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Teacher accused of sex with teenage boys ‘laughed when one said he wasn’t old enough to drive’ | UK News

A teacher accused of having sex with two teenage boys laughed and said “Oh shut up! Stop saying that!” when one of them told her he wasn’t old enough to drive, a court heard.

Rebecca Joynes also became pregnant by one of the teenagers, referred to as Boy B, while she was on bail for allegedly having sex with a 15-year-old known as Boy A, the jury was told.

The 30-year-old is on trial accused of six counts of engaging in sexual activity with a child, including two while being a person in a position of trust.

On the second day of her trial on Wednesday, the jury was shown a video of an interview Boy A gave to police officers.

He told police he first began interacting with Joynes by phone after she gave him 10 of the 11 digits of her mobile number.

Boy A was then able to work out the missing digit to make contact with her.

Within days they were exchanging Snapchat messages and after finishing school on a Friday afternoon he went home, changed out of his school uniform and Joynes picked him up at a pre-arranged point in her white Audi A1 car.

The police officer asks Boy A in the interview: “What were you wanting to happen?”

He replied: “To be honest, I was not expecting that to happen, what happened. I didn’t expect anything.”

“What were you hoping to happen?” the officer continued.

“I don’t know,” the boy said, adding: “But anyone in my position, when you are my age, my year. If you ever see her – she is good-looking.”

Boy A said he expected to do what had been planned – go to the Trafford Centre and back to her flat.

He said: “I remember her saying you might as well come to her apartment, and I said, I may as well stay.”

She said: “OK. That works for me.”

After picking the youngster up, Joynes then drove to pick her dog up from day care and dropped it off with her parents in Wirral telling the boy she had arranged for them to have it overnight.

He did not see the hand-over to her mother as Joynes parked in another street, “probably because of how young I look”, the boy said.

Boy A told the officer about a conversation on the journey.

He said: “She said something about driving. I went, ‘I wouldn’t know because I’m not old enough,’ and she said, ‘Oh shut up’ laughing, said something like, ‘Stop saying that’ but laughing.”

Read more from Sky News:
Police called to reports of ‘crocodile’ in flood water
‘Dangerous’ men found with gun and clown mask
Three men held on suspicion of terror offences

After visiting the Trafford Centre, where the youngster said Joynes bought him a £345 Gucci designer belt, they went back to her flat at Salford Quays where they twice had sex, it is alleged.

Rumours began to circulate and a police investigation followed as the defendant was suspended by her school.

She later told police that no sexual activity had taken place with Boy A.

She was subsequently bailed on the condition she have no unsupervised contact with anyone aged under 18.

But it later emerged that Joynes had been in a long-term sexual relationship with Boy B, who she had been in contact with while suspended.

The teenager is the father of Joynes’ young daughter.

Joynes claims sexual activity with Boy B did not start until he turned 16.

Neither boy can be publicly identified by law.

Joynes denies two counts of sexual activity with Boy A, two counts of sexual activity with Boy B and two counts of sexual activity with Boy B while being a person in a position of trust.

The trial was adjourned until Thursday morning.

‘I wasn’t deemed sick enough’: The crisis in children’s mental health services | UK News

Mia was just 10 years old when she and her family knew she needed mental health support. 

But their attempts to access help were met with delays and denials that lead to such a severe deterioration in her condition it nearly cost Mia her life.

“I wasn’t deemed sick enough, I was told it was fine and there was nothing wrong with me”, Mia explains. “I was telling them, ‘this is not normal’, and they didn’t listen.”

But Mia was struggling. Her mental health was worsening and would eventually reach crisis point.

“By the time I was 12 I was self-harming. I felt like some days I couldn’t cope with the day but I was still performing well academically and that, when you’re a kid in this country, that is how they mark your wellbeing.”

It was when Mia turned 15 that help eventually came but only after she suffered a breakdown. She was arrested for false imprisonment and criminal damage after an attack on her teacher, and eventually admitted to a psychiatric unit.

Mia believes earlier intervention would have prevented her deterioration into crisis.

Mia
Image:
Mia

“I would have killed myself. I would have. Mental health care is lifesaving, just as lifesaving as cardiac care, just as lifesaving as diabetes care. You cannot live a healthy, happy life if you are mentally unwell, without support.”

