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Man pleads guilty to killing Nottingham students – but not guilty to murder | UK News

A man has admitted killing two students and a caretaker in a spate of attacks in Nottingham.

Valdo Calocane, 32, denied murdering Barnaby Webber, Grace O’Malley-Kumar and Ian Coates on 13 June this year, but pleaded guilty to their manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

He also pleaded guilty to attempting to murder three others.

Prosecutor Karim Khalil said the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) would need further time to decide whether Calocane’s pleas were acceptable or not.

University of Nottingham students Ms O’Malley-Kumar and Mr Webber, both 19, had been celebrating the end of their exams when they were stabbed to death as they walked home from a night out.

School caretaker Mr Coates, 65, was also killed on his way to work at Huntingdon Academy.

Calocane, who was himself a former student at the university, also hit three pedestrians – Wayne Birkett, Marcin Gawronski and Sharon Miller – while driving Mr Coates’ van in Milton Street and Upper Parliament Street, in the city centre.

He was arrested on the day of the attacks.

Calocane, who answered to the name Adam Mendes, appeared in the dock at Nottingham Crown Court dressed in a dark suit and looked straight ahead during the 15-minute hearing.

Judge Mr Justice Turner adjourned the case until 16 January 16 next year.

Grace Dent says her ‘heart is broken’ after leaving I’m A Celebrity jungle ‘on medical grounds’ | Ents & Arts News

Grace Dent has told her fellow campmates that her “heart is broken” after leaving the set of I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here early.

The restaurant critic, 50, was spotted at Brisbane Airport on Monday after exiting the ITV reality show early “on medical grounds“.

She had been due to face the bushtucker trial, Down The Tubes, in Monday night’s instalment.

Instead, Hollyoaks actor Nick Pickard read out a statement to the camp in which Dent announced that she was leaving early.

“My dear campmates, I’m so sorry to let you down. I have left the camp for medical reasons,” she said in her statement.

“My heart is broken, I have loved and enjoyed getting to know you all. You’ve held me up and it’s been a pleasure being your friend through this experience.

“Leaving you all at this stage will be one of the saddest things in my life. I love you all. Your friend, Miss Grace Dent.”

In a statement, a spokesperson said: “She has been a great campmate and will be missed by her fellow celebrities and viewers alike.”

Dent had said, before facing the Touchdown Of Terror trial, that she was struggling in the jungle.

The MasterChef star told campmate Josie Gibson last week: “I’ve had enough. I’ve completely had enough. I just want to go home.”

Dent, who has written restaurant reviews for The Guardian and Evening Standard, had been due to face the next trial, named Down The Tubes, with This Morning announcer Gibson.

EastEnders star Danielle Harold took her place in the trial as she had the next highest amount of votes from the public.

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Also in the episode, it was revealed that TV star Sam Thompson had been voted camp leader. He chose JLS star Marvin Humes as his deputy.

Among this year’s I’m A Celebrity campmates are the controversial politician Nigel Farage, First Dates star Fred Sirieix and Britney Spears’ sister Jamie Lynn.

The show has so far attracted a lower audience than last year’s series, which featured former health secretary Matt Hancock.

This year’s launch was watched by seven million people in its first week – down from a consolidated audience of nearly 12 million last year.

Ahead of entering the jungle this year, Dent said: “Everything is filling me with a real sense of dread. But I am especially dreading being really hungry because I tend to eat four or five posh meals out a week because I am a restaurant critic.”

She said she signed up for the show after “a really difficult time over the last four or five years”.

‘Clearly dangerous’ arsonist behind £2.6m Bristol shipyard fire sentenced to life in prison | UK News

A serial arsonist will spend the rest of his life in prison after starting a fire which destroyed a historic shipyard.

Robert Boyd-Stevenson, 46, was working at the Underfall Yard in Bristol for only three days as a maintenance co-ordinator when he lit the blaze.

Bristol Crown Court heard that the fire was started in the Big Shed shortly before midnight on 6 May, and within minutes was well alight.

The fire was so severe it destroyed the Big Shed as well as boats moored nearby. It also forced dozens of residents to evacuate from their homes.

Judge Martin Picton handed down a life sentence with a minimum term of six-years imprisonment after concluding Boyd-Stevenson posed a risk to the public from further offending.

