Wednesday, 19 October 2016

A woman and her male friend are attacked on a busy street in Newcastle during what police believe was a dispute.

Jodie Wilkinson
Image Caption:Jodie Wilkinson was stabbed in Newcastle. Pic: Northumbria Police
A woman has died after being stabbed in the street during a daylight attack by "10 or 11 men" in Newcastle.
Jodie Wilkinson, 27 and from Newcastle, was attacked during an apparent argument in Stanhope Street on Monday afternoon.
Ms Wilkinson's male companion, 25, was also stabbed but has since been released from hospital.
The 10 or 11 attackers fled to an address in the nearby Queens Court area, police said.
No weapon has been found.
Five men, aged 18, 20, 22, 25 and 25, have been arrested in connection with the incident but Northumbria Police have appealed for help in finding others.
Chief Superintendent David Felton said: "It was 3.50pm and schools had not long finished and people were walking,
driving and cycling in the area.
"Any tiny piece of information could be key so please don't hesitate in contacting us.
"The incident itself would have looked like a group of people fighting, like an altercation of some kind, and there would have been shouting and fighting."
Mr Felton also tried to reassure the public, saying: "Although the motive behind the attack is still being investigated, we believe it potentially could have been some kind of dispute.
"I want to reassure the community that we do not believe there is any risk to the general public."
Ms Wilkinson's sister, Amy, described her as a devoted aunt and sister.
"She would do anything for anyone and we've got no idea why someone would take her life," she said.
"All we ask is at this stage anyone with information, no matter how small, to please come forward and assist the police."
Anyone with information should ring 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 08000 555 111.

Khalid Rashad has also been found guilty of keeping military-grade explosives and ammunition in the garden of his London home.

Charge picture of Khalid Rashad, 63, mosque director and brother of Boney M singer Liz Mitchell, found guilty of ordering the murder of imam Abdul Hadi Arwani.
Image Caption:Khalid Rashad has been sentenced to life in jail. Pic: Duncan Gardham
The brother of a Boney M singer has been jailed for life after hiring a hitman to kill his rival following a bitter dispute over control of a mosque.
Muslim convert Khalid Rashad, 63, is the brother of Liz Mitchell, lead singer in the 1970s band famous for disco hits such as Rivers of Babylon, Rasputin and Daddy Cool.
She appeared as a character witness in his trial, held in January this year, explaining how they had grown up in a large Christian family in Jamaica.
His conviction can finally be reported at the end of a second trial in which Rashad was found guilty of keeping military-grade plastic explosives and rounds of ammunition at his home, yards from Wembley Stadium.

Abdul Hadi Arwani, 48, who was gunned down in a street in Wembley, North London in April 2015.
Image Caption:Abdul Hadi Arwani, 48, was gunned down in Wembley. Pic: Duncan Gardham
Rashad's rival, Abdul Hadi Arwani, 48, was found slumped in the driver's seat of his VW Passat in a street in Wembley, North London, with the engine still running and a bullet wound in his chest in April last year.
There was speculation the Muslim preacher may have been murdered by a Syrian hitman when it emerged that he had been a vocal opponent of the regime of Bashar al Assad.
But police identified the killer as Leslie Cooper, 38, a former soldier from Harlesden, northwest London, who was also born in Jamaica and had served with the Princess of Wales Regiment in Iraq.
Detectives were able to track him down after he topped up an unregistered phone in a shop in Harlesden High Street and then went into a nearby store to top up a British Gas card with his name on it.
Officers who searched his home found a Mac-10 sub-machine gun with its magazine and the silencer still attached in a bedroom wardrobe.

A Mac-10 sub-machine gun found wrapped in a Marks and Spencer bag in a picnic basket in a wardrobe at Leslie Cooper's home. The weapon was used to murder Abdul Hadi Arwani.
Image Caption:The gun was found in a picnic basket at Cooper's home. Pic: Duncan Gardham
"On any reading, this was a serous bit of kit," Jonathan Rees QC, prosecuting, told Kingston Crown Court.
It emerged that Cooper had been hired by Rashad, formerly known as Burnell Mitchell, who had been involved in running the An Noor Cultural Centre in Acton, West London, for 20 years.
The mosque has been investigated by MI5 after a series of incidents including one in which a suspected male terrorist escaped from the premises dressed in a burka.
It has also hosted a number of controversial speakers, including one of the sons of 'hate preacher' Abu Hamza, who is now serving life in the US after being convicted of terrorism charges.
Although there was no evidence Rashad was involved in terrorism, detectives say they are concerned that the explosives could easily have fallen into the wrong hands.

