NEWS

2011-08-26

Mum and Dad die week apart in Morocco.

FOUR children have been orphaned after their parents both fell to their deaths while on holiday in Morocco.

Roger and Mathilde Lamb were holidaying with their four sons in the picturesque port city of Essaouira on the Atlantic Coast when they both died within a week of each other.

Mathilde, 44, known as Tilly, fell from the third floor of a rented house in the city centre, on August 17.

She was taken to hospital in intensive care at the Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdellah Essaouria provincial hospital. Police are still investigating the circumstances of her death.

Mr Lamb, 47, geotechnical engineer, then also fell to his grisly death from the second storey of a city centre hotel suffering multiple injuries - a week later.

He was taken in a very serious condition to the provincial hospital and later transferred to the University Hospital Ibn Tofail in Marrakech, more than 250 miles away, on Sunday night but later died.

Mystery still surrounds whether both, or either, deaths were accidental or suicide.

It is understood the children - aged between eight and 16 - have left Morocco with a family member and are being looked after by an aunt.

The deaths have left the old village of Pesham shocked to the core.

The couple live in a huge GBP850,000 farmhouse with its own annexe overlooking pasture and farmland.

One neighbour said today/yesterday (FRI): I know two of the children are called Angus and Ferguson, they were a lovely family. Roger liked to go fell running, he loved his horses too.

"He liked reading and I think he was in to drawing and painting and things like that.

"They had not long moved to New Zealand."

Pershore Mayor John Grantham, said: "Everybody in Pensham is in shock.

"I've soken to a lot of people who knew the Lamb's, clearly they are very upset to hear this news. It is a great shock to them."

Mr Lamb's elderly mother lives in nearby Great Comberton, Worcs, where rector Reverend Terry Henderson asked parishioners to pray for the family during a service on Sunday at St Michaels Church.

Mr Henderson said the couple were both heavily involved in village life and the local primary school.

"Everybody knew them and hence everybody is very sad and very shocked," he said.

"One of the her sisters is looking after the four children. I've just come back from being with her mother."

Julian Maund, a former colleague, said the news came as a shock.

He had spoken to Mr Lamb recently and no mention of a trip to Morocco was made.

"This is pretty shocking stuff, I must say,'' Mr Maund said.

"I had spoken to him a couple of weeks ago, and was told he was coming back.

"It's all very bizarre.''

Mr Lamb had recently moved to Christchurch, New Zealand, for 10 months and was working for GHD, an international engineering group.

Friends say his wife and four children had planned to come to New Zealand.

Friend Chrissy Jenkins, said: ""We were all just blown away by it all.'

"He was a bloke who always had a smile on his face, a joke and say here let me give you a hand there, he was really nice.''

An unnamed GHD employee, where Mr Lamb worked, said staff were struggling to deal with the shock.

Christchurch Carriage Driving Club past president Barbara Maley said Mr Jenkins was `'a very pleasant chap''.

"He was really nice, I think if you asked any of the club members they'd all say the same. He had a sense of humour and was always there to help.''

Mrs Maley said she was ``absolutely gutted'' when she heard of Mr Lamb's death.

"I couldn't believe it. It's really horrible.''

Club member Pam Bennett said that when she first met Mr Lamb he instantly struck her as a genuinely nice bloke.

"He was just a kind-hearted person. A real gentleman''.

A West Mercia police spokesperson said: "West Mercia Police were made aware of the incident this week.

"Officers from south Worcestershire made some initial enquiries but the matter is now with the coroner for Wiltshire and the Foreign Commonwealth Office."

A Foreign Office spokesperson confirmed the deaths saying it was giving 'consular assistance at this very difficult time."

Read More

2011-08-25

Two-yr-old can swim width

WATER baby Caitlin Morris has caused a sensational splash by swimming
unaided across the width of a pool - at the age of just TWO.

Caitlin could swim before she could walk and her doggy paddle-style stroke got her across the nine-metre width in 47 seconds.

And, although she may miss out on the London Olympics next year, her
swimming teacher is predicting great things for the talented tot as she is swimming at the standard of a child at least twice her age.

Caitlin, who lives with her mother, Tracey Girling, father Roger Morris and
five-year-old brother Callum in Stourport, West Midlands, achieved her
mammoth swim during a weekly lesson with the Baba Seahorse swimming
school in the pool at Holy Trinity School, in Kidderminster, Worcs.

Miss Girling, 39, said: "Caitlin started learning to swim when she was
nine months old - and she didn't walk until six months later.

"I'm not a very confident swimmer and I wanted to make sure she was safe
because we live in Stourport, near to the canals and the River Severn."

David Salt, Caitlin's instructor at the Baba Seahorse classes, said: "Quite
rightly Caitlin's parents are very proud of her and it is clear she has a
special gift.

"For such a young child, her ability is extremely high as it would typically
be a four year-old who could swim a nine metre width on their own and with
such confidence.

"Although Caitlin may just miss out on the London Olympics next year I am quietly confident in the years ahead she may be the Wyre Forest's very own answer to Rebecca Adlington."

He filmed Caitlin's swim and uploaded the 47-second clip on to You Tube - to prove that such a young person had actually achieved such a feat.

The clip has attracted more than 120 views on You Tube.

It shows Caitlin, wearing a bright pink swimsuit, jump in, find her balance
and then propel herself across the width, encouraged by her mum, in under a
minute.

Read More

2011-08-24

Over 55s banned from drinking

OVER-55s at a retirement complex have been slapped with a booze ban following anti-social behaviour from elderly residents.

Gobsmacked tenants looking to enjoy a summer drink have been told they cannot consume alcohol in their communal gardens following reports of fighting at the quaint housing complex.
 
Staffordshire Housing Association have already removed residents' garden furniture after two neighbours were caught brawling at Bishop Court, in Stoke on Trent, Staffs,

Angry tenants have accused the housing association of taking away their civil rights - as the new rule comes 12 months after they were ordered "not to socialise" outside their homes after 10pm.

They say the new rules makes them fell like 'being in a prison' and like naughty 'kids being punished'.

Former driving instructor Colin Stuart, 57, who has lived in one of the flats, for three years, said: "We're not even allowed to sit outside our own front door with an alcoholic drink.

"Two residents had a drunken fall out and ended up hitting each other and since then the housing association has said no-one is allowed to drink outside their own flat at any time of the day.

"The two people who were fighting made up the next day and now we're all being punished for it.

"They've shaken hands and now they talk to each other like they're best mates.

"We can't socialise outside past 10pm even if we're not drinking.

"We feel like kids being punished, it's supposed to be a happy family retirement place.

"I was gobsmacked by the latest rule, because it takes our civil rights away.

"Very often we go outside, but we can't do that."

Staffordshire Housing Association (SHA)  has already removed chairs from the table in the communal garden.

It has also asked resident Tom Knapper to remove his own personal table and chairs.

Tom, 58, said: "They're taking my liberties away. I like a drink when the sun comes out and they're stopping me from sitting out. It's out of order and like being in a prison."

