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Wallsend Mam’s Shock After Being Targeted By Sam Fender Fraudster



A North-East mother was left shaken after being targeted by a conman pretending to be award-winning singer Sam Fender.

The mother was sent disturbing messages on WhatsApp, including demands for cash and sexually explicit posts, from a fraudster purporting to be the North Shields star.

The woman, from Wallsend, said that her daughter, a big fan of Sam, was turning 16 in April. The mother wanted to organise something as a surprise for her daughter, who has been having mental health difficulties, was unable to get tickets for his concert.

The woman contacted someone who was leaving posts on Sam Fender’s Facebook page using the name Dru Michael. The mum thought this was Sam’s drummer, with the same name and asked if something from Sam could be arranged.

The person asked for her number, saying Sam would be in touch and she would be able to communicate with the star privately to arrange a “meet and greet”. The victim then received messages on WhatsApp from someone pretending to be Sam Fender, even using the star’s photo on his profile.

The fraudster demanded £1,500 to come and say happy birthday to her daughter, later dropping the figure to £500. When the demand was refused, the conman sent a raft of unsavoury messages, suggesting they have an affair and asking for pictures of the woman and her daughter. With some of the posts being sexually explicit.

The incident, which took place on February 13, was reported to the police and now the family want to warn others, urging people to be aware of such frauds.

Speaking of the experience, the mother said “It was sickening. I was shaking after reading the messages and my daughter was scared.

“I started getting messages from someone I thought was Sam Fender. I explained the situation and I was told it was going to be £1,500 to say happy birthday to her.

“That rang alarm bells straight away. He started asking for photos of me and my daughter. I asked why and he said it was so they knew who he was going to say happy birthday to. I said you don’t need a photo for that.

“I was then told it would be £500. I refused and didn’t want anything to do with it.

“Then I started getting dirty messages. They were disgusting.

“I reported all this to the police and blocked the number. We were scared and in tears.”

A Northumbria Police spokesperson said: “Anyone who thinks they have been a victim of fraud should report their concerns to Action Fraud via their website or by calling 0300 123 2040.”

Neither Sam Fender nor his drummer Dru Michael were involved in the events described.


Seaburn and Roker Beaches Named Best Beaches in the Country in 2022



Sunderland’s beaches have been named among the best in the country for the 11th year running.

Seaburn and Roker were both named as winners of the Seaside Award by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy. The pair were once again handed Blue Flags, marking them out for their for their excellent water quality, cleanliness and attempts to constantly improve visitor amenities.

The Blue Flag awards, now in their 35th year, are issued by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy and act as ‘a quality mark so visitors can be sure the beaches boast top-notch facilities and meet the highest environmental standards’.

Linda Williams, Sunderland City Council’s cabinet member for Vibrant City, said: “It is fantastic to see Sunderland’s beautiful beaches once again awarded the prestigious Blue Flag and Seaside Award.

“Flying these flags at Roker and Seaburn shows everyone who visits that our seafront has excellent quality bathing water and first-class facilities.

“We’re very lucky to have fantastic beaches with beautiful, clean water to swim and bathe in, and this national recognition is testament to the hard work of everyone involved in keeping our beaches clean, tidy and well-maintained.”

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Family’s bid to bring home body of Gateshead lad who drowned while rescuing his dog in Spain



Paul Lebihan, from Leam Lane, who has been living in Spain, was pulled from a river near Benidorm by ambulance crews on Monday.

A Gateshead family is appealing for help to bring an ‘amazing, selfless’ 25-year-old home, after he drowned in Spain while rescuing his dog from a river.

Paul Lebihan, from Leam Lane, died on Monday after getting into trouble in the Bolulla River, near Benidorm, after successfully freeing the dog from the current. Now his family has launched a fundraising appeal to help bring Paul’s body back home and give him the memorial he deserves.

Paul’s cousin, Kallym Bell, launched a GoFundMe page in support of Paul’s parents, Deborah and Paul Snr. In less than 24 hours the page had already raised over £7,000, with hundreds of people leaving comments paying tribute to ‘one of nicest men you could ever meet’.

Keen amateur boxer Paul was well known by many people across the Leam Lane Estate, and beloved by colleagues from the several years he spent working in the navy. Kallym, 19, called Paul: “An amazing, selfless man with a heart of gold, always the biggest laugh and the very best to be around.”

Donations can be made to help bring Paul home at:

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Disabled Teen Denied Wetherspoon’s Entry With Assistance Dog



A disabled teenager said he felt ‘absolutely humiliated’ after he was refused entry to a Wetherspoons with his assistance dog. 19 year old River Cartledge, who has autism, fibromyalgia and arthritis – takes his assistance dog Chico most places with him.

Video footage below from Instagram shows him pleading with security guards and the manager of The Five Swans in Newcastle to let him inside the pub with his harnessed up Shih Tzu on Saturday night.

River said: “Their issue was the fact he was an assistance dog, and not a guide dog.

“I quoted the Equality Act 2010, and the guide for all businesses, both of which any business that’s open to the public like any Wetherspoons is, have to abide by legally, regardless of any “policy” they may have in place,” he added.

The Equality Act 2010 prohibits service providers, including taxis and restaurants, from discriminating against those who need an assistance dog with them. It also requires service providers to make reasonable adjustments for disabled customers.

River claimed he had a ‘severe meltdown and panic attack’ after the interaction. ‘I have never had an experience like this and it caused me to have a medical episode.’

Chico has belonged to River for eight years and was trained as an assistance dog two years ago. River said: “Assistance dog handlers such as myself get denied in public places more often than it’s talked about, and it always makes us feel like this, and like we’re the ones causing problems for ourselves by needing a dog, when in reality it’s the ableism and ignorance of other people, not the disabled person.”

He also added “‘I was straight up told that they only allowed seeing eye dogs and they didn’t allow assistance dogs, because of their “policy”.

According to Guide Dogs UK ‘75% of all assistance dog owners surveyed [in 2015] said they had been refused access to a service at some point because they had an assistance dog with them’. 

Five Swans: sign saying they allow assistance dogs *face palm*

Wetherspoons’ policy states: “We do allow registered assistance dogs.

“In these circumstances, and to avoid any confusion or unnecessary upset, ensure that your dog is wearing its recognisable leash/collar or harness. 

“It would also be helpful if you could bring along suitable documentation to explain your dog’s purpose.”

River said he had ID from Assistance Dogs UK, a certification body, with him but was unable to show it at the time. Chico was however wearing a harness.

Following the complaint to the pub chain, Wetherspoon’s spokesperson Eddie Gershon said: “It was an error not to let them in with the assistance dog.

“It was a genuine error and we apologise wholeheartedly.

“We can understand the fact they would have been upset and frustrated by the situation.

“Assistance dogs are allowed into Wetherspoon pubs and we will reiterate this to staff at the pub and the company’s pubs in general.

“They are more than welcome to visit the pub with the dog.”

Good dog Chico. Check out River and Chico’s adventures here!

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