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Ex-staff probed over historical detention centre abuse

Former prison staff are being interviewed as part of an investigation into more than 900 claims of alleged historical sexual and physical abuse on inmates at a young offenders' centre in County Durham.

Durham Constabulary said 915 men had contacted officers claiming they were abused at Medomsley Detention Centre since the investigation was established in August 2013.

The ex-detainees were all in their teens when they were sent, for often relatively minor offences, to Medomsley from the 1960s until the centre closed in 1988, where they spent around six to eight weeks before being released.

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Gardener sparks blaze using flamethrower to kill weeds

A woman who used a flamethrower to kill weeds in her garden accidentally set fire to a fence, tree and telegraph pole.

Witnesses claimed flames soared 12ft into the air during the incident involving a blowtorch designed to tackle unwanted plant growth in Pity Me, Durham.

A County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said the aim was to expose weeds to intense heat, thus killing them, but not to "burn them to a crisp".

It advised gardeners to have some water nearby when using the garden tool.

Five arrested after rabbit allegedly stolen and set on fire

Five people have been arrested after a rabbit was allegedly stolen, taken to a party, and then set on fire and thrown from a window in County Durham.

A photo which has emerged on social media apparently shows three men sitting bare-chested in the bath with one holding what appears to be the white lionhead rabbit called Percy.

The theft happened overnight between Friday and Saturday and, according to people living in the Dawdon area of Seaham, the pet was set on fire and thrown out of a window and killed.

Durham Police said: "Police are investigating the theft and subsequent death of a white lionhead rabbit."

Facebook troll jailed after posing as missing girl

An internet troll has been jailed after harassing a family by posing as their missing daughter.

Donna Wright from County Durham was sentenced to 14 weeks after she broke a restraining order to telephone Richard Lee, whose daughter Katrice disappeared near a British Army base in Germany 33 years ago.

Wright was also convicted of harassing Katrice's mother Sharon and sister Natasha. Wright had turned nasty after a DNA test proved she was not the missing girl, and sent spiteful messages over Facebook. She admitted to harassment after conclusive phone records were produced.

Mr Lee said the family was already serving a life sentence due to the fact their daughter was abducted and they have no answers. Speaking outside court, Mr Lee said she was a sick individual and had wasted public money:

The only justice I have got out of it is I will sleep easy in the coming weeks as I won't have to worry that she will ring me.

If I had one question for Ms Wright it would be 'what has my family ever done to you?'.

But I don't wish to ask that or any other question as I do not want this woman to have any such dialogue with me or my family or anyone else who is trying to find Katrice.

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30 children in hospital after County Durham bus crash

Thirty children are being treated in hospital after two buses collided in Stanley in County Durham, including one boy who suffered serious facial injuries.

Fifty children from two local schools were travelling on the buses when the crash occurred.

The emergency services at the scene of the crash in County Durham. Credit: ITV News

The two bus drivers were taken to different hospitals for treatment, while a 12-year-old boy was airlifted to hospital after suffering serious facial injuries.

Twenty seven other children are having treatment for minor injuries.

50 children & two adults involved in bus crash

Fifty children and two adults were on board the school buses when the collision occurred in Stanley, County Durham, this morning.

One driver was trapped, according to the Great North Air Ambulance Service, which was called to the scene.

The doctor-led trauma team triaged the injured persons and a 12-year-old child was flown to the Royal Victoria Infirmary (in Newcastle) with serious facial injuries.

– Great North Air Ambulance Service spokesman
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