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

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    THIS is the shocking x-ray images of a man's jaw after it was smashed in two places during an attack in Chelmsford town centre on New Year's Day.

    After leaving Faces in Kings Head Walk, the 33-year-old victim from the city was assaulted outside the nightclub at around 2.30am.

    The army staff sergeant, who does not wish to be still suffers constant pain from his badly broken jaw that had to have three metal plates fitted at Broomfield Hospital.

    "I was walking away from Faces, down Baddow Road past Zagger, when I was jumped from behind and attacked. I have no idea who it was and didn't get a look at them," said the army staff sergeant, who has served in a tank regiment for 16 years.

    After the attack his phone was went missing and then recovered two weeks later.

    The victim, who does not wish to be identified, did not see who attacked him.

    He added: "My girlfriend kept calling my phone and then eventually someone answered it and said we could come and collect if from Galleywood.

    "When I looked at it there were these pictures of people I don't know on there.

    Police initially wanted to trace the people in the pictures taken on the phone, but since Tuesday have identified all of them.

    "Doctors think it should all be healed within six to eight weeks. It's such a cowardly act, I would urge anyone who saw anything and who hasn't come forward already, to get in touch with the police," said the victim, who counts Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia and Kosovo among the countries he has toured.

    "Some of my friends joked that I'd been to all these places over the years and never been hurt, but then got injured like this in Chelmsford," he said.

    Anyone who witnessed the assault is asked to contact PC Carley Parodi at Chelmsford CID on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

    Pictured: Image shows army vet's cracked jaw after assault outside Faces in Chelmsford


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    Morrisons has confirmed none of its stores in Essex will be among those earmarked for closure.

    The supermarket chain announced it would shut 10 of its supermarkets as a result of poorer than expected sales over the Christmas period. 

    Like-for-like sales dropped by 3.1 per cent in the six weeks to January 4 - the worst of all the main supermarkets.

    Chief executive Dalton Philips will also leave in March after five-years in charge.

    The firm's stores in Mid-Essex are in Melbourne, Witham and Braintree, while it also has supermarkets in Harwich and Clacton.

    The store has attracted criticism for its failure to match its rivals in online and convenience store shopping.

    It comes one week after Tesco pulled out of plans to build three stores in Essex after reporting that like for like sales in January fell by 2.9 per cent until January 3.

    Morrisons stores in Essex 'not under threat from closure'


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    BRAINTREE Town captain Kenny Davis isn't fazed by Ebbsfleet United's deep-pockets after they were drawn against each other in the last 16 of the FA Trophy.

    The Conference South Kent side have hit the headlines in recent weeks after bringing in Football League players Danny Kedwell and Stuart Lewis.

    The signings have certainly made everyone stand up and take notice, but Davis believes his Confernce Premier team still have the upper hand, playing in the division above.

    "I played with [Danny] Kedwell for a little while when he was at Grays Athletic and he's a good player who has scored a lot of goals in league football but it's a different kettle of fish [in non-league]," said Davis.

    "It's a completely different set of tactics deployed by non-league teams compared to League One teams so hopefully he struggles against us.

    "At the end of the day it doesn't matter to me if they were a Football League player, they're a ConferenceSsouth player now, it's irrelevant where they were."

    Braintree progressed to the next round after dispatching last year's runners-up Gosport Borough on Saturday in a game Davis felt they dominated throughout.

    "Regardless of the players that got sent off, from the first whistle up until the first penalty really we were in control of the game," he said.

    "They had one chance after we scored the second penalty but overall I thought we were completely in control of the game.

    "It was a good result and we should have really put them to the sword and punished them to bring confidence right up but a 2-0 win is as good as any in a cup competition."

    Town will be seen as favourites for the match against Ebbsfleet as they come up against opposition from the league below once more and Davis is pleased they've been drawn at home.

    "Of course the home draw is key, we need the home fans behind us," he said. "It's going to be a tough game, there's no two ways about it but with the crowd behind us and if we can play how we've been playing of late, with the form we're in, we've got to be looking forward to the game and we'll hopefully get through to the next round."

    Braintree not worried by Ebbsfleet's former league players says skipper Davis


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    BRAINTREE Town club captain Kenny Davis hopes his side can take full advantage of a great chance after they were drawn at home to Conference South side Ebbsfleet United in the FA Trophy last 16.