Neighbour John Caine, 58, said: "We pay for the garden furniture as part of the GBP65 per week rent.

"I won't sit inside, I'll go outside and see what happens."

And teetotaller Albert Arnold said residents drinking did not bother him.

The 72-year-old, who has lived there for six years, said: "I don't drink and it doesn't bother me if others do.

"We're old and retired and we're entitled to a bit of pleasure. I think the whole thing is pathetic."

SHA has launched an investigation following the latest incident.

It says it has received complaints about "nuisance behaviour" involving a minority of residents drinking in the communal areas.

SHA director of housing services Tim Sheail said: "Anti-social behaviour is something we take very seriously.

"Since we sent out our neighbourhood agreement for residents to sign we have received responses from several residents expressing their thanks for our prompt action.

"While we are investigating this incident we have sent a letter to residents reminding them that they had agreed not to gather outside after 10pm, and informing them that no alcohol can be consumed in the communal areas.

"This is a 'cooling off' period while we conduct an investigation into the complaints we have received and the alleged incidents.

"Once the investigation is over we will review the situation again and aim to come up with a solution which is acceptable to the majority of residents at Bishop Court.

"We want to promote an environment where all residents feel safe and can live without anxiety about the inconsiderate behaviour of their neighbours."

Read More

2011-08-23

Seriously injured Brit stuck abroad

A HOLIDAY horror crash has left a British student seriously injured after he was knocked off a quad bike by a truck in Cyprus.

Kieron Keller was on holiday with friends when the accident happened in the evening on July 29 in Ayia Napa.

The 22-year-old from Walsall was knocked from his quad bike and stopped breathing. He was resuscitated by the ambulance crews on scene, but he had to be resuscitated again at hospital.

The former Birmingham University student, who had just finished his course in Sports Management, has been left with serious and possibly life-changing injuries.

He has spinal damage, broken ribs, a broken leg and has had his spleen removed. He had to undergo three operations in hospital.

Now his family are desperately trying to raise the money needed to get him home after his insurance company refused to pay the fees, claiming his insurance policy did not cover the use of quad bikes.

His mum Maxine Rochelle and aunt Amanda Kellar said they have been left in complete shock after the accident.

Ms Rochelle, a 42-year-old nursing student, said: “It was just awful.

"I was in Morocco at the time on holiday, and it was awful and I was in a state of panic.

"At one point we thought he might not walk again, but he has had the feeling come back to his legs now. We just need to get him home, so he can be treated here.”

Miss Kellar said: “He is now able to sit up in hospital, but it is very difficult over there, there is of course the language problem, and a lot of the time we just don’t know what is going on.

"He can’t remember what happened to him, but the friends who were with him said he was hit by a truck.”

Currently Kieron's sister Sasha, 19, is in Cyprus with him, but the rest of the family are at home trying to raise funds.

The family held a car wash and fun day in Walsall at the weekend to help raise funds.

Miss Kellar said: “The support we have had is fantastic and to get so many people down here at such short notice has been amazing.

"People are being very generous and showing us a great deal of support. We just need to raise the money as soon as possible, to get him the flight home.”

To help out the Kellar family you can donate via their Facebook group called Get Kieron Kellar Home.

Read More

2011-08-22

Festival-goers rock in luxury

SLUMMING it in a tent without a shower for days could now be a thing of the past thanks  to these stylish pop-up hotels and designer sheds.

While tens of thousands of campers roughed it under canvas at the V Festival over the weekend, a select few were today waking up in these glamourous 'podules'.

But with a GBP2,600 price tag, they don't come cheap.

However they do boast air conditioning, power shower, plumbed in toilet suite, fridge and double bed complete with linen and towels.

The designer sheds do come a little cheaper at GBP1,100 and come with a VIP communal shower block and toilets.

Around 90,000 revellers enjoyed the weekend festival on Staffordshire's Weston Park, with acts including Rihanna and Eminem.

Cousins Carrere Copper,18, and Brogan Silcock, 17, were among those enjoying the pop up hotel, paid for by their parents as a treat. Carrere, a waitress, said: "I'm not into camping at all, it just doesn't interest me. You get filthy."

Richard Webster, a 54-year-old army surplus retailer, was spending the weekend with friend Anne Thomas in a designer shed. He said: "Nowadays the mind is willing but the body is weak. This is the perfect solution - camping for lazy people."


Read More

2011-08-21

Junk Buster paid by council

A WOMAN was given thousands of pounds of council funding to help people clear their homes of JUNK.

Heather Matuozzo, 52, helps hoarders overcome what experts claim is a psychological addiction, whereby they stuff every available space in their home with clothes, electrical goods, books, magazines and CDs and have boxes and cupboards overflowing.

She received GBP24,000 funding from Birmingham City Council last year to show 12 people how to clean up and kick their habit, with one woman evading eviction thanks to her help.

The Solihull businesswoman runs her own company, Clouds End, and even lists two celebrities among her private clients.

And she dismisses any notion that the hoarders are simply too lazy to tidy up.

“Hoarding's a very real problem that affects two per cent of the population,“ she said.

“Some of the houses I've seen have been very messy. Sufferers tend to lock themselves away and even their family or friends don't know they have a problem.

“Very often you'll find that they're unhappy or even depressed. But clearing up their properties can help them feel happier again.

“I've also worked with celebrities to help them sort out their hoarding problems, although I cannot reveal their identities.''

Heather started Clouds End specifically to help hoarding addicts, who have also been subject to a study by academics at Sheffield University.

“There was a lack of help in the UK, whereas in America there are organisations out there for sufferers,“ she explained.

"Helping these people can actually save the council money that might have been spent on evictions and other costly services.“

But Heather is facing an uncertain future after being told that she will not qualify for more cash because of council cuts.

“Hopefully there are other organisations out there that can help fund me so that I can offer my services to those who can't afford to pay privately,“ she added.

Disabled Deion McGlade, 47, was threatened with eviction because her Stechford home in Birmingham was stuffed full of random items her late husband had brought home.

She said: "The hoarding was down to my late husband Robert. He would collect anything and everything.

"If someone put a TV outside their home he would pick it and bring it home and say: `Look at what I found Deion, a new TV!' I'd just think `not again'.

"Every time I got rid of something, he'd come home with an item to replace it. In the end our house was just so full of stuff it was ridiculous.

"I told him `no more' but my pleas fell on deaf ears. If I hid stuff, he'd find it.

"The state of the house made me really sad. Then four years ago Robert died aged 49 from a heart attack. I was devastated.

"But not only had I lost my husband, I was left with all his rubbish and I couldn't move it by myself as I'm epileptic and suffer from heart problems.

"I couldn't bring myself to clean it.

"Then the housing association put me in contact with Heather. Through funding from the council she was able to help me move all Robert's collected stuff out.

"My house feels so much better now. I'm so much happier now and I plan to keep the house clean from now on. And I've found a wonderful friend in Heather. She's my best mate."

