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Lewis Edwards: Former police officer who used Snapchat to groom more than 200 girls loses appeal | UK News

A police officer who groomed more than 200 underage girls on Snapchat has lost an appeal to reduce his life sentence.

Lewis Edwards, a former South Wales Police officer, admitted more than 100 sexual offences against children and was sentenced to a minimum of 12 years behind bars.

He was jailed last year, but lawyers acting on his behalf argued on Thursday that the judge should not have passed a life sentence.

Read more: How police caught paedophile and beat his encryption

Three judges at the Court of Appeal dismissed the 24-year-old’s case.

Mrs Justice May said Edwards appeared to have “a settled, perverse sexual interest in young girls”.

“In these circumstances, we can understand the judge’s conclusion that it was impossible to conclude when or if the risk posed by the applicant would cease.

“We are not persuaded that the applicant should be differently sentenced. The sentence thus remains in all respects as it was before.”

Pic: South Wales Police
Image:
Pic: South Wales Police

Cardiff Crown Court was told during a hearing last October that Edwards used fake Snapchat accounts – posing as a 14-year-old boy – to groom more than 200 girls aged between 10 and 16 online.

Edwards asked scores of his victims for indecent images in school uniform and blackmailed many young girls – threatening to publish their photos or hurt their families to get them to cooperate.

Sentence ‘not unreasonable’

Edwards, formerly from the Cefn Glas area of Bridgend, had pleaded guilty to a total of 161 offences.

The former police officer refused to attend his sentencing and neither did he attend Thursday’s appeal hearing.

Susan Ferrier, Edwards’s lawyer, said life imprisonment should be a “last resort” and that he was “emotionally immature” at the time of his offending.

Roger Griffiths, on behalf of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), said the sentence was not “manifestly excessive in the circumstances of this case”.

Mrs Justice May, who sat with Lord Justice Holroyde and Mr Justice Bourne, ruled that a life sentence was “not unreasonable” despite the case being at the “outer margins” of such a sentence.

Bristol: Police appeal more than 1,000 taxi drivers for footage of Jack O’Sullivan, missing since March | UK News

More than 1,000 taxi drivers have been asked if they have seen a 23-year-old who has been missing since March.

Jack O’Sullivan was last seen in the Brunel Lock Road / Brunel Way area of Bristol at around 3.15am on Saturday 2 March.

Police previously said Mr O’Sullivan, described as 5ft 10 and wearing a quilted green/brown Barbour jacket at the time, had been on a night out with friends when he went missing.

They have now urged taxi drivers who were working on the night in the Cumberland Basin network to report if they have dashcam footage or eyewitness accounts of the missing man.

Avon and Somerset Police have also asked a dogwalker – seen in the area early the same morning – to come forward as they could be a possible witness.

Jack O'Sullivan on Bennett Way in Bristol.
Pic: PA
Image:
Jack O’Sullivan seen on Bennett Way in Bristol on 2 March.
Pic: PA

Senior investigating officer DI Jason Chidgey said he hopes the appeal will “yield more potential footage which can help us provide answers to Jack’s family about what happened to him”.

He added: “We know there were a significant number of vehicles in the area during this time and we’ve previously appealed for anyone with dashcam footage to come forward – with a particular focus on the area of Brunel Way, Brunel Lock Road, Junction Swing Bridge, Plimsoll Swing Bridge or the Portway, anytime between 2.45am and 4am on Saturday 2 March.

“We’re also still appealing for any mobile phone or doorbell footage. Our thoughts are very much with Jack’s family who are going through an unimaginable ordeal, and we’re committed to supporting them in any way we can.”

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Jack’s mum Catherine, originally from Neath in Wales, said “we really need to find him” last month.

Lucy Letby renews bid for permission to appeal murder convictions | UK News

Child killer Lucy Letby has renewed her bid for permission to appeal against her convictions, claiming the trial judge was wrong to refuse four of her applications.

