Northumberland man in court accused of breaking into Holy Island cottage used in ITV drama Vera

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A Northumberland man has appeared in court accused of breaking into a Holy Island cottage used in TV drama Vera.

Tony Banks is accused of smashing a window to get into a property which features in the ITV drama as the residence of Brenda Blethyn’s character DCI Vera Stanhope.

The 61-year-old, of Church Street in Wooler, appeared at Berwick Magistrates’ Court last week charged with causing £1,063 worth of damage.

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His partner, Angela Cogan, 69, faces the same charge but did not appear in court on medical grounds.

Vera actress Brenda Blethyn. Picture: ITVVera actress Brenda Blethyn. Picture: ITV
Vera actress Brenda Blethyn. Picture: ITV

Defence solicitor, Ian O’Rourke, told magistrates that the ‘unusual case’ dated back to Christmas Day, 2022, when their car broke down on the tidal causeway.

He said: “Both defendants run a small animal rescue. They have a number of very nervous dogs so take them mostly to Holy Island to run about on a deserted beach. This is what they were doing on Christmas Day in 2022.

"Each of them thought the other had taken their phone with them but neither had. They were driving back to the mainland across the causeway when their vehicle broke down.

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"The tide was coming in, the weather was absolutely foul and temperatures were sub zero. They were stranded with the dogs in the middle of the causeway and the sea was coming in.

"Mr Banks, who is ex-military, decided to head for higher ground but, in doing so, his partner fell into deep puddles. At one point she was up to her neck in water. She was freezing cold and Mr Banks thinks she is going into hypothermic shock."

Mr O’Rourke went on: “They came across this cottage which features in a television programme.

"Mr Banks breaks a window to secure access. He is unable to find power but he finds some firewood and matches and lights a fire to warm his partner up.”

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Magistrates heard the defendant then found a landline and spoke to the coastguard and police and told them he was willing to pay for damage caused.

"But they are then interviewed in connection with an allegation of burglary because they have taken firewood and a bar of chocolate,” Mr O’Rourke told the court. “This later became criminal damage.”

He explained that in order to prove the offence the prosecution has to show that there was no reasonable excuse, while the defence is one of necessity in order to preserve life.

The case was adjourned until February 22.