Detective-for-the-day pensioner fulfils bucket list dream

A terminally-ill pensioner who always wanted to be a detective was allowed to sign up as a police officer for a day after staff gave up a day off to help her achieve her bucket list dream.

Margaret Thornton, 70, joined up with Northumbria Police officers who mocked up a crime scene and put her in charge of cracking the case – a fictitious hit-and-run.

The delighted detective-for-the-day then used the clues to make an arrest and hauled in the suspect for questioning.

Margaret, who has cancer, also visited fire officers and the dog section and was joined by forensic teams working on the car.

The new recruit, from Hendon, Sunderland, said: “I always wanted to be a detective, ever since I was young.

Margaret Thornton
Margaret directs the forensics team (Northumbria Police/PA)

“So today was a dream come true.

“I’ve already flown in a helicopter, so being a detective was the next thing I wanted to tick off on my bucket list.

“I now want to ride in a hot air balloon.

“I’ve been telling all my friends about being a detective and coming into the police station. I’ve been excited for weeks.

Margaret Thornton
Margaret was known as Detective Constable 48 for the day, after the year she was born (Northumbria Police/PA)

“I had an absolutely brilliant day, I loved all of it and everyone was so kind.

“I can’t thank everybody enough for making it happen.”

Margaret and her nurse began by meeting local neighbourhood Sergeant Lisa Thubron as well as Tyne & Wear Fire & Rescue Service personnel at Farringdon Community Station.

She jumped into the fire engine and learned how to use the hose, before she received her police uniform for the day acting as ‘Detective Constable 48’ – the year she was born.

Margaret Thornton
Margaret met senior officers on her ‘bucket list’ day (Northumbria Police/PA)

Eager to do her bit, Margaret then received a radio request to attend a mocked-up suspected hit-and-run at Viking Park, Jarrow, and travelled to the scene in a marked police vehicle.

There, she assessed the “crime scene” with the support of forensics, before a search of the vicinity saw her discover a suspect hiding nearby.

She then gave the suspect a grilling using the evidence collected and he was charged.

Chief Superintendent Sarah Pitt, of Northumbria Police, said: “Margaret is a wonderful woman, and that’s why our officers were so keen to give up their day off to make her dream a reality.

Detective Constable Margaret Thornton
Margaret thanked Northumbria Police for a day to remember (Northumbria Police/PA)

“She showed outstanding detective work which led to the arrest and charge of the ‘offender’, and I’m sure she’ll never forget her day in the force.

“I’d like to thank my team who showed such willingness to help Margaret have an unforgettable day, as well as our partners at Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust and Tyne & Wear Fire & Rescue Service.

“Their kindness helped produce an unforgettable experience for a wonderful woman, who made a lasting impression on us all.”

Carole Green, community clinical manager for the Sunderland Learning Disabilities Community Treatment Team at Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, said: “It is a hugely generous and kind offer from the police, and our service is grateful to them as this is something Margaret has always wanted to do.”

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