Read More

2011-08-20

12 yr old gets A* Alevel

A 12-year-old boy was among students picking up their A-level results yesterday - and achieved a top A* grade in maths.

Yousuf bin-Suhayl was one of the youngest people in the country to get top marks, adding to to maximum grade A he got in A1 mathematics last year and the A* in the subject at GCSE level when he was just nine.

He also managed to score a perfect 100 per cent in one of the six modules he took as part of the A-level.

Yousuf, from Marshland St James, near King's Lynn in Norfolk, has received expert tuition from Wisbech Grammar School’s mathematics department.

Proud father Sohale Rahman said "It is a lot of hard work but the most amazing thing is that he did it all himself."

Yousuf’s younger brother, Ibraheem, nine, also sat two A-Level (A1) modules and a GCSE in mathematics this year.

Ibraheem achieved 93% and 70%  for the A-Level modules and is awaiting news of his GCSE results, due next week.

Ibraheem previously achieved a grade B in GCSE Maths at age seven.

The brothers are educated at home and are also keen chess players. Yousuf has been selected to represent Norfolk in county chess and Ibraheem is Norfolk’s current under nine chess champion.
Read More

2011-08-19

Talented student gets 8 A*'s

CLEVER-CLOGGS Eleanor Davidson has wowed her teachers by collecting an astonishing EIGHT A*s in her A-levels yesterday.

Talented Ellie, 18, received top marks in maths, further maths, additional further maths, Greek, Latin, religious studies and general studies and a special project, as well as diplomas in the cello and ballet.

The brainbox took all eight subjects in her final year at King Edward VI High School for Girls in Edgbaston (KEHS) in Birmingham.

Talking about the outstanding achievement, excited Ellie from Harborne, Birmingham said: "I'm so, so happy with what I got. I thought I'd done alright, but I never thought I'd get anything like this.

"I got my results at 8am and I've been doing interviews and having photographs taken, it's all been very surreal.

Ellie's 8th A* saw her undertaking an extended project in Maths. She could chose any subject but picked maths and had to write a 10,000 word report and a presentation on it.

She will be going to Oxford's New College in September to read Maths.

Ellie continued: "It was a lot of hard work. But I don't feel I worked much harder than everyone else close to the exams. I tried to work consistently. I think that was the key to my success.

"My parents are taking me out for a champagne lunch this afternoon and then I'm off out with my friends in Birmingham this evening.

"It's fantastic to finally know the results  because I did all eight this year so I had a period of two weeks when I had two exams every day - it was really stressful.

"I'm off on a music course next week and then I really don't know what I'm going to do for the rest of the summer. I've not had much free time over the last two years so the break will be nice.

"I really cannot believe all this, it's just amazing."

The school celebrated some outstanding results collectively as well as some impressive individual achievements from a number of students.

Overall pupils achieved an 100 per cent pass rate with 75 per cent of A* and As at A level and over 89 per cent at A* to B. In total 78 students took 258 A -level examination papers.

Gabrielle Chan and Jaspreet Khaira, both 18 and from the same school, got six and five A* results respectively, while twins Aarti and Jyoti Sehdev, achieved three A* and eight As between them.

Principal Sarah Evans said: ‘Once again we are extremely proud of all of the hard work put in by our A-level students and their well-deserved results.

"We focus very much on the whole education of our students and exams are only a part of this but there is no doubt that high flying girls do brilliantly at KEHS.

"By encouraging our girls to be involved in various extra-curricular activities we find that their curiosity and understanding is heightened."

Sister school King Edward VI Five Ways School in the Bartley Green area of Birmingham saw one student gain six A*s in his A-levels.

Excited 18-year-old Ummat Krishna received top grades in chemistry, biology, maths, english literature, english language and science in society, two of which he took a year early.

"I'm really really pleased with my results," he said. "It's taken a lot of hard work over the last two years to get this far.

"I'm now off to Birmingham University to study medicine. I'm really looking forward to it, I just need to decide how to celebrate this now.

"I'm hoping to become a consultant one day, when I've been through university, for now I'm just going to enjoy my summer."

His classmate Richard Lloyd achieved five A*s in chemistry, biology, maths, politics and Science in Society. He is also going to Birmingham with Ummrat to study medicine.

Richard, 18, said: "It just feels unreal. I haven't thought about what it all means, it's just great to be done after a lot of hard work.

"I know I worked hard over the last few years, but I never felt like I was forcing myself too hard.

"I'm off out to celebrate tonight. I'm going to hit Birmingham hard, then I have no real plans for the summer. I'm just going to relax and prepare for university."

Richard, from Halesowen, West Midlands, took his science in society A-level a year early, leaving less pressure on his final school year.

"I've left my job prospects as open as I can," he added. "I've not thought about what I want to specialise in in medicine, I'd be happy with whatever."
Read More

2011-08-18

Brum looter under 10-years-old

A LOOTER has been caught stealing from a family run newsagents - despite being UNDER 10-years-old.

Ajay Bhatia, who owns the Machan Express shop and cafe on Newhall Street, Birmingham, says officers caught one of the offenders nearby, but they could do nothing about him - despite CCTV - evidence due to his age.

Mr Bhatia said nearly 50 thugs stormed into the store within 60 seconds after they smashed through the glass front door last Tuesday and stole nearly GBP20,000 of stock.

CCTV images that were taken inside the store show one young boy in a purple hooded top who can barely see above the 4ft high counter.

He is seen stealing cigarettes and returned to the shop at least twice with other thugs who smashed the glass front doors.

Ajay and his wife had left in a taxi just three minutes before the raid at 6.13pm that evening.

The devastated owner, who has built the shop up in the last 12 months with his wife Monika, says his whole business is now under threat.

"I was standing outside waiting for a taxi when these young lads came round and checked out our shop," he said.

"As soon as I left in the taxi they were in the shop, they trashed it all. They took everything they could get their hands on, all my cigarettes, all the alcohol, beer wine, everything."

The 52-year-old, from Smethwick, Birmingham, who runs the shop in a residential part of the city centre, is now making an emotional plea for help.

He said: “The police caught some of them nearby, but said they were very, very young. In fact they said some were too young to be prosecuted.

“I sincerely need help from someone. I am literally broken because of this. Big business have funds to rebuild but we do not.

“I don't make much money from the store and the loss of stock and damage has cost me nearly GBP20,000.

“We work 16-hour days, every day of the week and have poured all of our money into this.

“I don't make enough money to pay full time staff.“

Mr Bathia said the effects of the raid on his finances are especially worrying as he has a 19-year-old son and 21-year-old daughter studying at local universities.

He says he is getting none of the help that was promised by the Prime Minister and insurance firms in the wake of the disturbances.

He added: “I have an invoice for the cash and carry for GBP9,000. I can't replace the stock that was stolen until I pay that bill.

“You tell people what has happened but they all still need to be paid. The electricity company, the council, the suppliers they all need their cash.

"I have contacted the insurance company and they have seen the footage but they say there is lots of forms I have to fill in and underwriters have to look at the case. They say my tills and machines are not insured.

