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

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    There could be some festive cheer at the pumps for motorists, with the cost of filling up the car set to drop below £1 a litre.

    The RAC believes the falling price of crude oil will be felt at the pumps in the first few months of 2015 - at their lowest level since 2009.

    The cost of Brent crude is continuing to drop after reaching its lowest point since May 2009 on Tuesday.

    The average price of petrol is already nearly 14p a litre cheaper than at the start of the year and diesel is almost 16p a litre cheaper.

    RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: "Talk of prices going up like a rocket and falling like a feather could not be further from the truth as retailers have been quick to pass on savings at the forecourt.

    "It's also important to remember that while the cost of fuel itself has fallen, it currently only represents around a third of the overall pump price with the lion share being made up of fuel duty and VAT.

    "At £1 a litre duty would be 57.95p and VAT 16.67p, leaving the cost of the oil and retailers' margin at 25.38p – meaning tax would be three quarters of the forecourt price."

    Petrol prices in Essex tipped to fall below £1 per litre

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    17th December saw the original publication of the magazine, 'Vogue'.   As I'm always fashionable, I thought 10 well-dressed questions would be in order.

    Q1)17th December saw the original publication of 'Vogue'.   In which year of the 1890s?

    Q2)'Vogue' takes its title from the word, vogue.   Meaning something is what: in style, in trouble or in fashionable trousers?

    Q3)How many different countries currently have editions of 'Vogue'?

    Q4)Name one of those editions.

    Q5)'Vogue' is published by which company?

    Q6)That publisher was named for its original owner.   He was from which US city: New York, Chicago or Boston?

    Q7)Early 'Vogue' editor, Frank Crowninshield, joined 'Vogue' from which other publication: 'GQ,' 'Vanity Fair,' or 'Loaded'?

    Q8)Which First Lady has been the most recent to appear on a 'Vogue' cover?

    Q9)In which fashionable film does Meryl Streep play Miranda Priestly: an icy character definitely not based on 'Vogue' editor in chief, Anna Wintour?

    Q10)Finally … which Madonna song takes its name from a dance, named after 'Vogue' magazine?

    Here's lastweek'squestions and answers …


    Q1)10th December saw the first Nobel Prizes awarded: in which year … ?

    Q2)More to the point, who won the first Nobel Physics Prizes … ?

    Q3)More to the point, who — in 1989 — won the Nobel Peace Prize … ?

    Q4)How many Nobel Prizes, currently, are there … ?

    Q5)Name one of them … 

    Q6)Albert Nobel, the man who founded the Prizes, owned which armaments company: Bofors, Bushmaster Firearms or Lürssen … ?

    Q7)Nobel famously invented dynamite: in which year of the 1860s did he patent it … ? 

    Q8)More to the point, in which year of the 1850s did he register his first patent … ?

    Q9)Moving on … In which country is the Nobel Peace Prize awarded … ?

    Q10)Who won the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize?   (The award ceremony was on 10th December, 2014.)



    A2)Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen.   (Awarded for his work on x-rays.)

    A3)The Dalai Lama.   (You know, the old joke — that His Holiness shares his title with a newspaper for a relative of the camel — ALWAYS floats through my mind … )


    A5)Physics, Chemistry, Literature, Peace, Physiology or Medicine and Economic Sciences.



    A8)1857.   (For a gas meter, it seems.)


    A10)There were two winners, this year: Kailash Satyathi and Malala Yousafza.

    If you'd like a frequent challenge, you can visit Nik Nak's Old Peculiar, and try the Daily Teaser: today's is at the top.

    If you need quiz questions in a hurry, you're also welcome: you'll find the free Friday Questions Sets — covered by the Creative Commons License* — very handy.

    Movie fans are welcome, too: as are Dr Who fans.   I tend to write about them, too.

    If you enjoy what I do, and wish to contribute, feel free to click the PayPal Donate button in the Old Peculiar's sidebar.   Every penny is gratefully received.