    Town progressed after beating last year's runners-up Gosport Borough 2-0 on Saturday, while big-spending Fleet saw off Conference Premier side Forest Green Rovers 1-0 at home.

    Braintree are one of only a handful of Conference Premier sides left in the Trophy and Davis admits the onus is on them to grab the chance they have created for themselves.

    "We are favourites for this upcoming game, you'd like to think, even though they've pumped all the money in," said Davis. "It's going to be a tough game, obviously they beat Forest Green in the last round and they're pumping in a bit of money but I still fancy us to proceed to the next round.

    "We've just got to show all our qualities and experience at this level because we know a lot about them, it's a good draw and hopefully there will be a few down there [at Cressing Road] but it's a draw that is welcome.

    "We've got a great opportunity, there's no two ways about it, but we take every game as it comes, it is 11 versus 11 at the end of the day.

    "We've come a long way since being in the Conference South and done really well in the Conference Premier so far so we've got to use this and progress."

    Braintree manager Alan Devonshire knows the feeling of playing at Wembley all too well having put in the cross for Trevor Brooking's winner in West Ham's 1-0 victory over Arsenal in the 1980 FA Cup final.

    With the chance to play on the hallowed turf now within touching distance, Davis admits Devonshire's experience at Wembley is something that inspires the Braintree players to succeed.

    "He does talk about his experience of playing at Wembley and he said it was the best experience he had as a footballer.

    "He was at the top of the football ladder playing in the top flight with West Ham and he said it was an amazing day, an amazing place, obviously the new Wembley is different from when he went there, but it's still Wembley.

    "It's not even far away and it's a really good opportunity with only a few Conference Premier sides left in it so we just need to take it with both hands and not let ourselves down."

    Braintree Town must take advantage of FA Trophy home draw


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    CHELMSFORD'S Ali Carter says he thrived on the outpouring of emotion at the Masters as he triumphed in his first major match since being given the all-clear from cancer.

    Carter had a cancerous tumour on his lung diagnosed last May, less than year after recovering from testicular cancer, but got the all-clear in December and received a standing ovation before beating Barry Hawkins 6-1 at Alexandra Palace in London on Tuesday.

    The 35-year-old seemed genuinely touched by the ovation and used it as inspiration to produce some of his best snooker in the first-round contest.

    He raced into a two-frame lead and although Hawkins snatched the third, Carter made a high break of 130 to cruise to victory in just over two hours.

    That sets up a quarter-final date with world No 1 Neil Robertson this evening (Thursday) and the local cue star admits he was delighted just to be able to focus on snooker once again.

    "It felt great – the reception I got was awesome and I wanted to go out there and give a good account of myself," he said. "Now I've got all the cancer business behind me I can focus on getting my career back.

    "The reception I got was immense – it is almost as if the crowd has been through the dark days with me.

    "It was brilliant and to play out there on the one table set-up again reminded me that I am one of the best players in the world.

    "I've been to hell and back over the last 18 months, so hopefully tonight I have turned the corner."

    The Masters hasn't been a happy hunting ground for Carter in the past – he has advanced beyond the first round just once.

    And while he knows that Robertson won't be an easy opponent, the man affectionately known as Captain sees no reason why he can't break his hoodoo at the event.

    "Neil Robertson is another top player but all the top 16 are great players, so I'm not too worried about that," added Carter.

    "It's a pleasure to play here – this tournament hasn't been too nice to me over the years, so it would be nice to put that right.

    "I want to win some tournaments again – I feel like I'm going to win again but I don't quite know when.

    "I'm just pleased to be back competing and feeling good in myself and hopefully all the dark days are behind me."

    British Eurosport is the Home of Snooker, showing 19 tournaments a season, including the World Championship, UK Championship the Masters and all other ranking events. It is available on Sky, Virgin Media and BT TV or online/mobile via eurosportplayer.com #eurosportsnooker

    Crowd carried Ali Carter  to first round victory at Masters


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    CHELMSFORD City captain Mark Hughes admits his team-mates were in complete shock after their defeat by Weston-super-Mare on Saturday.

    With many Conference South sides out of action on the day, the Clarets could have gone third with a victory but they failed to do so, losing 3-1.

    The defeat came after a run of three straight victories that had lifted them into the play-offs and the central midfielder felt it was "a missed opportunity".

