The mystery surrounding a string of £2,000 bundles of cash that kept turning up around a former pit village has been solved.

For five years, residents in Blackhall Colliery were left scratching their heads as 13 packages of £20 notes were found dotted around the streets of the County Durham village.

Each time, the £2,000 bundles were found in plain sight, and each time they were handed over to the police.

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Officers interviewed local people, spoke to banks and the Post Office and even carried out fingerprint tests in an effort to crack the enigma.

But the £26,000 mystery has finally been solved.

A spokesman for Durham Constabulary has revealed two people with an “emotional connection” to the village wanted to give something back after receiving “unexpected windfalls”.

The good Samaritans, who both wanted to remain anonymous, came forward to disclose their charitable donations to police.

The pair, who left the bundles between 2014 and November 2019, said they were glad to help residents.

Detective Constable John Forster said: “I’m really pleased we have an answer to this mystery and am glad we can now definitively rule out the money being linked to any crime or a vulnerable person.

“I would like to thank the good Samaritans for getting in touch and also to the honest residents of Blackhall, who have continued to hand the money in.

“We would encourage anyone who may find another bundle to continue to hand it in. All the previous bundles have been returned to the finder.”

Mr Forster previously speculated the person behind the donations “could be a lottery winner who has decided to pay something back to their local community”.

Blackhall hit the headlines in November last year after police released a public appeal for information about the packages.

At the time, Gaynor Crute, chairwoman of Monk Hesleden Parish Council, which covers Blackhall Colliery, said she took pride in the fact people had handed the cash over to police on 13 occasions.

She said: “There’s so much negativity and bad press, so when you have something like this it is obviously heartwarming to know the people you live with, your neighbours, have so much honesty and integrity.”

Additional reporting by Press Association.

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