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Essex Chronicle stories feed from registered users of the site and Northcliffe Media editorial

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    A homeless man has appeared in court in connection with the death of charity volunteer Colin Evans in Chelmsford. 

    Jose Correia Agrela, 29, was charged at Chelmsford Magistrates' Court this morning (October 3) with murder. 

    Mr Evans, 39, was found dead in a flat in Broomfield Road on Tuesday (September 29). 

    Wearing a red jumper Mr Correia Agrela, who is believed to have previously lived in Portugal, spoke only to confirm his name, and that he currently has no fixed address. 

    Magistrate Rosemary Padfield then confirmed the case was too serious to be dealt with by the court, and should be sent to Chelmsford Crown Court, to be heard on October 9.

    Murder accused Jose Correia Agrela remanded in custody over death of Colin Evans


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    A man found dead at his flat in Broomfield Road in Chelmsford on Tuesday (September 30) sustained "incised wounds to the neck", a post-mortem examination has concluded.

    An inquest was opened and adjourned at Chelmsford Coroner's Court in Chelmsford this morning (October 3) into the death of Colin Evans, 39.

    The post mortem examination, carried out at Broomfield Hospital, confirmed the cause of death to be incised wounds to the neck.

    Concluding proceedings, Coroner Eleanor McGann said: "This is a police investigation, the matter will be adjourned until the police have informed me that the investigation has finished."


    A man appeared in court charged with his murder this morning. Jose Correia Agrela was remanded in custody to re-appear before Chelmsford Crown Court on October 9.

    Inquest opens into death of Chelmsford man Colin Evans as police probe continues


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    By Samuel Balls

    Most footballers decide to hang up their boots when their legs can longer operate at the speed their head desires.

    It can be a frustrating time for middle aged players entering the twilight of their career as the decision to call quits on a lifetime in the game beckons.

    But, as the newest footballing phenomenon hits the artificial pitches of Maldon, players as old as 80 can now return to a sport they once loved in the shape of walking football.

    Sessions start on October 15 and will be held between 5pm and 6pm on the all-weather artificial pitch at Plume School, Fambridge Road, Maldon.

    The rules are exactly the same as the conventional version of the game, and there are no age restrictions.

    Individuals who may have retired from regular football, or who perhaps suffer from a mobility injury, can play again with confidence.

    The meetings are recreational and light-hearted, as players enjoy a less frenetic spectacle with like-minded people more accustomed to Jimmy Greaves than Wayne Rooney.

    Plume School is also offering Maldon residents the chance to participate in non-competitive matches after Maldon District Council and the Essex County FA collaborated to set-up a Mars Just Play Centre.

    The upgrade has seen the deposed 'turn-up and play' football session transformed into an officially recognised affair.

    Matches take place every second Monday between 5pm and 6pm, with anyone over 16 able to convene for a friendly game with work colleagues and friends for 5v5, 6v6 or 7v7 encounters.

    Players can play without the pressure of playing in a league or having to commit each week and all abilities are welcome.

    One participant claimed: "It's friendly and relaxed, with no commitment. It's been perfect as I'm able to come straight from work and have a kick-about.

    "I've not played in years but, as it's not serious stuff, I've got back into it really quickly. It's all different abilities and everyone enjoys it. I can't make every week, but that's the good part about it - I can show-up when I want"

    For more information on either initiative, contact Simon Walker via email at simon.walker@maldon,gov,uk or phone 01621 854477.

    Maldon District Council to offer walking football and


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    You'll be spoilt for choice for things to do in Essex this weekend.

    Here are just a few of them (and remember to let us know if there's an event you'd like to include on this page):

    The Ladykillers, Chelmsford City Theatres, Fairfield Road, Chelmsford CM1 1JG

    Thursday to Saturday, October 2-4, 7:45pm.

    Tickets: £13.50, concessions £11.50.

    Click here for more details

    Early Doors Productions' version of Graham Linehan's popular play returns from a successful run in London's West End. The Ladykillers tells the story of Professor Marcus and his hardened gang of criminals, who pose as musicians in order to rent a room from sweet and eccentric old widow Mrs Wilberforce.

    Theatre Beauty's Legacy Witham Public Hall, Collingwood Road, Witham, CM8 2DY.

    Saturday, October 4, doors open 7:30pm.

    Tickets: £8, concessions £6.

