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Ana Guerra-Moore

BBC News Online

Thank you for joining us today

Our live online coverage is now over, but we continue bringing you news through the evening on BBC Tees and BBC Newcastle, and on Look North.

We'll be back from 08:00 tomorrow with more news, sport, weather and travel from across the North East. 

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Two men badly hurt in A690 crash

Two vehicles collided on the outskirts of Durham in the early hours of yesterday, leaving two men badly injured.

It happened at 01:15 yesterday on the A690, at the West Rainton / Pittington Lane junction.  

The cars involved were a Vauxhall Corsa and an Audi A3. The Corsa was travelling eastbound on the A690 with the Audi heading in the opposite direction.

The car crash

The collision took place as the Corsa crossed the carriageway, intending to turn right on o Pittington Lane.

The driver of the Corsa, a 21-year-old man from Hartlepool was uninjured but the driver and passenger of the Audi both received serious injuries and were taken to hospital.

The driver, a 42-year-old man from Houghton-le-Spring, is in the Royal Victoria Infirmary at Newcastle and his passenger, a man from Durham aged 44, is in the University Hospital North Durham. Both are described as stable.

Weather: Rain tonight but easing later

BBC Weather

Cloudy with outbreaks of rain, some of these turning heavy during the early hours. 

Rain easing later with clearer spells in the north by dawn. 

Feeling mild throughout with mainly light winds.  

Weather graph

Check the forecast where you are here.

Newport Bridge closed after 'police incident'

BBC Travel

The Newport Bridge in Middlesbrough is closed and there's queuing traffic in both directions between Cannon Park Interchange and the A1046 Haverton Hill Road junction because of a police incident. 

Congestion on A66 to Hartington Interchange.  

get the latest travel for Tyne and Wear and Teesside.

Catholic priest charged with fraud

A Roman Catholic priest has been charged with two counts of fraud.

Father John Reid, 69, was parish priest at St Cuthbert's Church in Chester-le-Street.

Durham Police said the charges relate to allegations of an abuse of a position of trust.

Fr Reid was first arrested more than two years ago amid allegations that money had gone missing.

He withdrew from public ministry while investigations were carried out.

He will appear at Peterlee Magistrates' Court on August 30. 

Man found guilty of murder in North Tyneside

A man has been found guilty of stabbing to death a 24-year-old in North Tyneside.

Reece Allen, pictured below, was discovered with multiple stab wounds outside an address in West Avenue, North Shields, in the early hours of 25 January. He later died in hospital.

Joe Welsh, also 24, of no fixed address, was found guilty of murder after a trial at Newcastle Crown Court.

The judge is currently deliberating over when to sentence him.

Reece Allen

Surveying equipment stolen from car in Hartlepool

Ana Guerra-Moore

BBC News Online

Now to look at some other stories from across the region:

A car has been broken into and a number of items were stolen, including valuable surveying equipment.

The incident took place between 23:00 on Tuesday and 10:00 yesterday, while the car was parked on Warkworth Drive in Hartlepool.

A window was smashed before the suspect also went through the items in the boot of the vehicle.

Items stolen include a Garmin sat nav, an electronic measuring tape, a hydrometer, a Cannon digital camera and a large red travel bag containing paperwork. 

Lynne Freeman: Children of victim pay tribute

Lynne Freeman was a mother of four.

Her children paid tribute to her after her death by saying she was "thriving in life" and loved volunteering for the Redcar Beacons, a charity project she was part of.

They added: "The person who lit up a room as she walked in, the loving way she helped others and in return expected nothing, her infectious laugh and personality, the amazing person who selflessly volunteered to give back into the community, is the person she should be remembered for -  and not the events that took place that night."

Lynne Freeman

Alan Bennett 'destroyed his children's lives'

The grandmother of three children who saw their father murder their mother in a horrific attack outside their home said she was "destroyed" to hear they had witnessed the stabbing.

Alan Bennett, 34, from Lingholme, Redcar, was sentenced for murdering firsthis partner Lynne Freeman, then his ex Jodie Betteridge.

Impact statements from the women's families were read out today at Teesside Crown Court by Andrew Robertson QC, prosecuting. 

Jodie Betteridge's mother, Marina Griffiths, said: "My daughter had three young children who have lost their mother and when I found out they saw their own father kill their mum, this destroyed me even more."

She added: "He has destroyed his children's lives as they now have to grow up without their mother who looked after them and loved them dearly."

