THE family of a businessman who died in a crash after a police pursuit have paid tribute to a “loving and dedicated” man.

Father-of-two Adam Parker Wilkinson was a passenger in a car which hit a telegraph pole on Ebchester Bank, near Consett in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

His family have released a statement through Durham Police describing Mr Wilkinson as “a big personality, known and loved locally”.

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They added: “He was a local businessman who employed local people within the community. He was a generous, thoughtful man who would help anyone at anytime.

“Adam had the ability to make you laugh and make you cry. He was a loving and dedicated family man, described by his eldest daughter Rebecca, as her hero “Adam will be sorely missed and is a big hole in the family’s lives that cannot be filled."

His daughter Rebecca said: "My dad was and always will be the main man in my life, I will always be daddy's girl and I will live my life to make him proud."

The 49-year-old was a passenger in a black VW Bora Sport spotted in the car park at the Tesco Extra store in Consett shortly before midnight on Monday.

Police were called after reports of anti-social behaviour and the vehicle’s details were circulated to officers.

The car was spotted shortly after midnight by the driver of a police patrol car, who indicated for it to pull over.

However, the vehicle ignored the instruction and headed down the B6309 Ebchester Bank. Shortly afterwards, the car crashed into a lamppost at the junction of Springhouse Lane, on a steep section of the hill opposite St Mary’s Convent.

Mr Wilkinson was confirmed dead at the scene. An inquest into his death is to be opened at the Civic Centre in Crook on Monday.

The 32-year-old driver, also from Consett, was taken to the Royal Victoria Infirmary, in Newcastle, where he remains with what are thought to be minor injuries.

Durham Constabulary referred the death to the Independent Police Complaints Commission, but the watchdog confirmed last night that it would not be investigating the crash.

A spokesman for the IPCC said: “We have asked Durham Constabulary to carry out a local investigation into the case”.

Police are appealing for any witnesses to the crash, or anyone who saw the VW Bora on the roads before the accident, to ring 101 and ask for the collision investigation unit.