“They also say that I am not covered for the damage to fridges.

“We have poured everything we have into the business and I had dreams of installing the internet in the cafe area, but those dreams have been shattered by this.

"I have always paid my bills on time, I work 16 hours a day and all the council and chambers of commerce will offer me is 'moral support'.

"What can I do with that? I just want to cry sometimes. The only money I have seen is my regulars generously giving me what they can.

"But it doesn't help, Mr Cameron is talking about making sure small businesses are helped, but I've seen nothing of that, nothing at all.

A spokesman for West Midlands Police said they are still trying to trace people from inside the store.

Read More

2011-08-17

Cancer victim climbs Mount Blanc

BEING diagnosed with cancer can be the lowest moment of a person's life, but one victim has used her recovery to hit the highest point in Europe - the summit of Mont Blanc.

Wendy Nicholls, from Wolverhampton, West Midlands, was diagnosed with skin cancer in February and underwent an emergency operation to remove the mole and any tissue which may have been affected. Biopsies were also taken to test whether the disease had spread.

But the brave 31-year-old, has now fought her way back to fitness - and earlier this month conquered the 15,774ft-high Mont Blanc for charity.

"One day I just noticed that a mole on my arm was bleeding. I didn't think much of it but when it happened again a couple of weeks later, I thought I should get it checked," said the University of Wolverhampton psychological researcher, who lives in the Penn area of he city.

"The doctor told me it was probably nothing to worry about so when they called me in to Russells Hall Hospital I just went on my own. I was stunned."

She was immediately whisked off to be screened for MRSA, and went under the knife only a week later.

Brave Wendy then had to undergo an operation to test her lymph nodes to see whether the cancer had spread anywhere else - and luckily, it hadn't.

"That's when I decided to do something big to raise money - and Mont Blanc just seemed like the best choice," she added.

The three-day climb, which she completed at the start of the month, has raised GBP831.38 and she is aiming to hit GBP1,000 to donate to cancer charity Macmillan.

Wendy, who now faces a visit to Russells Hall Hospital every three months for regular check-ups, plus self-checks in the meantime, said the charity had been a huge help and source of support for her, her parents and her boyfriend throughout her ordeal.

"The thing is, I never sunbathe and the only time I went on a sunbed was when I was 15, and I was so scared I got out before my five minutes were up," she added.

"Apparently though long-distance runners are more susceptible to it though as you spend so much time outside.

"It's really hard going out on a sunny day now - I just feel like running up to people, grabbing them and asking if they've got suncream on."

Read More

2011-08-16

Two killed in M1 crash

TWO woman have died and a third is fighting for her life after a car crashed into a lamppost in a horror smash on the M1.

Best friends, pregnant Faye McKoy, 24, and Donna Morgan, 22, were declared dead at the scene in the early hours of Saturday following the crash on an exit sliproad of the motorway in Northampton.

The third victim, a 24-year-old woman from Northampton, was driving the vehicle and survived the crash. She suffered multiple life-threatening injuries.

Mrs McKoy was a full-time mum to a two-year-old girl and was pregnant with her second child.

Mrs Morgan was a former Northampton College student.

A spokesman for Northamptonshire Police said: “The driver of the Peugeot car, in which both were passengers, was a 24-year-old woman from Northampton - she suffered multiple life-threatening injuries and was taken to Northampton General Hospital where her condition is improving.”

An online memorial site has been set up on Facebook, with hundreds of friends flocking to pay tributes to the pair.

Friend Micha Timms wrote: “This still doesn’t feel real.

"We were similar in so many ways and it’s weird to think we will never bump into each in town and have a good old boogie again.

"I have always admired your confidence as a young woman and your positive attitude to life. You will never be forgotten mate. Sleep tight.”

Shonie Coates wrote: “I can’t believe it.

"My sympathy goes out to your little baby and family.

"I had only seen you a few days ago, smiling as usual. It only feels like yesterday that you and your brother were climbing over your fence into my garden to play Barbies with me and my sister.

"You were such a lovely and beautiful girl, never forgotten.”

Friends of the pair have organised a candlelit vigil and Chinese lantern release on Thursday evening to pay their respects.

A police spokesman said an investigation had been launched into how the car lost control as it started to come off the northbound exit at junction 15a at around 3am on August  13.

The car hit a number of ‘road-side furniture’ objects before coming to rest on the barrier, forcing the road to remain closed the following morning for repair work.
Read More

2011-08-15

Three men charged with Winson Green Murders

TWO men and a teenager appeared in court today/yesterday (MON) charged with the murders of three men mown down by a car during riots in Birmingham.

Joshua Elias Donald, 26, of, Ladywood, Birmingham and a 17-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, appeared via videolink from Woodhill Prison in Milton Keynes and Hindley Young Offenders Institution, near Wigan, respectively and spoke only to confirm their names.

Adam King, 23, from Kings Norton, Birmingham, stood impassively in the dock at Birmingham Crown Court during the 15-minute joint hearing which was adjourned for a plea and case management hearing on 9 December 2011.

The trio are charged with the murders of Haroon Jahan, 21, of Winson Street, Birmingham, and brothers Shazad Ali, 30, and Abdul Musavir, 31, both of Kirby Road, Birmingham, who were knocked down and killed on 10 August 2011 on Dudley Road, Winson Green, Birmingham.

Judge Melbourne Inman QC refused an application from the press for a Section 39 order preventing the identification of the 17-year-old youth from Birmingham.

Prosecutor Peter Grieves-Smith suggested it was unknown for such an order to be removed before a juvenile defendant had been convicted.

No evidence was heard and all three accused were remanded in custody.
Read More

2011-08-14

Granny fought off the rioters

A DEFIANT grandmother stood firm to repel mobs of looters as rampaging gangs swept through past her hairdressing salon.

Courageous Louise Johnson refused to move from outside her shop as scores of rioters rampaged down Queen Street in Wolverhampton looting stores as they went.

The 52-year-old mother-of-four who has five grandchildren, faced the baying mob with arms outstretched as they threatened to destroy her business.

As police in riot gear watched motionless from either end of the street she screamed: “You are not having my shop.”

Amazingly, they did what they were told and left Louise’s Hair Salon untouched while wrecking other stores on either side of it.

Miss Johnson, who has run the salon for almost two years, admitted afterwards: “It was like being in a war zone but I had no intention of letting them wreck everything I had worked so hard to build up.

“I spoke to them in language they understood. They are animals and I addressed them like animals.

“I just put my arms out wide with my hands held in the air and said words to the effect of ‘you are not having my shop.’

“I have worked too hard to let it be wrecked by people like that. My legs ache because I spend so long on my feet each day cutting hair.

“Some of that mob were kids. They looked no more than 12. The oldest was probably aged 20. Some of the girls were more vicious than the boys.

Miss Johnson, who lives in Field Street, in the Heath Town area of Wolverhampton, said: “I saw girls with hammers in their handbags. They just took the hammers out, cool as you like, and used them to smash the windows of shops that were then looted.

