A keen cyclist was badly injured after a "senseless" incident on a County Durham road which police say could have ended in tragedy.

The 50-year-old teaching assistant was cycling home in the Hetton-le-Hole area when a Vauxhall Astra van pulled alongside and the passenger dragged the man from his bike and onto the road before the van drove off, leaving the victim with multiple cuts and bruises.

A Durham Police spokesman said: "We can only assume this was seen as a prank but it was a senseless thing to do. It's not hard to imagine the victim being dragged under the wheels of the van."