Two men have been charged with the murder of a 26-year-old man who died in a suspected ammonia attack.
Andy Foster was attacked when he opened the door to a property he was inside in Wrekenton, Gateshead, on 20 August.
Ambulance workers attended the scene at around 11pm and found him in a critical condition and took him to hospital, where he died shortly afterwards.
Kenneth Fawcett and John Wandless, both 32, have been charged with murder, Northumbria Police said.
Fawcett, of Balkwell Avenue, North Shields, and Wandless, of no fixed abode, are due to appear before magistrates sitting at Newcastle Crown Court on Monday.
Two women and a man who were arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender, and another man who was arrested on suspicion of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, have been released under investigation.
Detective Inspector Tomasz Fowler said: “Our thoughts remain firmly with Andy’s loved ones at this extremely difficult time and we will continue to offer them all the support that they need.
“We would like to thank members of the public for their continued support and cooperation throughout the past week.
“Whilst these charges are a big step forward, it’s important to remember this investigation is far from over and we are still keen to hear from anyone with information which could help us in our enquiries.”
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Mr Foster’s family said in a statement on Friday:“Andy was such a kind and funny boy who was so loved by his family and many friends.
“He was our only son – as well as a loving and supportive partner, grandson and cousin – and was particularly close with his grandad who was very special to him. We are absolutely devastated and heartbroken beyond words that we have sadly lost our boy.
“Andy still had his whole life left ahead of him – and we are struggling to come to terms with the fact that he is no longer here with us.”
A “jealous and angry” man who stabbed his partner more than 50 times in a “frenzied” attack has been found guilty of murder.
David Xavier, 38, attacked Andreia Guilherme with a kitchen knife at their home in Croydon, south London.
The Old Bailey heard on the night of the attack in December 2020, 30-year-old Ms Guilherme had sent messages to friends and family after a row had broken out between the pair when she tried to end their relationship.
Prosecutor Paul Raudnitz KC said Xavier has become “increasingly jealous and angry”.
She sent recordings of “heated” exchanges on Facebook Messenger, in which the defendant accused her in Portuguese of being a “woman of several men”.
The victim texted a cousin to say “he picked up a knife” and told the defendant’s sister: “David is crazy pointed a knife at me.”
Shortly before midnight she sent another audio recording to a friend in which she can be heard saying Xavier was “coming after me with a knife”.
The court heard it was the last communication the victim made, and soon after Xavier stabbed her to death.
Mr Raudnitz told the court: “The attack was frenzied. Andreia Guilherme sustained over 50 stab wounds to the front and back of her body, some inflicted with sufficient force so as to damage her internal organs and leave knife marks on the bone and cartilage of her ribs.
“Amongst her injuries were cuts to her hand where she had tried to defend herself.”
Two minutes and 19 seconds after Ms Guilherme’s last communication, Xavier called his sister, who also lived in Croydon, and told her that she was dead.
She and her husband rushed to the defendant’s flat and found him covered in blood holding a knife with the victim lying lifeless on the bedroom floor.
Following the guilty verdict on Tuesday, Xavier was remanded into custody to be sentenced on Friday.
A 24-year-old has been hailed the “backpack hero” for confronting the suspect after the stabbing of a British girl and five others in a French park – while using his bag as a shield.
Henri, who was on a nine-month Catholic pilgrimage around France‘s cathedrals, said that after realising the extent of the attack he “followed [his] instincts and tried to protect [the] children”.
Four children, aged between 22 months and three years old, were left with “life-threatening injuries” after the suspect, a Syrian refugee named by French media as Abdalmasih H, rampaged through the lakeside park in the town of Annecy.
The most critically injured children were two cousins.
Two adult men were also hurt during the incident – one of whom was injured with the knife and by a shot fired by police as they were arresting the suspect.
Using his bag to swipe at the attacker, and at one point throwing one of the backpacks to fend off his blade, Henri told broadcaster BFMTV that he acted off his instincts and immediately ran after the suspect, trying to scare him off and distance him from the injured.
“I didn’t even think, I must admit the brain really unplugged,” he said.