    "There weren't many games on in the league and it was said before that Weston were on a good run since the manager has taken over and they beat Sutton last weekend so it was all about a good start," said Hughes.

    "Unfortunately, we went 1-0 down again but we thought we'd get that one chance to get back into the game but they brought on a couple of subs that were lively and before we knew it we were 3-0 down and the game was over.

    "We were shocked more than anything because at half-time we were only 1-0 down and it's not really like us to put our heads down considering how we had been playing.

    "We've got this bad habit at the moment of going behind but we keep going and I always thought we'd get back in it if we got that chance but ultimately we didn't get that goal where we could have kicked on from.

    "We won three on the spin against Farnborough, Ebbsfleet and Staines so it was disappointing, even if we would have got a point there it would have looked good now but instead we conceded two late goals which killed the game.

    "It was disappointing it was a long journey and I feel sorry for the fans more than anything because we didn't give them much to shout about."

    Despite Saturday's blip Hughes admits his team will be better prepared to continue the play-off fight when they take on Wealdstone this Saturday.

    "We are still confident of getting into the play-offs, that's our aim really," he said. "We've got 14 games left and we know we have to win more than half of those so it's a big ask but we've got everyone back now and hopefully we can keep the same side for a few weeks, which would be good to get a bit of consistency.

    "Play-offs are still a hope but we try not to look at the table too often.

    "We let ourselves down on Saturday and Wealdstone beat us 2-0 earlier in the season so we'll be proper fired up for that one because we can't let anyone take six points off us and I don't think anyone has yet so that's an incentive to keep that record going.

    "It's a big game and we'll be training tonight [Monday] and Thursday so we'll definitely be better prepared than the week before."

    Chelmsford City players were shocked by Weston defeat says skipper Hughes


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    HEYBRIDGE SWIFTS boss Cliff Akurang was critical of his side's discipline after Jordan Willmore was sent off in-between giving away two penalties in Saturday's defeat to Dereham.

    Swifts took an early lead inside ten minutes but couldn't capitalise further and went in at the break on level terms at 2-2.

    The big changing point of the match came when Willmore was shown a second yellow and Dereham went on to score two further goals to secure the victory.

    Heybridge had a couple of players on yellow cards going in at the break and despite the promising start, Akurang admitted he was nervous about the challenges his players were putting in.

    "We started off fantastically well and then we had another gilt-edged chance to make it 2-0 but he missed it and we got punished by conceding a penalty," said Akurang.

    "We went in at half-time with the score at 2-2 and the wind behind us, but we made it hard for ourselves when we had a player sent off. The boys tried as hard as they could to hold it up but Dereham took advantage of the extra man.

    "After the sending off you're hoping for that bit of luck but they were ruthless and they punished us.

    "We took a few bookings in the first half and it was the same players going to ground. I said to them I was a little nervous that they kept going to ground and making rash tackles that are going to give free-kicks away and, worse still, they might get booked for them.

    "My substitutions were to save them from a red, but I shouldn't have to do that if they just think about the situation they are in and play a more mature game.

    "I told the players in the changing rooms that they're big enough and old enough to know that when they're on a yellow they can't keep going to ground.

    "We didn't learn from giving away the penalty and then we gave away another penalty exactly the same way and ended up getting a sending off all because of players going to ground. It's something I need to address to make sure it doesn't happen again."

    Heybridge return to Scraley Road for the first time in 2015 and Akurang is hoping they build some form at home, starting this Saturday against Aveley.

    "It's been a lot of travelling but we've done all right on the road. We just need to find some form again to push away from the relegation zone," said Akurang.

    "We have to do well in our home games and get the fans behind us and that's what we're going to need Saturday. We need to get back to defending better."


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    MALDON & TIPTREE boss Alan Kimble is hoping his side can creep into the Ryman North play-offs after Saturday's win moved them 11 points away from the relegation zone.

    They sit 15 points away from fifth, but Kimble is optimistic after going four games unbeaten.

    "All the results went our way on Saturday which is a pleasing thing and we were the only team in the bottom half of the table to pick up three points, which is a fantastic achievement," said Kimble. "That's put us onto 33 points, 22 we've got since I first walked through the door, which I'm very proud of. It's a good place to be at the moment.

    "It gives us a bit of a breathing space above the rest but that's only half the battle really, we're 15 points off the play-offs so you never know.

