Tees

Dead driver Darren Stephenson-Bennett missing for week

Darren Stephenson-Bennett Image copyright Durham Constabulary
Image caption Darren Stephenson-Bennett's family said he was a "much-loved husband, father, son and brother"

A driver found dead in a car in bushes had been missing for up to a week.

Darren Stephenson-Bennett, from Newton Aycliffe, crashed on a roundabout at the junction of the A68 and A1(M) near Darlington, County Durham.

The 28-year-old was last seen at a party on Saturday 27 August and was found dead by police seven days later after a phone call from the public.

He was confirmed dead at the scene but police say they are not sure when the crash happened.

It is thought Mr Stephenson-Bennett failed to negotiate the roundabout and went through a chevron board before hitting some trees, police said.

Insp Ed Turner said: "It's inevitable those questions will be asked of the police as to why we haven't found him before this time.

"There was a comprehensive missing from home investigation undertaken by Durham Constabulary. We didn't locate him.

"He went missing on the Saturday and wasn't reported missing until the Tuesday so we had a bit of catch up to play with."

Image copyright Durham Constabulary
Image caption The car crashed through a road sign and into trees

In a statement, Mr Stephenson-Bennett's family said: "Darren was a much-loved husband, father, son and brother who was devoted to his family and his daughters.

"Darren was a popular person who would do anything for anybody.

"He was well-liked by all who knew him, extremely laid back and easy going, and no-one had a bad word to say about him."

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