Letby, 34, was sentenced to 14 whole-life orders last August after being found guilty of murdering seven babies and trying to kill six others.

She was convicted of committing the offences at the Countess of Chester Hospital’s neonatal unit, where she worked as a nurse, between June 2015 and June 2016.

Letby, represented by Ben Myers KC, renewed her application for leave to appeal today in front of three judges at the Court of Appeal in London.

Lucy Letby
Image:
Lucy Letby

She has put forward four grounds of appeal, in each of which she claims the trial judge wrongly refused an application made on her behalf during the trial.

If the Court of Appeal judges decline to give permission, it will mark the end of the appeal process for Letby.

Letby, from Hereford, was found guilty of seven counts of murder and seven counts of attempted murder, two of which were against the same baby, and cleared of two further attempted murder charges after a 10-month trial at Manchester Crown Court.

The jury couldn’t reach verdicts on six counts of attempted murder, relating to five children.

The identities of the children involved in the allegations can’t be reported due to a court order.

Julia Skala: Family’s appeal for ‘loved and missed’ teenager missing for more than a week | UK News

The family of a 16-year-old who has been missing for more than a week have pleaded for her to “let someone know” she is safe.

Julia Skala left her house in south London at about 1pm on 8 January and has not been heard from since, with police increasingly concerned for her welfare.

Officers are “working around the clock” to track her down, the Met Police says, and has appealed for the public’s help.

Her family, from Mitcham, said Julia is “loved and missed terribly”.

“No matter what the reason was for you to leave, you aren’t in any kind of trouble and we just want to know you are safe,” they added.

“Please, just let someone know you are OK.”

She was last seen wearing a black North Face jacket, black trousers, white Nike trainers, and carrying a black Nike rucksack.

Police say they launched an investigation – which has included house-to-house inquiries and recovering CCTV – as soon as Julia’s mum reported her missing on the morning of 9 January.

The detective chief superintendent in charge of policing for Merton, Claire Kelland, said the force has gathered “hours of CCTV and doorbell footage” and spoken to “many people”.

Julia Skala's family has pleaded for her to communicate. Pic: Met Police handout
Image:
Julia Skala’s family has pleaded for her to communicate. Pic: Met Police handout

“Julia has never been away from home for this long and obviously her family are extremely worried,” she added.

“While there is no evidence to suggest she has come to harm, we are growing increasingly concerned about her welfare.

“She did not take her mobile phone with her and there has been no activity on social media or known contact with her friends.

“We also do not believe she had a credit or travel card, or any cash when she left the house.”

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Julia, who lives in Mitcham, has links to Lambeth, Camden and Islington and it is possible she travelled to these places via public transport, police say.

Anyone with information should call police immediately on 999 quoting the reference 24MIS000879.

Man stabbed to death in Hackney named as police appeal for witnesses to ‘argument’ | UK News

A man stabbed to death on Boxing Day in east London has been named as Michael John Murphy.

Police have launched an investigation into the murder in Hackney, and arrested four people, who were later released with no further action being taken.

They were called to Cranwood Street at 3.10am on 26 December, where the 49-year-old died of his injuries. His next of kin has been informed and a formal identification is taking place.

The Metropolitan Police is now appealing for witnesses to come forward, after initial inquiries “confirmed there was an argument in the street” before Mr Murphy was stabbed.

Up to ten people may have been involved, and the force says residents may have overheard what happened.

Detective Chief Inspector Kelly Allen from the Met’s Specialist Crime Command said: “We are continuing to piece together the events that led to Michael sustaining his injuries and would appeal to anyone who saw or heard anything in the Cranwood Street area on Boxing Day morning to come forward.”

Metropolitan Police officers speak to a man beside a cordon at a property in Cranwood Street
Image:
Metropolitan Police officers speak to a man beside a cordon at a property in Cranwood Street

Detective Chief Superintendent James Conway, who is responsible for policing in Hackney and Tower Hamlets, said: “Our thoughts are with Michael’s family at this unimaginably difficult time. That this tragedy occurred over the Christmas period will be shocking to many and I reiterate DCI Allen’s appeal for witnesses who were in the area to come forward.