    Enjoy the week, folks.

    *        All that means is that you're free to copy, use, alter and build on each of my quizzes: including the Teasers, Gazette Teasers and the Friday Question Sets.   All I ask in return is that you give me an original authors credit on your event's flyers or posters, or on the night: and, if you republish them, give me an original authors credit AND republish under the same license.   A link back to the site — and to the Chronicle's, if that's where you've found these — would be appreciated: as would pressing my donate button, here.   Every penny is gratefully received.

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    Here's an early Christmas present - prices at the pumps are set to plummet in the next few months, according to motoring experts.

    Prices are set to go below £1 thanks to the falling price of crude oil. The average price of petrol is already nearly 14p a litre cheaper than at the start of the year and diesel is almost 16p a litre cheaper.

    See below for 10 of the cheapest places in the county to fill up at the pumps.

    PLEASE NOTE: The prices below are correct as of the dates provided but are no means a guarantee.

    Asda Basildon Eastgate, Eastgate, Basildon, Essex, SS14 1AE 112.7p  Dec 13

    Sainsbury's Springfield, White Hart Lane, Chelmsford, Essex, CM2 5PA 112.9p Dec 15

    Mrh Admiral, Broomfield Road, Chelmsford, Essex, CM1 1RY 113.9p Dec 14

    Tesco Chelmsford, Princes Road, Chelmsford, Essex, CM2 9DE 113.9p Dec 15

    Tesco Basildon Extra, Gardiners Link, Basildon, Essex, SS14 3HZ 113.9p Dec 15

    Sainsbury's East Mayne Cricketers Way, Nevendon, Basildon, Essex, SS13 1SA 113.9p Dec 15

    East Mayne Sf Connect, East Mayne, Basildon, Essex, SS13 1BW Dec 14

    Tesco Pitsea Extra, Off Station Lane, Pitsea, Essex, SS13 3JU113.9p Dec 15

    Tesco Basildon Laindon, Mandeville Way, Laindon, Basildon, Essex, SS15 6TJ 113.9p Dec 15

    Mrh Wantz, Wantz Roundabout, Chipping Ongar, Essex, CM5 0AH 113.9p Dec 14

    Petrol prices: the top 10 cheapest places to fill up in Essex

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    Poundland has already caught the eye with its Make up Gallery perfume range, with stock flying off the shelves in time for Christmas

    But it might have dropped the ball with its set of Christmas cards.

    One of its packs, which presumably aspired to read 'Hark the Herald Angels', was spotted with an unfortunate spelling error.

    Sharp-eyed shopper CallMeCull on Twitter spotted the "angles" gaffe and quickly posted

    A Poundland spokesman said: "We are aware of a very small number of products from our extensive Christmas range with incorrect spelling.

    "We apologise for any inconvenience caused and are inviting customers to return the relevant product for a refund or to exchange it for one of the many other amazing value items available at Poundland this Christmas.

    Poundland makes Christmas card 'Hark the Herald Angles' gaffe

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    BRAINTREE Town midfielder Matt Paine admits his team-mates relish playing former Football League clubs ahead of their clash with Torquay on Saturday.

    The former Thurrock man thinks his side can cause an upset when the Gulls visit the Miles Smith Stadium for the first time this believes victory over Bristol Rovers earlier in the season proved that.

    "We always seem to play that little bit better against ex Football League clubs, the bigger clubs," said Paine.

    "I think it's Torquay's first visit to us and it was the same for Bristol Rovers so I think they're going to be shocked by the facilities that they're not used to.

    "We haven't had the best home form this season but when Bristol Rovers came down earlier in the season the boys stepped up their performance a little bit and we matched them.

    "As has been proven in previous seasons, like when we played Wrexham for example we've showed we can beat those teams so there's no reason we can't conquer Torquay on Saturday."

