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

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    WAYNE HUNTER, 39, of HMP Chelmsford, was given a one month prison sentence, consecutive to an existing sentence, for stealing four Xbox games worth £173 from Tesco at Pitsea on March 20. He was ordered to have a foil lined bag destroyed and must pay an £80 victim surcharge. He was also given one month concurrent for stealing a pair of sunglasses to the value of £800 from Sunglass Hut at Lakeside on April 8.

    JORGE RITCHIE BENAUD HAMMOND, 20, of High Street, Maldon, was committed to detention in a young offenders institution for four months. He had assaulted another person by beating her at Chelmsford on December 1; between November 1 and 23; and between November 23 and 30. They were serious offences against the same victim, and involved punching and spitting.

    BRANDON ALAN RIDGEWELL, 20, of Highridge, Great Braxted, was given a 26 week prison sentence, suspended for 18 months for assaulting another person by beating her at Colchester on July 7. The defendant was also given 26 weeks' concurrent for breaching a non molestation order made on March 7 by using violence towards his victim on June 24 and a further 26 weeks' concurrent for assaulting her. He was ordered to participate in Thinking Skills programme for 19 days, attend supervised appointments with a responsible officer, and carry out 40 hours of unpaid, supervised work within the next 12 months. He must pay £100 compensation, an £80 victim surcharge and pay £100 costs to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

    GARY DAVID HANDLEY, 40, of Old Challis Rise, Rayne, was fined £350 for causing harassment, alarm or distress by using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour that was racially aggravated towards another person at Braintree on November 8. He must pay £75 compensation plus a £35 victim surcharge and must pay £85 costs to the CPS.

    PAUL BELLMAN MORENO, 42, of Murchison Close, Chelmsford, was given a conditional discharge for 12 months for damaging a front door to the value of £250 belonging to another person at Chelmsford on December 27. He must pay £250 compensation plus a £15 victim surcharge and £35 costs to the CPS. The defendant also pleaded guilty to using abusive words or disorderly behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress.

    FRASER GRAY, 42, of Galleywood Road, Chelmsford, was given a 12 month conditional discharge for assaulting another person by beating him at Chelmsford on December 24. He must pay a £15 victim surcharge.

    PETER MARTIN, 45, of Savernake Road, Chelmsford, was ordered to participate in an Education, Training and Employment programme for ten days in addition to the original requirements of a community order imposed on September 16. The defendant had failed to attend three appointments in November and December. He must pay £50 costs.

    LEE ANDRE BRAZIER, 41, of Imperial Avenue, Mayland, was given a community order for possessing a taser without the authority of the Secretary of State at Mayland on December 9. The defendant must carry out 100 hours of unpaid, supervised work within the next 12 months, pay a £60 victim surcharge and £85 costs to the CPS. The taser must be forfeited and destroyed.

    JIM BARTER, 21, of Braintree Road, Witham, was fined £100 for travelling on a train between Braintree and Witham on October 8 without a ticket. He was fined £100 and ordered to pay £4.20 compensation, a £20 victim surcharge and £70 costs.

    STEVEN DAVIDSON, 29, of Green Lane, Chelmsford, was fined £50 for travelling between Chelmsford and Shenfield railway stations without a valid ticket. He must pay £5.80 compensation, a £20 victim surcharge and £70 costs.

    JUSTINE CHRISTINA FLACK, 19, of West Avenue, Chelmsford, was fined £33 for travelling on a train between Manor Park and Chelmsford on September 17 without a valid ticket. She was also fined a further £33 for failing to provide her name and/or her address when asked by an authorised person. She must pay £11.20 compensation, a £20 victim surcharge and £70 costs.

    WAYNE NATHAN GREEN, 28, of Bamford Court, Chelmsford, was fined £220 for travelling between Stratford, London, and Witham stations on September 11 without a valid ticket. He must pay £16.60 compensation, a £22 victim surcharge and £70 costs.

    GARETH BRYNLEY PEDRICK, 34, of Meadgate Avenue, Chelmsford, was fined £140 for travelling between Shenfield and Southend Victoria stations on July 1 without a valid ticket. He must pay £9.30 compensation, a £20 victim surcharge and £70 costs.

    TREVOR RILEY, 32, of Dorset Avenue, Chelmsford, was fined £340 for travelling on a train between Chelmsford and Shenfield on October 10 with intent to avoid payment of £5.80. He must pay £5.80 compensation, a £34 victim surcharge and £70 costs.

    ANTHONY REGINALD JAMES ROSS, 20, of Mill End Green, Great Easton, was fined £25 for travelling between Tottenham Hale and Bishop's Stortford without a valid ticket on October 5. He must pay £8.45 compensation, a £20 victim surcharge and £30 costs.