“Meanwhile the police were just standing at the end of the road doing nothing. I could hardly believe my eyes. If I had done nothing then my shop would have been ransacked like the others.

“I was not moving. I was prepared to die with the salon and I think the rioters realised that. They must have seen it in my eyes. I meant every word of what I said.

“They came down the street like something you would see in Zulu. There seemed to be hundreds of them. They had gone mad. They had iron bars.

“No way in hell I am having these kids destroy my business. They could have killed me but I did not care because I wanted to protect what was mine.

“I was not frightened at the time but the stress hit me when I got home last night. I broke down and had a good cry.”

Read More

2011-08-13

Chief Constable visits Winson Green

AFTER a night of relative peace settled across Birmingham, West Midlands Chief Constable met the grieving father Tariq Jahan to thank him for his plea for calm across the region on Thursday.

Chief Constable Chris Sims praised the “powerful and heartfelt” words of Mr Jahan, the father of one of three men killed after a hit and run during the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Mr Jahan's  21-year-old son Haroon was killed during Birmingham's second night of violence after he was struck by a car while he was part of a group reportedly protecting the community from looters.

While tensions ran high throughout the community of Winson Green where the incident took place, Mr Jahan resolutely called for calm only hours after his son and the brothers Shahzad Ali, 30, and Abdul Musavir, 31, were killed.

During an interview with Sky News, Mr Jahan said: "If the people are listening, please for God's sake give it up and stop this rioting and looting for no reason.

"I have said this 100 times - people are not achieving anything.

"People are losing their livelihoods, their homes and I have lost my family.

"To parents, if you value your children keep them at home, keep them off the streets.

"And to the kids if you are listening to a grey-bearded old fella that you have no respect for, try and understand this - when you are my age you will look back at your lives and think how stupid you are."

Mr Sims visited the crime scene near the Jet Garage on Dudley Road Thursday afternoon and said: “An awful lot of work was been done yesterday by communities across Birmingham.

“But I think most of us would see that the intervention he felt able to make, which was one of the most powerful, generous and far sighted interventions I have ever seen, at a moment of absolute grief and devastation, I think that was a decisive intervention in terms of Birmingham not suffering tension and violence between communities.”

He added: “These were powerful and heartfelt words that were so spontaneous and generous. Everyone must have been moved by them.

“A lot of work is being done in the community to build on the foundation of the words that he said.”

Mr Sims said they were working with all sections of the community to help restore order to Birmingham and maintain the peace seen across the West Midlands.

In case of any reprisals he assured residents that there would continue to be an increased police presence on the streets of Birmingham and the West Midlands over the coming days. Also measures would be taken to prevent an escalation of violence.

“The presence will stay the same until all of this is absolutely behind us,” Mr Sims assured.

Read More

2011-08-12

20ft screen in Brum to find looters

POLICE are displaying the CCTV footage of rioters and looters they want to catch for all to see - right outside the shops they looted.

A van, with a giant display unit on the side, has been positioned outside Birmingham's famous Bullring shopping centre for all to see. It will be displaying CCTV footage of the looters  in one of Britain's busiest shopping areas.

The ‘Digi-Van’, with a six-metre square display unit, is being driven around the city centre showing over 50 CCTV images of the wanted people between 7am and 7pm today/yesterday/FRIDAY and Saturday, it was also out in the city all day on Thursday.

The van was also positioned on one of the main roads into the city so that commuters would see the images on their way into work in the morning.

“This is the first time a van of this type has been used to display multiple images of people wanted by the police,” said Acting Detective Inspector Mark Rushton.

“We’ve already had a fantastic response to the public who have been calling the special information line or emailing us. We’ve taken over 500 calls which are helping us make arrests.

“Photographs of those wanted by us have appeared in the media but we are determined to use every means available to us to bring suspected offenders to justice.”

According to Chief Insp Rushton, witnesses have found it easier to approach officers in the city centre there and then with the pictures up on the screen than to call up and give their information.

"We've had an amazing response," he said. "People have been coming up to us and saying they know they person, someone even told me they'd been standing next to them at the bus stop that morning.

"We've seen youths turn away in horror when they've recognised someone on the screen, and come up to us to tell us they know them but they were nervous to call the phone lines."

It's not the first time the display, provided by Media Displays Ltd, has been used in police appeals. It was used in the search for missing schoolgirl Shannon Matthews in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire.

West Midlands police, who were offered the screen by Media Displays, who contacted them when had realised it might be useful, have previously used it for burglary initiatives, but they say this is the first time it has been used to display suspects.

Anyone who recognises a suspect can ring the freephone number 0800 096 0095 or alternatively the local rate number 0207 158 0125. People can also e-mail: tellus@west-midlands.pnn.police.uk.

Read More

2011-08-11

Gran sees off yobs

A DEFIANT grandmother stood like a beacon of hope as she refused to move from outside her salon as score of rioters rampaged past her in Wolverhampton.

Courageous Louise Johnson would not let the thugs prevail and stood firm outside her hairdressing salon as thugs rampaged down Queen Street in the town looting stores.

The 52-year-old mother-of-four ,who has five grandchildren, faced the baying mob with arms outstretched as they threatened to destroy her business.

As police in riot gear watched motionless from either end of the street she screamed: “You are not having my shop.”

Amazingly, they did what they were told and left Louise’s Hair Salon untouched while wrecking other stores on either side of it.

Miss Johnson, who has run the salon for almost two years, admitted afterwards: “It was like being in a war zone but I had no intention of letting them wreck everything I had worked so hard to build up.

“I spoke to them in language they understood. They are animals and I addressed them like animals.

“I just put my arms out wide with my hands held in the air and said words to the effect of ‘you are not having my shop.’

“I have worked too hard to let it be wrecked by people like that. My legs ache because I spend so long on my feet each day cutting hair.

“Some of that mob were kids. They looked no more than 12. The oldest was probably aged 20. Some of the girls were more vicious than the boys.

Miss Johnson,from Heath Town, Wolverhampton, said: “I saw girls with hammers in their handbags. They just took the hammers out, cool as you like, and used them to smash the windows of shops that were then looted.

“Meanwhile the police were just standing at the end of the road doing nothing. I could hardly believe my eyes. If I had done nothing then my shop would have been ransacked like the others.

“I was not moving. I was prepared to die with the salon and I think the rioters realised that. They must have seen it in my eyes. I meant every word of what I said.

“They came down Queen Street like something you would see in Zulu. There seemed to be hundreds of them. They had gone mad. They had iron bars.

“No way in hell I am having these kids destroy my business. They could have killed me but I did not care because I wanted to protect what was mine.

“I was not frightened at the time but the stress hit me when I got home last night. I broke down and had a good cry.”

Miss Johnson, who brought up her four children as a single mother and was back at work as usual today/yesterday (WED), said: “I have lived in Heath Town for the last 36 years and it was not easy but I managed. I brought them up with little but with manners. I believe that if you do not have manners and respect for others, you are finished.

