IN July, teenagers who organised a ‘Columbine-Style’ plot at a Northallerton school were sentenced.

Reporting restrictions were lifted at Leeds Crown Court naming the youngsters as Thomas Wyllie and Alex Bolland.

The pair – who were 14 when they put together the plot - sat motionless in the dock as they were told the lengths of their sentences. Wyllie was given 12 years custody, while Bolland received ten years.

During their trial, prosecutors claimed that the pair had “hero-worshipped” Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the teenagers responsible for murdering 13 people at Columbine High School, Colorado, in 1999.

The judge, Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb, told the pair that their plan “was not wishful thinking or fantasy, it was a real plot”.

She said: “You are both 15-years-old and you were only 14 last year when you planned to murder teachers and pupils at your school in North Yorkshire by shooting them in a re-enactment of the Columbine massacre.

The judge added that it was a “firm plan with specific targets in mind as well as a plan to make indiscriminate explosives”.

Meanwhile, landmarks across the country were lit blue to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the NHS.

The tribute recognised the work of NHS staff and the special place the service has in many people’s hearts.

Monuments including Gateshead’s Millennium Bridge and Newcastle Civic Centre were illuminated, along with the Penshaw Monument in Sunderland.

Darlington Memorial Hospital was also lit up, along with the Centre Square fountain in Middlesbrough and Newport Bridge, among other locations.

Professor Chris Gray, NHS England’s medical director for Cumbria and the North-East, said: “We are calling on churches, mosques, castles, historic homes and any buildings in towns, cities and villages to get involved and light up blue if they have the facilities to do so.”

Also, that month, football fans were devastated after the England team missed out on a place in the World Cup final.

The dream was crushed for England supporters in Moscow as well as at home as Gareth Southgate’s men lost 2-1 to Croatia in the semi-final.

Millions tuned into the eagerly anticipated match, with sorrowful scenes up and down the country after days of singing “It’s coming home”.

After Kieran Trippier had put England in front in the first five minutes it looked as though the Three Lions might take part in their first World Cup final since victory on home turf in 1966.

However, first Ivan Perisic equalised in the second half and then Mario Mandzukic scored the decisive winner in the second period of extra time.

People from across the North-East watched the game at home, in pubs and probably even at work.

Gareth Thompson, of Darlington who watched the match in the town’s William Stead, said: “It’s so disappointing but they should be proud to get this far. Who thought we would get to the semi-final anyway? It’s just a horrendous way to go out.”

Alan Shearer, the former Newcastle and England striker, tweeted: “Far exceeded expectations. Well done @England and well done @GarethSouthgate,

Also that month, Darlington selected Councillor Stephen Harker as its new labour leader.

He took over from Councillor Bill Dixon who retired after seven years as the council head.

Cllr Harker, 55, was born in Middlesbrough, grew up in Stokesley and came to Darlington in 1990 to work for British Rail.

He said: “I have always enjoyed living here, and it is a privilege to represent where you live and now to become its leader.

“There are obvious short term issues that we face regarding the town centre, and there’s a big piece of work to be done there, although it is not something a local authority can fix on its own.

“There are other issues around the growth of the town and its economy – we have to build a large number of houses over the next 20 years, and the council needs to be on top of that so that Darlington as a place is happy with that.”

The group also selected Councillor Chris McEwan, who was the only other nominee for leader, as the new deputy.

He said: “I’m delighted to have been given the opportunity by the group to be deputy leader.

“We face considerable challenges that are not of our own making, and also significant opportunities that we as a town can capitalise on.

“I also think that given the changing world in terms of the way people nowadays communicate with each other, we as a group and a council need to reflect on how we communicate and engage.”

Also, that month a 7ft tall scrap metal alien became a popular attraction in a County Durham town.

Inspired by a Shildon resident’s love of horror films the Alien-meets-Predator creature was built using scraps of donated metal by great-grandfather John MacMurray.

Using scraps from neighbours and friends he made a head, then decided to make a body, and then finally the legs.

Children and adults queued up to take selfies with the monster after Mr MacMurray decided to move it from his shed to the front garden of his home.

The grandfather-of-six is entirely self-taught and has always been interested in welding.

Two years ago, he bought a new welding machine to pursue his hobby and wanted to test it out.

He said: “I started playing on with it, to get used to its different settings.

The creator set the scene for the alien using pebbles and stones from a local farm.