“For me, it was just impossible to let those who can’t defend themselves get attacked by someone who seemed like a crazy person.
“I had my big 20kg backpack on my back, I tried to run with the big one at first in the park behind him before realising he was much faster than me so I got rid of my big backpack after and followed him with my little bag.”
Henri added: “He tried to attack me at some point, our eyes have met.
“I understood that it wasn’t a guy in a normal state, something really bad was inside of him and it had to absolutely be stopped.
“I am far from alone in having reacted.
“Many other people around started, like me, to run after him to try to scare him, push him away.
“And other people immediately went over to the children to take care of the injured.”
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President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday that the victims would “continue to improve”.
The two cousins have been stabilised and the three-year-old British national is “awake and watching television” after being treated at a hospital in Grenoble, Mr Macron said.
A wounded Dutch girl has also improved and a critically injured adult is regaining consciousness.
He said that the children were saved by the “swiftness” of those who intervened after the incident, including Henri.
Henri asked the French president if he could be invited to the inauguration of Notre-Dame Cathedral – which was partially destroyed in a fire in 2019 – when it re-opens.
Mr Macron said he will personally make sure he is invited.
“Thank you immeasurably for your courage,” Mr Macron said to those who intervened. “You experienced very hard moments, traumatising. I am very proud of you.”
Motives for the attack remain unknown, but there was “no apparent terrorist motive”, according to local prosecutor Line Bonnet-Mathis.
French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said the 31-year-old suspect recently had an asylum request rejected because he has held refugee status in Sweden for the past 10 years.
French authorities rejected the request on 26 April but the suspect only learned of the decision on 4 June, French broadcaster BFMTV said.
Henri’s father, Francois, said his son “told me that the Syrian was incoherent, saying lots of strange things in different languages, invoking his father, his mother, all the Gods”.
“In short, he was possessed by who knows what, but possessed by folly, that’s certain,” he said.
The prime minister said Russia would have hit “new lows” if it turns out that Moscow is responsible for what he described as the largest attack on civilian infrastructure in Ukraine since the start of the war, following the destruction of a critical dam.
Speaking en route to Washington, Rishi Sunak told reporters that the intelligence agencies had yet to make a definitive judgement on whether President Putin was behind the “appalling attack” on the Nova Kakhova dam as he condemned the incident.
“If it’s intentional, it would represent, I think, the largest attack on civilian infrastructure in Ukraine since the start of the war, and just demonstrate the new lows that we would have seen from Russian aggression,” he told the press ahead of his two-day trip to Washington.
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“Attacks on civilian infrastructure are appalling and wrong. We’ve seen previous instances of that in this conflict so far, but it’s too early to say definitively.”
The prime minister also said that the UK’s immediate response to this attack was to offer humanitarian assistance.
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Why is the PM going to Washington?
“We had already put resources and funding in place to support both the UN and the Red Cross to respond to situations like this,” he said. “And they are now being able to divert those resources to particularly help humanitarian response and the evacuation in this area as a result of what’s happened.”
As with the G7 in Japan but two weeks ago, the matter of Ukraine and how Western allies can best support Kyiv in its battle against Russia will be a central part of discussions between the UK and US leaders when Mr Sunak holds bi-lateral talks in the Oval Office on Thursday.
“One of the things the prime minister and President Biden will discuss is how we can sustain the huge level of global support for Ukraine while providing them with the capabilities they need, including air defence,” the prime minister’s spokesperson said ahead of the trip.
These discussions come as allies intensify support before Ukraine’s expected summer counteroffensive.
A big breakthrough came at the G7 last month when the US signalled it and allies would provide training and F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, a request President Zelenskyy hammered home to allies for months before the US moved.
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Number 10 is keen to stress not just the Rishi Sunak reset after the testy era of the Boris Johnson and Liz Truss reigns, but the strengthening of relations between the US and UK under a Sunak premiership.
In his favour has been the resolution with the EU over post-Brexit trading arrangements in Northern Ireland, and Mr Sunak’s steadfast support for Ukraine.