    "When we walked through the door we were playing catch-up. It's taken a mammoth effort from everyone at the football club to be where we are the moment.

    "My first priority was to stay in the league, it was a big ask to do that, we're still not mathematically safe, but we're just creeping up the league nice and slowly, nobody's taking too much notice of us.

    "You never know we may just creep in the back door to the play-offs which would be a fantastic achievement from where we were when we first came into this football club, but we're gradually making our way up the table and we're looking up instead of down."

    They face a tough task to maintain their unbeaten record in the upcoming games against three of the top five but Kimble is eyeing at least three points.

    "We've just got to make sure we prepare ourselves right leading into a big game on Saturday against AFC Sudbury," he revealed. "They are firing on all cylinders at the moment, they got a 1-0 win [at Cheshunt] on Saturday, so they're up there for a reason and we're down where we are for a reason.

    "Results give players and teams confidence and it's going to be hard for me to pick what team will go down there and get a result, but I know from now until the end of the season everyone in my squad will be playing a big part in the team.

    "I just hope we might be able to creep into the play-offs if not a top half finish would be fantastic considering where we were when we started. If we can stay unbeaten in these next three games, it would be a massive achievement from everyone at the club.

    "More, we'll be in good stead going into the final stages of the season."

    Manager Alan Kimble feels Maldon & Tiptree could creep into play-offs


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    WITHAM Town boss Garry Kimble was critical of his side's profligacy in front of goal and claimed it was two points dropped as they drew at home to fellow strugglers VCD Athletic.

    A first-half goal from Ryan Charles looked to put Witham on their way to their first win in five matches but the second goal eluded them and five minutes from time the visitors equalised.

    With Witham a place and a point above the Ryman Premier relegation zone and VCD just below them a draw didn't help either side, and Kimble believes his side should have been out of sight before half-time.

    "It was definitely two points dropped, to be fair though we should have been five up at half-time, we just couldn't take our chances," said the manager.

    "We've hit the bar, the post and the goalkeeper's pulled off a great save from Lewis Dark from about 25 yards out but I can't fault the effort, we just needed a little bit of lady luck in front of goal.

    "They came back in the second half and we just couldn't hold on, they scored five minutes from full-time, but when you look at it it's a point gained because the teams below us have lost, so in hindsight it wasn't a bad result really, but if we had won it, it would have taken us a bit further away from the pack.

    "It was heartbreaking to concede five minutes from time because at 1-0 it was always possible and I said to the lads at half-time the next goal would have won the game.

    "If we had scored it would have been over, but we didn't."

    With a tough run of fixtures ahead, Kimble has targeted nothing but three points in their home games and knows his side need to start picking up points on the road as well, starting this Saturday with a trip to play-off chasing Wingate & Finchley.

    "I think it's paramount that you've got to win all your home games and that's how it's going to be between now and the end of the season," he said.

    "I know we've got some games in hand but that means nothing, we've got to win the home games and hopefully we will.

    "We've lost five of the last six away from home and that's not good reading so hopefully we can put it right.

    "No game is easy in this league, we've got to prepare ourselves, go there [Wingate] with the right attitude and hopefully get something out of the game because we've got to pick something up from our away games."

    Manager Garry Kimble rues Witham Town's wastefulness in front of goal


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    A MAN convicted of drug smuggling in the Czech Republic faces extradition to Eastern Europe after being arrested by police Tuesday (January 13).

    Daniel Macdonald, 31, of Tree Beard Copse, was due to meet police at Heathrow airport on May 7 2014 but failed to attend.

    He will appear at Westminster Magistrates court today (Wednesday 14) where a decision will be made concerning his extradition. 

    Macdonald was arrested in Prague in November 2009 on suspicion of importing 10.84kg of cannabis from Lebanon and given a six-and-a-half year sentence in his absence.

    The former sales manager was due to be extradited after he lost his second appeal at Westminster Magistrates' Court on March 12 2014.

    Then on Thursday April 17 2014 he mounted an advertising stand in central London to protest his innocence. 

    He displayed a pink banner asking for help to find an unnamed CID officer who he claims met him in Edmonton Police station in 2011 and made him sign papers guaranteeing that Czech police will not prosecute.

    Macdonald has claimed to the Chronicle that he was the victim of an elaborate honey trap scam after falling in love with a Lebanese girl and should not be extradited due to ongoing mental health issues.

