THE wife of a dog walker who was found with fatal head injuries in a country lane was yesterday arrested on suspicion of murdering him.

Christina Button, 31, was arrested along with her 20-year-old nephew at her home in St Mary's Drive, West Rainton, near Durham, shortly after 9am.

Her husband George, 53, an electrician at Sunderland City Council's Houghton-le-Spring depot, died from severe head injuries in Newcastle General Hospital last Wednesday.

He had been transferred from Durham's University Hospital the previous day after being injured as he walked his dog, Laddie.

Mrs Button, and the couple's seven-year-old daughter, Laura Jane, were at his bedside when he lost his fight for life.

It is believed that the widow's nephew, from Houghton-le-Spring, near West Rainton, had been staying with the family.

Mr Button left the family home at about 7pm on Monday, March 3, to take Laddie, a 14-year-old black and white border collie, for a walk.

He was seen at about 7.20pm by a car passenger talking to a man with a labrador in St Mark's Lane, a narrow country road on the outskirts of the quiet village of West Rainton.

About 15 minutes later, he was spotted by a passing motorist on a verge in Mark's Lane.

He was lying in a pool of blood, and had severe injuries to the back of his head.

Mr Button was put on a life support machine, but never recovered consciousness.

Detectives have been unable to confirm whether the blow he suffered was the result of an assault or a blow from a passing vehicle.

On Monday night, exactly a week after the incident, officers staged a reconstruction with Laddie, and Detective Constable Keith Johnson posing taking the place of Mr Button.

They hoped to attract witnesses to help them solve the mystery of what happened to him during the "missing minutes" between the first and second sightings.

Last night, Mrs Button and her nephew were being questioned at Durham police station.

The village of West Rainton was inundated with police vehicles as experts examined the Buttons' semi-detached house.

Flowers had been laid on the spot where Mr Button was found, including a bouquet of red roses from Mrs Button with the message: "George, always in my heart, always on my mind. I love you so much. All my love, always, your loving wife, Christina."

Shocked neighbours described the dead man as a "real family man who doted on his wife and little girl"