    Click here for more details

    The Keeper's Daughter Theatre Company return to Witham with sci-fi comedy drama Beauty's Legacy. Described as part Frankenstein, part Bladerunner, part Slimming World by critics, the play examines the value of modern beauty culture. A Q&A session with the cast follows the performance.

    We Are The Best (15) firstsite, Lewis Gardens, High Street, Colchester, C01 1JH.

    Friday, October 3, 6pm.

    Free admission. Click here for more details

    Directed by Swedish director Lukas Moodysson, 'We Are the Best: Young People' tells the story of three girls in 1980s Stockholm, who decide to form a punk rock band despite not having any instruments and being told by everybody that punk is dead. Comedy and chaos are the result.

    Black history month The Joy City Festival Central Park, Chelmsford, CM1 1JJ.

    Saturday, October 4, 11am-5pm

    Free admission, some attractions charged for.

    Click here for more details

    Or search for 'Joy City Festival' on Facebook.

    In celebration of Black History Month, the Joy City Festival aims to bring together different backgrounds and cultures. Held in Central Park's Bell Meadow, there will be live music and Afro-Caribbean poetry, a flag parade, catwalk shows, plenty of traditional food and more throughout the day.

    Fireworks Southend Seafront Fireworks Southend-on-Sea, SS1 2EJ.

    Saturday, October 4, 7.30pm.

    Free for spectators.

    Click here for more details

    Southend Seafront will be home to a series of spectacular firework displays every Saturday evening from October 4 to November 15. The fireworks will be launched from the east of the town's famous pier, offering fantastic views all the way along the seafront.

    Gunfire with the Garrison Tilbury Fort, Tilbury, RM18 7NR

    Saturday and Sunday, October 4 and 5, 10am – 7pm.

    Tickets £4.50 for non-members, with concessions available.

    Click here for more details

    Tilbury Fort relives the town's role in protecting London from German attack during the Second World War. The 124th artillery regiment will be showcasing army life in wartime Britain and the cannons are set to be fired three times per day.

    Lee Mead Cliffs Pavilion, Station Road, Southend-on-Sea, SS0 7RA

    Sunday, October 5, 7.30pm.

    Tickets start at £22.50 Click here for more details

    West End star Lee Mead returns to his hometown as part of his third UK tour. The winner of TV's Any Dream Will Do, expect an evening of musical theatre and Hollywood hits, alongside some of Lee's personal favourites.

    Remus Memorial Horse Sanctuary Open Day

    Little Farm, Buttsbury, near Ingatestone, CM4 9NZ

    Sunday, October 5, 1-5pm

    Admission for adults £4, children free.

    Click here for more details

    An ideal family day out, Remus open their grounds to the public for their last open day of the year. The sanctuary has over 200 animals, including horses, goats and sheep, as well as children's games, a raffle and tombola.

    Art Folk Art Fabric Pictures RHS Garden Hyde Hall

    RHS Hyde Hall, Creephedge Lane, Rettendon, CM3 8ET.

    Saturday, October 4, 11am-2pm.

    Prices: £25 for RHS members, £33 for non-members. All prices include materials and only 16 places are available.

    Click here for more details

    Learn how to make folk art pictures from recycled fabric and vintage buttons and beads. Perfect for beginners, it is essential to book your place by calling 0845 612 1253.

    Tango at Slack Space

    Slack Space at TOPS (The Old Police Station), 37 Queen Street, Colchester, CO1 2PQ.

    Saturday, October 4, 2-5pm.

    Free entry.

    Click here for more details

    Slack Space is a not-for-profit organisation that uses abandoned shops in Colchester for community projects. Their Argentine Tango workshop is popular with beginners and experienced dancers alike. Contact Jim Crickett on 01206 385 551 for more information.

    Grandparents' Day

    Barleylands, Barleylands Road, Billericay, CM11 2UD.

    Sunday, October 5.

    Click here for more details and to get your free ticket

    To celebrate Grandparents Day, Barleylands is inviting you to treat grandma and grandad to a great day out at the farm for free.

    Up to two Grandparents can get in for free with every full paying child.

    11 things to do in Essex this weekend - October 4-5


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    Firefighters have given first aid to a man after a blaze engulfed an all-terrain fork lift vehicle in Tillingham this afternoon.

    Firefighters were called to Marsh Road at roughly 12.44pm today (Friday October 3).

    Using two hose reel crews had extinguished the fire by 13:48hrs.

    They also gave first aid to a man who had suffered burns as a result of the fire.