    KAI BEECHINOR, 21, of Galleywood Road, Chelmsford, was given a community order for using threatening, abusive or insulting words of behaviour likely to provoke the use of unlawful violence at Chelmsford on November 27. The defendant must carry out 100 hours of unpaid, supervised work within the next 12 months, pay a £60 victim surcharge and £85 costs to the CPS.

    DARREN JOHN PAUL EATON, 21, of Woodhall Road, Chelmsford, was given a community order for using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour likely to provoke unlawful violence being used at Chelmsford on November 27. He must carry out 100 hours of unpaid, supervised work within the next 12 months, pay a £60 victim surcharge and £85 costs to the CPS.

    LYNNE WHITE, of Faber Road, Witham, was given a community order for failing to notify Braintree District Council of a change of circumstances that would have affected her entitlement to housing benefit between August 2, 2010 and June 30 last year. She must carry out 40 hours of unpaid, supervised work within the next 12 months, pay a £60 victim surcharge and £400 costs.

    COLIN TREVOR HARDING, 30, of Warrenside, Braintree, was given a community order for stealing a blu ray box set and four Wii games to the value of £134 from Tesco at Braintree on December 23. He was ordered to participate in an accredited programme for 25 days and attend supervised appointments with a responsible officer. He was fined £75 plus a £60 victim surcharge and must pay £25 costs to the CPS.

    OLIVER JEE SWAINSON, 28, of Guys Farm Road, South Woodham Ferrers, was given a nine month conditional discharge for stealing consumables to the value of £10 from One Stop Stores in Chelmsford on November 12 and £12 worth of consumables on September 5. He must pay compensation of £22, a £15 victim surcharge and £85 costs to the CPS.

    SIMON BLAKE, 44, of Manor Street, Braintree, was fined £450 for stealing a drill breaker, hedge cutter and strimmer to the value of £1,700 from another person at Colchester on September 5. He must pay a £45 victim surcharge and £85 costs to the CPS.

    LUIGI ROMANO, 28, of Patching Hall Lane, Chelmsford, was fined £300 for willfully obstructing a Police Constable in the execution of his duty at Southend on December 24. He must pay £50 compensation, a £30 victim surcharge and £90 costs to the CPS.

    LESLIE WILLIAM SKEGGS, 41, of Wood Grove, Silver End, was given three penalty points for riding a motorcycle along the A131 at Great Notley on April 12 without due care and attention. The defendant had ridden around a roundabout at excessive speed and with excessive lean angle, with his right knee scraping on the ground in the manner of a motorcycle racer. He was fined £83 and must pay a £20 victim surcharge and £90 costs.

    CLIVE FARRANT, 61, of Hawthorn Walk, South Woodham Ferrers, was given eight points for driving without due care and attention at South Woodham Ferrers on March 23. He had approached Ferrers Road roundabout at the junction with the B1012 at speed while using a mobile phone. He did not account for a police motorcycle already completing a manoeuvre, forcing the motor cyclist to take evasive action to avoid a collision. He was fined £600 and must pay a £60 victim surcharge and £90 costs.

    JOHN ALEXANDER BROOKE, 37, of New London Road, Chelmsford, was banned from driving for two years and given a community order for driving along Princes Road, Chelmsford on December 22 after he had been drinking. His breath contained 95 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath, more than two and a half times over the limit. The defendant must carry out 120 hours of unpaid, supervised work within the next 12 months, pay a £60 victim surcharge and £85 costs to the CPS.

    JESSICA FAYE BEARD, 28, of Armours Lane, Chelmsford, was banned from driving for 12 months for driving along the B1008 at Barnston on December 14 after she had been drinking. Her breath contained 67 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath, just under double the limit. She was fined £300 and must pay a £30 victim surcharge and pay £85 costs to the CPS.

    DAVID DEBNAM, 45, of Mill Lane, Cressing, was given six points on his licence for driving along the A131 at Braintree on February 24 without insurance. He was fined £600 and must pay a £60 victim surcharge and £90 costs.

    LOUISE COOPER, 30, of Rutland Road, Chelmsford, was given six penalty points for driving without insurance along Park Avenue, Chelmsford, on February 20. She was fined £600 and must pay a £60 victim surcharge and £90 costs.

    GARETH TIMOTHY MONK, 31, of Wickham Road, Witham, was fined £133 for driving along Spa Road in Witham on February 19 with a licence that had expired. He must pay a £20 victim surcharge and £60 costs.