“It appears when things in your life are going wrong you react by starting fires or making bomb hoaxes,” the judge said.

“It has happened with significant frequency to give rise to the concern you are highly likely to do so again – you are clearly dangerous.”

At a previous hearing, the defendant, of Headford Road, Knowle, Bristol, admitted arson being reckless as to whether life is endangered.

The court heard that Boyd-Stevenson has previous convictions for arson and bomb hoaxes dating back to 1997 and served an 11-year sentence for similar crimes.

Avon and Somerset Police handout photo of Robert Boyd-Stevenson
Robert Boyd-Stevenson, 46, started the fire in Underfall Yard in May this year

Rebuilding the shipyard has been estimated to cost £2.6m and could take three years to complete, with £200,000 lost in revenue in the meantime.

Some businesses that used the yard have been forced to cease trading, and others have faced bills of up to tens of thousands of pounds.

Gregory Gordon, prosecuting, noted that the Grade II-listed boatyard dated back to 1809, and that many of the original Victorian-era buildings remain to this day.

Mr Gordon said: “The Big Shed is a machine workshop and it was one of the last remaining buildings on site that was used for its original purpose. It is a nationally historic, important site.”

Mr Gordon said forensic examiners concluded an accelerant had been used to the start the fire. Within 15 minutes, the blaze had rapidly spread to nearby boats.

Boyd-Stevenson’s wife, Laura, told the court she had noticed a change in his behaviour in the weeks before the arson, saying he was crying a lot and agitated.

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Avon Fire & Rescue Service handout photo of the blaze started by Robert Boyd-Stevenson at the Underfall Yard in Bristol
The court heard how the fire caused £2.6m in damage, which could take three years to repair

On the night of the fire, Boyd-Stevenson unlocked the yard and went to the Big Shed where he started the blaze, Mr Gordon said.

“GPS data puts him at the yard between 9.47pm and 11.48pm,” he explained.

“CCTV records a person walking through the yard and CCTV from nearby streets records his vehicle in the area.”

Boyd-Stevenson then was said to have watched the fire from the nearby Millennium Promenade, where he took a photo of the blaze and sent it via WhatsApp to the Underfall Yard’s managing director.

He also carried out internet news searches for articles about the arson and contacted a woman he had been having an extramarital affair with, asking to meet her, the court was told.

The defendant returned home on the morning of 6 May, where his wife noticed he was calmer, in a similar manner to how he had been when he committed a bomb hoax at Bristol Airport in 2015.

He was arrested by police later the same evening.

Investigations found Boyd-Stevenson had also accessed pornography on a computer at the yard and had opened a document about the alarm system. There was also money missing.

Mr Gordon said the fire also caused a power outage in the sluice gates of Bristol Harbour, which could have caused “catastrophic damage” to the harbour walls should they have failed.

Mansfield market: Chocolate bought at stall should not be eaten, police warn | UK News

Chocolate bought from a stall in a Nottinghamshire market should not be eaten, customers have been warned.

Nottinghamshire Police have issued a safety alert about the chocolate – which is wrapped in gold foil – at Mansfield market.

Officers have received reports of people feeling unwell after eating chocolate purchased on Saturday.

The force asked anyone who has bought the chocolate to get in touch.

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Anyone who feels unwell after eating it should seek medical attention.

Nottinghamshire Police said: “We are working with other agencies and will publish further guidance in due course.”

Christmas dinner favourites at risk after washout harvest | UK News

Christmas dinners could be in jeopardy with storms causing havoc for farmers struggling with one of the toughest harvests on record.

Britain’s latest potato crop is predicted to hit a record low of 4.1 million tonnes with retailers forced to supplement supplies from cold storage, experts say.

Shoppers can also expect empty shelves after the harvests of broccoli and cauliflower were badly affected.

Supplies of Christmas cornerstones sprouts and parsnips have also suffered but are expected to recover enough to reach plates on 25 December.

Unprecedented rainfall, almost double the average for October, including Storms Agnes, Babet and Ciaran have meant waterlogged farms have struggled to produce enough vegetables for the festive rush.

Fred Searle, editor of Fresh Produce Journal, said: “The British potato harvest has been hit hard by heavy rain and flooding in recent weeks, causing delayed lifting and large crop losses. This was preceded by a cold, wet spring and a cool summer with low light levels.