Charge pic of Leslie Cooper, 38, a former soldier from Harlesden, North West London, the hitman who killed imam Abdul Hadi Arwani.
Image Caption:Hitman Leslie Cooper, 38, was hired by Rashad. Pic: Duncan Gardham
Investigators believe the rivalry between Rashad and Mr Arwani was not just about control of the mosque and that money also played a part.
This was because the premises had quadrupled in value in a decade during the London property boom and were said to be worth £3-4m.
During the explosives trial Rashad claimed he had been wooed by MI5, who wanted him to spy on the local community, but he had rejected their approaches.
Sentencing Rashad and Cooper to life in jail with a minimum of 32 years, Mr Justice Singh said the murder had been planned over a "significant period of time."
"On any view this was a shocking killing of a man in cold blood on the streets of London during the daytime," he added. 

Governors say the "tragedy" comes as "no massive surprise" after years of government cuts to prison staff and resources.

The inside of Pentonville Prison in north London
Image Caption:Pentonville holds around 1,,200 prisoners
The Prison Governors Association (PGA) has renewed calls for a public inquiry into the state of jails in England and Wales following the death of an inmate.
Emergency services were called to Pentonville Prison in north London at 3.30pm on Tuesday, where they found three male prisoners suffering from stab wounds.
One of the prisoners, a man aged in his 20s, was pronounced dead at the scene at 4.25pm.
The two other men, aged 21 and 30, were said to be in a critical condition at an east London hospital.
Two prisoners, aged 26 and 34, have been arrested and taken to a local police station for questioning.
A spokesman for The Prison Service confirmed the incident was being investigated but said it would be "inappropriate" to comment further "at this stage". 
The PGA said government cuts to staff and resources meant the "tragedy" was "no massive surprise".

General view HMP Pentonville, a Category B/C men's prison in north London
Image Caption:The entrance to Pentonville, which is a category B men's prison
The most recent statistics published by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) show there were 100 apparently self-inflicted jail deaths in the year to March - the highest for more than a decade.
More than 20,000 assaults - 2,813 deemed "serious" - were recorded in the 12 months to December, a rise of 27% year-on-year.
In addition, there were nearly 5,000 attacks on staff - a jump of more than a third compared to 2014.
John Attard, PGA national policy officer, said: "It is no secret that we have had concerns about cuts and resources over the last four years.
"Sadly, it comes as no massive surprise to anybody close to this that we have had a tragedy such as this."
Mr Attard said "years of experience" had been lost, which was "showing".
"It's why we need an inquiry into this," he said.

The inside of Pentonville Prison in north  London
Image Caption:Prison officers say they have 'serious concerns' about jails in England and Wales
In July, prison officers across England and Wales staged unofficial walkouts amid claims the system was in "perpetual crisis".
It came a month after the MoJ announced nearly £13m in funds to deal with prison safety issues.
In a statement the Prison Officers Association said it "once again" has serious concerns following the Pentonville death.
It has called on the MoJ to "fully investigate this matter and the underlying problems within the prison estate".
A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said the department was "fully committed to addressing the significant increase in violence, self-harm and self-inflicted deaths in our prisons".
They continued: "Earlier this month the Justice Secretary announced an immediate investment of an additional £14m in 10 of our most challenging prisons, increasing staffing levels by over 400 prison officers.
"In the coming weeks she will be publishing a White Paper setting out plans across the estate for prison safety and reform to 2020 and beyond."
Pentonville, a category B men's prison, was opened in 1842 and holds more than 1,200 adults.
In a report last February it was said to be "performing poorly" as a result of staff shortages, overcrowding and inmates' easy access to drugs.
Nick Hardwick, then chief inspector of prisons, also noted: "Most prisoners felt unsafe; levels of violence were much higher than in similar prisons and had almost doubled since the last inspection."

Monday, 10 October 2016

Arthur Simpson-Kent murdered his partner and two children in what would have involved "a substantial degree of premeditation".

Arthur Simpson-Kent
Image Caption:Arthur Simpson-Kent fled to Ghana after the murders
The partner of ex-Eastenders actress Sian Blake has been given a whole-life sentence for murdering her and their two young sons.
Arthur Simpson-Kent, 49, killed Ms Blake, 43, and their sons, Zachary, eight, and four-year-old Amon, after she said she was going to leave him.
His disappearance and the subsequent discovery of the bodies in the garden of their home in Erith, south east London, sparked a manhunt which ended with Simpson-Kent being detained in Ghana.
Ms Blake, who played Frankie Pierre in the BBC soap between 1996 and 1997, suffered from motor neurone disease and was terminally ill.
Her condition meant she would have been incapable of defending herself from a violent attack.

Former EastEnders actress Sian Blake, 43, and her two young sons, Zachary (left), eight, and four-year-old Amon, as her partner Arthur Simpson-Kent has been given a whole life sentence at the Old Bailey
Image Caption:Sian Blake and her sons Zachary (L) and Amon
Ms Blake was hit on the head before being stabbed in the neck or throat by Simpson-Kent, who went on to kill their children in the same way.
He then painted over bloodstains in their bungalow before fleeing to the country of his birth.
Mr Justice Singh, sentencing at the Old Bailey, said he had been left "in no doubt" Simpson-Kent should spend the rest of his life behind bars.
To tears in the public gallery, he said: "In my judgement this was indeed a case where each murder involved a substantial degree of premeditation or planning."
The judge said there were "serious aggravating features" as each of the victims was vulnerable "because of age or disability".
He continued: "There was an abuse of position of trust. There was concealment of the bodies.
"He made efforts to remove evidence of his crimes at the house, including repainting."