    An Essex police spokesperson said: "A 31-year-old man from South Woodham Ferrers who was wanted on warrant was on Tuesday January 13.

    "He will appear at Westminster Magistrates court today."

    Extradition beckons for South Woodham Ferrers man convicted of drug smuggling in the Czech Republic


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    Chelmsford City Council has revealed the proposed design for its welcome signs.

    And they will still read "Birthplace of Radio".

    Council leader Roy Whitehead said last month the message would be most likely erased when it replaces its ten 12-year-old brown signs.

    Readers, keen to preserve the heritage of Guglielmo Marconi who set up the first wireless factory in Hall Street in 1898, reacted with outrage.

    At a meeting last Thursday (January 8) Cllr Whitehead and county council highways boss Rodney Bass agreed the radio message would stay pending approval from the Department for Transport.

    The new sign is adorned with a sunny picture of grade-II 18th century building Hylands House, owned by the council since 1966, and underneath: "Welcome to Chelmsford - Birthplace of Radio" with mention of twinned towns Backnang and Annonay.

    "I'm delighted to say that the Marconi legacy will continue to be well represented in Chelmsford," said Cllr Whitehead.

    He also said it was important to keep mention of the twinned towns, not least because Marconi set up a factory in Backnang.

    "If we only put radio on there and had done away with the mention of the twinned towns the twinning associations would be up in arms," he said.  

    What do you think? Email newsdesk@essexchronicle.co.uk, post your response on our Facebook page, or tweet us @EssexChronicle.

    Revealed: The signs which could welcome you to Chelmsford


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    A 16-year-old Chelmsford girl missing since October has finally returned home.

    Courtney Anderson was last seen leaving her home in Norfolk Drive on Friday, October 17, on the same day as 24-year-old Luke Ratcliffe's birthday.

    Essex Police quickly launched a hunt for the girl, worried about her safety, and also for Luke, who previously lived on the Westlands Estate in Chelmsford, who they suspected was with the teenager in east London.

    Her mother Sharon Franklin said she was scared she'd never see her daughter again.

    While Courtney is home safe, police are still asking for assistance in finding Luke.

    He is described as 6ft 1ins tall, of heavy build, with ginger hair and of a spotty complexion.

    Anyone with information can contact police at Chelmsford on 101.

    Missing Chelmsford 16-year-old Courtney Anderson returns home


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    A man was flown to hospital by air ambulance today and three others treated by paramedics after a vehicle collided with a tree.

    The ambulance service was called to treat the four people after reports that a gold Ford B max car crashed in Hyde Lane in Danbury shortly before 11.12am.

    The fire service was called at 11.23am to free the 75-year-old man from Wickford trapped in the vehicle, who was then airlifted away to Royal London Hospital.

    An East of England Ambulance service spokesman said: "We sent a rapid response vehicle which was on scene in two minutes, two ambulance crews, and an ambulance officer. 

    "The Essex Air Ambulance also attended.

    "We treated four patients at the scene. Three patients were taken to Broomfield Hospital by land ambulance – two had minor injuries and the third was suffering with chest pains and required further care and assessment.

    "The other patient was flown to the Royal London Hospital with potentially serious spinal injuries."

    Police are investigating the circumstances surrounding the collision,
    Any witnesses who have not yet spoken to police are asked to contact Pc Martyn Wells at the Essex Police Serious Collision Investigation Unit on 101 or email collisionappeal@essex.pnn.police.uk

    Man airlifted with serious spinal injuries after Danbury tree smash


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    Burglars are suspected of breaking through a rear house door and stealing a watch before being rumbled by the residents.

    Police are investigating after thieves broke into the home in The Limes, Galleywood, at about 4.30am on Tuesday, January 13, before grabbing a gold Manis watch with a leather strap (pictured).

    The occupants heard the noise leading the suspect, or suspects, to leave.

    Investigating officer Pc Ray Hull said: "I would like to speak to anyone who saw anybody acting suspiciously or any suspicious vehicles in the area. 

    "I would also urge anyone who may have been offered the watch for sale to get in contact."

    Anyone with information can contact Pc Hull at Chelmsford CID on 101. 

    Alternatively they can contact the independent crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or through their anonymous online form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.

    Burglars steal gold leather-strapped Manis watch from Galleywood home


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    The friends of a popular skateboarder killed in Cyprus are working with Chelmsford City Council to fund a memorial plaque or even name a new skatepark after him.

