Man charged over arson

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Teenager dies

of meningitis

A 14-year-old girl has died from suspected meningitis and another teenager and a baby from the same area of the North-east are being treated in hospital.

Donna Thomson, of Oxclose, Washington, Tyne and Wear, died in Newcastle General Hospital on Christmas Eve. She was thought to have had the meningococcal strain, the most serious form. The other cases which have come to light on Wearside are a 16-year-old girl from near Washington and a baby from Southwick, Sunderland.

A man was last night charged with murdering a mother who died in a house fire in Wolverhampton on Christmas Day. Anthony Watkiss, 28, was due to appear before Wolverhampton magistrates today, accused of killing Michelle Bone-Knell, 34.

His wife, Sue Watkiss, who was also being questioned, was released without charge, a West Midlands police spokesman said. Mrs Bone-Knell, 34, died after petrol was allegedly poured through the letter box of her home. Her two children, Damian, 18 months, and Chantel, three, were seriously injured.