    Torquay were playing in stadiums such as Plymouth Argyle's Home Park and Portsmouth's Fratton Park in League Two and Paine believes they will find it difficult coming to a smaller ground like Braintree's.

    "They're coming back from their nice Football League days to turning up to maybe a cold, wet and windy Saturday with small changing rooms, in a small nettle sack of a ground and it's not a lavish big stadium, so I think that it could be a shock to them and hopefully it will work in our favour.

    "We don't get a huge number of fans but the fans that do come through the turnstiles to support us, they do give us that vocal support.

    "Hopefully on Saturday they can make themselves heard and encourage the boys to do well and hopefully get the result."

    Meanwhile, Braintree will travel to Gosport Borough in the FA trophy second round after they beat Basingstoke Town 2-1 in extra-time on Tuesday.

    The fixture will be played on Saturday January 10.

    Paine says Braintree Town will relish Torquay United test

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    This years' annual Nayling Road Christmas lights fundraiser is the best one yet, according to it's devoted fans.

    Residents of Nayling Road, Rayne, came together this year to put on a festive lights display and raise money for Breast Cancer Care.

    Almost 30 houses have been decked out with everything from icicles to reindeer and life-size models of Santa's Grotto.

    The lights have once again been well received, with visitors from all over Essex insisting the display gets better every year.

    Brenda Ridgeway, 72, lives on Nayling Road and decorated her house this year along with over 25 other houses on the road. Mrs Ridgeway said: "More and more people join in every year. It used to just be a few houses and now the whole block has started to join in.

    "There are a few charity boxes outside and money is being raised for a lot of different charities, including St John's Ambulance and Breast Cancer Care. It brings the community together in a big way."

    Residents of Nayling Road have been decorating their houses for charity for over 20 years. Last year, 25 houses on the road joined in and raised money for Diabetes UK. This year almost 30 households took part.

    Patricia Petchey and her husband Frank have created a grotto in their front garden which took over a week to build.

    Mrs Petchey said: "My husband does this every year. He took the last week of November off so that the display would be finished by December 1. 

    "It's well worth the effort. People have told us they were brought to see the lights and kids and now they bring theirs. It's become a huge part of the Christmas tradition for a lot of peple.

    Rayne Christmas charity spectacular 'the best yet'

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    Workers at the Royal Mail sorting office in Chelmsford endured - and enjoyed - their busiest day of the year today (December 17).

    The 900-strong staff at the facility in Winsford Way have been sorting through parcels, cards, and letters to Santa to make sure everyone's cards are delivered in time for this year's big day.

    And everybody, including the additional 200 hired especially for the festive period, had a smile on their face.

    "With the growth of social media in the last five years people might have thought that would be the death of the Christmas card but that's not the case," says Andrew Dawson, a member of the senior management team at the plant.

    "I was told the other day that on average each household posts 17 cards every Christmas, it's interesting that people still want to do that.

    "Millions of packages, parcels and letters are collected from all over Essex and sorted here every day before they are packed off to the rest of the country."

    Work goes on around the clock at the centre in Winsford Way, with 14,000 square feet of floor space dedicated to making sure that everyone gets their Christmas post in time for the big day.

    Around 2.4 million parcels and letters are processed per day, the machines at the centre processing 140 parcels per hour.

    But Jon Witt, the plant manager, said his staff take it all in their stride.

    "It's the busiest day of the year today but we look forward to delivering everyone's post in time for Christmas," he added.

    "I enjoy it. This will be my 36th Christmas at Royal Mail after starting at the age of 16 and I still get very excited for Christmas."

    The centre has to deal with huge amounts of mail during the festive period and the workers do their best to make sure everything is sent to the right destination – including letters to the main man himself.

    "We get lots of letters addressed to Santa, most of them get sent to a big centre in Belfast but sometimes it says Canada on the letter so we send it to Canada," says Jara Podolak, personal development lead at the centre.

    "We make sure that Santa replies to all of them with a gift."