And this will certainly be a trip full of photo-ops to reinforce the “special relationship”. As well as the images of the prime minister on Capitol Hill and in the Oval Office finished off with a White House press conference, Mr Sunak will also attend the Washington Nationals baseball game as the guest of honour to celebrate the annual UK-US friendship day – although he won’t be throwing the ceremonial first pitch, instead leaving that task to a British veteran.
A prime minister with a background in finance and an interest in tech – he met his wife in California while studying at Stanford – Mr Sunak is trying to play to his strengths with his emphasis on greater economic interoperability and deeper trade ties, while also making a pitch to President Biden to get the UK more deeply involved in the regulation of AI.
But as he tries to forge a post-Brexit place in the world for the UK – Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak’s leadership on Ukraine an undoubted positive – London is disadvantaged: When it comes to AI, it is the US, China and the EU at the leading edge with the UK largely on the sidelines.
When it comes to trade, the Biden administration has put the much-vaunted US-UK free trade deal into the deep freeze, so much so that neither side plan to even raise it in these bilateral talks.
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Ukraine War: Major dam attack
While Mr Sunak will use the trip to try to drum up more US investment, with an announcement of £14bn of US backing into the UK and an address to the “business roundtable chief executive” forum, the absence of any trade deal is another broken Conservative manifesto promise.
Mr Johnson and his government had championed a US trade deal as a big Brexit bonus, while President Trump insisted in 2017 the UK was “at the front of the queue”.
It now appears that President Obama’s “back of the queue” warning ahead of the 2016 EU referendum is more apposite, with no timeline as to when, if ever, a bilateral trade deal will be dusted down.
“Neither side is pursuing a US free trade deal currently, but our trading relationship with the US is vital,” the prime minister’s spokesperson said.
Trade between the countries now stands at £279bn a year. Back in 2020, government analysis suggested a trade deal could increase trade – which then stood at £221bn – by £15.8bn and also said wages could get a long-term bounce worth £1.8bn from a US deal.
On Artificial Intelligence, the PM wants to take a lead in setting a regulatory framework, something he has raised as the G7, but post-Brexit, the UK has been locked out of key forums between the EU and The US where AI governance plans are negotiated on a bilateral basis. Britain’s requests for a similar dialogue with Washington have been repeatedly rebuffed, which has left Mr Sunak forced to pursue direct channels to president Biden, which he will do this week.
The PM hopes to make the UK the venue for an international summit on generative AI summit later in the year, and is also pushing for a new inter-governmental regulator for this emerging technology to be based in the UK.
And some do see a post-Brexit opportunity for Britain, offering the US a more flexible middle ground between the EU and US approach to standards and regulations, while also being potentially tougher on Beijing than Brussels might be.
AI could be a policy area where the UK could act as a transatlantic bridge between the US and Europe – if Mr Sunak can land it.
Darren Jones, chair of the business select committee, said a “key test” for the PM will be to “successfully pitch the UK as a useful partner that offers a different approach to the EU. Failure will leave us out of the room, not at the table and out in the cold.”
For the Prime Minister, the continue focus on Ukraine amplifies a global issue in which the UK has been able to demonstrate strong leadership post Brexit, and claim the US can work together on building stronger ties on trade and regulating AI.
But without a trade deal in sight, or even on the horizon, and struggling to insert the Uk into the EU-US discussions on AI, he really does have his work cut out.
A pensioner who murdered a young mum by inflicting almost 200 wounds during a “brutal” screwdriver attack has been jailed for life.
David Jackson, 68, hid the body of Mckyla Taylor, 27, under a duvet on the bedroom floor of his flat in Worksop, Nottinghamshire, after killing her on 16 August last year.
A few hours after police discovered Ms Taylor’s remains, Jackson arrived at the scene asking if he could retrieve a jumper from the property, in Lowtown Street.
He then casually informed an officer that he had killed someone upstairs.
Jackson, described by police as a “drug user”, and Ms Taylor, who had known each other for some time, met up a day earlier on 15 August.
Her family contacted police when she failed to respond to their calls and messages.
Her body was discovered with weights and pushbikes stacked on top when officers forced their way into the flat around 2am on 16 August.
She was pronounced dead around 2.30am, with a post-mortem investigation showing she had suffered 199 separate injuries to her head and body in what police described as a “relentless” attack.