Ms Griffiths said the family were pleased when Jodie split up with Bennett, as she would no longer be manipulated by him.

Independent investigation to be launched following Redcar murders

An independent investigation is to be carried out into how a man with a history of domestic abuse was able to murder his partner and ex-girlfriend in Redcar.

Alan Bennett, who was today jailed for at least 32 years, had been violent to both of his victims and was barred from having unsupervised contact with his three children.

The 34-year-old killed Lynne Freeman, 46, before stabbing Jodie Betteridge 132 times in front of their children in Redcar on 23 March.  

Det Sgt Peter Carr from Cleveland Police said: "A domestic homicide review is going to take place in due course.

"That's going to be done by Redcar and Cleveland Community Safety Partnership, the police will be involved in that process, and rightly so it sits away from the investigation."

Neighbours react to Alan Bennett's 32-year jail term

BBC Tees

Redcar residents have reacted to Alan Bennett's 32-year jail term for a double murder in the town.

A man who witnessed part of Jodie Betteridge's murder says he saw police pining Bennett to the floor while paramedics tried to resuscitate Ms Betteridge.

Another neighbour says that locals have been "on edge" since the attack took place in March, but they can now "calm down".

He added: "You can see it when people have been walking about, making sure nothing happens to them, because it can happen to anyone."

Byland Close

Knife killer 'tried to escape after frenzied attack'

Andy Bell

BBC Tees

A man who stabbed his ex-girlfriend 132 times tried to flee the scene, witnesses have said.

Alan Bennett, 34, killed Lynne Freeman, 46, before stabbing Jodie Betteridge multiple times in front of their three children in Redcar.

One witness to the second attack in Byland Close told me: "He tried to get away but the police got him.  

"We were doing CPR on her chest, but she was gone.

"I didn't realise he stabbed her 132 times but I knew it was severe. She was a mess bless her."

Double murderer says he 'still loves' stab victims

Killer Alan Bennett wrote a letter saying he still loves the two women he brutally stabbed to death, a judge says.

Judge Simon Bourne-Arton said the letter was "full of self-pity" and that he claimed to still love his victims, Lynne Freeman, 46, and Jodie Betteridge, 30.

He added that he had made a "monumental mistake".   

But the judge said: "You are a violent individual, you are a man with a quick temper, a man who always expects to get his own way. 

"That becomes worse when you are in drink.

"There was no mistake about it, it was quite deliberate by you." 

Double knife killer Alan Bennett 'has never said why he did it'

A man who stabbed to death two women in Redcar has never explained why he committed the savage attacks, police say.

Alan Bennett has today been given two life sentences and jailed for at least 32 years for the two murders minutes apart in March.

Det Sgt Peter Carr from Cleveland Police said:

Throughout the investigation Bennett refused to take responsibility for his terrible actions, and he never gave his reasons or an explanation for what he did.

I am pleased that today we finally hear two guilty pleas. This will at least spare the victims’ families and friends the additional trauma of going through a trial.

I hope both families will take some comfort from the fact that Bennett faces a lengthy spell in prison as they continue to come to terms with what happened.”

Murdered mum's family believe 'justice has been served'

A Redcar mum who was brutally murdered by her ex-partner in front of their children has today been remembered by her family.

Jodie Betteridge was described as a devoted mother who "lived for her children, as they were the most important people in her life".

Her family do not understand why Alan Bennett carried out the fatal attack in front of their three children, and say they "can’t imagine the pain that she must have gone through".

They added: "Nothing will take the pain away from losing Jodie but it is a comfort to know that justice has been served."

Today he was jailed for a minimum of 32 years.

Jodie Betteridge

Lynne Freeman's family say 'jail will never be good enough'

The children of Redcar murder victim Lynne Freeman have today said they will have to "live with the consequences" of Alan Bennett's "cruel actions".

Bennett was today sentenced to at least 32 years in jail for stabbing the mother and grandmother to death.

Ms Freeman's family say their pain will "never go away" and that today's sentencing is just " a fraction of what he deserves".

Lynne Freeman
Cleveland Police

In a statement, they added: "Our mother’s life was taken at the age of 46, when she should have had years ahead of her with her family and friends. 

"Jail will never be good enough for what he has done as it’s never going to bring mam back."

Double killer made 'chilling and detached' call to police after attack

Double knife murderer Alan Bennett made a "chilling and detached" call to police after stabbing his girlfriend Lynne Freeman to death, police say.