“With the potatoes that are in store there’s likely to be enough supply to meet demand for the time being, but that might not be the case in the months ahead.”

Lincolnshire grower Martin Tate, who manages 18,000 acres in the county, said: “There won’t be enough broccoli to supply the Christmas dinner demand.

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‘A third to cut back on Christmas spending’

“Cauliflower is still a problem, and you can expect to see empty trays over the next few weeks but may return to normal before Christmas. After some initial issues, brussels sprouts supplies look like they will be okay.”

Experts said that chips will not be affected as those potatoes used for chipping are mostly grown in Belgium.

Earlier this month, T H Clements, one of the country’s largest suppliers of Brussels sprouts with 11,000 acres in Lincolnshire and 1,000 in Cornwall, warned that sprouts would be smaller this year than average.

CEO Chris Gedney told BBC’s Farming Today: “Brussels sprouts are likely to be smaller this year as the larger ones tend to fall in the water and rot.”

Politics At Jack And Sam’s: The Week… Rishi and the King go to Dubai | Politics News

Two of Westminster’s best-connected journalists, Sky News’ Sam Coates and Politico’s Jack Blanchard, guide us through their predictions of how British politics will play out over the next seven days.

On this episode, after a government U-turn on measures to help Britain get to Net Zero, Rishi Sunak and the King both head to Dubai for COP28. Jack and Sam analyse the tone the prime minister may strike.

They explore the potential fallout from Matt Hancock’s upcoming appearance in front of the COVID inquiry – what might we learn from his turn in the chair? 

Legal migration stats have caused jitters in the Tory party – how will new Home Secretary James Cleverly respond this week? 

Plus – what does Rishi Sunak want out of this week’s investment summit?

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Syrian asylum seeker attempted to take his own life during long wait for Home Office decision | Politics News

An asylum seeker who escaped to the UK after five years of torture in a Syrian prison has told Sky News he was so traumatised by the long wait for a Home Office decision on his case he attempted to take his own life. 

It comes as new government figures show there are more than 125,000 outstanding asylum claims – a slight reduction since the summer but still higher than this time last year.

Omar’s arms are riddled with 250 shotgun pellets, which causes him constant pain.

X ray showing bullet pellets
X-ray showing Omar’s arm riddled with shotgun pellets

Bullet pellets

He was fired on by the Syrian army while attending a pro-democracy demonstration in 2012.

Arrested while attempting to seek medical treatment afterwards, he was sent to prison where he said he was regularly tortured.

“They took me underground and started beating me, beating me and torturing me,” Omar said. “They had pipes, thick water pipes, and they used those pipes to beat me with.

“They knew my hands and arms were hurt already and they were deliberately hitting where my wounds were. I was blindfolded so I couldn’t see who was torturing me. They handcuffed my hands and hung me up for hours.

“You do not have a name. You’re just a number to them.”

Scars on Omar's chest
Injuries to Omar’s upper torso

We’re not using Omar’s real name or showing his face to protect his family in Syria. He managed to escape from prison after his father borrowed the money to pay a $10,000 bribe.

He fled to the UK and claimed asylum in November 2020. But the long wait for the Home Office to process his asylum claim – two years and four months – took a huge toll on his mental health. Last August, six months before the decision was finally made, he attempted to take his own life.

“I was so disappointed,” he said. “I was under the impression that Great Britain is great. And if I got to Great Britain, that I would not face injustice. But it wasn’t like that.

“For two years, they didn’t tell me they were not going to grant me asylum. And that was torture.”

Omar certainly isn’t alone.

An NHS study found 61% of those seeking asylum are suffering from serious mental distress, and they are five times more likely to suffer from mental health conditions than the wider population.

The latest Home Office figures, published this week, showed 125,173 cases were awaiting a decision at the end of September, a figure which is down 7% on the total this June, but is still up 7% compared with this time last year. 39,668 people have been on the list since before June 2022, well over a year.

A central part of the government’s strategy to reduce the future backlog is to discourage most asylum seekers from coming to the UK at all, with the threat of deportation to Rwanda.

While that has been blocked by the recent Supreme Court ruling – for now – the prime minister is determined to push ahead with the plan.

He has promised a new legally binding treaty with Rwanda to attempt to ease the judges’ concerns about claimants being sent home, and pledged to bring forward emergency legislation to ask parliament to confirm it believes Rwanda is a ‘safe country’. This could potentially happen as soon as next week.