    And that Christmas spirit at the centre does not appear to be waning, even among the staff that have been there for a long time.

    Mr Dawson added: "The real buzz is when we get towards the end of a shift and things are about to be sent, even more now with the volume of parcels that are ordered now.

    "It's a real buzz when you see the Artic lorries on the road because you know they are bringing tens of thousands of people's mail."

    Toys can be donated to the Mail Centre's collection for Safer Places by being dropped off at the centre. 

    See inside the Royal Mail's sorting office on the busiest day of the year before Christmas

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    The family of a man who died eight days after a road collision which claimed the lives of two other men have paid tribute to him.

    Corran 'Coz' Powell, 21, of Greenfields in Gosfield, died at Addenbrooke's Hospital on Monday (December 15), where he had been since the collision in Gosfield Road, Braintree, which happened on Sunday, December 7.

    In a statement, Antony and Jennifer Powell, Corran's parents, said: "Coz was a wonderful, talented and loving young man.

    "A son to Ant and Gen, a brother to Jaz, Mystie and Jub, a friend to countless others.

    "He loved his music, whether it was listening, playing or encouraging his peers at Sound Academy.

    "He was a passionate and dedicated hardcore gamer. He worked as a Lifestyle Enabler, volunteered at Braintree Mencap and was doing an accountancy course

    "Everyone who knew him knows they were precious to him.

    "He had enough love in his heart for us all.If he was your friend then, to Coz, you were his family. Welcome to the family."

    "The family have not made any arrangements at this stage regarding Coz's funeral.

    "All the family members and friends will greatly miss Coz very much.

    "The family have expressed that only family and close friends to contact then at this very difficult time."

    Family's tributes to Gosfield crash death victim Coz Powell: 'He had enough love in his heart for us all'

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    An investigation is under way after a teenager was rushed to hospital with suspected stab wounds after he was assaulted in Chelmsford.

    The 18-year-old victim was attacked in Nelson Grove, near Admirals Park, at around 9.45pm.

    The scene was cordoned off by officers for forensic investigation and the air ambulance was also despatched.

    An Essex Police spokesman said the man's injuries, which consist of five puncture wounds to the legs, are not thought to be life threatening. No arrests have been made.

    Anyone with information should contact police on 101 or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

    Man wounded in attack near Admirals Park in Chelmsford

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    Surely somebody has won a Christmas present to remember? The balls have been drawn for tonight's quadruple rollover Lottery draw.

    The jackpot for tonight was a mammoth £12.7million!

    So check your tickets and see if you're the luckiest people in the country at the moment. Here are the numbers: 2, 19, 24, 33, 35 and 46 with the bonus ball was 12

    Fifty people have also won £20,000 each after being entered into the Lotto raffle

    And do you need a reminder of Saturday's numbers? They were 18, 33, 30, 48, 34, 38 and the bonus ball was 36. The Lotto made 259,311 winners in Saturday's draw.

    The next Lotto draw for Saturday, December 20, re-opens tomorrow morning. Good luck!

    National Lottery results: Lotto and Thunderball draw numbers on Wednesday December 17

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    BRAINTREE Town midfielder Matt Paine hopes his side won't be on the end of a giant-killing in the FA Trophy second round when they visit last year's runners-up, Gosport Borough.

    Paine has good memories of playing for Conference Premier Braintree against the south coast side but wants to make sure his team will not be complacent against the Conference South side.

    "They'll be the underdogs but we want to be the ones writing the headlines to progress not for a giant-killing," said Paine.

    "We went to Gosport three seasons ago in the Trophy in the first round and we scraped through with a 1-0 win but they're doing well in the Conference South so it will be a tough tie.

    "It's going to be tough but I think we're quite confident we can beat Gosport and nail our status as the league above.

    "We'll hope to qualify to get through to third round of course, we'll do our research on them and give it our best in the second round.

    The 26-year-old also hopes his side can use the FA Trophy to their benefit and cement their reputation as a Conference Premier side.