    Tristan Bennett, 37, died when he was struck by a 4x4 while walking back to his parents' home in the early hours of Christmas Eve.

    Friend Luke Mac Duke, 33, who is already spearheading a committee campaigning for a new skatepark in Central Park, is now brainstorming innovative ways to remember the "nomadic" soul.

    "We're going to work with the council to call the new skatepark after him," said the Chelmsford skateboarder, of Kings Tower.

    About 200 people flocked onto the Central Park skatepark on Friday (January 9), to skate, release some Chinese lanterns and let off fireworks in his memory.

    The former St Cedd's School pupil, who was schooled at Ingatestone's Anglo European, at a secondary school in Cyprus and Chelmsford College, lived with his parents in Mashbury Road until 2003.

    Tristan, who also studied surveying in Nottingham and a Higher National Diploma in leisure management at Writtle College, worked as a lifeguard and duty manager at Riverside Ice & Leisure, at Royal Mail and at a Cyprus watersports firm fixing boat engines.

    In 2013 one of his passions became reality when skateboard company The OBVS used one of his graphic designs.

    Friend Nigel Davies, 39, said: "He was a good bloke. He was a deep soul and liked a good deep conversation and that's how he got to know so many."

    "He was a roamer; he kept in touch with lots of people, and there was always somewhere for Tristan to go."

    Younger brother Toby, who is with parents Pauline and David in Cyprus, said: "While we knew he was widely known and loved, we could not have anticipated such a response to this tragedy. 

    "We are immensely grateful to his friends, particularly in the skateboarding community in Essex and beyond, and would like to encourage them to keep his flame alive in the way they know best."

    Tristan is also survived by two-month-old nephew Erik and uncle Tony.

    Hopes for plaque and new Chelmsford skatepark for Cyprus crash victim Tristan Bennett


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    A FIRE at a farm adventure park that saw workers rescue animals from the blaze could have been arson, say police.

    South Woodham Ferrers' Marsh Farm had been closed for several hours on Saturday (January 10) when on-site staff realised a fire had broken out in an owl aviary at around 7pm.

    They quickly alerted their on-call colleagues, who rushed over to the farm to protect the animals.

    And although staff managed to rescue the owls and prevent the fire from spreading, the farm estimates the damage at tens of thousands of pounds.

    Police are currently investigating the cause, with arson one of the possibilities.

    James Martin, events and marketing manager for Marsh Farm, said: "None of the animals were harmed luckily, they were affected a little by the smoke and one of the owls is still with a specialist, but thankfully they are all fine."

    Staff donned protective gloves to remove the distressed owls from their cages, taking them away from the flames to safety.

    "The falconry guys had to make sure they had their protective gear on as obviously the birds were very distressed," Mr Martin added.

    "We run through emergency procedures quite a lot because we have had to get the animals out quickly during floods and things like that, so because they acted so quickly, they managed to prevent the fire spreading beyond a little bit of the aviary, and they kept all the animals safe."

    Once the fire brigade had arrived and put the fire out, and the animals had been moved to safety, staff faced the mammoth task of clearing the debris of the partially-destroyed aviary, as more than 1,500 people were expected at the farm on Sunday for a Frozen-themed event.

    Mr Martin said: "We had the team in at the crack of dawn and they worked non-stop to make sure that things were cleared up for the Frozen event, because people had to walk past the aviary and lots of the customers, as well as the staff, are very attached to the birds – the owls actually flew in with letters from Santa during our Christmas event, so lots of kids love them.

    "We really didn't want kids to be distressed seeing there had been a fire, so we managed to make the area look a lot better before people arrived."

    He added: "It will take about four to five weeks to rebuild, and one of our owls is still being looked after, but people can still come see the birds and the rest of the aviary is okay, and we will rebuild the bit that was destroyed."

    South Woodham Ferrers Marsh Farm fire 'could be arson'


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    CANCER patients in mid-Essex could have their journeys for treatment drastically reduced if plans for a radiotherapy centre in Chelmsford get the go-ahead.

    Currently, patients must travel to Southend, Romford or Colchester if they want to access radiotherapy treatment.

    Spire Healthcare group development director Neil McCullough said: "While Romford and Southend are hubs for NHS radiotherapy treatment, and Colchester has just opened a really good radiotherapy centre, we believe Chelmsford has been left under-served by the NHS and private healthcare.

