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Man charged after hearse driven on to football pitch causing match to be abandoned

A man has been charged by police after a hearse was driven on to a football pitch by masked men, leading to a match being abandoned.

The "disturbance" happened during half-time in a pre-season game at Dunston UTS's ground, where the side were drawing 1-1 with Gateshead on 21 July 2023.

Northumbria Police said it has now charged a 29-year-old suspect from Chester-le-Street, County Durham, with criminal damage and a public order offence.

He is due to appear before South Tyneside Magistrates on 31 January.

Last July in Gateshead, the car along with a Subaru were driven around in circles on the pitch while those inside the vehicles threw leaflets.

The men in the hearse, who were wearing balaclavas, then left the car and got into the Subaru before being driven out of the UTS Stadium.

They left the hearse on the field.

Some of the incident was captured on video by people inside the ground.

The match between the two non-league sides was called off.

Officers attended the scene within minutes where nobody was reported to have been injured or threatened.

Police then launched an investigation and arrested 12 people.

On Wednesday, the Northumbria force announced it had charged a man.

It also said two men - aged 41 and 29 - remain under investigation, while another two men - aged 42 and 40 - remain on police bail.

Seven other men arrested in connection with the incident will face no further action.

The force said in a statement: "Under no circumstances will we tolerate disorder of this kind in our communities.

"Anyone with information about what happened on July 21 who has not yet contacted police should do so by using the 'Report' page of the Northumbria Police website or call 101."