Zachary, eight, and Amon (right), four, the children of EastEnders actress Sian Blake, 43, whose partner Arthur Simpson-Kent has been given a whole life sentence at the Old Bailey in London, for murdering the former EastEnders actress, and their two young sons.
Image Caption:Ms Blake's family said they had been robbed of their 'precious boys'
Simpson-Kent remained impassive throughout the hearing.
The court heard how he told psychiatrist Philip Joseph following the murders that "something just snapped in me".
He said: "I grabbed hold of a small axe that was kept on a ledge in the kitchen. Sian's head was bent low down and she was bent over looking at the floor.
"I approached her from the side and hit her at the back of the head as hard as I could and she fell unconscious at the first blow.
"My mind was blank and I was focusing on doing and not thinking. It was like I was there but not there."
Simpson-Kent said he was depressed and had planned to kill himself following the murders, but could not go through with it.
However, the judge rejected his claim.
In the days following Ms Blake's death in December last year, her family received messages sent from her mobile saying she had gone away.
Simpson-Kent flew to Ghana, where he was seen "partying" on New Year's Eve. He was held by local police a few days later.
In a statement read outside the court, Ms Blake's family described him as a "monster" who "robbed us of our dreams and aspirations, everything we wished for Sian and our precious boys"

The latest trial of Ronnie Coulter was told how he bragged about the crime after being cleared the first time.

Ronnie Coulter arrives at court for his murder trial
Image Caption:Ronnie Coulter was originally cleared of the murder
A man who boasted he had committed the "perfect murder" has been found guilty more than 17 years after the offence.
Ronnie Coulter was convicted after being tried a second time for killing waiter Surjit Singh Chhokar as he returned from work in Wishaw, Lanarkshire, on 4 November 1998.
Mr Chhokar's partner Elizabeth Bryce had told the court how blood "flew out" of the victim when he collapsed after telling her "they've stabbed me".
Giving evidence, she said she ran outside when she saw him being attacked in front of her home in Garrion Street, Overtown.
Ms Bryce sobbed as she told how three men, who she identified as Ronnie Coulter, his nephew Andrew Coulter and David Montgomery, left the scene and Mr Chhokar told her he had been stabbed.
She said: "He walked up to his car and he had his arms on top of the car and he put his head on his hands. The next thing I heard a horrible noise.
"The blood just flew out of him and he just fell. He flopped down and fell on the ground.
"I just didn't believe it - he was dead."

Surjit Singh Chhokar
Image Caption:Surjit Singh Chhokar was 32 when he was murdered
The jury took around 10 hours over three days to find Coulter, of Overtown, Wishaw guilty following a four-week trial at the High Court in Glasgow. He will be sentenced on 31 October. 
The 48-year-old was cleared of the murder at his original trial but was brought back before a jury under double jeopardy laws.
Andrew Coulter and Montgomery, were also tried for the murder in 2000, but both were acquitted.  
Andrew Coulter had stolen a £100 giro cheque and a cooker from Mr Chhokar before the 32-year-old was stabbed to death.
Andrew Coulter stabbed another man to death 10 months after Mr Chhokar's death, while he was on bail.

The scene in Garrion Street, Overtown, where Surjit Singh Chhokar was attacked
Image Caption:The scene in Garrion Street, Overtown, where Surjit Singh Chhokar was attacked
The latest trial of Ronnie Coulter was told how he bragged about the crime after being cleared the first time.
His sister, Margaret Chisholm, said he had confessed to her after coming to her house following his acquittal.  
She told the court: "He was sitting on the floor in the living room leaning against a radiator.
"He said 'I've just got away with the perfect murder'."
His former sister-in-law, Noreen McPolland, was asked: "Did Ronnie Coulter ever say anything about the death of Surjit Singh Chhokar?" 
She replied: "He said 'I stabbed him. I stabbed the P*** bastard'."

The family of murder victim Surjit Singh Chhokar arrive at court for the trial of Ronnie Coulter
Image Caption:Mr Chhokar's family arriving at the court
It is a notorious case which laid bare flaws in Scotland's prosecution system.
Separate inquiries found inadequacies in the prosecution process and institutional racism in the way that victims of crime and ethnic minorities were treated by the system.
Outside court, Detective Chief Superintendent Clark Cuzen praised the strength of the Chhokar family.
He said: "It is important to recognise the tireless campaigning for justice over the years by the Chhokar family and their lawyer, Aamer Anwar. I hope they can take some comfort from today's verdict."
He added: "Whilst we were unable to find evidence of racial motivation at the time of the murder, there was evidence to support the fact that Ronnie Coulter described Surjit using racist terms when confessing to the murder."