    "And leaving Chelmsford out has caused a gap in mid-Essex that we believe we can plug."

    Because patients tend to have treatment on consecutive days, seriously ill people are often travelling several hours every day for almost a month at a time, just to access necessary medical care.

    "If you think that someone might need to visit a radiotherapy centre 20 times, for 20 days running, that could mean 1,000 miles of travelling for a cancer patient who lives in mid-Essex," said Mr McCullough.

    "It is a lot of time to take out of a cancer patient's life, so you can see the inconvenience that would cause."

    There is also a possibility that the new centre, which is projected to open at the end of the year next to Baddow Hospital, at the Essex Healthcare Park in West Hanningfield Road, will have space to take on NHS patients, in addition to people with private medical insurance or those who wish to pay for treatment.

    "Although our primary business is private healthcare, about 25-30 per cent of the patients in our 39 hospitals come from the NHS," Mr McCullough added.

    "And in our Chelmsford centre, if we have space then we will certainly be offering that to the NHS. They would pay for every individual patient, but for them the tariff is the same whether patients are treated in a private hospital or an NHS centre.

    "There is a shortage of both private and NHS players in the radiotherapy market.

    "Our new centre will have the latest equipment, handpicked operators and will be a comfortable place for people who do have to go there 20 times."

    The company's planning application is currently under consideration.

    Should it get the go-ahead, NHS Mid Essex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) would look into using the facility.

    A spokesman said: "As a CCG we recognise that, should the opportunity to utilise medical facilities in the private sector arise, we would consider using them should there be sufficient availability.

    "However, this would not happen unless any private facility providing care for NHS patients complied with rigorous NHS standards for treatment, demonstrated NHS-compliant care pathways, pays the highest regard to patient safety and quality, and is able to show demonstrable positive outcomes for patients."

    New cancer therapy centre for Chelmsford?


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    FAMILY and friends of a teenager who was stabbed to death have made a heartfelt plea to police to prioritise a knife amnesty after a third teenager in as many weeks was stabbed.

    A 17-year-old boy from Braintree was rushed to Broomfield Hospital with stab wounds to his lower back and left leg on Wednesday last week, after being assaulted in an alleyway between Waterson Vale and Loftin Way in the Moulsham Lodge area, at around 5.45pm.

    He left hospital that night after several hours of treatment, but the latest in the series of assaults in the city has led to calls to make tackling knife crime a priority.

    Ian Day, 19, the best friend of 18-year-old Ashley Woolley, who died a week before Christmas after being attacked, said: "The best thing the police can do is get an amnesty sorted as soon as possible. There have been three incidents in the last three weeks, and we can't have three more in the coming month.

    "Something needs to be done urgently; they need to put out the fire before it spreads, and if they don't deal with it now, it could get worse.

    "I just hope people realise the impact carrying a knife has, especially on people's family and friends. Put yourself in our shoes, imagine this had happened to someone you cared about."

    Chelmsford College student Ashley, of Rutland Road, Chelmsford, was fatally stabbed in Oaklands Park off Moulsham Street on his way to college on Thursday, December 18.

    Yesterday (Wednesday), Ashley's family and friends attended a tree planting in Oaklands Park in memory of the teenager. The planting was part-funded by Chronicle readers.

    Ashley's death came just two days after another 18-year-old survived being stabbed five times in the legs in Nelson Grove, near Admirals Park.

    Ian added: "On the day it happened, Ash's girlfriend mentioned he was going towards the park, then I heard the news that someone had been stabbed there.

    "Straight away I started panicking because I knew he was there and I couldn't get hold of him on his phone, but he was just so terrible with his phone, we hoped his phone battery had died.

    "A couple of hours later, a sergeant called and told us what had happened. We were on our way to Ash's house to see if he was there when we got that call, and we just went straight to the police station to support each other.

    "Me and Ash were friends for 10 years, so the memories I have of him are endless, and our friends have met up regularly over the last few weeks just to talk about him."

    Following last Wednesday's attack, the grass in front of Goodwin Close and Bawden Way was taped off as forensic officers combed the area for clues.

    A green area along Waterson Vale and Rosseter Close was also sealed off in the search for evidence.

