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Terminally-ill pensioner becomes detective for the day to fulfil lifelong dream

Terminally-ill Margaret was all smiles after living her dream on a mocked-up crime scene. Credit: Northumbria Police/PA

A terminally-ill pensioner who always wanted to be a detective has had her bucket list dream come true.

Margaret Thornton, 70, joined up with Northumbria Police officers for one day to realise her ambition.

Officers mocked up a crime scene and put her in charge of cracking a fictitious hit-and-run case. She travelled to the case in a marked police car after receiving a call out on a police radio.

The delighted detective-for-the-day then followed the clues to make an arrest and hauled in the suspect for questioning.

Margaret directs her forensics team. Credit: Northumbria Police/PA

Margaret, who has cancer, also visited fire officers and the dog section and was joined by forensic teams working on the car.

The new recruit, from Hendon in Sunderland, said: "I always wanted to be a detective, ever since I was young.

"So today was a dream come true.

Margaret, with her team for the day, always wanted to be a detective. Credit: Northumbria Police/PA

“I’ve already flown in a helicopter, so being a detective was the next thing I wanted to tick off on my bucket list.

“I now want to ride in a hot air balloon.

“I’ve been telling all my friends about being a detective and coming into the police station. I’ve been excited for weeks.

“I had an absolutely brilliant day, I loved all of it and everyone was so kind.

“I can’t thank everybody enough for making it happen.”

Margaret was known as Detective Constable 48 for the day, after the year she was born. Credit: Northumbria Police/PA
The detective was given a Commander's Compliment for her work. Credit: Northumbria Police/PA

Chief Superintendent Sarah Pitt, of Northumbria Police, said: “Margaret is a wonderful woman, and that’s why our officers were so keen to give up their day off to make her dream a reality.

“She showed outstanding detective work which led to the arrest and charge of the ‘offender’, and I’m sure she’ll never forget her day in the force.

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“I’d like to thank my team who showed such willingness to help Margaret have an unforgettable day, as well as our partners at Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust and Tyne & Wear Fire & Rescue Service.

“Their kindness helped produce an unforgettable experience for a wonderful woman, who made a lasting impression on us all.”

Carole Green, community clinical manager for the Sunderland Learning Disabilities Community Treatment Team at Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, said: “It is a hugely generous and kind offer from the police, and our service is grateful to them as this is something Margaret has always wanted to do.”