Northumberland man his out at Crown Prosecution Service as 'Vera cottage' break-in case withdrawn

A man who broke into a cottage used in ITV drama Vera has hit out at the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for taking the case to court.
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Tony Banks was speaking at Berwick Magistrates’ Court after the CPS heard he had paid £1,064 compensation to the owner and decided to withdraw the criminal damage charge he was facing.

“It’s a travesty of justice and I am totally disgusted,” he told the bench before leaving the courtroom.

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The court heard at an earlier hearing that Mr Banks and his partner run a small animal rescue and had taken some of their more nervous dogs to Holy Island on Christmas Day, 2022, so they could exercise on a deserted beach.

Holy Island's tidal causeway.Holy Island's tidal causeway.
Holy Island's tidal causeway.

They were on their way back to the mainland when their car broke down. Neither he or his partner had a phone so, with the tide coming in, they headed for higher ground with their dogs.

Mr Banks was worried his partner was going into hypothermic shock after falling in cold water so took the decision to smash a window of Snook House – the residence of Brenda Blethyn’s character DCI Vera Stanhope in the TV show – to secure access and get warm.

The 62-year-old, of Church Road in Wooler, found some matches and lit a fire, then found a landline and spoke to the coastguard and police and told them he was willing to pay for damage caused.

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Prosecutor James Long told the court: “The public interest element of the CPS requirement is not now passed, the defendant having paid compensation of £1,064.

"On Christmas Day the defendant and his partner became stranded on Holy Island. They decided because of the inclement weather to break into a holiday let to seek refuge. They broke a window to get in and lit a fire.”

He added: "The evidential test was passed but the compensation has been paid and the complainant is satisfied and the matter can be withdrawn.”

The criminal damage charge against Mr Banks’ partner, Angela Cogan, 69, was also withdrawn. She did not appear in court on medical grounds.