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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 February 2007, 18:53 GMT
Suspension over 'abandoned teens'
The seven teenagers are aged between 12 and 14
The seven teenagers are aged between 12 and 14
A youth worker has been suspended over claims that a group of seven English teenagers were abandoned in the Northern Ireland countryside.

It is alleged the group, on holiday with a County Durham youth club, were left at the roadside by their carers last Wednesday night.

They said they had been accused of misbehaving and were told to make their own way back to a Downpatrick hostel.

The seven teenagers aged between 12 and 14 are from County Durham.

They were on a half term break with their youth club.

They said that last Wednesday at about 2130 GMT they were told to get ready to go out and then were dropped off in heavy rain and told to find their own way back.

They claim they were walking for an hour in the dark when they called at a house and the homeowner alerted the police.

The young people were staying in the Castleward estate
The young people were staying in the Castleward estate

All of the teenagers have now returned home and an investigation has been launched into the incident.

David Williams, director of children's services for Durham County Council, said: "I can confirm that a member of staff involved in the supervision of young people on an environmental activities trip to Northern Ireland last week has today (Tuesday) been suspended while further investigations are carried out into the alleged incident.

"Suspension in such circumstances is a neutral act and does not imply wrong-doing by the member of staff, but it is an appropriate measure pending the outcome of the investigation."

Sonia Walling's 12-year-old son Paul was one of the young people involved.

Bus

"Paul rang me at 9am the next morning and told me that the night before they had been misbehaving," she said.

"They all got told to get into the minibus. The driver took them away. He told them to get off the bus.

"Two were good so two stayed on the bus, and my son and another three girls would not get off. So he shouted to them: 'Get off the bus'.

"They walked for about one hour in the rain until they eventually found a house."

In a statement, Durham County Council - which is responsible for the youth group - said it would be making all the necessary enquiries to establish the full facts.




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