    "It's another distraction from the league, which will be good for us, so we're fully able to win the second-round tie to get through to the third round," he said.

    "When you look at other clubs, if you have a good performance in the Trophy it can build up the confidence and hopefully we can climb up the league.

    "We've still got half of the season to go and with all the players back fit I don't think we'll have much of a problem to maintain our league status.

    "We're looking at both competitions as it is.

    "The FA Trophy is a good opportunity to get to Wembley if possible, and it's only five more games to win, but the main picture is to consolidate ourselves in the Conference Premier this year."

    Braintree Town's Matt Paine warns against complacency after FA Trophy draw

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    ALAN KIMBLE sent out a warning to his Maldon & Tiptree players after a fifth red card in four games played a part in them losing 5-3 to Great Wakering on Saturday.

    Alberto Pinto saw red with the score at 2-2 and the Maldon boss has had enough of the players' indiscipline.

    "I've got to do something drastic and they will be dealt with by the football club and me internally. I can't condone the sending off yet again and I need to do something about it," said Kimble.

    "We can't keep playing with [ten men] and getting players sent off, and if their discipline doesn't improve, I can't have those people around the football club who are ill-disciplined.

    "I need 11 players on the pitch for us to get anything out of football matches and they're letting me down, the club down, the chairman down, the players down and themselves down and I've got to nip it in the bud now.

    "That's four games with five players that have been sent off and our disciplinary record is diabolical at the moment.

    "The buck stops at me, so I've got to do something about it. Everyone will know what's in hand because I can't have people here just picking money up, I need people fighting for the cause, that want to play for Maldon and Tiptree.

    "I'm not going to tinker too much with the players that have done fantastically for me but in the last two games the sending offs have cost us."

    Kimble is hoping once the discipline has been sorted out that his side can soon return to the form that saw his side start to climb the Ryman North table, but admits they need to cut out silly mistakes.

    "We're going through a little bit of a sticky patch at the moment but the one thing you do is you stick together, you all work hard in training and then put it right in the matches and that's what we'll be doing," said Kimble.

    "At the moment we're giving too many soft goals away in all departments. It's not just the back four, the defending starts from the front.

    "In the Harlow game they all worked their socks off and got in their faces and on Saturday we did that to an extent but the sending off cost us again.

    "That's nine goals conceded in two games and if we want to climb out of the bottom then we need to start getting clean sheets, start being hard to beat home and away.

    "We've got to quickly address the situation, which we have, and you'll see a different Maldon and Tiptree team on Saturday, not in personnel, but in terms of discipline.

    "We just need to consolidate this season to get a bit of stability, stay in the league which we will without a shadow of a doubt, but then we're going to kick on from next season."

    Boss Kimble warns of 'drastic' action as Maldon & Tiptree suffer another red card

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    CLIFF AKURANG believes he won't have to change much at Heybridge Swifts after taking over at the club last week.

    The former Barnet striker and player-coach at local rivals Maldon & Tiptree, took charge of his first game as a manager on Saturday and saw Swifts record their first win in ten league games as they beat Chatham Town 1-0.

    Having only met the players on Thursday, Akurang revealed he was impressed with what he saw on the pitch on Saturday after a solid performance.

    "They've definitely made a good impression on me," he revealed. "I thought it was a case that maybe players are not good enough and lots of changes were needed. But from what I've seen I don't think it's going to take a lot to turn things around.

    "I said to them it was a massive opportunity for everyone at the club because I don't know what went on in the past.

    "As far as I'm concerned everyone's going to get an opportunity but if they're producing results like that it's going to be difficult for the ones that I haven't seen yet, because it'll be tough to change what's on offer.

    "They have got their shirts now they just need to keep it and keep working to that standard."

    Akurang changed the line-up with some familiar faces in unfamiliar positions but had the belief they would do a job and also had high praise for his newly appointed captain Danny Barber.

