YOUNG people who may have witnessed a man making threats to kill while possessing weapons and explosives prior to a major police operation are being urged to contact investigating officers.

The boys were playing next to the River Wear, close to Bishop Auckland Rugby Club, at around 3.30pm on Friday, June 28, when emergency services were called.

Shortly afterwards, police stopped a motorhome on the A689 between Coundon Gate and Leasingthorne, and a man was arrested.

The road was closed for 20 hours and, following subsequent inquiries, police also cordoned off an area containing industrial units and car park in Middlesbrough and an RAF Ordinance Disposal Team were called out.

A man has appeared in court charged with a string of offences, but officers are continuing their investigation.

PC Tony Barker said: “A man has been arrested and charged in connection with this incident, but we would like to speak to the boys who were seen in the area at the time.

“It is possible they may have seen some or all of what took place and have information that may assist with the investigation.

“We would like to speak to them as potential witnesses to the incident and urge them to get in contact.”

Simon Flint, 42, has appeared at Newton Aycliffe Magistrates’ Court charged with eight offences.

Mr Flint, who gave his address as Meadowfield Drive, Eaglescliffe, but is understood to have lived in a motorhome for a number of years, was charged with making threats to kill, possession of an explosive substance, two charges of possession of offensive weapons, possession of a weapon for the discharge of pepper spray, two charges of possession of a bladed article in public and a public order offence.

Among the items listed in the charges were three crossbows, a friction locking baton, lock knives and swords including one measuring 2ft long.

The precision engineer is also accused of possession of an explosive black powder, a weapon designed to discharge a noxious gas or liquid, namely pepper spray, and of using abusive, threatening or insulting words or behaviour to cause alarm.

The case against Mr Flint has been adjourned to Durham Crown Court on Thursday, August 8.

Anyone with information is asked to call PC Tony Barker Bishop Auckland CID on 101.