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'Most wanted' fugitive arrested

One of Britain's most wanted fugitives has been arrested.

Brian Thexton, 37, was detained by Cumbria Police at an isolated rural property near Kirkby Stephen shortly before 8pm yesterday.

Thexton, from Durham, was recently highlighted by the National Crime Agency as one of the country's most wanted fugitives. He is accused of being involved in robberies where a gang would tie up homeowners and force them to give up alarm codes and safe combinations.

In one the gang impersonated police officers to dupe the victims into opening the door, before brandishing a pick axe handle and a baseball bat.

Thexton is also awaiting trial for conspiracy to supply cocaine, over claims that he was the middleman in the sale of half a kilo of the drug, and had admitted conspiring to steal cars and machinery.

Police had been hunting for the wanted criminal in Lancashire after he was sighted in a car on Aberdeen Road, Lancaster, earlier this month.

A police officer told him to pull over, then walked over to the car and reached into the vehicle to remove the keys from the ignition.

A Lancashire Police spokesman said the car was then driven away, trapping the officer's arm and dragging him a short distance down the road. The officer freed himself before he was seriously injured.

Police said the car was then driven away at speed and was found a short time later having been set on fire on Fernham Carr Lane.

Detective Superintendent Andrew Slattery said last night: "Detectives from Cumbria Constabulary have worked hard with other police forces in the North of England over recent weeks to track down and arrest Thexton.

"After a uniformed policing operation tonight he was detained without incident at an isolated rural property.

"We would like to thank the community of North Cumbria for their support and can assure them that our county is not and will not become a safe haven for organised criminals."

Thexton was on a list issued by the charity Crimestoppers, the UK's National Crime Agency (NCA) and Spanish police in Madrid earlier this month of 13 of Britain's most wanted criminals thought to be hiding in Spain.

The list was published as part of Operation Captura, a scheme to trace criminals who are thought to have fled to Spain.

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