    "I felt confident I could put players in certain positions and ask them to do a job like Gayly [Aaron Gayle] in the midfield, [Joe] Pearman moving wide and Chris [Bryan] going up top.

    "They looked like they've been playing there for years, so I was really pleased with the communication of everyone and long may it continue.

    "Danny [Barber] is someone that I've known for a long time, so we're good friends. I know what he's going to produce and he's Heybridge through and through.

    "If you cut him open he'll bleed Heybridge so for the young guys he sets the example and that's what I need at this club at the moment, to get us up the table, so I wanted to make a statement.

    "That's the direction I want to pull and he's going to lead us.

    "I haven't seen what they did in the past as I've not been able to see many games but going off of what I've heard about certain individuals mentally, physically, and what I saw in training, these were the guys who stood out for me.

    "They had that rapport with the rest of the boys, they were the voices of the dressing room, so it only made sense to me that they would lead the boys out."

    Akurang: 'It won't take much to turn Heybridge Swifts around'

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    CHELMSFORD City manager Mark Hawkes says he is in no rush to boost his forward line following the news striker John Sands is to have his double hernia operation earlier than planned.

    It means the Clarets have only two fit senior strikers in Michael Cheek and Southend United loanee Jason Williams, with academy products Sam Gregory and Jake Gordon also available.

    But with Cheek having scored 14 goals this season, and with Williams notching his fifth and sixth in just seven appearances for City in Saturday's 3-2 win over Eastbourne Borough, Hawkes is happy to wait for the right man.

    When asked if someone would be brought in before Saturday's Conference South trip to Hayes & Yeading, the manager said no, but he added: "I'm always looking and if the right player comes along we'll see what we can do.

    "There may be new faces there might not be, but we're not in a rush. We have two young lads at the club in Sam and Jake who we like the look of."

    Sands joined City last month after leaving Canvey Island, and at the time Hawkes revealed the 27-year-old's planned procedure had been delayed until the summer.

    But this week the Clarets announced that Sands, who has been suffering with a rib injury picked up in the win over Bath City, has joined Ryman Premier Bury Town on a dual registration.

    He will aim to get match-fit with the Suffolk club before and after the operation, scheduled for after Christmas, and City expect to have him back for the final two months of the season.

    Sands made just one start and one substitute appearance for the Clarets, but Hawkes doesn't feel it was a risk bringing him in.

    "I don't think it was a gamble, it's just unfortunate with the knock he's taken," said the City boss. "He was stamped on the ribs in the game against Bath and he hasn't been able to shake it off.

    "He was having trouble breathing when he was walking about, so he's not been able to train and be up to the fitness level he needs to play at this level."

    However, City need not worry as, in Williams, they have one of the in-form strikers in the division.

    The 19-year-old has extended his initial one-month loan to a second month and the Clarets will be hoping his success doesn't see him recalled to his parent club, much like goalkeeper Tony Thompson, who went back to Rotherham United last month.

    Hawkes says Williams is reaping the rewards for all his hard work. "I'm pleased for him," said the boss. "He comes in and he works hard at training and during the match.

    "He started off a bit slow, but that's all part of getting used to non-league football, but he's picked up what's expected of him and he's getting all that he deserves at the moment.

    "Jason is as close to the Southend first team as he can be without actually being in it, they think that highly of him.

    "He has signed on for another month and we will see where we go from there.

    "We're just grateful to have someone of Jason's calibre and if he does get called back then that's a situation we'll have to act on."

    Chelmsford City boss won't be rushed into new striker signing

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    AN UNEMPLOYED man who caused a crash because he was not paying attention is now one point away from losing his licence.

    Sam Smith, 20, of Teal Avenue, Mayland, pleaded guilty to one count of driving his Peugeot along Maldon Road in Goldhanger without due care and attention on September 9.

    At Chelmsford Magistrates' Court on Thursday (December 11), he also admitted having three small wraps of cocaine.