    A 35-year-old man from Chelmsford was arrested shortly after the incident, and in the early hours of Thursday, a 17-year-old boy, also from the city, was arrested on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm.

    Both have now been released on bail to return to Chelmsford Police Station on Monday, March 9.

    No arrests have been made over the Nelson Grove stabbing last month.

    Despite these incidents, Essex Police has insisted there is no "particular issue" with knife crime in Chelmsford, and there will be no immediate knife amnesty in the city.

    However, the police constabulary are working on various countywide initiatives around the issue, the first coming into force in the next few months.

    Inspector Chris Kilgallen, who covers the Chelmsford and Maldon district, said: "There is not going to be an immediate knife amnesty in the district, but work is ongoing for participation in a force-wide knife amnesty later this year. "We are looking to participate in an initiative that will be commencing over the next couple of months. "We have been speaking to partner agencies and other organisations about the need for knife amnesties or alternative ways to permanently remove knives from circulation.

    "Officers in Chelmsford are not currently aware of a particular issue with knife crime, but will continue to explore all possible means to reduce offending."

    Trevor Woolley, the father of Ashley Woolley, disagreed.

    "Knife crime is a growing problem in Essex," said the 45-year-old,  of Witham. "There are too many people getting hurt. You can't be afraid to go out of your front door, but you need to be vigilant and I'd urge anyone carrying a knife to think again."

    "We need to nip it in the bud before it gets out of control, and knife amnesties do work."

    Defending her force's stance, Inspector Kilgallan said: "None of these knife crime incidents recently reported are related, they are isolated incidents and Chelmsford is a safe place to live.

    "Between April 1, 2014, to January 11 this year there has been a 20.2 per cent drop in serious violent crime offences, compared to the same period last year.

    "We are reviewing and monitoring levels of violence in Chelmsford and we are currently talking with Chelmsford City Council, delivering workshops in schools around both the effects of excess alcohol and knife crime."

    "We are also asking all the schools in the Chelmsford area to identify if they have any concerns or areas they need further support and we will work with them on these concerns.

    "Any parents or youngsters who have concerns can also call Essex Police or the charity Crimestoppers."

    Anyone with any information on the Moulsham Lodge stabbing Wednesday last week's incident last Wednesday should call PC Dan Smith at Chelmsford CID on 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously anonymously on 0800 555111.

    Essex Police: Chelmsford has no particular knife crime issue


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    A TREE planted in memory of tragic Ashley Woolley was planted in Oaklands Park in Chelmsford yesterday morning (January 15).

    The 18-year-old student was fatally stabbed while walking through the park on his way to Chelmsford College, just days before Christmas.

    Around 20 of Ashley's friends and family, including his parents, brother and girlfriend, gathered to watch the tree planting, with several adding their own spade of soil to the oak tree, while representatives from Chelmsford City Council also attended to pay their respects.

    "Having a tree here means Ashley's memory will be alive forever", said Ashley's dad Trevor Woolley. "I'm amazed at the speed they were able to get it done, and we're pleased because it does keep his memory alive. Of course he will never be forgotten, but it means that people can come here and reflect on his life.

    "It's a place for everyone to have something to focus on and just sit and reflect."

    Chelmsford City Council leader Roy Whitehead, who had previously spoken in favour of granting the Woolley family special permission to have an oak tree planted in the park, spoke along with Ray Ride at the planting.

    "It is a terrible thing to have happened, but we hope by doing this today it gives something to his friends and family, and we're grateful there are so many of them here," said Cllr Whitehead.

    The tree planting comes ahead of Ashley's funeral, which is to be held at Chelmsford Cathedral on Monday January 19.

    Ashley Woolley memorial tree planted in Chelmsford's Oaklands Park


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    A homeless man accused of murdering a Chelmsford charity volunteer is scheduled to make a plea in court today (Thursday, January 15).

    Portuguese expat Jose Agrela, who is charged with murdering Colin Evans, 39, will appear at Chelmsford Crown Court.

    The plea and case management hearing has been postponed twice, partly because of delays in collating evidence.

    Mr Evans was found stabbed to death in his Sanctus homeless accommodation flat in Broomfield Road at about 8.30am on Tuesday, September 30.

    The discovery prompted the closure of the council car park behind The Ship pub and a thorough search covering Central Park and Admirals Park.

    Portuguese Jose Agrela due in court accused of Chelmsford homeless flat murder


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