    They left the injured man in the care of the Ambulance Service at 14:01hrs.

    Man suffers burns after forklift fire in Tillingham


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    Emergency services were called to an incident close to Morrisons in Witham today (October 3) with one man suffering burns.

    Fire, paramedics and police attended an incident between 12.45pm and 2.10pm this afternoon in Braintree Road.

    The ambulance service said one man, in his 40s, was treated at before being released into the care of Essex Police. Onlookers reported seeing a man led away in handcuffs.

    An ambulance spokesman said: "The man's burns turned out to be minor so he was treated and discharged at the scene.

    "We were called at 12.45pm by police and sent a rapid response car and a paramedic officer.

    "We left a person in the care of the police."

    Man suffers burns in 'gas incident' near Morrisons in Witham


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    You may know when Shire Hall closed down but do you know who danced their way from Norwich to Chelmsford?

    The recent floods are a bit of an inconvenience but imagine what it was like for people who lived there when it was submerged in the summer months. When did that happen? 

    And can you imagine the British Grand Prix taking place in the county town of Essex

    If you know the answers to questions like these - give our quiz below, based on facts unearthed in The Secret History of Chelmsford a go. Questions compiled by Sophie Conlon


    How well do you know Chelmsford? Test your knowledge of the city's secret history


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    Billy Ray Cyrus followed in the footsteps of Donald Trump in falling for an unfortunate Twitter hoax in which he retweeted a picture of late child abuser Jimmy Savile.

    The country singer - dad to Miley Cyrus - responded to a request from a follower asking that he retweet a photo of his 'grandfather' on his birthday.

    But the picture was of the prolific paedophile, who has abused at least 500 victims, according to the NSPCC.

    The tweet has since been removed from his feed, with the singer now retweeting a message which read: "A sad day for all the true fans of @billyraycyrus to who it means the world to get his RT"

    It comes after American billionaire Trump was tricked into retweeting a picture of serial killers Fred and Rose West. He subsequently took Twitter to indicate that he would sue

    Billy Ray Cyrus removes prank retweet after falling for Jimmy Savile Twitter request


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    Essex singer James Graham moved one step closer to achieving his X Factor dream landing a place in next weekend's first live show after making it through the judges' houses stage with his new boy band.

    After jetting off to island paradise Bermuda James, 17, from Westerwings, Bicknacre, along with his new band mates impressed Louis Walsh and guest judge Tulisa Contostavlos with a rendition of Mirrors by Justin Timberlake on tonight's episode.

    Tulisa said: "Performance wise they completely gripped me I loved it, you've got to hope the bond they have made stays that way."

    Louis added: "You have got great chemistry and you've got a good work ethic. Boys, it's not good news it's great news!"

    Even though the group were only formed prior to the bootcamp stage they will now perform as one of the 12 finalists in next week's live show.

    James and his fellow group members Reece Bibby (15), Tom Mann (20), Casey Johnson (19), Jake Sims (19), Charlie Jones (14), Barclay Beales (18) and Chris Leonard (18), each of whom failed to make it through to bootcamp as solo artists will be joined by girl group Blonde Electric and four piece band Only The Young, in next week's show.

    James and his seven band mates are still without a name for their group and viewers were encouraged to contact ITV with name suggestions.

    Essex singer James Graham through to X Factor live shows with new boy band


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    The typhoon Phanhone is casting a dark shadow over the Japanese Grand Prix, with stormy conditions expected to hit the mainland on Sunday.

    Conditions for qualifying are expected to be dry, bar a few showers, but there are fears the race itself could be affected, depending on the time heavy rain and strong winds are expected to descend.

    Lewis Hamilton, now topping the driver's championship by three points with a handful of races to go, has continued his hot streak by setting the fastest time in second practice at Suzuka.

    He beat Mercedes team mate and close rival Nico Rosberg by a mere 0.24 seconds, with the pair well ahead of the rest.

    McLaren's Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel finished fourth and fifth, behind Valtteri Bottas of Williams.

    Qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix will start at 5am on BBC One and Sky Sports F1 from 5am

    What time is qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix?


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    EVER since their wedding in 2010, Euan and Erin Green have been desperately trying for a baby to fulfil their "childhood dream" of having a family.

    Yet four years later, the Witham couple have still not been able to conceive naturally, despite months of hormone drugs, blood samples, and invasive tests, to determine if there is a problem.