The killer made the call as he walked away from her home in Mapleton Crescent in Redcar and made the short journey to neighbouring Byland Close, where he would go on to kill his ex Jodie Betteridge.

Det Sgt Peter Carr from Cleveland Police said: "Without doubt Bennett acted in cold blood as he attacked both Lynne and Jodie - one his partner at the time, the other the mother of his three children.  

"His phone call to police as he walked away from the fatal attack on Lynne Freeman is particularly chilling and detached."

Double stab murders 'shocked the community'

Andy Bell

BBC Tees

A man who witnessed a fatal stab attack on a mother of three has spoken of the devastation the murder has had on the community.

Jodie Betteridge was stabbed to death by Alan Bennett shortly after he knifed his partner just around the corner in Redcar.

The witness, who wishes to remain anonymous, saw the attack on Jodie and tried to resuscitate her, but she died a short time later from 132 injuries.

He told me: "It's quiet in this estate now, it shocked the community. 

"You don't expect it to be on you doorstep, but two in a matter of minutes...

"We'll have to live with it, we have to go on. You have to think of the kids."

Murder scene in Redcar

Double murderer's victims were both vulnerable, judge says

A man who stabbed his ex-girlfriend 132 times thought she was a "bad parent" when it was in fact he who had the problem, a judge has said.

Sentencing Alan Bennett to two life sentences for murdering Lynne Freeman, 46, and Jodie Betteridge in Redcar on 23 March, Judge Simon Bourne-Arton told him both his victims were vulnerable. 

A significant aggravating factor was that Bennett killed Jodie, his children's mother, as they watched in horror, the judge said. 

Social services and the courts had decided that Bennett, who had a history of domestic abuse against both women, should not have unsupervised contact with his children because of his personality. 

It is believed his frustration over this was behind his decision to kill.

Witness tells how stab murder scene 'was like a movie'

Andy Bell

BBC Tees

A man who witnessed the brutal knife murder of a mother of three in Redcar has told how the attack was like something from a film.

The witness, who wishes to remain anonymous but was in Byland Close as Jodie Betterdige was attacked by her ex, told me: "It was horrendous. I was passing and seeing what was going on, but it was all like a dream, like a movie scene.

"The lass was laid on the floor, he was stabbing her in a frenzied attack. 

"He's seen me, I went to run over, I didn't know there was police, the cars came from everywhere. 

"We were all blocked in and sealed off. The poor lass's body was laid on the grass."

Map of Redcar

Double killer called police on himself after stabbings

Double killer Alan Bennett, 34, called police after he stabbed Lynne Freeman, 46, in the neck in Redcar on March 23. 

Just seven minutes later, Cleveland Police received a second call from members of the public to say Jodie Betteridge, 30, had been repeatedly stabbed less than a mile away. 

Bennett, who appeared at Teesside Crown Court, was arrested at the horrific murder scene in Byland Close and today pleaded guilty to murder. He was jailed for a minimum of 32 years.

Police and paramedics were also at the scene in Mapleton Crescent, where he had killed Ms Freeman. 

Cleveland Police said there had been previous domestic violence incidents involving Bennett and both women. 

Grieving relative tells double stab murderer 'I hope you rot'

A grieving relative shouted "I hope you rot" at double murderer Alan Bennet as he was led to the cells after being jailed for at least 32 years.

Bennett, 34, killed Lynne Freeman, 46, before stabbing Jodie Betteridge 132 times in front of their three children in Redcar on 23 March.

He was angry about not having access to his children. He earlier threatened his current girlfriend Ms Freeman and told her "Wait til I get you home". 

Once there, he stabbed her several times. He then went to the home of his former partner, Ms Betteridge. 

He attacked her in front of them and stabbed her one hundred and thirty two times. Bennett told the police "I have done what had to be done".

Double killer was 'violent man with history of domestic abuse'

Here's how the sentencing of Alan Bennett has been reported by other media in the North East of England:

Double murderer threatened to kill before fatal attacks

Double murderer Alan Bennett swore and threatened to "kill" on the day his attacks took place, a court has heard.

Alan Bennett, 34, killed Lynne Freeman, 46, before stabbing Jodie Betteridge 132 times in front of their three children in Redcar on 23 March.

Andrew Robertson QC, prosecuting, said: "Both women were stabbed to death with an unequivocal intent to kill."