“Specialist detectives, supported by local officers from Hackney, have been at the scene since this incident, carrying out vital evidence-gathering work.

“Their presence has caused disruption to residents in the area and I would like to thank everyone for their patience and support while this work is carried out.”

Ex-Tory MP Scott Benton to appeal proposed suspension over lobbying scandal | Politics News

Former Conservative MP Scott Benton has said he will appeal his recommended suspension from parliament and intends to make a formal complaint over it.

The Blackpool MP was suspended from the parliamentary Tory party in April after being caught in an undercover sting by The Times suggesting he would be willing to break lobbying rules for money.

Following an investigation into the matter, the Committee on Standards on Thursday recommended a 35-day suspension from the House of Commons, paving the way for a potential by-election.

The committee said Mr Benton committed an “extremely serious breach” of the rules by giving the message “he was corrupt and ‘for sale’ and that so were many other Members of the House”.

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Responding for the first time to the Standards report, Mr Benton said: “I will today be submitting a formal complaint to the House Authorities, as well as appealing the decision of the committee in due course.”

In his statement, Mr Benton claimed that the report’s findings had been leaked to journalists the night before it was due to be published.

He said while he was “sworn to secrecy” and told he could only read the judgement an hour before it would be made public on Thursday morning, the committee “did not adhere to its own standards and principles”.

He said: “The night before the report was published, people on the Committee on Standards leaked contents of the report to a journalist and I was contacted on the evening before publication repeatedly by members of the press. This was not the first such leak whilst the investigation was taking place.

“This process is designed to be open, fair, honest and transparent so the public and MPs can have trust in the process.

“This trust has been breached by Members of the Committee. I can’t have faith in a standards process that doesn’t adhere to its own ethics, standards and principles.”

He claimed that the report into his conduct “makes several pivotal statements that are completely factually inaccurate”.

“If those that judge MPs are not being open minded, fair and proportionate in the way that they are handling evidence or examining witnesses, our democracy is under threat,” he said.

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Mr Benton will submit an appeal to the Independent Expert Panel (IEP), the body that sits above the Parliamentary Standards Committee.

It kicks the potential for a by-election into the long-grass, as the IEP will now review the standards committee’s findings before any action is taken.

A suspension of more than 10 days – if passed by a vote in the Commons – means that a recall petition is triggered, paving the way for a by-election if 10% of constituents sign it.

Mr Benton was elected as the Tory MP for Blackpool South in 2019, and has a majority of just 3,690. It had been a Labour seat since 1997 – but was Conservative before that

Labour and the Liberal Democrats have both overturned five-figure majorities in recent by-elections.

The committee highlighted aggravating factors in their decision about Mr Benton – including him providing an “incomplete and incorrect picture of what had transpired”.

They also noted that it was a “repeat offence, or indication that the offence was part of a pattern of behaviour”.

Mr Benton met undercover reporters from The Times who were posing as employees of a fake lobbying company.

The chair of the all-party parliamentary group for betting and gaming suggested he would be happy to be paid between £2,000 and £4,000 a month to help the fake company – complete with a logo, website and office addresses in London and Chennai in India.

There are strict rules that prevent MPs from carrying out paid lobbying or advising how to influence parliament.

Mr Benton ultimately did not accept any financial payment arising from the meeting.

Rodrigo Falcon: Fresh appeal in search for man who disappeared in Scottish town a year ago | UK News

Police searching for a man who vanished in the Scottish Highlands a year ago today have issued a fresh appeal for information.

Rodrigo Falcon, now 34, was last seen in Aviemore on Sunday 11 December 2022.

Mr Falcon had been at The Vault Nightclub and was later captured on CCTV walking along Grampian Road towards the southern end of the town at around 3.10am.

Despite extensive Police Scotland enquiries and searches of the area, Mr Falcon has never been found.