“There is no excuse for the way that mob behaved last night. They were not making a political point it was just crime for crime’s sake. They were looting and vandalising for kicks.

“They were hyped up. It was just a bit of excitement for them but they were destroying the livelihoods of decent people in the process.

“They were shocked by the language I used when telling them off. I said that I was using those words because they were the only ones they would understand.

“If they come back again I will stand outside the shop. I am not leaving. If I had not stood outside yesterday they would have destroyed it.”

Read More

2011-08-10

Three dead in B'ham

A murder investigation has been launched after three men were killed after they were hit by a car in Birmingham in the early hours of today.

It happened at around 1.15am on Dudley Road in Winson Green, near to the Jet Filling Station, close to the border with Cape Hill in Smethwick.

The men were taken to City Hospital in Birmingham where crowds have since gathered.

Two of the men were confirmed dead shortly after they arrived at hospital. The death of the third man was confirmed around 6.30am.

A man has been arrested in connection with the incident and a car has been recovered and will be examined by forensics experts.

Police have not yet confirmed if the deaths are linked to rioting in the city overnight.

West Midlands Ambulance Service spokesman Murray MacGregor, said: “When crews arrived they found around 80 people at the scene with resuscitation on going on three men.

“Crews used their advanced life support skills whilst police officers provided support. All three were taken on blue lights to hospital.”

The ambulance service sent three ambulances, two rapid response vehicles and an incident support officer to the scene.

The A457 Dudley Road was closed both ways between Moillett Street and Cavendish Road.

Witnesses or anyone with information should contact West Midlands Police on 0345 113 5000.
Read More

2011-08-09

Press photographer attacked in Birmingham riots

THIS is the terrifying moment a gang of yobs savagely set upon a press photographer in Birmingham as violent riots spread throughout the city.

These pictures show a gang of hoodies kicking and punching Harry Smith, as he lies on the ground helplessly.

The 20-year-old can be seen cowering, trying to protect his face with his arms as the yobs snatched his camera from him.

At one point 14 thugs can be seen laying into the youngster in the street as the violence erupted at 5pm.

Also pictured is Charlotte Chapman, 23, who tried to intervene to help her pal - and got a black eye for her efforts.

She was taking pictures too when she saw a man approach Harry and demand his camera.

Harry, from Kidderminster, Worcestershire, was targeted at around 7.30pm as he got too close to the action.

He said: "I was taking pictures when they spotted me and charged at me. They pushed me to the ground and started kicking and punching me. They had umbrellas and started using them to hit me.

"My main concern at the time was my camera. I was trying to hold on to it. They managed to grab it off me though.

"My friend tried to help me and she ended up getting punched in the face as well.

"A passer-by pulled me up and out the street away from them.

The student photographer continued: "It was a scary experience and something I would not like to encounter again.

"It has put me off covering riots again.

"There was no stopping them. They were on a mission. My friend Charlie tried to help and took a punch - which is disgraceful to hit a girl."

Harry was told to report the incident last night.

Officers could not leave their lines and so told him to go to the police station in the city, where he was checked over by paramedics.

"There was no officers available at Steelhouse Lane Police Station," Harry said.

"There wasn't much they could do there."

Charlotte, from Rowley Regis, West Midlands, said: "I saw them surround Harry and pull him to the floor and start kicking him.

"I ran over and threw myself over him and just screamed get off him.

"In the process I got quite a few punches and kicks to the face and head. My ribs feel quite bruised as well.

"I was more concerned about getting Harry up and out of there. I thought if we fought back they could of stabbed us or anything.

"They are animals. They are not human beings."

Read More

2011-08-08

Woman faces jail for drowning cats

A DRUNKEN woman “systematically” drowned four of her friend’s cats in a bathtub, a court was told.

Samantha Browning is facing jail after admitting carrying out the act at a house in Tipton, West Midlands, when she returned from a party drunk and on drugs.

The 21-year-old’s crime was discovered after two of the cats’ bodies were later found having being stuffed into a plastic bag.

They had then been flung over a fence, Sandwell Magistrates’ Court heard.

Mr Nick Sutton, prosecuting for the RSPCA, said: “This was a terrible death.

“These were young cats, they were intelligent creatures and she accepted they struggled. They must have been abundantly aware what was going on as they saw what happened to the others. They were waiting to be killed.”

Mr Sutton told the court that Browning’s crime came to light after a friend of hers took issue with a posting about the cats’ welfare on the social networking website, Facebook.

The friend, who reported the posting to the RSPCA, said she was told the cats were proving too costly to keep for their owner.

The cats were killed at some point between January 1 and February 17 this year, Mr Sutton said. The cats’ owner is alleged to have helped fill the bathtub.

Browning then held each animal, each of them around one year old, under the water in turn. Mr Sutton added: “The fourth was more difficult. Miss Browning said she was reluctant but the owner said she had already killed three.”

During Friday's hearing, Browning, of West Bromwich, pleaded guilty to drowning four cats. Mrs Helen Pinning, for Browning, said: “She is very remorseful and remains very upset about what she’s done.”

The case was adjourned for pre-sentence reports. Browning was granted bail and will next appear before magistrates on August 22.

Read More

2011-08-07

Urdu speaking parrot

A BILINGUAL parrot has started speaking Urdu after learning Islamic phrases from growing up in Bradford.

Two-year-old African grey Mittu can say the traditional Muslim greeting 'asalaam alaykum' and speak other religious passages meaning 'in the name of Allah' as well as the more customary 'who's a pretty boy?'

His owner Ghaffar Ahmed, from Stourbridge, West Midlands, says his beloved bird can say 'come here', 'hello, how are you?' in Urdu along with other religious words.

The 36-year-old said: ""He speaks Urdu and English - I don't know how many bilingual birds there are in the UK but there can't be many.

"My in-laws live in Bradford and a family who they know were looking to re-home the parrot as he was becoming too much of a handful.   

"They wanted him to go to a home that spoke the same language, so we said we'd have him on board and ever since then he has become part of the family.

"He says a few words including 'asalaam alaykum', 'bismillah', which means 'in the name of Allah' and 'shabaash' - which means 'well done'

"But he also barks like a dog and makes the noise of the refrigerator alarm, so he likes making all sorts of noises really."

But Mr Ahmed, who runs a car firm and accident management company, says he is refusing to take him out to the local mosque - after the parrot escaped recently from his workplace.

Mr Ahmed, his wife, Shabana, 31, and their three young daughters were “devastated” when he disappeared.

But tears turned to joy when the bird turned up four days later having flown four miles away.

Susan Lane, from Halesowen, West Midlands, found the Mittu in her Holly tree and found Mr Ahmed online.

“As soon as we were reunited he came and kissed my face,” Mr Ahmed added.

"We were delighted to have him back, it was like losing one of the family when he flew off.

"So I'm not letting him go out any more, I'm keeping a close eye on him from now on."
Read More

2011-08-06

Dad scares yobs with toy pistol

A DAD who sent a gang of threatening yobs packing when he cocked and pointed a TOY pistol at them has appeared before a court and placed under supervision.