Bennett had earlier got drunk with one of his victims, Ms Freeman, in Redcar and he was "aggressive and confrontational".

Lynne Freeman and Jodie Betteridge
Family photos

During a row with his partner, a friend of hers saw him push Ms Freeman to the ground.

When the friend told him "there's no need for that", Bennett grabbed the witness and, apparently referring to his ex-partner Ms Betteridge, said: "You don't know what's happened. I've lost my kids, I'm not allowed to see them. I'll kill her."

Mr Robertson said the witness was unsure who the "her" referred to. 

Bennett and Ms Freeman sat on opposite sides of a bus on the way home, the court heard.

Bennett made threats to Ms Freeman, telling her "I will get your attention when we are home".

Neighbours tell of horrific attack on mother-of-three

Neighbours of a woman who was brutally stabbed to death 132 times have told how they witnessed the savage attack on Jodie Betteridge in Redcar.

Andrew Robertson QC, prosecuting, said: "The next-door neighbours heard screaming and shouting.

"They looked out and saw the defendant strike the deceased in the front garden."

The children of the defendant and the deceased were standing and screaming near their mother, Mr Robertson also revealed.

When the neighbour challenged Bennett, he told her to call the police. 

She later said: "The defendant was constantly stabbing Jodie like a crazed maniac."

Jodie Betteridge
Family photo

Colleagues remember Redcar murder victim Lynne Freeman

Colleagues have spoken of their shock after a man admitted murdering of Redcar street angel Lynne Freeman.

Ms Freeman was a vital part of the community project she took part in, as she was helpful in teaching other angels how to approach people out on the town, Anne Connelly, the project's manager said.

She saw volunteering with the angels as "putting something back into the community" and the group "became like family to her". 

Anne Connelly

Ms Connelly said: "She didn't have a lot herself but she always wanted to give to others and she would give her time... it was a great shock. 

"You don't expect to lose somebody that young. We all miss her."  

Alan Bennett's mental illness 'not severe enough' to excuse murders

Double murderer Alan Bennett has a mental illness, but not severe enough to allow him to claim a defence of diminish responsibility, the court heard.

Tim Roberts QC, in mitigation, said his client had pleaded guilty at the first reasonable opportunity. 

Mr Roberts added: "He has not had the normal capacity of self-restraint which a healthy individual would possess."  

Double murderer had previous convictions for violence

Alan Bennett told detectives he could not remember killing either woman after he brutally stabbed them both in March, it has emerged.

The double murderer also has previous convictions for attacking someone with a bottle in 2002, and battery in 2012, Teesside Crown Court heard.

He now must serve two life sentences with aminimum term of 32 years and 233 days.

Redcar murder: Knife used to kill victims 'snapped'

More information about the brutal attacks carried out by Alan Bennett has been read to the court.

Four stab wounds were inflicted to Lynne Freeman's neck and nine other "sharp force injuries" were inflicted to her neck and chest.

She was first attacked on the sofa and then on the floor of her home in Mapleton Crescent, Redcar.

Bennett then left to attack Ms Betteridge in front of their children, starting the brutal assault inside and continuing it in the front garden in Byland Close.

He inflicted 132 "sharp force injuries", said Andrew Robertson QC, prosecuting.

Two of those were significant enough to kill her.

Mr Robertson said 30 were to the head and Ms Betteridge would have been significantly disfigured if she had lived.

The knife used to kill both women snapped during the second murder.  

BreakingRedcar double murderer jailed for at least 32 years

A man who murdered two women in Redcar in vicious knife attacks only minutes apart has been jailed for life with a minimum of 32 years and 233 days.

Alan Bennett

Sentencing starts for double murderer Alan Bennett

The sentencing hearing has started at Teesside Crown Court for double murderer Alan Bennett.

The 34-year-old killed Lynne Freeman, 46, before stabbing Jodie Betteridge 132 times in front of their three children in Redcar on 23 March.

Judge Simon Bourne-Arton said he would sentence him to two life sentences and will set a minimum term.

He added he is considering a starting point of 30 years.

More to follow.

Double killer's chilling words to victim before fatal stab attack

Fiona Trott

BBC News

"I have done what had to be done". 

That was the explanation Alan Bennett gave to the police after murdering his partner Lynne Freeman and then his former girlfriend Jodie Betteridge, who was the mother of his three children.