Inspector Craig Johnstone said: “It has now been one year since Rodrigo Falcon was seen by his family and friends.

“We know from the response by the community in the [town] and surrounding area how much concern they have for him, and I know that Rodrigo has never been far from the thoughts of many over the past 12 months.

“Officers carried out extensive searches to locate Rodrigo, including door-to-door enquiries, liaising with other agencies and reviewing CCTV footage.

“We continue to ask people with any possible sightings or new information as to Rodrigo’s whereabouts to get in touch with us.”

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Mr Falcon is described as around 5ft 6in tall, slim, and with dark hair.

When last seen he had a mullet-style haircut with a moustache and beard.

He was also wearing a red jumper and baggy jeans with no coat.

Everton Football Club lodge appeal after 10-point deduction in Premier League | UK News

Everton Football Club have lodged an appeal after they were deducted 10 points for breaching the Premier League’s profit and sustainability rules.

The appeal was lodged with the chair of the Premier League’s Judicial Panel after a Premier League Commission imposed a deduction on the club.

The club previously said it was “shocked and disappointed” by the ruling, which it described as “wholly disproportionate and unjust”.

An appeal board will now be appointed to hear the case.

The league referred Everton FC to an independent commission in March, after reviewing the financial records of all top-flight clubs for the 2021-22 season.

The rules say clubs can sustain losses of up to £105m in three years or potentially face penalties.

But Everton FC reported losses of £124.5m for the relevant period.

It said in a statement after the points deduction: “The club believes that the commission has imposed a wholly disproportionate and unjust sporting sanction.

“Everton maintains that it has been open and transparent in the information it has provided to the Premier League and that it has always respected the integrity of the process.

“The club does not recognise the finding that it failed to act with the utmost good faith and it does not understand this to have been an allegation made by the Premier League during the course of proceedings.”

The club also said the “harshness and severity” of the sanction imposed by the commission was “neither a fair nor reasonable reflection of the evidence submitted.”

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North Wales Police launch search and issue appeal to find four young men missing in Gwynedd | UK News

Police have launched a search for four young men who have gone missing in North Wales .

North Wales Police said they had gone missing from the area around Harlech and Porthmadog in Gwynedd.

Officers said the group was last seen on Sunday morning.

The force has expressed concern and is appealing for information to help find Jevon Hirst, Harvey Owen, Wilf Henderson and Hugo Morris.

They were travelling in a silver Ford Fiesta. The car’s registration plate is HY14GVO.

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Locals reported a helicopter had been searching the Penrhyndeudraeth area before heading toward Nantmor and Beddgelert.

Anyone who may have seen the four are urged to contact North Wales Police.

Zara Aleena: Sexual predator Jordan McSweeney who murdered law graduate wins appeal for shorter sentence | UK News

A sexual predator who stalked and murdered law graduate Zara Aleena has won an appeal to reduce the minimum term of his life sentence.

Jordan McSweeney, 29, stalked at least five women before he targeted 35-year-old Ms Aleena in Ilford, east London, as she walked home after spending an evening with friends in the early hours of June last year.

McSweeney dragged her into a driveway before brutally kicking her and stamping on her.

He then sexually assaulted Ms Aleena and left her for dead in an attack that lasted nine minutes and left her with 46 separate injuries resulting in her death after she was rushed to hospital.

McSweeney, who refused to attend his sentencing hearing, was handed a life sentence with a minimum term of 38 years in December at the Old Bailey after admitting Ms Aleena’s murder and sexual assault.

In a ruling on Friday, three judges at the Court of Appeal in London found the sentencing judge had imposed too high an “uplift” to the minimum term, replacing it with a life sentence with a minimum term of 33 years.

The Lady Chief Justice Lady Carr said: “Having correctly found that Ms Aleena must have been rendered unconscious at an early stage in the attack, the judge had lacked a sufficient evidential basis on which to be sure that there had been additional mental or physical suffering such as to justify an increase in the 30-year starting point.”

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