    MARTYN PETER WELLS, 46, of Clare Road, Braintree, was given six points on his licence for driving at 93mph along the A120 at Stebbing on February 16, in excess of the 60mph speed limit. He was fined £250 and must pay a £25 victim surcharge and £90 costs.

    LEE GLYNN, 33, of Honey Road, Little Canfield, Dunmow, was given six penalty points for driving along the A120 at Stebbing on February 16 at 98mph. He was fined £650 plus a £65 victim surcharge and must pay £90 costs.

    RONALD JOHN JOYCE, 57, of Chapel Lane, Purleigh, was given three penalty points for driving along Stow Road at Stow Maries on February 17 at 54mph, in excess of the 40mph speed limit. He was fined £80 and must pay a £20 victim surcharge.

    THOMAS BARCLAY BASIL, 29, of Mount Pleasant, Maldon, was given six penalty points for driving along Witham Road at Wickham Bishops at 59mph in a 30mph speed limit on February 17. He was fined £147 and must pay a £20 victim surcharge and £90 costs.

    STANLEY WILLIAM GEORGE, 74, of High Easter Road, Barnston, was given three penalty points for driving along the A120 at Stebbing on February 16 at 90mph. He was fined £127 and must pay a £20 victim surcharge and £90 costs.

    RYAN ANTHONY STRIPE, 27, of Mill Road, Mayland, was given four penalty points for driving along Woodham Road at Battlesbridge on April 8 at 56mph, in excess of the 40mph speed limit. He was fined £400 plus a £40 victim surcharge and must pay £90 costs.

    JAMES KEVIN GORDON, 52, of Sauls Bridge Close, Witham, was given three points on his licence for driving along the B1256, Coggeshall Road at Braintree on October 9, at 38mph, in excess of the 30mph speed limit. He was fined £300 and must pay a £30 victim surcharge and £200 costs to the CPS.

    MATTHEW DAVID PRILE, 33, of Tabors Avenue, Chelmsford, was given four penalty points for driving along Beehive Lane in Chelmsford on February 22 at 42mph, in excess of the 30mph speed limit. He was fined £100 and must pay a £20 victim surcharge and £90 costs.

    MARK LUNN, 31, of Malyon Close, Braintree, was given four penalty points for driving along the A120 at Stebbingford on February 22 at speeds of between 86 and 92mph, in excess of the 70mph speed limit. He was fined £365 and must pay a £37 victim surcharge and £90 costs.

    LINDSEY JANE STARIE, 39, of Perry Road, Flitch Green, Dunmow, was given three points on her licence for driving at 54mph along the A414, London Road at Harlow, on February 20, in excess of the 40mph speed limit. She must pay a fine of £170, a £20 victim surcharge and £90 costs.

    MITCHELL ANTONY COLIN YEO, 21, of Ebenezer Close, Witham, was given six penalty points for driving along Witham Road at Wickham Bishops on February 21 at 60mph, in excess of the 30mph legal speed limit. He was fined £160 and must pay a £20 victim surcharge and £90 costs.

    MITCHELL LEE HEINS, 45, of South Hanningfield Road, Rettendon Common, was given five penalty points for driving along the A127 at Southend on February 23 at a constant 60mph, in a 40mph speed limit. He was fined £400 and must pay a £40 victim surcharge and £90 costs.

    MARTYN JAMES HONEYBALL, 31, of Linnet Drive, Chelmsford, was given three points on his licence for crossing the stop line at a red traffic light at Westway, Chelmsford, on February 19. He was fined £110 and must pay a £20 victim surcharge and £60 costs.

    JEAN MARION FLOYD, 84, of Walden House Road, Great Totham, was given three penalty points for crossing the stop line at a red traffic light at Newland Street, Witham, on February 17. She was fined £70 and must pay a £20 victim surcharge and £90 costs.

    EMMA LOUISE MARTIN, 22, of St Vincents Road, Chelmsford, was given three penalty points on her licence for crossing the stop line at a red traffic light situated at Parkway, Chelmsford, on April 6. She was fined £77 plus a £20 victim surcharge and must pay £90 costs.

    ANTHONY JOHN MATTHEWS, 65, of Derwent Court, Chelmsford, was given three penalty points for crossing the stop line at a red traffic light at Parkway, Chelmsford, on April 6. He was fined £87 and must pay a £20 victim surcharge and £90 costs.

    ALICE BERYL GERRY GREEN, 21, of Cedar Avenue, Chelmsford, was given three penalty points for crossing the stop line of a red traffic light at Parkway, Chelmsford, on February 23. She was fined £135 and must pay a £20 victim surcharge and £90 costs.