Teesside Crown Court heard he'd been out drinking in Redcar with his girlfriend in March this year, when a row started on a bus. 

He told her "Wait til I get you home, I'll get your attention." 

He then stabbed her several times. 

The court was told he then stabbed his former partner 132 times in front of her neighbours, who were shouting and screaming. Bennett will be sentenced later. 

Redcar murders: Events that led up to the attacks

Alan Bennett and Lynne Freeman had spent the day of Wednesday 23 March drinking in Redcar town centre, visiting a number of pubs.

Both had consumed a number of alcoholic drinks and Bennett had been involved in a couple of altercations during the course of the day. 

At 20.10, Bennett and Freeman got onto the number 63 bus which dropped them on West Dyke Road, near Ms Freeman's home address. 

Redcar High Street
Google Street View

During the journey, witnesses described an argument between the two, in which Bennett raised his voice a number of times.

This argument is said to have continued in the street as they made their way towards Mapleton Crescent - where shortly afterwards he murdered Ms Freeman.

Meanwhile, Jodie Betteridge had spent the majority of the day at home with her three young children.

A few minutes later she too would be dead, stabbed outside her home 132 times in front of her children.

Redcar murder victim was 'street angel'

A woman who was killed by her partner volunteered for the Redcar Beacons "street angels" project, which tries to make sure the town's revellers stay safe.

Lynne Freeman was "very chatty" and well known, people said. 

Already familiar with many of the door staff, she helped teach the group how to approach people out on the town.    

Ms Freeman was described as "so easy to love" by the project's manager Anne Connelly.

Lynne Freeman

Redcar double murderer 'had history of violence'

Francesca Williams

BBC News

A man has admitted murdering his current and former partners, in separate attacks one straight after the other. 

Alan Bennett, of Redcar, already had a history of violence and was involved in public arguments and altercations on the day of the killings.

Within seven short minutes on a spring Wednesday evening, Bennett stabbed to death his girlfriend before going on to kill his ex-partner in front of their three children.

Tributes at murder scene

The 34-year-old knifed Lynne Freeman in the neck and body and before launching his fatal attack on Jodie Betteridge, leaving her with injuries to her legs, body, arms, face and neck.

Within that brief time on 23 March, Bennett had also found time to call the emergency services himself, at 20:45.

His partner had been stabbed and an ambulance was needed at her home on Mapleton Crescent, Redcar, he told the call handler.

Minutes later police were called again, though this time not by Bennett.

Read more here.

Bennett stabbed mother of his children 132 times

A man who murdered two women in the space of seven minutes stabbed one of his victims 132 times.

Teesside Crown Court has today heard how neighbours who witnessed the attack were screaming and shouting, and said Bennett was acting like a "crazed maniac".

Alan Bennett, 34, killed Lynne Freeman, 46, before stabbing Jodie Betteridge 132 times in front of their three children in Redcar on 23 March.  

Byland Close

Redcar murderer threatened victim on bus before fatal attack

Alan Bennett threatened his current partner on a bus minutes before brutally murdering her.

Bennett, who stabbed both his partner Lynne Freeman and former girlfriend to death in March, told the police: "I have done what had to be done."

Lynne, his first victim, was killed at her home in Mapleton Crescent, Redcar, after a row on a bus in which Bennett told her: "Wait til I get you home, I'll get your attention."

Mapleton Crescent

After stabbing her he went on to find his former partner Jodie Betteridge, and stabbed her in front of their children.  

Double killer Alan Bennett's relationship with his victims

Alan Bennett had been in a relationship with one of his victims, Jodie Betteridge, from 2005 until late 2014.

As a result of the relationship they had three children - all of whom lived with her in Byland Close in Redcar.

Bennett started a relationship with Lynne Freeman, 46, (pictured left) in early 2015, but had known her prior to this date.

While they did not live together, they did spend a lot of time in each other’s company, often staying over at their respective addresses.

Lynne Freeman, left, and Jodie Betteridge

Man murdered former partner in front of their three children

A man who brutally killed two women in Redcar carried out one of the murders in front of his and the victim's three young children, it can be reported.

Alan Bennett had previously been in a relationship with Jodie Betteridge and they had three children aged four, six and nine at the time of the attack in March this year.

The youngsters were present during the assault and witnessed part of the fatal stab attack upon their mother.

It is unclear why Bennett committed the murders, but previous domestic incidents had been reported, police said.

Alan Bennett