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1.3m pounds riot 'fuelled by rumours'

Three hundred people went on a rampage that caused more than pounds 1.3m damage because they believed police officers had rammed a stolen car during a high-speed chase, killing the two young men inside, a court was told yesterday. The chasing police car was half a mile behind the stolen vehicle when it crashed. But the rumours which circulated on the Meadow Well Estate, North Shields, after the deaths sparked a four-hour riot which caused 'unprecedented damage', Newcastle upon Tyne Crown Court was told.

Paul Batty, for the prosecution, was opening the case against 12 men, 11 of whom plead not guilty to violent disorder last September. A total of 50 people face charges relating to the disturbances, and the hearings are expected to last about 10 weeks.