    CLAIRE ROWE, 47, of Braintree Road, Little Waltham, was fined £200 for driving along Belton Way West at Leigh on Sea on April 8, while carrying a child aged between three and 14 in the rear that was not fastened into a child seat or a seat belt.

    GARETH TIMOTHY MONK, 31, of Wickham Road, Witham, was fined £133 for driving along Spa Road at Witham on February 19 without wearing an adult seat belt. He must pay a £20 victim surcharge and pay £90 costs.

    KEELEY HERBERT, 33, of Gilders Road, Little Canfield, Dunmow, was given three penalty points and fined £135 for driving along the M11 at Harlow on February 20 while using a mobile phone. She must also pay a £20 victim surcharge and £90 costs.

    KATARZYNA ODDY, 30, of Cressing Road, Braintree, was given three penalty points for driving along the A120 at Braintree on February 20 while using a mobile phone. She was fined £67 plus a £20 victim surcharge and must pay £90 costs.

    COLE DANIEL BASS, 25, of Skitts Hill, Braintree, was given three penalty points on his driving licence for driving along the A120 at Braintree on February 24 in a vehicle when one of the rear tyres had the cord or ply exposed. He was fined £133 and must pay a £20 victim surcharge and £90 costs.

    GARY STUART BROWN, 31, of Deerhurst Chase, Bicknacre, was disqualified from driving for six months due to repeat offending. He had failed to provide information relating to the identification of the driver of a vehicle alleged to have been guilty of an offence on April 30. He was fined £600 and must pay a £60 victim surcharge and costs of £90 to the CPS.

    CHIN ENG GAN, 38, of Yeldham Lock, Chelmsford, was disqualified from driving for 17 months for failing to provide a specimen of breath for analysis at Basildon on December 28. He was fined £160 and must pay a £20 victim surcharge and £85 costs to the CPS.

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    A CHARITY is £200,000 away from building a replica of the last steel sailing barge, so that it can take people with learning difficulties out to sea.

    Mayland-based Sea-Change Sailing Trust has already raised £400,000 of the £600,000 required for the Blue Mermaid project.

    The charity works with young people with learning difficulties as well as vulnerable adults, providing them with the opportunity to learn crucial life skills in a team environment on the open water.

    However, the board of seven trustees decided in 2010 that to reach more people they would need to buy their own boat.

    Trust administrator Don Ramsay said: "Several years ago we decided we needed to have our own vessel, as it would be far more economical than renting other barges.

    "We usually take ten young people at a time with two or three carers. We go out to sea for five days at a time as we've found that is enough time to embed change in someone.

    "Most people discover that they can be more than who they are and return full of confidence. But if we have our own barge to accompany the ones we rent, we can help out more people."

    More than 200 young people use the charity each season, with a skipper and a skipper's mate encouraging the team to handle and anchor the barge as well as cook meals and wash up below deck.

    The boat they want to base their designs on is the 1930 Blue Mermaid, the last River Thames sailing barge ever built. It was sunk by a mine in the Second World War.

    Cornish boatyard C Toms and Son has won the contract to build the hull and deck of the vessel, with construction due to start next month.

    And once the charity has raised the remaining £200,000 to complete the project, the barge's shell will be towed along the coast and into Maldon for rigging and fitting out.

    Mr Ramsay, a 60-year-old father-of-two, continued: "We've got the exact blueprint so she will sail without an engine, but we will have to make slight modifications to fit modern regulations. She'll be ready by the middle of 2016 but after sea trials and so on she will be ready, formally, for the 2017 season.

    "It's exciting because it will expand the work we do quite considerably. We will be able to provide more seamanship training which in turn can lead to formal accreditation."

    For more information or to donate to the barge project, log on to or call 01621 744196.

    Mayland charity's £600,000 River Thames Blue Mermaid barge replica project to begin

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    THE star of the show at Chelmsford City Racecourse's much anticipated Sunday meeting today isn't any of the horses running, but multiple Group 1-winning jockey Jamie Spencer, whose success has been achieved all over the world.

    Spencer booted home 23 winners from 90 rides at Great Leighs between its original opening in April 2008 and closure in January 2009. It's great for the track to have him riding, but unfortunately I don't fancy any of his rides.

    Logorrheic has a good chance in the 1.50pm race, the Roundbush Green Handicap for three-year-olds over a mile. He's only raced twice, but won the second time at Kempton over this distance and the second and third in that race have won since. Golden Highway, who made a successful debut here on the evening of January 22, is expected to give the selection most to do.