Most of the injuries were inflicted in the bedroom by two screwdrivers found in the living room.
Jackson was jailed for a minimum of 17 years after pleading guilty to murder at Nottingham Crown Court on Thursday.
He was silent in police interviews and continued to deny murder until a trial was due to begin, “inflicting further pain and anxiety on her loved ones”, Nottinghamshire Police said.
In a statement issued via the force, Ms Taylor’s mother, Emma Sentence, 45, hailed her daughter and “best friend” as a “fun-loving girl” with a smile that would “light up the room” and who had a “contagious laugh”.
“I still remember the weekend she was killed as if it was yesterday,” she said.
“We had a lovely weekend sunbathing, listening to music and doing our nails and then she left and that was the last time I saw her.”
Ms Taylor’s brother, Callum Taylor, 26, will now be taking care of her one-year-old daughter in the same home her mother grew up in.
“It is like a part of Mckyla is coming home,” he said.
‘No sentence will ever be enough’
“Mckyla had always wanted to be a mum and was so thrilled when she found out she was pregnant. I just want to do my best to bring up her daughter and give her a normal, loving life.”
Ms Taylor was a “lovely and loving person who always put other people first,” Mr Taylor added.
“If she was in a house fire Mckyla was the sort of person who would be the last out.
“No sentence will ever be enough for what happened to Mckyla.
“I will never forget waking up that day and hearing she had been killed.
“I cannot understand why anyone would want to hurt someone that kind.
“I don’t really feel like I have been through the grieving process yet. I’ve just wanted to stay strong for others.”
Her older sister, Nicole, 29, described her as the “life and soul of the party” and said she was “always bubbly, always singing, always dancing”.
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Sentencing judge James Sampson said Jackson would not be eligible for parole for 16 years and 135 days – taking into account the 230 days served in custody.
He also praised the family for their dignity throughout the court proceedings.
Speaking after the sentencing, Nottinghamshire Police detective chief inspector Clare Dean said: “Mckyla was a young woman who was loved and adored by her family and many friends.
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“Her life was taken away from her in the most brutal fashion by David Jackson, who has shown very little remorse and would not give any account in interview.
“The attack Jackson inflicted on Mckyla was relentless, causing catastrophic injuries which ultimately led to her death.
“Today’s sentence will not bring Mckyla back, but it does mean that Jackson will spend a considerable part of his life behind bars, and I hope this gives her family some comfort.”
The UK has pledged to send hundreds of new long-range attack drones to Ukraine ahead of Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s meeting with Rishi Sunak today.
The Ukrainian president will meet Mr Sunak at Chequers, the prime minister’s country retreat, for “substantive negotiations” over military aid.
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The government said Mr Sunak will confirm today the further provision of hundreds of air defence missiles and further unmanned aerial systems, including hundreds of new long-range attack drones with a range of over 200km.
Mr Sunak said it was a “crucial moment” in Ukraine’s resistance against Russia’s invasion, adding: “We must not let them down.”
It comes as Mr Zelenskyy embarks on a multi-stop European tour for more support from allies, as Kyiv prepares for its counteroffensive against Russian forces.
Mr Zelenskyy tweeted ahead of his arrival, describing the UK as a “leader” when it comes to Ukraine expanding its capabilities on the ground and in the air.
The UK government’s announcement of further military aid follows last week’s confirmation that it has donated long-range precision missiles to Ukraine’s military.
The government said the further provisions which will be confirmed later today will be delivered in the coming months.
On Saturday, the German government promised Kyiv its biggest military support package so far, with further arms deliveries worth €2.7bn (£2.35bn).
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What could happen next in Ukraine?
France also pledged further military aid, as French president Emmanuel Macron and Mr Zelenskyy met in a surprise summit in Paris on Sunday.
Mr Macron’s office said France will supply dozens of light tanks and armoured vehicles “in the weeks ahead”, without giving specific numbers.
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Fierce fighting in Ukraine’s eastern city of Bakhmut, which has inflicted heavy losses on both sides, continues.