    Now, they are left facing the "horrific" prospect that their first attempt at IVF, which they are part way through, could be their "only shot", following the announcement by the Mid-Essex Clinical Commissioning Group last week that it would no longer fund IVF for couples unless there are "exceptional circumstances".

    It means mid Essex is one of just two of 211 CCGs in the country taking such a stance, while people living in neighbouring areas are still entitled to up to three IVF attempts.

    "You live in hope that if the first try doesn't work you've got the second or maybe third attempt, to pin your hopes on," said Erin. "That's a lot of couples with dreams that, in my eyes, have just been shattered – and that's not fair."

    The couple are one of up to 100 each year that access specialist fertility services under the Mid-Essex CCG, which oversees the Chelmsford, Maldon, and Braintree districts at a cost of around £750,000.

    On Thursday last week, the organisation approved a revision to its former policy, which had funded three attempts at IVF.

    From now on, they will only fund specialist fertility services in "exceptional clinical cases".

    It is thought this could include patients undergoing treatment for cancer which is likely to affect their fertility, and those with HIV, but will ultimately be decided on a case-by-case basis.

    After the announcement, Dr Caroline Dollery, chairman of Mid Essex CCG, said: "It has been an incredibly tough decision for the CCG Board to make as we are aware it will be a huge disappointment for people affected by fertility issues in mid Essex.

    "The CCG has considered every aspect of its decision and in particular the profound concerns that some people have expressed about revising this policy.

    "But at this moment in time the CCG needs to make £8 million in savings and further savings next year. We have to consider the complete picture for the local NHS – demands for services are costing more than the money that we have available.

    "The aspiration to meet National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) criteria and to commission IVF services for people in mid Essex still remains and we have made a commitment to review the decision again in September 2015."

    However for Euan, 40, and Erin, 34, the decision has simply left them "in limbo", and placed added pressure on this, their first IVF attempt at a Colchester clinic, after four years of unsuccessful attempts to conceive naturally.

    "We always knew it was a possibility that we would have to go down the route of IVF but it was the last option. You take your vitamins, and your folic acid, but nothing," added a tearful Erin, who is due to have her eggs collected ahead of implantation on Tuesday, October 14.

    "As a woman you think that's what you're programmed to do, and so you start to question what can I have done?"

    Husband Euan, who was left unable to sleep after learning of the changes, added: "I wanted to do everything properly, we didn't live together until we were married, and now I feel guilty because if we had done it a couple of years earlier we might have benefited fully from the IVF programme."

    The change, which comes into force immediately, is one of several short-term measures to be introduced to make savings at the CCG of £8m in this financial year, after an overspend of more than £9m in 2013/14.

    However charities and campaign groups have condemned what they see as an exploitation of the private nature of fertility treatment, to cut costs.

    Sarah Norcross, co-chairman of Fertility Fairness, said: "The cost of fertility treatment is a tiny fraction of this CCG's total annual budget but it is viewed as a line in the budget that is easy to cut as people with fertility problems don't like to complain publicly because of the very personal nature of the problem. We urge the CCG to reinstate services at the first opportunity."

    The move will also contradict recommendations from NICE, that three full cycles of IVF should be provided, and make it one of only two CCGs, out of 211 in the country, taking such a stance, the other being the Vale of York.

    Susan Seenan, chief executive of patient charity Infertility Network, added: "What the CCG has done is totally appalling. There is clear guidance from NICE based on both cost and clinical effectiveness – by ignoring that guidance mid Essex CCG is letting down its patients."

    The decision, which followed 12 weeks of public consultation by the CCG, has even drawn criticism from private fertility clinics providing IVF, who have lobbied to prevent the removal of NHS-funded treatment.

    Andy Glew, director of Simply Fertility clinic in Great Baddow, said he was "horrified" at the news.

    "This total disregard for those struggling to conceive belittles those suffering from infertility and of course belittles the disease itself," he said.

    "The young population of Chelmsford, Braintree and the surrounding areas will be forced into spending thousands of pounds seeking private fertility treatment, while their neighbours in surrounding towns will still benefit from their right to fertility services, free at the point of access."

    Mid-Essex IVF funding changes 'will shatter dreams'


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    YOU voted in your thousands and we can finally reveal who is this year's top of the tots.

    These three youngsters have been crowned the county's cutest in the annual Essex Chronicle Baby and Toddler of the Year competition.

    Doting mums and dads put forward 230 youngsters this summer, and triumphing above them all was the overall winner Isaac Barrett.