    Exentricity is expected to go close in the opening maiden fillies' stakes over six furlongs at 1.15pm. She ran well over seven at Kempton last time, and is expected to be suited by the drop in trip. The Spencer-ridden Chasing Rubies is the danger.

    No horse has yet won from a draw wider than six in one-mile races since the track reopened, so it could be argued that Miami Gator was beaten before the stalls opened in the race won by Gracefilly on January 22.

    Starting well from the nine-box and eventually making it over to the inside rail but, having been pushed along on the bend, fading from contention inside the last furlong. He's back over the mile in the 2.20pm race and has a more favourable stall four this time.

    In the five-furlong handicap at 2.50pm Royal Acquisition is a tentative choice to overturn the form with Dynamo Walt from the similar race on last week's evening card here.

    The latter will need to improve as he's 9lbs worse off at the weights in this race, having been put up to a handicap rating of 79, and Royal Acquisition used up a bit too much energy than was ideal in the early stages of the race through being slightly slow to start then sent through to lead, in front by the bend and having little left in the final 150 yards

    Karam Albaari has a good chance in the one-mile five-furlong handicap at 3.5pm. He raced over two miles at last Thursday night's meeting and did well, held up and making good ground inside the last five furlongs but unable to match the winner Keep Kicking in the last hundred yards.


    1.15 Exentricity

    1.50 Logorrheic (nap)

    2.20 Miami Gator

    2.50 Royal Acquisition

    3.20 Kodafine

    3.50 Karam Albaari (next best)

    4.20 George Baker

    Royal Aquisition tipped to reign at Chelmsford City Racecourse

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    AN INITIATIVE introducing non-stop prayer coverage to Chelmsford will help it "prosper", says the man who has quit his job to get it going.

    Retired police officer David Gilbey resigned from his position as an estate ranger for city housing association CHP in order to get Chelmsford 24-7 Prayer off the ground.

    The 52-year-old said: "I really believe prayer changes things.

    "Last summer, I went to a Christian camp where there were a number of speakers, and one of them talked about the idea of 24/7 prayer and I just thought 'that's what I am being called to do'.

    "I got back from the camp two days later and quit my job straight away to focus on this."

    Although the project is currently in its infancy, the father-of-three has already managed to get together a steering committee made up of various pastors and community leaders. They include Andy Griffiths, vicar at St Michael's, Galleywood; Peter Balls, pastor of Chelmsford Community Church, Sue Gibson, a member of Christian Growth Centre Chelmsford, and Mike Shelbourne, a preacher for the Methodist Church.

    The 24/7 prayer concept is already in operation in various cities worldwide.

    "I want to promote closer relations between churches in the area covered by Chelmsford City Council, which has more than 100 churches," said Mr Gilbey, who worked for Chelmsford police for 30 years until retiring from the force in 2011 and was a branch leader of the Christian Police Association in Essex.

    "Certainly the principle of 24/7 prayer in the city is that there is always someone praying at any given time, and with 100 churches in the city, there must be a way we can organise that.

    "The idea is to draw people with faith in God together, and if we pray, that will change things. We want to do things that take action too; we want to see Chelmsford prosper."

    Mr Gilbey, who has lived in Chelmsford for most of his life, and has been a member of the Life Church in Hall Street for more than 30 years, said he believes the idea of constant prayer in the city could be of great benefit, particularly for those who are less fortunate.

    "I want to support all those organisations that are doing things to benefit people, including the council, the fire brigade and so on, and I also want us to support people who suffer with loneliness, homelessness, and the organisations that support them too, whether they are Christian or non-Christian."

    An official launch event will take place in March, when he will attempt to organise a solid week of 24/7 prayers across the city.

    "What we would like to do is have a rota online where people can sign up for a specific slot to pray in," said Mr Gilbey, who is co-leader of Chelmsford's Healing on the Streets team.

    "I have seen God answer prayers many times, and most statistics show that more than 50 per cent of people worldwide do pray.

    "Ultimately, our goal will be to establish some sort of a prayer centre in the city that isn't a church, somewhere people can come and have a coffee and a chat, and meet God over their problems."

    For more information visit

    Chelmsford's 24/7 prayer plan will help city 'prosper'

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    UKIP'S candidate for the Braintree seat in the May General Election has been named as former Labour county councillor and counter-terrorism expert Richard Bingley.

    The party was forced to find a new candidate after the sudden death of Essex County Councillor Gordon Helm, 75, from a stroke on Christmas Eve.

    Mr Bingley said: "It's an honour and a privilege to have been chosen. We're all still very upset about the passing of Gordon and we're determined to honour the work and leadership he showed.