Mia’s story about her struggle to access the right mental health care at the right time exposes a system in crisis. Children and young adults across the country are being forced to endure long waits for specialist care and demand continues to grow.

NHS England estimates a quarter of all 17 to 19-year-olds now have a probable mental health disorder compared to one in 10 just six years ago.

David Barker and his team at Youth Talk offer free confidential counselling for 13 to 25-year-olds.

But they are overrun with record numbers of children and young people in need of help.

The charity has doubled its capacity – but even this is not enough.

Mr Barker told Sky News: “Before the pandemic there was a crisis of young people struggling with their mental health, the pandemic has compounded all of that, hugely, and as a result of that we’re seeing a long tail of the COVID pandemic in terms of mental health and particularly young people.”

Community health services are also struggling. A survey of NHS Providers found that children are now waiting an average of 91 weeks for an autism spectrum disorder assessment and between 72 and 207 weeks for an ADHD assessment.

Read more:
Seasonal affective disorder – or SAD – isn’t just ‘winter blues’
Student mental health problems almost tripled in recent years – study

Jenna Hughes speaks to Sky News
Image:
Jenna Hughes speaks to Sky News

Jenna Hughes had to wait three years for a diagnosis for her eldest child Amelia.

Her youngest, Imogen, has already been waiting for a year. Caring for Amelia and Imogen without any extra help is having an impact on everyone in the family.

“I’ve struggled with my mental health,” Jenna says. “Because of the level of care my children need. That’s hard on my family. The NHS is overrun but it puts so much pressure on families, and strain and stress.”

Demand is only expected to increase.

And if there is no urgent action, healthcare providers like the Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust predict that by next year their community waiting lists for children and young people will have more than doubled since the pandemic.

Its chief executive Elliot Howard-Jones said the biggest challenge for his trust in responding to the growing crisis was finding the right staff.

“It’s absolutely not where we want to be, we want to have much shorter waiting times for children, it significantly affects their life chances and their educational attainment if we don’t see them quickly.

“The biggest challenge in terms of community services is not the vision for what we want to do which is clearly to support people at home and to help children develop as best as they can, it’s getting the staff and growing the service quickly enough to be able to respond.”

Mia is 21 now. She is in the final year of a wild animal biology degree at the Royal Veterinary College after passing her A levels with top grades.

But the outcome could have been very different and for the many thousands of children still struggling it will be unless the crisis in children’s mental health is addressed urgently.

Hunt for escaped prisoner Daniel Abed Khalife: Why wasn’t terror suspect banged up in modern Belmarsh? | UK News

Most terror suspects are kept in Belmarsh jail, considered the UK’s most secure. 

It’s so difficult to get in and out that lawyers complain about their own access to visit their clients.

They often cite the massive security checks as the reason for delays in court cases.

Jail breakouts are rare and no prisoner has ever escaped from Belmarsh, a category A jail in southeast London, though some have tried.

HMP Belmarsh. File pic
Image:
HMP Belmarsh. File pic

So why wasn’t Daniel Abed Khalife, a suspect facing serious terror charges, banged up in modern Belmarsh?

Instead he was awaiting his trial in HMP Wandsworth, a category B jail in southwest London built 170 years ago and described in a watchdog report two years ago as “overcrowded, crumbling, vermin-infested” and suffering with staff shortages.

The same report said an inmate managed to escape from Wandsworth in 2019 and highlighted continuing concerns about security.

And don’t forget that as a soldier, Khalife, 21, would have been trained to escape captivity of all sorts and take psychological advantage of less experienced captors.

That may go a long way to explain how he was able, as it’s thought, to hide under a food delivery truck and hang on as it left the kitchen area where it’s believed he was working as a chef.

Daniel Abed Khalife has escaped prison, the Met Police say
Image:
Daniel Abed Khalife

“The issue is one of routine, coupled with prison staff shortages,” said Mark Leech, editor of the Prisons Handbook for England and Wales.

“Perhaps the use of civilian caterers who are not trained prison officers, along with gate security procedures that just become routine and which he may well have spotted while going to court.”