Sean Jones brandished the toy weapon at a gang who were being abusive to protect his family because he feared for their safety.

There was a history of hostility between Jones, 23,  and a member of the gang who were shouting abuse at his flat and beckoning for him to come down and fight.

Now Jones, of Stourbridge, West Midlands, has been placed under a supervision order.

Judge Michael Dudley at Wolverhampton Crown Court told him it was a "wholly exceptional" case involving possession of an imitation firearm and stressed he had done something "anyone might have done."

But the judge added: "Although it was an imitation firearm it contained missiles that could be fired and it had the desired effect because they disappeared."

"You were in a position where you could almost claim self defence.

"You had been threatened in the past and, on this occasion, they were outside your flat shouting and being intimidating."

Samantha Powis, defending Jones, said he was "not a bad man" and he did not have a history of violence.

She told the court Jones was with his partner and their small child in the flat when the man leading the gang and his cronies started being abusive.

Miss Powis said: “That night they put him in such fear for the safety of his family that he did what he did.

"It was his intention to do no more than scare them away.

"They had been making it quite clear to him just what they would do if he did not come down and fight. It was a toy pistol that had been painted black to make it look real."

Miss Powis said Jones accepted he cocked and pointed the pistol through a window and it had the desired effect.

She added: "He is now relieved to know the main complainant has left the area but he still fears reprisals from this man.

"He reacted to violence that was brought to his door. He was not taking potshots at members of the public - he is a man who has never hurt anyone."

David Lees, prosecuting, said when examined by a firearms expert the gun was found to be a plastic air pistol that was capable of firing plastic pellets.

Read More

2011-08-05

Andy Warhol as he would look today

THIS incredibly lifelike sculpture is how iconic pop artist Andy Warhol might have looked like today - as he turned 83-years-old.

Birmingham-based artist Edgar Askelovic has unveiled the striking work ahead of what would have been the American artist's birthday this Saturday in the hope he can enjoy his '15 minutes of fame'.
   
Edgar spent three months working on the piece and even sold his car to get the money to buy the materials he needed to create the artwork - which is based on an old photo of Warhol who died in 1987 aged 58.

Made from silicone and clay, the remarkably lifelike sculpture is intricately crafted - right down to the tiny grey hairs of stubble on Warhol’s face.

Edgar, 23, said: "The pose of the piece is taken from a photograph of Warhol in the 60s.  He is a huge inspiration to me and I wanted to make sure that I did him justice with my work.”

"I thought long and hard about what he might look like today, which led me to sculpt him without his teeth and with the wrinkles that reflect the years that have now passed.

"Although maybe there should also be a botox version – after all, he was a pioneer of all things new.

"I remember reading about Andy’s humble beginnings – his first film, titled Sleep, was an epic 6 hours long and all about one of his friends sleeping.  Nine people attended the premiere apparently and only seven stayed until the end – he was a true creative."
 
The sculpture is being unveiled tomorrow (SAT) at McDermott Galleries in the Mailbox in Birmingham to mark the American artist's birthday.  

But those interested in taking it home will have to dig deep - Edgar Askelovic is now starting to make waves amongst art collectors and this particular sculpture comes with a GBP10,000 price tag.  

Although compared, to Warhol, Edgar still has some way to go – the highest price ever paid for a Warhol painting was USD100m, for his 1963 canvas titled Eight Elvises.

Gallery owner Terence McDermott said: "The idea is on Saturday if he was still alive he would have been 83-years-old so what Edgar has done is to use some artistic license to create his own interpretation of Warhol as an 83 year old. This wig is just as he would have worn it – a simple substitute for a cap."

"It's tragic to think about the life, art and advances Warhol missed out on.  I wonder what he would have done with the internet, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube...reality TV?!  Maybe there would even be a Warhol App?

"The thought of Andy Warhol in the digital age is mind blowing.  The world was always one step behind him and it’s such a shame he is not here with us."

The piece is fittingly titled 'Andy Walking, Andy tired, Andy take a little snooze' - the lyrics from the David Bowie song Andy Warhol.

The Lithuanian, self-taught artist dedicated his time to the piece, working on it for a three month period and most days until 4am.

Terence added “As for Edgar, he’s a rising star and he is attracting a lot of attention – his sculptural works are very often provocative and have a very real social context, he could well be the next Banksy, except he works in three dimensions as opposed to two.”

Edgar, is a full-time artist living in Birmingham, and came to the UK as an exchange student but decided to stay here after his course finished.

A video of the sculpture making process can be seen on YouTube or viewed at www.McDERMOTTgallleries.com.

Read More

2011-08-04

Britains got talent benefit fraud

THE mother of a Britain's Got Talent finalist has been exposed as a benefits cheat after receiving more then GBP20,000 in social security she was not entitled to.

Mandy Davis, mother of dance star and CBBC presenter Aiden Davis, on Tuesday escaped a jail sentence for scaming the system.

The 43-year-old was overpaid GBP20,548 in benefits over a three year period between June 1 2006 and May 22 2009.

Birmingham Magistrates Court heard the mother-of-two was living with Leroy Davis - the father of her two children - as husband and wife during that period but failed to inform the Department of Work and Pensions.

When interviewed by officials she said Mr Davis, who she married in January last year, worked away and only stayed with her at weekends, therefore she thought she did not have to declare the change in circumstance.

But JPs took a different view and handed down an eight week prison sentence, suspended for 12-months. She was also ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work over the next 12-months.

Mrs Joanne Good told Davis, who starred at the ground as she was sentenced: "We are making this order because these offences are so serious custody is the only option."

The court was told Davis, from Birmingham, had received income support since September 1990 on the grounds she was a loan parent and had no means to support herself or her family.

She also sought assistance from Birmingham City Council for housing costs.

But she had been living with her partner, who had bank accounts, car registration, a mobile phone and life insurance registered to her address.

She maintained they did not live together as husband and wife and said he was a good dad and supported their children - who are aged 14 and 22 and still live at home with their mum.

Davis was charged with two counts of failing to notify a change in circumstance and pleaded guilty on July 19.

Since she was exposed, she has been making repayments of GBP350 a month for the last eight months, magistrates were told.

Defending, Abid Hussain told the court Davis had behaved 'naively'.

He said: "This is a matter which is going to stick with her for the rest of her life and no doubt have an impact on her future employment and more importantly her two children, who still reside with her.

"The two children are probably going to feel the brunt of any attention over the next few days by any press coverage.

"Her belief,perhaps naively, as he was staying over as and when he could, was she did not believe it acted upon her entitlement to benefits but now does accept it did."

Davis was also ordered to pay GBP100 court costs in full within 28-days.

Her son Aiden shot to fame after appearing on the third series of the ITV1 talent show, where he finished fifth overall.

He has since performed on the 'Diversitoys' tour with dance group Diversity and also presents a new show on CBBC called Friday Download.