    "We will campaign to win this seat for Ukip because the people of Braintree need a Ukip MP and we need a strong presence in Parliament to change the way the country is run."

    Mr Bingley, 39, was unveiled on Wednesday morning last week as the man the party members want to take on Conservative James Cleverly, Malcolm Fincken of Labour and independent Toby Pereira.

    Mr Bingley served as Thurrock councillor for Labour from 2006 to 2010 in Tilbury St Chads and was also head of Labour's East of England and London media operations during Tony Blair's time in office.

    He previously served as a Conservative councillor in Corringham and Fobbing from 1997 to 2000, but joined Ukip last year after becoming disillusioned with the mainstream parties.

    He was chosen to represent Ukip by party members in a vote at the Bocking Arts Theatre on January 19, when he saw off competition from Anne Marie Waters.

    He said: "There's only around 100 days until the election so I'll be campaigning every day, meeting the people of Braintree to establish what they want.

    "This district has some beautiful countryside that is in danger of being concreted over by the massive house-building programme from this Government.

    "This is a commuter area but has also suffered from massive price hikes and a poor rail service over the years, so I will be campaigning on the injustice of that.

    "I believe in a free at the point of access health service, but not an international health service.

    "I want to be an ambassador in Parliament for the people of Braintree."

    Mr Bingley is the author of Terrorism: Just The Facts and Arms Trade: Just The Facts, as well as being a senior lecturer in security and counter-terrorism at Buckinghamshire New University. He said: "Politicians should have some real experience before getting into politics – too many don't admit when things need adapting and carry on trying to justify their mistakes."

    The general election will be held on Thursday, May 7.

    UKIP select Richard Bingley to contest Braintree MP seat

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    Following a damning report by the Care Quality Commission that found Colchester General to be inadequate, local MP Priti Patel has called for the hospital to implement an improvement plan as soon as possible.

    The Witham MP said the Colchester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust should "crack on" with implementing the plans for the benefit of patients.

    Following the inspections on November 12 and 27, and December 23, 2014, carried out in response to concern about performance and care received by patients, the hospital's Urgent and Emergency Services and Medical Care was rated as 'inadequate' overall, while it also received an overall rating of 'inadequate'.

    The CQC has now placed conditions on the Trust so it can improve how patients are assessed, discharged and transferred.

    "Colchester Hospital has been facing a series of challenges and pressures in recent years and the outcome of the most recent CQC inspection is disappointing. The Trust will now need to crack on with implementing the improvements that the CQC require so that patients can be assured that they will receive the best care possible," Ms Patel said.

    "The Trust has made a series of changes to its board and its management and I am in regular contact with the Chief Executive to both question them about their services and improvement plans and support them. Many of my constituents receive excellent care at the Hospital and I commend the Trust's hardworking staff. I want to see the Trust move forward so that all patients receive excellent care and this cycle of concerning reports from the CQC is brought to an end."

    MP Priti Patel backs improvement plan at Colchester General Hospital

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    A LONG-AWAITED rail loop north of Witham that could increase the number of trains and reduce journey times will not be built for another nine years, it has emerged.

    The new track, which would separate passenger and freight trains and allow the faster ones to pass the slower moving carriages, is not set to be built until 2024, the government confirmed on Thursday.

    "Network Rail accepted the need for the loop and I think they'll be able to find the money to do it," said Chelmsford MP Simon Burns, who is the Essex representative on the Great Eastern Main Line Taskforce which has lobbied for improvements on the Norwich to London Liverpool Street line.

    He also raised the issue in Parliament on Thursday, January 22, at a session dealing with rail infrastructure around the UK.

    "This is very important for the area and especially for the new station at Beaulieu Park, Chelmsford, because firstly it would add extra capacity on the line and secondly it would decrease journey times, by allowing faster trains to overtake slower ones and so more trains can run at peak times.

    "Network Rail is signed up to building this loop, but I believe it is important to keep the pressure up in order to ensure it is installed sooner rather than later."

    Mr Burns also revealed that initial discussions had begun into the possibility of an extra line into Liverpool Street.

    "Work to Bow Junction will also help with access and controls of trains in and out of Liverpool Street and Network Rail are looking at the feasibility of another platform at Liverpool Street," he added.

    Network rail say the Cressing loop is needed to increase the train frequency from Braintree to Witham, with the scheme currently in the long-term plans for the railway in the region.

    But the loops north of Witham are further along the development process and are part of the Anglia Route Study for their 2019 to 2024 plans – known as Control Period 6.

    This study is currently under consultation until February 3 and will be used to shape the Department of Transport's strategy for the industry's next funding period.