Charities such as the Refugee Council are concerned the uncertainty of the situation for current asylum seekers makes their mental health even worse.

Sarah Temple-Smith, a manager at the Refugee Council’s Youth Therapy Project.

“It adds to the feeling of being destabilised, and the lack of hope for the future,” said Sarah Temple-Smith, a manager at the Refugee Council’s Youth Therapy Project.

“The waiting is particularly hard for them. We know that a sense of powerlessness, a lack of autonomy is linked very strongly to mental illness – mental disorder, clinical depression, other things, even schizophrenia

“I’ve had many clients who have been through terrible things – including being forced onto small boats at gunpoint and seeing other people drown – who’ve actually said that the waiting and not knowing is a worse torture than what they’ve been through. It sounds extraordinary, but I’ve heard it many times.”

Omar found out earlier this year that his asylum claim has been rejected. He has been granted the temporary right to remain in the UK for two years – but is unable to bring his family over.

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“I know now that human rights are a big lie,” he said. “Can anybody live without his family, his children and wife? It’s not easy. Sometimes I think it would just be better for me to go back to Syria, where I would be executed.”

A spokesperson from the Home Office said: “We take the welfare of those in our care extremely seriously and at every stage in the asylum process – from initial arrival, to any potential relocations – our approach is to ensure that the needs and vulnerabilities of asylum seekers are identified and considered including those related to mental health and trauma.

“We are on track to clear the legacy asylum backlog by the end of 2023, which has reduced by more than 60% since the start of November 2022, down by over 59,000 cases.”

The legacy asylum backlog refers to claims made before June 28, 2022, when the Nationality and Borders Act – which includes the Rwanda legislation – was initially tabled.

While the rate of decision-making has improved for the legacy cases, the latest statistics also show the number of more recent claims continue to increase – up 85,505 at the end of September, from 66,176 in the last set of government figures released at the end of June.

Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email in the UK. In the US, call the Samaritans branch in your area or 1 (800) 273-TALK.

Minister plays down cabinet split after Cleverly says Rwanda plan ‘not be all and end all’ | Politics News

A cabinet minister has played down the suggestion of a government split on the Rwanda asylum plan after the home secretary said it was not the “be all and end all” of migration policy.

Backbench Tory MPs have criticised James Cleverly after he urged people not to “fixate” on the controversial deportation scheme, and said that leaving the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) would undermine attempts to stop the boats.

Laura Trott, the chief secretary to the Treasury, told Sunday Morning With Trevor Phillips the home secretary was on the same page as the prime minister, who has pledged to do “whatever is necessary” to ensure flights take off.

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She said Rwanda remains “central” to the government’s promise to stop Channel crossings and “both are saying it is part of the plan, it is not all of the plan”.

Ms Trott said small boat crossings have already reduced despite no flights taking off with the £140m deal held up by legal challenges for over a year.

“We have successfully, in the last year, bought the numbers of people coming over here illegally down by a third,” she said.

More on Migrant Crossings

“That is at a time when the numbers coming into Europe are up by 80%.”

Ms Trott went onto say that she was not worried about the Reform UK party outflanking the Conservatives from the right if the government fails to make true on its stop the boats pledge.

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“I’d be very clear that a vote for Reform or any other party which is not Conservative is a vote for Keir Starmer as prime minister.

“But what I would say is one of the reasons it’s so important for me to come on shows like yours is for us to communicate as a government what we are doing to stop the boats.”

Reform UK, previously the Brexit Party, has only taken small proportions of the vote in recent by-elections.

But that has not stopped some Conservatives fearing that Richard Tice’s party could exploit voter unhappiness over small boats at the next general election – especially given the advance of anti-immigration parties in other European countries.

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Mr Sunak’s stop the boats pledge faced a huge set back this month after the Supreme Court ruled the plan to deport asylum seekers who arrive by unauthorised means to Rwanda to be unlawful.

Although Mr Sunak has doubled down on the policy, with a plan to sign a new legally binding treaty with Rwanda aimed at addressing the judges’ concerns, Mr Cleverly appeared to take a more measured approach when he wrote in the Times: “My frustration is that we have allowed the narrative to be created that this was the be all and end all.

