A SLIPPERY deer that evaded authorities for a fortnight has finally been caught - despite making a desperate jump for freedom into a river.

The animal was spotted in and around Darlington town centre over the past two weeks.

On one occasion, it was chased by police around the town's railway station for almost an hour in front of startled commuters before it vanished.

A few days later, it evaded capture by jumping into the River Skerne, swimming under the ring road and escaping on the other side.

But the young buck is now enjoying being back in the countryside, after his urban adventure came to an end.

The deer was finally cornered by a dog warden and two gardeners in a rose garden in Darlington's South Park.

John Martin, Darlington Borough Council's dog warden, who is 6ft 5in, said: "I have done this job for 12 years and I have never had to catch a deer before. It was the strongest thing I have ever picked up."

The first sighting of the deer was about 5.20am on Wednesday, June 1, in Pensbury Street, near Darlington railway station. Police spent 50 minutes chasing the animal, before it disappeared.

On Monday, June 6, Mr Martin was called to Darlington Town Hall after someone spotted the deer nestling in bushes.

He said: "When we tried to catch him he started jumping over car bonnets before he jumped into the River Skerne.

"We could hear him swimming under the roundabout and he got out at Victoria Embankment, where he went behind the cricket ground and curled up.

"We left him there because it is near South Park and we were hoping he'd find his way back out to the countryside."

On Tuesday, park manager Paul Place called Mr Martin, concerned that the deer would damage the rose garden or be harmed by youths.

"I said 'it's got horns and hooves and it is not a dog' but we cornered it," said Mr Martin. "I grabbed its antlers, the guys grabbed its legs and we put it in the van where it settled down. I have never seen a deer close up before, they are really beautiful."

The deer was released behind Stressholme Golf Club, in Snipe Lane.