    Witham MP, Priti Patel – a fervent campaigner for train improvements – said: "Commuters using the Great Eastern Mainline deserve more reliable and high-performing services and MPs along the route have been working together to secure this.

    "The Rail Taskforce, which Simon Burns and I were members of, proposed new infrastructure improvements, including a passing loop on the mainline, to increase capacity and reduce delays.

    "This passing loop and another loop at Cressing to improve direct services to Braintree, were also proposed in the East Anglia Rail Prospectus and I am working with my colleagues, the Department for Transport and Network Rail, to get these measures implemented as soon as possible in control period 6 or earlier.

    "Due to the strength of the long term economic plan, the Government is able to embark on the largest programme of rail investment since the Victorian times and we are campaigning hard to ensure that Essex gets its fair share."

    There was a debate in Parliament on rail services from Liverpool Street to Chelmsford with rail minister, Claire Perry MP, and Simon Burns, as the Chronicle went to press on Wednesday.

    Witham loop could happen by 2024 with added faster trains to Liverpool Street

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    A REVELLER sprayed in the face with CS gas by police officers while firefighters battled a blaze at the Sugar Hut has been awarded £21,000 in compensation.

    Essex Police agreed the out-of-court settlement with Alan Lethbridge, who says he has suffered mental health problems since being sprayed in September 2009.

    Officers standing at a cordon around the burning Sugar Hut nightclub were called to neighbouring O'Neill's bar to help eject Mr Lethbridge.

    A struggle ensued and he received a cut to his right eyebrow and was then sprayed as police pushed him onto the bonnet of a police car.

    The incident was caught on camera by photographers who had rushed to the High Street to capture images of the blaze.

    Mr Lethbridge, 34, from Harold Hill, near Romford, said: "My life has been turned upside down. After the incident I got diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

    "The year after that, the doctor diagnosed me with depression and the last five years have been the worst of my life.

    "It has been a complete and utter nightmare for me and my family. I've been ill so I have not been able to work a lot of the time.

    "I've been trying to get work but it's just that nothing has seemed to be going together."

    Two police officers, who used CS gas to restrain Mr Lethbridge after the dispute, were cleared following an investigation in 2010. A further investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission concluded there was no misconduct.

    Mr Lethbridge's own conviction for assaulting a paramedic who went to his aid was quashed at appeal in 2010.

    The former builder said: "I got cleared of all charges and of any wrongdoing whatsoever and I got sort of attacked by the police.

    "Although they admitted liability after five years of fighting, I still haven't even got an apology.

    "I just want to start living normally. I've been stuck in this flat for five years with this condition. I just want to get my life back.

    "I've bought a van and I've got a job with a logistics firm."

    The Sugar Hut fire caused extensive damage and the club was closed for almost a year.

    Crews fought the flames as they tore through the 500-year-old Grade II listed building, which would later become a regular feature on ITV2's Towie.

    Mr Lethbridge was jailed for a year for violent disorder in 2003. He said: "I've been on anti-depressants and through three or four sets of different counselling and nothing has helped.

    "I have had to just cope with it and live with it.

    "Ten years ago I got quite a bad criminal record but it doesn't matter what happened then, no one deserves what happened to me.

    "One thing has led to another and my head has not been the same since."

    Reveller sprayed with CS gas gets £21k payout from Essex Police

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    NEIGHBOURS have been left hacked-off after council contractors cut back a mile-long stretch of foliage, including private hedgerows.

    Bushes and trees, extending four feet back from the road and as much as 15ft high, were chopped back along Blasford Hill between Broomfield Hospital and Little Waltham this month.

    Resident John Fairweather, 67, pictured, said: "It's wanton vandalism.

    "It's rather disturbing that you have people supposedly working as conservationists doing damage to the hedgerows and the natural habitats of wildlife."

    County council cabinet member for highways maintenance and small scheme delivery, Cllr Eddie Johnson, said: "The work on Blasford Hill is part of a countywide initiative to improve road safety on all of Essex's 'Priority 1' routes.

    "We are cutting back overhanging hedges to improve sightlines and prevent road signs from being obscured."

    But Mr Fairweather, who has lived in the road for more than 30 years, said: "There wasn't anything hanging over the road and instead they have caused devastation up the road going up to the roundabout at Essex Regiment Way."

    Anger as Chelmsford hedgerows 'devastated' by council contractors

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    A man who sold drugs on the train from Witham to London has been jailed for nine years, after he pleaded guilty to drug offences and to possessing live ammunition.

    Dwight Brown, from Camberwell, was sentenced at Blackfriars crown court on January 23, after his arrest on July 14 in London Liverpool Street Station, following a 5am train journey from Witham.

