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Countdown contestant jailed for child sex offences



Credit: Durham Constabulary Facebook

A former contestant from Channel 4’s Countdown is now behind bars after being found to have committed child sex abuse offences.

Craig Chittenden of Willington, County Durham, has received a 12-year custodial sentence at Durham Crown Court on Friday (18 February) after admitting to the sex offences.

Durham Constabulary said the 33-year-old “hid behind a screen” as he encouraged a woman from the US to abuse her daughter as he watched.

Digital officers were alerted by FBI special agents from Dallas, Texas, that he had been exchanging messages with their suspect.

Seized devices also revealed that Chittenden had been making contact with like-minded individuals in America and inciting sexual acts on young children.

Digital Online Investigator, DC Georgina Lewis said: “The Digital Investigations team work incredibly hard to protect young people from harm and bring perpetrators of child sexual exploitation to justice and I hope today’s result demonstrates that.

“Chittenden is a sexual predator who tried to hide his crimes online and encourage like-minded individuals in the USA to carry out sex acts on children.

“This was a complex investigation but thanks to the collaborative investigative efforts between Texas Police and ourselves he was left with no option but to plead guilty.”

Back in 2010, when he was a 22-year-old student, Chittenden made it to a semi-final of the Countdown.

Officers visited his home in March 2020 where he disclosed that he had “accessed some images” which could be found on his phone.

They found almost 1,000 indecent images.

He was charged in October last year with making indecent images, possession of extreme pornographic images, distribution of indecent images, facilitating the commission of a child sex offence and inciting sexual exploitation of a child.

Chittenden claimed he had no interest in children but admitted to being sexually aroused by the images.

The judge described the sexual predator as a “dangerous offender,” following how “emotionless and detached” he was throughout his sentencing.



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Saudi Arabia wants its investors to own Manchester United



North East Updates - Breaking News

Sports minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal revealed the country’s latest sporting ambitions in an interview with Sky News – with the sovereign wealth fund already owning Newcastle and now funding a breakaway golf series.


Sports minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal revealed the country’s latest sporting ambitions in an interview with Sky News – with the sovereign wealth fund already owning Newcastle and now funding a breakaway golf series.


It follows the Manchester United board announcing that they are open to a sale of the club.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisalstated he would be keen on Ronaldo signing for a Saudi Pro League after the World Cup, with the 37-year-old a free agent following a controversial interview and exit to Manchester United earlier this week..


“Who wouldn’t want him to play in their league?” “He’s a role model to a lot of young players – him and Messi.”


Sky news are reporting – It is the availability of United – after the Glazers announced plans for a potential sale – and Ronaldo that is interesting Prince Abdulaziz.


What are your thoughts on this – join the conversation on our Facebook page.


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Sunday for Sammy Concert Cancelled For 2023 Due To Cost of Living



A popular charity concert will not be held in 2023 due to the cost of living crisis.

Sunday for Sammy, which is held in memory of North East actor Sammy Johnson, is a biennial event aimed at benefitting young performers.

The long-running event has featured the likes of Joe McElderry, Johnny Vegas, Brenda Blethyn, Denise Welch, AC/DC’s Brian Johnson and Mark Knopfler, Jill Halfpenny and Ant and Dec.

Tim Healy, who hosts Sunday for Sammy, said: “We’ve had lots of enquiries over the recent months asking when the next Sunday for Sammy will take place.

“We are very much aware at the moment that people are struggling with day-to-day living costs and are watching their pennies. Everything is becoming more and more expensive and that includes the cost of putting on a show the size of ours.”

He added: “We can’t in good conscious put on a show that we aren’t sure people can afford to be tickets for. It would be wrong to risk your money you have generously given us.

“So sadly we have decided that there won’t be a show in 2023. We’re going to wait until the time is right.”

Often dubbed The Geordie Command Performance, the shows, which have been running for more than 20 years, are held in memory of Geordie actor Sammy Johnson, who died in 1999.

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STACK Newcastle Bosses Scrap Plans For Christmas Pop-Up Venue



The owners of STACK have confirmed that there won’t be a pop-up version in Newcastle this Christmas, as plans have been shelved.

At the end of September it was reported that STACK’s owner, Danieli Group, were hoping to bring the brand back to the heart of Newcastle after its Pilgrim Street site was demolished earlier this year, after becoming a firm favourite with locals and visitors since 2018. The pop-up, close to the Crowne Plaza hotel in the Stephenson Quarter, looked set to be a massive draw before STACK makes its permanent return to the city next year, was planned to feature a number of shipping container bars, a new take on its famous Hadrian’s Tipi, street food vans, a stage and large screen, all on one level.

But, it has now been announced that the proposed STACK festive pop-up won’t be happening anymore. Confirming the decision, Neill Winch, CEO of Danieli Group said that while it was sad news that the pop-up would no longer take place, it meant the company can forge ahead with the Worswick Chambers plan.

He commented: “We know how much people miss not having a STACK in Newcastle so we are concentrating our efforts on creating what will become a flagship site back where STACK first began,” he said.

“Work is well underway on the scheme with a view to being open in winter 2023.”

In recent weeks it has announced new developments in Lincoln, Durham, Bishop Auckland and Carlisle.

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