“The mission is to stop the boats. That’s the promise to the British people. Never lose sight of the mission. There are multiple methods. Don’t fixate on the methods. Focus on the mission.”

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Rishi Sunak admits there is ‘more to do’

It comes amid a separate row over the levels of legal migration to the UK, after new figures revealed net migration is at an all-time high – despite a Conservative 2019 manifesto pledge to bring numbers down.

Mr Sunak is under pressure from Tory MPs to take radical measures to make true on that pledge, including significantly increasing the minimum salary requirement to get a work visa and capping the number of health and social work visas.

David Bowie’s handwritten lyric sheet expected to fetch £100k at auction | Ents & Arts News

A handwritten lyric sheet penned by David Bowie for two of his “cult favourite” songs could fetch up to £100,000 when it goes under the hammer next week.

The double-sided lyric sheet includes the late music icon’s drafts, notes and corrections from when he created Rock N Roll Suicide and Suffragette City – which both featured on his 1972 classic, The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars.

The page dates to the final recording sessions of the album and was given to the original owner by the Life On Mars hitmaker at Trident Studio in Soho, central London, along with pages which have not survived.

It will be accompanied by a letter of provenance from the seller, stating that the page was created during the album’s final recording sessions.

The side of the sheet showing the Suffragette City lyrics includes a note at the bottom left to inform the publisher of two more songs Bowie was considering for the album – It Ain’t Easy and Round And Round.

It Ain’t Easy made it on to the 1972 album, while Round And Round, a cover of Chuck Berry’s Around And Around, was selected as a B-side for the UK issue of Drive In-Saturday, released a year later in 1973.

The double-sided lined paper features the lyrics to Rock N Roll Suicide and Suffragette City
The double-sided lined paper features the lyrics to Rock N Roll Suicide and Suffragette City

The lyric sheet is expected to fetch up to £100,000 at auction
The lyric sheet is expected to fetch up to £100,000 at auction

The lyric sheet was purchased by the current owner in the early 1980s and went on loan in 2013 to the V&A Museum for its highly-anticipated David Bowie exhibition – which became its fastest-ever selling event.

It travelled across the globe when the exhibition departed London and journeyed to Toronto, Sao Paolo, Chicago, Paris, Melbourne, Bologna, Tokyo, Barcelona and New York during a five-year international tour.

Stellar showcase of music memorabilia on sale

Bowie, who died from liver cancer on 10 January 2016 aged 69, was crowned Britain’s most influential artist of the past 50 years for his ability to transcend music, film and fashion.

His lyric sheet will be among a stellar showcase of musical memorabilia on sale on Tuesday via Omega Auctions – which previously sold a handwritten lyric sheet for Starman, one of his most famous songs, for more than £200,000.

David Bowie performing on stage at Wembley Stadium during Live Aid in 1985 Pic: AP
David Bowie performing on stage at Wembley Stadium during Live Aid in 1985. Pic: AP

Other lots include a book previously owned by Oasis guitarist, Noel Gallagher, featuring lyrics for fan favourites including Champagne Supernova, She’s Electric, Rockin’ Chair, Step Out Tonight and Going Nowhere, which is expected to fetch between £30,000 and £50,000.

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Gallagher hailed Bowie as “one of the all-time greats”, telling Sky News how the visionary singer inspired him to step out of his comfort zone and “put himself out there”.

A sheet containing The Doors frontman Jim Morrison’s handwritten lyrical musings is also up for auction with an estimated price of £10,000 to £50,000.

Handwritten and signed lyrics by Queen drummer Roger Taylor for the band’s song, Breakthru, are expected to fetch up to £10,000, while a pair of trousers owned and worn by late frontman Freddie Mercury could net £6,000.

The auction also includes signed photographs, posters, albums and setlists by a variety of well-known artists.

Bowie accepted the lifetime achievement award at the 11th Annual Webby Awards in New York in 2007 Pic: AP
Bowie in 2007. Pic: AP

Bowie’s lyric sheet has been described as “an incredible artefact” by auction manager, Dan Muscatelli-Hampson.

“There are two real cult favourites in the wonderful David Bowie oeuvre and Suffragette City has been described as one of his very best,” he said.

“It is an incredible artefact to have and to hold and it is sure to excite the many millions of Bowie fans around the world, just as the Starman lyrics did.

“We are excited to see what it might achieve on the day.”

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