HMP Wandsworth in southwest London
Image:
Khalife escaped from HMP Wandsworth

The public might be surprised to learn that a young terror suspect, accused of gathering details of his colleagues that could be useful to a terrorist and collecting information that could be useful to an enemy, had a reduced security risk rating – not A but B.

Mr Leech said: “That is something that in hindsight they will want to review and the investigation will look into that.

“He may well have given the impression to inexperienced staff who conducted his security categorisation that he was far less of a security escape risk than in reality he really was.”

Police seem confident Khalife will be caught soon, but some Wandsworth escapees stay free for a very long time.

Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs climbed over the wall with a rope ladder and jumped to a waiting removals van to flee Wandsworth in 1965.

Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs in 1998
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Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs in 1998

He did return, but only by his own choice.

He wasn’t arrested until his plane landed in the UK, 36 years later.

This result wasn’t just bad for the Tories, it was terrible. While they won’t admit it, they know it was | Politics News

A couple of hours before the result of the West Lancashire by-election was declared shortly before 2am, senior Tories at the count were prepared for the worst.

Privately, they were predicting a 60% share of the vote for Labour and 25% for the Conservatives.

They weren’t far wrong. The Tory vote has indeed slumped from over 36% at the 2019 general election to about 25%. But Labour’s share was higher than the Tories feared, above 62%.

That was a bigger share for Labour and smaller for the Conservatives in this constituency than in Tony Blair’s landslide general election victory in 1997.

After the result, Bill Esterson – Labour MP for the neighbouring seat of Sefton Central – took great delight in pointing that out.

For the Tories, Blackpool South MP Scott Benton told Sky News in a combative interview that the result here wasn’t good enough for Labour to send Sir Keir Starmer to Downing Street at the next general election.

In her victory speech, the winning Labour candidate Ashley Dalton – resplendent in a bright red trouser suit – said it was time for a general election. But there isn’t going to be one for at least 18 months.

Rishi Sunak’s Conservatives may be languishing on around 25% in national opinion polls – coincidentally about the same as their vote share in this by-election – but the government consistently wins votes in the Commons by comfortable majorities of about 60.

That doesn’t mean Mr Sunak isn’t in a perilous position, however. A trouncing at the local elections on May 4 similar to this by-election result will send many Tory MPs into a blind panic and plunge the PM’s future into real danger.

Pic: Twitter
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The by-election was sparked by Rosie Cooper’s resignation. Pic: Twitter

Amid the latest run of dismal by-election results and the prospect of a drubbing in May, Mr Sunak’s tenure in No 10 is made all the more vulnerable by the resurgent threats posed by his two predecessors, Boris Johnson and Liz Truss, with Mr Johnson undermining him in military aid to Ukraine and Ms Truss leading a renewed charge for tax cuts in Jeremy Hunt’s Budget on 15 March.

As for West Lancashire, it has a new MP who on the evidence of this morning – in her victory speech and subsequent interview with Sky News – will be a powerful and extremely vocal advocate for the constituency.

She highlighted the problems in the NHS, the cost of living crisis and transport issues as her top priorities when she arrives at Westminster after parliament’s half-term recess in 10 days’ time.

On transport, for example, the new town of Skelmersdale in the constituency has no railway station – and locals here complain that it’s a long and frustrating bus journey to Liverpool.

There had long been plans to rebuild a train station, but the government rejected these plans last year – a move West Lancashire’s previous MP, Rosie Cooper, described as a “cruel joke”.

Health, cost of living and transport – issues that are currently dominating politics nationally and were also the predominant issues in this by-election campaign.

Read more analysis:
A worrying trend is emerging for Tories in by-elections

That suggests they are the main reason the Tories are haemorrhaging votes. Add to that the Tory sleaze and bullying allegations, “partygate” and the perception that the Conservatives are out of touch after 13 years in power – all of which we heard from Labour in West Lancashire – no wonder Sir Keir’s cheerleaders are cock-a-hoop about the result in this by-election.

And, despite the brave face put on this crushing defeat publicly by the Tories, the slump in votes here will privately fill many Conservative MPs with gloom and alarm.

No doubt those Tory predictions two hours before the result were intended to manage expectations in their party’s favour. But it didn’t work and this result wasn’t just bad for the Conservatives. It was terrible. And while they won’t admit it, they know it was.