    Police spotted him driving carelessly and pulled him over and breathalysed him, but he gave a negative sample.

    It was only when officers searched his car they discovered the Class A drugs.

    Lorraine Hardy, defending Smith, told the court: "It was a negligible amount of drugs that were for personal use.

    "He is hugely embarrassed to be before the court and was very co-operative with police and apologised at the scene and wishes to apologise to the court."

    Smith had been driving for two-and-a-half years when the incident happened, is seeking work, and has been offered a job with his father in the double-glazing industry.

    Chairman of the bench Paul Jee said: "This is a very worrying offence in the sense that it is possible that cocaine may have been taken.

    "We are not going to make that assumption, but obviously having the drugs in the car is a factor that exacerbates the seriousness of the offence.

    "This was an error of judgement, but nevertheless you did cause an accident. You will have to drive very carefully over the next few years."

    He was given eight points on his licence by magistrates, which means he now has 11 in total, fined £150, ordered to pay £85 towards the cost of the prosecution and a victim surcharge of £20.

    An order was also made for the drugs to be seized and destroyed.

    Careless motorist was discovered with cocaine in his car

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    A BACKPACKER had a lucky escape after the café he worked in just over a fortnight ago became the scene of a deadly bloodbath.

    The world watched in horror on Monday as 50-year-old Muslim extremist Man Haron Monis took 17 people hostage, including staff at the Lindt Cafe in Sydney.

    After seeing the siege on TV, friends and family of Elliot Vale, of Belvedere Place, Maldon, frantically began to try to get in touch with the 23-year-old barista, who had been working at the café for the past three months.

    But Elliot, a former barman at the OAKhouse in High Street, Maldon, had recently stopped working at the café in the city's financial district about two weeks ago, and was enjoying the final weeks of a year-long tour of South-East Asia and Australia in Fiji with two friends.

    He was keeping his location secret to friends and family as he hoped to surprise them with his return to the UK before the Christmas period on Monday.

    But it was during the 24-hour flight home that the drama unfolded, and friends and family texted, tweeted and Facebooked him.

    Elliot said: "It was crazy. When I arrived I had hundreds of messages on my phone with people worried about me. It's good to know that people care a lot.

    "I didn't even know about the siege. I was flying the whole time so after I realised it was good to let people know that I'm OK.

    "My first call was to my mum who was very glad to hear my voice and to know that I was fine."

    The former Plume School pupil had only left his job in Sydney after he was offered a return to the OAKhouse as manager.

    After hearing the news, Elliot phoned his mum from Heathrow. In order not to ruin the surprise, he told her that he was in a hotel in Fiji and not to worry.

    But his mind quickly strayed to his former colleagues caught up in the attack.

    Elliott said: "It dawned on me that I would have almost certainly have been working that day.

    "If it wasn't for the fact that I was offered the job then I would have stayed working at Lindt.

    "It was a very busy coffee house with some really talented baristas working in there; they really helped me out when I started."

    The two hostages who died in the siege, along with the gunman, were named by New South Wales police as the Lindt café manager Tori Johnson, and barrister and mother-of-three, Katrina Dawson.

    "I got on really well with Tori. I obviously only knew him for a short period of time but he came across to me as a stern but kind man," said Elliott.

    "I remember his last words to me. He said 'Elliott, you are extremely talented and passionate about your job and we will have you back working with us whenever you return to Sydney' which was a great send-off."

    Monis had walked into the café on Monday morning shortly before 10am and took 17 people hostage.

    Armed police surrounded the cafe as hostages were made to hold a flag up at the window carrying Arabic writing. As well as the three people who died in the incident, four others were also injured as the bloody siege ended in a chaotic shootout.

    Elliott has now returned home to Belvedere Place with his mum, Michelle, dad Richard and younger sister Ella, 15.

    Job offer saved Maldon backpacker from Man Haron Monis's Sydney cafe siege horror

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    A MAN was caught with cannabis on him after the car he was travelling in sped past police.