    Nine months old when his photo was taken, Isaac was also winner of the under 12 months category.

    "We were really surprised and very happy when we found out he'd won," said mum Katherine, 28, from South Woodham Ferrers, who learnt of Issac's win on his first birthday.

    Along with dad Ian, the Barretts used their prize passes to Legoland in Winsdor at the weekend.

    And they now have a picture canvas prize of their winning shot to add to their collection after visiting the Chronicle's headquarters on Monday.

    Ian, 32, said: "With all the bad news going on in the world it's nice to hear some good news."

    Scooping the 13 to 24 months prize was angelic Roxwell girl Lily-Myra Green, now 18 months old.

    It comes a year after she won the under 12 months prize too.

    Her grandmother, Susan Masterson, said: "We're very happy. We didn't expect it when we got the phone call. We're very pleased. She's a beautiful baby. She gets a lot of attention."

    Delighted mother Madeleine Rampling was glad she listened to her sister's advice to enter her two-year-old toddler, Alfie Gill, into the contest.

    He won the two to five-year-old category.

    Mother-of-three Miss Rampling, 26, from Melbourne, Chelmsford, said: "I'm ecstatic. I was extremely shocked but obviously he is gorgeous.

    "My sister made me because he is a cheeky little chap. She said if he could win on personality he would win it easily.

    "We were quite gobsmacked, speechless and over the moon when we found out."

    Essex Baby and Toddler of the Year: Meet the winners


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    A MUSIC teacher struck off for voyeurism claimed he was suffering a nervous breakdown when he filmed a woman in the shower.

    Timothy Pooley, of Maldon Road, Witham, has been banned from teaching indefinitely after being convicted of voyeurism at Colchester Magistrates' Court last year.

    The 51-year-old admitted secretly filming a woman as she showered and in various stages of undress, and was made to sign the sex offenders' register for five years.

    At a Teaching Misconduct Panel, it was heard Pooley had been suffering from stress related to two deaths in the family and the illness of another relative, as well as suffering a stroke.

    He claimed he had had a nervous breakdown when the incident took place.

    The panel, with met last month, found the teacher's actions seemed to be out of character.

    A section of the 11-page ruling by the panel read: "The panel has had regard to the numerous character statements in the bundle of documents which indicate Mr Pooley is a decent and honest man, who has shown insight and remorse."

    However, it was deemed Pooley's behaviour was inappropriate for a teacher, particularly because it involved sexual misconduct, and could bring the profession into disrepute if he was allowed to continue in his role, which involved various music college visits as well as home tuition.

    Despite ruling Pooley would be barred from teaching, and not permitted to appeal against the ban for a period of five years, the panel said he did not pose a significant risk to the protection of pupils.

    The panel's report stated: "The misconduct was relatively unsophisticated and did not involve children.

    "The panel does consider Pooley's behaviour amounts to an improper standard of conduct. However, it was at the lower end of the scale and does not amount to serious sexual misconduct.

    "He regrets his actions, which he has admitted and reported to the leadership figures of his local church.

    "It is suggested in the mitigation evidence he was frank and contrite in his admission of guilt, that he usually practised high moral standards and that his former and current pupils and music colleagues felt safe and at ease in his presence."

    Pooley, a former church trustee at Bethel Christian Fellowship, which meets at Maltings Academy, in Spinks Lane, Witham, was not present at the hearing.

    Voyeur banned from teaching after admitting to filming woman in shower


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    A PROLIFIC thief who stalked hospital corridors to steal from ill or dying patients has been jailed for seven years.

    June Weatherman, 50, was locked up on Thursday (September 25) for 15 charges of stealing cash, jewellery and bank cards from patients in Chelmsford, Cambridgeshire, Kent, London and Surrey.

    Great Baddow victim Douglas Hart, who attended four days of Weatherman's nine-day Guildford trial, told the Chronicle he "can't believe anybody can be so cruel".

    The brazen criminal stole the 69-year-old's bank cards, driving licence and £35 cash as he underwent a painful hernia operation in Springfield Hospital.

    "The biggest shock was not that my money had been taken but that she would do such a wicked, wicked thing knowing that I was in theatre," said retired Mr Hart.

    "It is absolutely awful, I just can't believe anybody can be so cruel, it's absolutely dreadful.

    "I can't think of a worse crime than to target vulnerable elderly people while they're in hospital and stealing their property."

