesday.

She was found just over an hour later, about three miles away in Gosforth.


Northumbria Police said two girls, aged 13 and 14, will appear at North Tyneside Magistrates' Court today charged with shoplifting and kidnap.