Read More

2011-08-03

Chance text message lead to love

A CHANCE text message to a random number has lead two people down an extraordinary route to marriage.

Andrew and Tina Baldwin have proven that love can be found in the most unlikely of places.

The husband and wife came together after Yeovil-based Tina changed a couple of digits around in her number and sent a random text message.

Andrew, who lived over 100 miles away in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire at the time, received the message asking: “Feel like talking?”

Despite feeling wary at first, Andrew was persuaded to reply by his uncle and the pair kept in contact via text and talk.

"I think I was more shocked than he was when I got a reply to be honest," said 37-year-old Tina.

"I was expecting someone to send a message saying 'wrong number' or something, I have no idea what possessed me to send it.

"But he texted back saying yes, he asked me my details and we started talking."

The couple chatted for over a month before either had any idea what the other looked like, initially through text messages before moving onto phone calls.

"It cost us a fortune," added Tina. "Back in those days neither of us had a phone contract, it was all pay-as-you-go.

"Eventually we both sent each other a picture and we'd confessed that our feelings were more than friendship before we'd ever met, we just had so much in common."

After three months they met, and within six months Andrew had taken the plunge and moved in with Tina at her home in Yeovil.

"We'd said right, we have so much in common we have to meet up." said Tina "We first met up in a pub in Yeovil, I was really nervous and so was he, but once we'd met it was so easy.

"He started coming down to Yeovil every weekend after that, it cost him so much, eventually we said we either had to make something of it or give up.

"Neither of us wanted to give up so he moved down and we were married a year later.

"It was really important to me he got on with my son Liam, who was five at the time. The first thing Liam did when Andrew arrived was go and sit on his knee, he'd never met him. I knew there was something good then."

Andrew, now 31, said: “I was travelling down every week, which was around a 140-mile trek both ways.

“We made a go of it and I moved down to Yeovil to live with Tina.”

Computer technician Andrew proposed to beautician Tina, two days before Christmas 2000 and the pair were married in Yeovil in September 2001.

He said: “We were married four days after the Twin Towers disaster.

“We had a minute’s silence in the service, but we were very fortunate that the airports were still open for our honeymoon.”

The couple honeymooned on the Greek island of Halkidiki.

Tina had a son, Liam, now aged 16, when she met Andrew. The couple now have two more children, Courtney, aged seven, and Kai, aged four.

Andrew said: “We definitely have no regrets, everything has turned out fantastically.”

But he still recommends caution to anyone in a similar position.

He said: “Everyone is brought together by communications these days but you do have to be careful and err on the side of caution.

“There are a lot of people out there trying to scam others, and you need to be aware of the risks.”

Tina agreed. "It could have been anyone who I met that day in Yeovil," she said.

"Anyone sending a picture that wasn't them, but it turned out so well, we're very lucky."

Read More

2011-08-02

Boys balloon travels to Russia

A BALLOON released by a young boy has been found 1,800 miles away in RUSSIA following a extraordinary three week journey.

Three-year-old James Dodds released the silver heart-shaped balloon last month with a note asking whoever found it to let him know how far it flew.

When his mum, Lyndsay, was asked by the postman for a signature for a delivery from Russia on Wednesday, she did not think for one minute that it could be a response to his note.

However, when James’s grandmother, Jeanne Fallon, spotted the envelope was addressed using the note they had put on the balloon, she realised it was about the balloon’s amazing journey.

The balloon had landed in Goryachiy Klyuch, near the Black Sea, in southern Russia, a staggering 1,835 miles from his Peterborough home.

Inside the package was a picture of two boys, aged around nine and six, in what appears to be a back garden, happily holding the balloon which amazingly still had some helium in it.

Lyndsay, 30, said: “I think it is just a lovely story and it is mind-boggling that the balloon got that far.

“We thought it might get picked up somewhere in England, but not all the way over in Russia. And for the family to write to us is really lovely.

“When we told James about it, he didn’t seem that fussed, he just thought it was nice that two other boys had found the balloon."

The family could not understand the letter sent in reply to their balloon, but clues to its origins came from a plethora of Russian stamps on the envelope.

A copy of the letter was sent to local Russian tutor Natasha Ali, who was able to translate it into English.

The message reads: “Hi James, your balloon has reached us in Russia! If you want to keep in touch our email address is below. We would be happy to hear from you.”

Lyndsay added: “They have given us their e-mail address, so we are going to drop them a message to say thank you."

James had been given the balloon at a 25th wedding anniversary party for Lyndsay’s aunt Vicki and uncle Dave Collins in Essex.

The family released three balloons – the one from James, one from his seven-month-old brother William and one from the two of them together.

Baby William’s balloon didn't have as much of an exciting journey as his brother's - coming to rest at an Iceland supermarket in Peterborough.

The family have not heard anything about the fate of the third balloon.

Mum Lyndsay added: “We let them all off from our back garden. That was on June 25, so the balloon must have been flying for about three weeks before they found it in Russia.

"I phoned my husband Robert when we got the letter and he thought I was joking – it is just amazing”

Read More

2011-08-01

Crooks app to spy on cops

CRIMINALS can now monitor the police who are trying to stop them through a new app for their phone.

Scanners have long been used by nosey radio enthusiasts to eavesdrop on communications between cops, paramedics and firemen.

But that technology has now been transferred to iphones, with a new GBP1.49 app allowing anyone to listen in to live police operations.

Former undercover cop Ronnie Howard, who worked for West Midlands Police and the National Crime Squad, said the product, called Police Scanner, could pose a serious threat to sensitive investigations.

He said: “This is a worrying development because there is no doubt that criminals will seek to use this technology to establish whether or not they are under surveillance.
“And the fact the phone fits neatly into their pockets will only make it easier for them to try and keep track of what officers and other emergency services are doing at any one time.”

Police Scanner was developed by US firm Critical Hit Software LLC, they claim it allows users to access more than 2,500 police, fire, rescue and other radio feeds from across the globe. The blurb on the company website declares: “Find channels close to your location based on GPS or 3G/WiFi triangulation.

‘‘You can save your favourites, listen in to the background, and get instant access to new feeds as they come online. Use it to monitor exciting police, fire, and rescue frequencies, stay abreast of these activities in your area, and be prepared for disasters or other emergency situations.”

Retired cop Ronnie said police had always had trou- ble with crooks using scan- ners.
“When I was conducting undercover surveillance we could never be sure we were not being monitored our-selves, so we developed our own code language in which we used numbers.

“But we constantly had to change our codes to make sure we kept ahead of the crooks.

‘‘Since I left the force I know the police have increased communications security, but criminals always seem to find a way. Making these phones so easy to use hardly helps either.”

The law on scanner technology is contradictory.Thedevicesarelegalto own, but it is illegal to listen in on po- lice and emergency service frequencies.

In the past there have been fears the safety of the Royal Family was at risk because classified security details were being picked up by eavesdroppers. Yet it is very difficult to regulate individual scanner users and much of the law covering telecommunications is now outdated.

Critical Hit Software LLC was unavailable for comment.
Read More