    Mahdi Yousef, 28, of Isaac Square, Great Baddow, was found with two grams of the Class B drug on Tuesday, November 25 as a front-seat passenger in a Volkswagen Golf.

    The car sped past officers towards The Meads in Chelmsford and the patrol car then pulled the vehicle over.

    The defendant was asked if he had any drugs on him and he replied that there was some cannabis in the door pocket.

    On Thursday last week at Chelmsford Magistrates' Court, Yousef pleaded guilty to the offence.

    The court heard the 28-year-old had six previous convictions for eight offences, seven of which were drug offences, between 2005 and 2013.

    He had stopped using drugs but relapsed after suffering a recent family bereavement.

    Chairman of the bench, Paul Jee, said: "We have decided to issue a slightly more serious fine because of the significant history of drug-related offences."

    Yousef was fined £210 and ordered to pay £85 costs and a £21 victim surcharge.

    The seizure and destruction of the cannabis was also ordered.

    Man fined after speeding past police in Great Baddow with cannabis in his car

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    An electronic cigarette containing cannabis will be available to buy in Britain from Christmas Day onwards.

    KanaVape uses hemp with five per cent cannabidiol (CBD), meaning it apparently provides a relaxed feeling but without the psychotic side-effects.

    The makers of the first e-joint, which graced the market oversees in June, Antonin Cohen and Sebastien Beguerie, claim their product is entirely legal as it does not contain chemical THC.

    Users can inhale cannabis vapour without the usual smell of smoke.

    Drug charities have suggested the product will indeed be legal under British law due to its lack of THC.

    Speaking to, Sophie Macken, at the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs, said: "CBD is legal and has some therapeutic and neuroprotective properties.

    "It is not usually something that would be used recreationally though so this sounds like a bit of a gimmick."

    The hemp used in the e-joint is grown in France, Czech Republic and Spain without the use of synthetic pesticides and chemicals.

    The cannabis e-cigarette will also go on sale in France, where it is legal, but the health minster immediately moved to ban the product.

    KanaVape makers Antonin and Sebastien said: "We made KanaVape to give millions of people a legal and tasteful way of using cannabinoids. We craft our production with love, care and scientific research.

    "KanaVape is good for our customers and good for the planet."

    KanaVape cannabis e-cigarette to go on sale in Britain on Christmas Day

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    Road accidents in Chelmsford are causing traffic jams in and around the city this morning (December 18).

    A two-vehicle accident on an A12 London-bound lane close to junction 18 at Sandon, reported on Twitter by the Highways Authority at about 7.45am, is causing traffic to queue back to the Boreham Interchange.

    Traffic is queuing around the Boreham Interchange from vehicles trying to access the A12.

    Similarly a two-vehicle accident on the A130 northbound has blocked the outside lane between the Rettendon Turnpike and the Howe Green junction with the A12.

    Two-vehicle accident causing queuing A12 traffic between Boreham and Sandon

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    The Coca Cola Christmas truck will make it's long awaited visit to Clacton on within the next week.

    The distinctive red HGV, made famous by its appearance in the famous 'Holidays are Coming' festive adverts, is on a whistlestop tour of 45 locations in the UK.

    Hundreds of people have greeted the truck, and it has now made its way to the south of the country.

    When is it in Essex?

    The Coca Cola Christmas Truck will stop off in the Clacton Factory Outlet in Stephenson Way on December 22 from 10am to 6pm

    Bryony Cox, events manager for Coca-Cola, said: "To many, the sight of Coca-Cola's iconic 'Holidays are Coming' advert signifies the start of the Christmas season. This year is no exception.

    "The advert has become an iconic part of Christmas and we're delighted that the truck can give a little happiness to as many people across the nation as possible."

    Are you planning to visit the truck when it arrives in Clacton? Register and comment below.

    Coca Cola Christmas truck coming to Essex: When will it arrive in Clacton?

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