Neither Kyiv nor Moscow’s forces have been able to take full control of the city despite months of fighting, as analysis suggesting the battle for the city is not about seizing ground but maximising enemy casualties.
Mr Zelenskyy has said his troops would not attack Russian territory as part of their counteroffensive.
Controversial Labour attack adverts targeting Rishi Sunak were not a mistake and there are more to come, a senior shadow cabinet member has told Sky News.
Wes Streeting argued it was “absolutely right to take the gloves off” and hold the government to account for its record.
The social media campaign in which the opposition accuse the prime minister of failing to send child sex abusers to prison, being soft on gun crime and suggesting thieves should not be punished, has proved divisive within the party.
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One of the ads also took aim at Mr Sunak’s wife Akshata Murty and her previously held non-dom tax status.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has continued to defend the adverts despite claims of “gutter politics”.
The row comes as the two main parties jostle for position ahead of the local elections on 4 May.
His stance has been backed by the shadow health secretary, who insisted it was “perfectly reasonable to challenge a Conservative prime minister on the abysmal failure of 13 years of Conservative government”.
Speaking to the Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme, Mr Streeting was asked whether he believed Mr Sunak thought that people who had sexually assaulted children should not go to prison.
The opposition frontbencher said: “I’d like to believe that the answer is no but look at the figures – the figures speak for themselves.”
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Labour cited data from the Ministry of Justice that showed 4,500 adults convicted of sex acts on children had avoided a prison sentence since the Conservatives came to power in 2010.
Mr Streeting added: “Why is he allowing this to happen?”
Referring to the claim in the advert, he said: “Well, I have to assume that he thinks that because otherwise it’s either that or incompetence, isn’t it?”
“Either he thinks it, which is bad, or he doesn’t think it but isn’t doing anything about it, which is equally bad.
“Either he’s got the wrong policies and principles or he’s just incompetent and can’t deliver and either, I think, is a problem for the prime minister of the country.
“And Labour is absolutely right to take the gloves off and hold the government to account for 13 years of appalling failure on law and order and the economy.
“In our public services, nothing is working properly.”
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On whether the ad offensive was a mistake, Mr Streeting said: “I don’t think it was a mistake at all. I absolutely stand by Labour’s ads. And there’s more to come.”
Meanwhile, Conservative Party chairman Greg Hands has told Sky News the party could lose 1,000 seats at the forthcoming local elections, in comments likely to be seen as expectation management with the Tories still far behind in the opinion polls.
He pointed out such a result was being predicted by experts such as Sky News’s Professor Michael Thrasher.
Mr Hands said: “No one is pretending it is going to be easy.
“Last year was a very difficult year for the country, a difficult year for the government, a difficult year for the Conservative Party.”
But he added: “We are fighting really hard – I’ve got some great councillors, great council candidates up and down the country, I’ve been travelling up and down the country the last couple of weeks.”
The terror threat level in Northern Ireland has increased from “substantial” to “severe” meaning an attack is highly likely, the government has said.
Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris told the House of Commons that the decision was made by MI5, independent of ministers.
In a written ministerial statement he said: “MI5 has increased the threat to Northern Ireland from Northern Ireland Related Terrorism from ‘SUBSTANTIAL’ (an attack is likely) to ‘SEVERE’ (an attack is highly likely).
“The public should remain vigilant, but not be alarmed, and continue to report any concerns they have to the Police Service of Northern Ireland.
“Over the last 25 years, Northern Ireland has transformed into a peaceful society. The Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement demonstrates how peaceful and democratic politics improve society. However, a small number of people remain determined to cause harm to our communities through acts of politically motivated violence.
“In recent months, we have seen an increase in levels of activity relating to Northern Ireland Related Terrorism, which has targeted police officers serving their communities and also put at risk the lives of children and other members of the public. These attacks have no support, as demonstrated by the reaction to the abhorrent attempted murder of DCI Caldwell.
“I pay tribute to the tremendous efforts of the Police Service of Northern Ireland and security partners, and the determination and resilience of the Northern Ireland people, who are making Northern Ireland a safer place to live and work. The political future of Northern Ireland rests with the democratic will of the people and not the violent actions of the few. Together we will ensure there is no return to the violence of the past.”