    Weatherman, originally from east London but of no fixed address, strolled into Mr Hart's room while he was on the operating table on the afternoon of Wednesday, October 23, 2013.

    She found his jacket in the wardrobe, and his wallet in a pocket, and after rummaging around, replaced the stolen cash with a bus timetable.

    "She made the wallet look padded out, as if nothing was stolen – very cunning," he said.

    In a "groggy" state of mind, he cancelled his cards and had a nurse contact police, scared his house would be burgled, after discovering it stolen at 9.15pm.

    Mr Hart was the only victim attending Guildford Crown Court, watching as Weatherman furiously denied all counts of theft, but missing the moment a jury found her unanimously guilty of 15 out of 20 charges.

    "I just had to see the woman who was so mean and horrible. I wanted to hear what she had to say about it," said Mr Hart.

    "She was horrible in the witness box, effing and blinding, 'I didn't steal no effing cards'."

    The court heard Weatherman, who was arrested on Tuesday, January 14 this year after a number of CCTV images of her were released to the public, also stole a Chertsey hospital patient's bank cards and a note which included a pin number.

    Weatherman admitted using 87-year-old Pamela Verrinder's HSBC card 119 times and stealing £6,322 in goods.

    She also stole from two elderly women in their 80s who died from their illnesses.

    She also stole cards from an 81-year-old woman in Broomfield Hospital between December 14 and 17 last year, then withdrew £1,100 from cash points in Chelmsford and Chigwell.

    Weatherman's defence barrister said she had been born into a life of crime, and a cocaine addiction, after she was failed by social services.

    "We heard a sob story," said Mr Hart.

    "But I don't sympathise with her. A lot of people have rough lives but don't end up stealing from people in hospital."

    Weatherman has a string of previous convictions for thefts from terminally-ill people.

    In 2001, she went on the run after escaping from prison, four months after being handed a five-and-a-half-year sentence for targeting patients in London hospitals.

    Spokesmen for Springfield and Broomfield both stressed their hospitals have facilities for patients' valuables to be locked away.

    "We have to balance security with allowing patients relatives access to see their love ones," said a Springfield Hospital spokesman. "During visiting hours like most hospitals in the UK there is no formal signing in and out of patient visitors, they are free to see whomever they like and it would not be appropriate for us to challenge every patient visitor's right to be here, it is not a prison. Staff would of course challenge anyone acting suspiciously."

    A Broomfield Hospital spokesman said: "The trust takes any allegations of theft extremely seriously and as in this case we worked closely with the police, having become suspicious of this person's behaviour, which helped result in the police evidence against the accused, resulting in the custodial sentence."

    'A wicked, wicked thing': Victim of hospital thief June Wetherman tells of torment


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    THE brave and the foolhardy had the chance to try some of the world's hottest chillis at an annual festival celebrating the fiery fruits.

    This year the Royal Horticultural Society's (RHS) Hyde Hall introduced its first-ever chilli-tasting competition, run by family-owned business Battlesbridge Mills Garden Centre, which was keen to showcase its hottest produce.

    "We gave people five chillis to eat, from quite mild to hot – with a sixth option of trying the Dorset Naga, which is one of the hottest chillis in the world," said Alan Lodge, 33, from Battlesbridge Mills.

    "Normally people are quite nervous – but once you get one or two willing to give it a go, other people will join in. It's the first year we've done a chilli competition here, but we run a few ourselves as well.

    "We told people they were allowed to pull out anytime – so that if anyone got halfway through and couldn't face the next chilli, we weren't going to force them."

    Apart from the dreaded Naga, which has a heat rating of 920,000 Scovilles, the next hottest pepper on offer was the Fatalii, which usually comes in at a mere 350,000 Scovilles. Only 22 of the 3,000 visitors took part in the challenge over the two days, with more opting to buy chilli plants and look around the show. "We've been selling lots of chillis, and lots of people wanted advice on how to grow them," said Rosemary Lodge, 56, from Battlesbridge Mills.

    "Chillis are very popular now. People's tastes are really changing."

    Event manager Anna Baldwin, 41, said: "We've been doing the event for a few years now and this year had a few new additions – the chilli challenge, and an appearance by BBC Masterchef finalist Saira Hamilton, who cooked up a few chilli-based dishes."

    The event also featured wine stalls, food and chilli growers, who were available to dish out advice on the best way to grow the plants.

    "This event brings in a different audience, and gets younger people interested in trying to grow some chillis of their own," added Ms Baldwin.

