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Stonebridge in Darlington re-opened

Workmen removing cones on Stonebridge

After a 23 week programme of work Stonebridge in Darlington town centre is now re-opened to two-way traffic.

The bridge has been undergoing strengthening work since October 2015, with a break in December for festive traffic.

Stonebridge is more than 120 years old and elements of the bridge were suffering from corrosion. The works were necessary to avoid closure or a weight limit that would restrict buses and lorries using the bridge.

Loose horses take a stroll around Darlington park

Walking around the grounds Credit: Pat Blewitt

A man from Darlington caught these horses running loose in a park this morning.

Pat Blewitt captured the horses on a stroll around North Park.

Police are trying to establish who the owners are.

The three horses were spotted in Darlington Credit: Pat Blewitt
Parents on the school run were shocked at the sight! Credit: Pat Blewitt

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Police investigating death at care home in Darlington

Police are investigating the "unexplained" death of a woman at a care home.

On March 15, a 58-year-old woman died at the Middleton Lodge home in Middleton St George, near Darlington.

A spokesman for the home expressed condolences to the bereaved family and Durham Constabulary confirmed officers are investigating the nature of the woman's sudden death.

The woman’s death is currently being treated as unexplained and the investigation continues.

– Durham Constabulary

We are very saddened by the death of one of our service users who lived happily at Middleton Lodge.

All relevant professionals, regulators and family were notified as soon as we were able.

As part of the ongoing review, we will continue to work with our external partners to determine the cause of death.

In addition our thoughts are with relatives at this sad time and this brings a sense of loss to all who reside at Middleton Lodge.

– Neil Wadge, regional director of home-owners Potens

Nationally important medieval stones stolen from church remains in Darlington

Police are investigating the possible theft of three nationally-important early Medieval sculptured stones from the remains of a church on the outskirts of Darlington.

A missing item: a fragment of Viking runic inscription which translated means “in memory of Mael-Muriel/…raised cross”,

All Saints Church in Sockburn is a rare surviving example of a pre- and post-Norman Conquest church site and graveyard.

Its collection of late 9th and 10th century Viking sculptured stones are unrivalled in the country.

One of the stolen items, a fragment of a Medieval cross slab carved with a small sword, measuring 43cm x 13cm.

Many of these were collected in the 19th century by the landowner Sir Edward Buckley who had part of the ruined church reconstructed and re-roofed specifically “for the reception and preservation of the ancient stones lying among the ruins.”

One of the stolen items: a well-preserved fragment of a carved bear’s head, possibly from a hogback - a Viking grave marker.

The church discovered the loss of the items last week and notified police, but it’s thought they could have gone missing at any point since September 2015.

The three items missing are:

  • a well-preserved fragment of a carved bear’s head, a Viking grave marker, dating to the 9th or 10th centuries which measures 24.5cm at its widest
  • a fragment of Viking runic inscription which translated means “in memory of Mael-Muriel/…raised cross”, also dating to the same period
  • a fragment of a Medieval cross slab carved with a small sword

Mark Harrison, National Policing and Crime Advisor for Historic England said:

This is not a victimless crime. Church buildings are places of cultural, historic, religious and, to many people, personal importance and the loss of these three nationally-significant stones robs us of our shared history.

The value of England’s heritage cannot be judged in pounds and pence. The impact of theft on our historic buildings and cultural property has far-reaching consequences over and above the financial cost of what has been stolen."

– Mark Harrison, National Policing and Crime Advisor for Historic England

A spokesperson for the Diocese of Durham said:

The removal of these important artefacts is of great concern. We would ask anyone who has any information that would lead to their safe return to come forward and contact the police as soon as possible.

Many of our churches both open and closed, as in this case have items of historical importance and making them available to our communities is clearly part of our open door policy. However, that is no excuse for the wanton removal of any items as this is a crime which affects the whole community.”

– A spokesperson for the Diocese of Durham
All Saints Church Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

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Charge over £400k teachers' pension fund fraud

A woman who was arrested as part of an investigation into an alleged £400,000 teachers' pension fund fraud has been charged.

The woman, who worked for outsourcing firm Capita, in Darlington, County Durham, was suspended last summer over allegations she stole hundreds of thousands of pounds.

An inquiry by the national company, which looks after pensions and investments, revealed anomalies in finances over a period of almost 18 months.

The 45-year-old suspect was questioned in August about the black hole in the accounts going back to the summer of 2013, and was released on bail.

"A 45-year-old female former employee of Capita has been charged with two offences, and will be appearing in court later this month.

"These charges follow a lengthy and very complex investigation into financial irregularities at the company offices between 2013 and last year."

– Detective Constable Mick Trodden, from Darlington CID

Capita, the largest professional outsourcing company in the UK, consolidated its Darlington offices at Mowden Hall, in the town's West End, and near the Asda store in Whinbush Way, on a new site at the Lingfield Point business park last year.

Woman stabbed during Darlington robbery

A teenager has been arrested in connection with a robbery in Darlington. A woman, 35, was stabbed in the leg during the incident at 1pm at the Cadmen Store on Thompson Street West.

A small quantity of money was stolen. A 16-year-old 'local youth' has been arrested on suspicion of robbery.

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