1. ITV Report

Police launch raids after skulls of two 16-year-olds stolen from grave

Photo: Durham Constabulary

Police found two sub-machine guns and ammunition after carrying out raids across the region to tackle on ongoing feud between travelling communities, which saw two teenagers' skulls being stolen from a grave.

Up to 150 officers from five forces across Northern England were involved in the raids at travellers' sites.

Ammunition was found in the raids Credit: Durham Constabulary

Durham Police, who led the investigation, said two sub-machine guns and ammunition were recovered in South Yorkshire. A small handgun was also found at a site.

Police uncovered a handgun at the site Credit: Durham Constabulary

The macabre act at Metal Bridge Cemetery, County Durham, was the latest in a series of shocking incidents involving two factions of the travelling community, police said.

The swoops on travellers' sites and homes in Doncaster, York, Middlesbrough, West Rainton near Durham, and Gateshead were aimed at getting more information about the feud.

Dogs trained to find dead bodies were used to try to locate the stolen skulls, which belonged to brothers Levi George Price and Gareth Price, who both died aged 16, in 2001 and 2005 respectively.

The theft was carried out to antagonise arival faction, police believe, and has sickened the majority of travellers.

In total seven have so far been arrested for conspiracy to commit GBH.

Detective Superintendent Adrian Green, leading the inquiry, urged whoever has the skulls to give themselves up.

"Your community is appalled at what you have done," he said.

He thanked travellers for coming forward with information since Monday, when news of the graveyard attack broke.

"It shows that the desecration of the grave and the theft of the skulls will not be tolerated by anybody.

We said it had gone too far. Police are taking positive action for which I hope the community are appreciative and feel reassured.

– Detective Superintendent Adrian Green

Chief Inspector Caroline Dawson works in Darlington where in recent weeks a home has been petrol-bombed and two others badly damaged after being rammed by lorries.

She said:

We must remember that these people who are involved in this crime are a small faction of the travelling community.

– Caroline Dawson

She said the majority "want to live a peaceful life".