    Along with the more interactive chilli offerings, the RHS also created a special chilli display for the event, which horticultural team leader Andrew Hellman explained had been planted in January.

    He said: "This crop is the best we've ever had, and there are more than 40 varieties on display here. We try to grow a range, from quite mild to real scorchers.

    "I think people like the danger of the heat when it comes to chillis, although they all have a unique flavour and are a critical ingredient to cuisine all over the world."

    Phew, what a scorcher! RHS Hyde Hall chilli challenge is hotly contested


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    A MUSIC teacher struck off for voyeurism claimed he was suffering a nervous breakdown when he filmed a woman in the shower.

    Timothy Pooley, of Maldon Road, Witham, has been banned from teaching indefinitely after being convicted of voyeurism at Colchester Magistrates' Court last year.

    The 51-year-old admitted secretly filming a woman as she showered and in various stages of undress, and was made to sign the sex offenders' register for five years.

    At a Teaching Misconduct Panel, it was heard Pooley had been suffering from stress related to two deaths in the family and the illness of another relative, as well as suffering a stroke.

    He claimed he had had a nervous breakdown when the incident took place.

    The panel, with met last month, found the teacher's actions seemed to be out of character.

    A section of the 11-page ruling by the panel read: "The panel has had regard to the numerous character statements in the bundle of documents which indicate Mr Pooley is a decent and honest man, who has shown insight and remorse."

    However, it was deemed Pooley's behaviour was inappropriate for a teacher, particularly because it involved sexual misconduct, and could bring the profession into disrepute if he was allowed to continue in his role, which involved various music college visits as well as home tuition.

    Despite ruling Pooley would be barred from teaching, and not permitted to appeal against the ban for a period of five years, the panel said he did not pose a significant risk to the protection of pupils.

    The panel's report stated: "The misconduct was relatively unsophisticated and did not involve children.

    "The panel does consider Pooley's behaviour amounts to an improper standard of conduct. However, it was at the lower end of the scale and does not amount to serious sexual misconduct.

    "He regrets his actions, which he has admitted and reported to the leadership figures of his local church.

    "It is suggested in the mitigation evidence he was frank and contrite in his admission of guilt, that he usually practised high moral standards and that his former and current pupils and music colleagues felt safe and at ease in his presence."

    Pooley, a former church trustee at Bethel Christian Fellowship, which meets at Maltings Academy, in Spinks Lane, Witham, was not present at the hearing.

    Voyeur Timothy Pooley banned from teaching after admitting to filming woman in shower


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    KARTING star Scott Huntley has qualified for the World EasyKart Finals in Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italy, later this month.

    Rookie Huntley, 13, who goes to Sandon School, finished third overall out of 20 in his first season of MSA racing in the EasyKart National Championship.

    He has now gained his Royal Automobile Club, MSA International C licence in order to compete. The Danbury driver will be one of only two cadets representing the Great Britain EasyKart team.

    The other driver is 13-year-old Harry Barlow, from Pontefract, Yorkshire, who has just won the Great Britain EasyKart Championship for the second time.

    This time last year Huntley was racing round in 120cc restricted corporate-hire Honda 4-stroke karts at Witham indoor track, where he was named 2013 A12 Karting Pro cadet Champion.

    He won an incredible 30 trophies in Essex last year.

    His dad, Stephen, also his mechanic and mentor, said: "Its unbelievable to think this time last year he was racing in restricted hire karts on indoor tracks and this month he will be representing Great Britain in the EasyKart World finals – a mini-version of F1.

    Stephen also thanked sponsors Peter and Fran Theobald from the Living Memorial & Lazybone bootsale, and CZ Chains.

    He added: "CZ Chains say he is the most successful karter they have ever sponsored worldwide after picking up five trophies/podium places.

    "He is the first karter in the UK to be sponsored for 15 years by them and one of only four worldwide this year.

    "He raced this year with the name and racing club badge of his late grandfather, Dennis Huntley, who used to race karts in the 1960s."

    Huntley is looking for further sponsorship this year.

    Anyone wishing to help, should email stephen.huntley@btinter net.com

    Karting ace Huntley wins race for  world finals place


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    X FACTOR star James Graham's family say the teenager could have become a professional footballer before pursuing a singing career.

    On Sunday night's episode, solo artist James, 17, of Bicknacre, was chosen to join an eight-strong boy band and their rendition of Leona Lewis' song Run impressed the audience to win a place at the judges' houses stage of the competition.

