In the early hours of Friday 22nd May 2020, a White Ford Transit motor vehicle was stolen from outside an address in Kemble Green East, Newton Aycliffe. This van belonged to CSI (Community Support Initiative) Aycliffe who aim to carry on the amazing work carried out by Honest John over the years in Newton Aycliffe, who was responsible for raising and donating over £230,000 for local causes and vulnerable people. The van also had numerous items of gardening and decorating equipment contained within that was being used to assist some of the towns most vulnerable.

At approximately 1am on Sunday 24th May 2020, two officers from Durham Constabulary’s Road Policing Unit became suspicious of a van travelling at speed in the Staindrop area. On attempting to stop this vehicle, it took off at speed, driving dangerously, failing to stop for the officers. The van attempted to reverse twice into the police vehicle, successfully colliding at the second attempt causing considerable damage to both the van and police vehicle, but also causing minor injury to both officers. Despite this, the officers were able to alight from their vehicle, and apprehend the driver of the vehicle who had tried to run away from the scene. This van, which had been displaying false number plates, was identified as the van that had been stolen from Newton Aycliffe a few days previously. Unfortunately, due to the offenders actions, the van was a complete write off, all items had been removed from inside and massive damage was caused to the police vehicle.

Hayden Bowers, aged 24 from Bishop Auckland was later charged with a number of offences including aggravated vehicle taking, dangerous driving, assault on the two officers, and failing to provide a breath specimen for analysis. He was remanded to court where he pleaded guilty to 8 offences altogether and will appear at Crown Court at a later date for sentencing, Bowers remains in custody until this time.

Newton Aycliffe Neighbourhood Sergeant Andy Boyd said “The impact that this crime has had on the victim is massive, but also has a knock on affect for the community. CSI Aycliffe are now prevented from carrying out the amazing work they do in carrying on with Honest Johns legacy. We have reached out already to local businesses for help in getting these guys up and running again, but if there is anyone out there that can help, please get in touch. I’d also like to commend the officers involved for their tenacity in capturing this male who was intent on evading capture with no regard for public safety. Despite being injured they managed to arrest this male, preventing him from going on and committing further offences and endangering the public. It’s why we joined the police!”