    James and the band will now be whisked off to their mentor Louis Walsh's house where the Irish music mogul will whittle the six groups down to his chosen three for the live shows.

    The judges' houses stage of the competition has already been filmed but X Factor rules restrict competitors and their families from revealing the results until after the episode is shown this weekend. But it all could have been very different for James had the talented youngster pursued a career in football after playing for Focus Ferrers, Essex County and Colchester United as a schoolboy.

    His mum, Paula, 47, told the Chronicle: "He used to love playing football, that was his favourite thing to do and he was really good.

    "But he's always had a wonderful voice, its true to say that I wanted him to be a singer and I think he started to take notice when he won some money at Maldon's Got Talent and then really started to want to be a singer."

    With the £700 prize, he bought an iPad, and got himself a "posh" haircut. Dad David Graham, 47, who works as a sales manager, coached his son's football team when he was growing up and dreamed his son would go on to play for his favourite team, Manchester United, or Chelmsford City.

    "He was a good player and it was an ambition of mine to watch him play for Manchester United or Chelmsford City, who we also watch play," he said.

    "I suppose it came to a point where he couldn't continue singing and playing football.

    "We are really proud of him and we are absolutely delighted he's doing well – at the moment I feel like his chauffeur and I'm hoping one day he'll be able to buy me a car in return."

    His mum Paula says that she knew he had a special talent ever since he won a talent competition as a 10-year-old at the Priory Primary School on Bicknacre Road with a home-choreographed routine to Queen's Don't Stop Me Now.

    She said: "I think you could tell that he was a good performer, but he's humble by nature and he doesn't like to show off.

    "At some stage he just got his confidence and he hasn't looked back."

    James impressed the judges with Adele's I Can't Make You Love Me in the Wembley Arena auditions, and earlier with James Morrison's version of You Give Me Something. And despite being entered into a new eight-piece boy band on last week's show, Mrs Graham says that he couldn't be happier.

    She said: "I'm not sure if he could ever go back to being a soloist, he really loves the camaraderie of the band and they all get along so well – it's scary."

    It's not the first time X Factor boss Simon Cowell has put bands together from the solo artists who did not make it into the boys' category – he did the same with One Direction.

    James now has over 21,000 followers on his Facebook account, but his mum believes that his new found fame will not go to his head.

    She said: "He's quite laid-back and he'll just take it as it comes, I think at first he wanted to reply to all of his good luck messages, which have come from all over the world, but he knows now he can't.

    "He's quite mature for his age and I'm sure he can handle all of the pressure."

    Watch James and his, as yet, unnamed band, at judges' houses on ITV on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.

    X Factor star James Graham could have played for Manchester United


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    The fierce rivalry between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg has taken another twist after the German finished on pole for tomorrow's Japanese Grand Prix.

    Hamilton was beaten by his Mercedes teammate by 1.07 seconds on the Suzuka circuit this morning. He is just three points ahead of his title rival in the drivers' championship.

    Valterri Boltas and Felipe Massa of Williams came third and fourth at more than one second behind, while Ferrari's Fernando Alonso came in fifth

    Heavy rain is forecast for tomorrow (October 5), with Typhoon Phaenone predicted to reach the Japanese mainland by the time the race starts ahead of a full-blown storm on Monday.

    BBC TV coverage of the race gets under way at 6am on BBC One with a repeat scheduled for the same channel at 1.15pm. Coverage of the race on Sky Sports F1 starts at 5.30am. The race itself starts at 7am.

    What time is the Japanese Grand Prix on?


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    Arsene Wenger is looking to improve on a record of just one win in 20 games against the other top four contenders in the Premier League when his side take on Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

    The Gunners were battered 6-0 in the corresponding fixture last year, and won't be helped by the absence of Aaron Ramsey and Mikel Arteta through injury. Jack Wilshere and Mathieu Flamini are fit to play.

    Danny Welbeck will be looking to continue the fine form he showed while netting a hat trick in the 4-1 win over Galatasaray in the Champions League.

    Jose Mourinho is undefeated against Wenger in 11 encounters. He is expected to select Diego Costa despite earlier misgivings about his ongoing hamstring strain.

    Ramires will miss out with a groin strain, while Didier Drogba is sidelined with an ankle injury.

    Chelsea vs Arsenal is live on Sky Sports 1 from 2.05pm on Sunday

    What time does Chelsea vs Arsenal kick off?


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