    On the train, Mr Brown was overheard talking to a group of men, one of whom said he could do with some weed.

    At this point, Mr Brown took bags of cannabis out of his pocket, offering them for sale at £15 a bag. The man bought one of them, before the group left the train at Chelmsford.

    But Mr Brown continued his journey to London Liverpool Street, where he was arrested. As well as the cannabis, police found the Class-A drugs MDMA, cocaine, and some heart-shaped pills, as well as £240 in cash.

    Following his arrest, Mr Brown's house was also searched, and police found cannabis, pink tablets, white powder, weighing scales and other drug paraphernalia.

    Detective Sergeant Steven Graysmark said: "This is an important conviction. Brown was a prolific drug-dealer working on the rail network. I am pleased he has been brought to justice. We do not and will not tolerate drugs on the rail network."

    Man jailed for nine years after selling drugs on train from Witham to London

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    Music teacher John Malam has been announced as the Green Party candidate for the Bocking division County Council by-election, to be held on March 5.

    Mr Malam has stood previously for the Green Party in local government elections, and has a particular interest in the NHS and education.

    If elected, the married grandfather-of-two intends to protect and improve local services, defend vital green spaces from being concreted over and look at better transport in the area.

    He has also expressed an interest in investing in the green economy, with a view to creating more recycling, renewable energy and local manufacturing jobs.

    Also standing in the election is 22-year-old Conservative candidate Steve Canning, who became one of the country's youngest councillors when he was elected to Braintree District Council in 2011.

    The seat was previously held by Gordon Helm from UKIP, who died in December. 

    Green Party announces candidate for  Essex County Council by-election for Bocking

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    A LARGE flash mob march has been organised to raise awareness of breast cancer and support a Saffron Walden cancer sufferer who was told she looked like a "sick freak" for wearing a booby hat.

    The lady, who wishes to remain anonymous, wore the hat, shaped to look like a breast, to cover her hair loss as a result of intensive chemotherapy. She was subsequently insulted for doing so in her local supermarket by another shopper.

    Following her publishing a letter to a local paper on January 28, more than 5,000 people from the USA to Australia have joined the Facebook community page 'Saffron Walden Boobiebellion' set up by Saffron Walden resident Catherine Kelly.

    Catherine told The Chronicle: "It's brilliant we've got everybody checking and have been able to turn a nasty incident into something positive."

    The 'Booby Hat Flash Mob' has been organised for Valentine's Day with hundreds already confirmed as attending on the Facebook page. The location is still to be confirmed, it's believed the march will take place at the location of the original incident, Saffron Walden Tesco, on Radwinter Road.

    Sharon Morris, a mother-of-three also from Saffron Walden who set up the flash mob, said: "I read the letter and I was utterly appalled. I just wanted to reach out to this woman to show my solidarity.

    "It's snowballed very quickly into a much bigger thing. There are a lot of people out there who do care. It's good to get together behind the cause and be supportive."

    The victim stated she had worn the hat to "raise awareness of the importance of knowing and checking your own breasts," and that the incident has left her "stressed."

    Local business, which heard about the campaign through its warehouse manager, has donated knitted booby hats to the planned flash mob and is selling the hats on their site enabling the general public to get behind the campaign. Proceeds from the hat sales are going towards Breakthrough Breast Cancer.

    Saffron Walden flash mob to back cancer sufferer insulted for wearing hat shaped like a boob

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    A 90TH minute winner broke Witham Town hearts as they slipped to a 2-1 defeat at home to title-chasing Margate.

    Just when it seemed as though Town had earned a vital point against one of the best teams in the Ryman Premier Ryan Moss grabbed the three points for the visitors. 

    Niki Bull the visiting keeper made two outstanding saves from fierce shots from the Witham captain Tom Wraight early in the game but at the other end Ryan Blackman cleared a Moss shot off the line.

    Margate took the lead in the 27th minute when Tom Phipp headed in a corner from the near post and although Witham were playing well the visiting defence was hard to break down.

    Although the game was played in continuing rain and thick mud it carried on and in the 67th minute Witham equalised with a tremendous long shot from Lewis Godbold as it hit the underside of the bar on its way into the net.

    After Margate's Phipp received a straight red card with 17 minutes to go, Witham improved and looked the more likely to score but that was not to be.

    Town dropped into the bottom four for the first time this season, after AFC Hornchurch won 2-0 at home to fellow strugglers VCD Athletic.

    They are currently a point from safety but have up to four games in hand on some of teams around them.

    Witham Town cruelly beaten by late Margate winner

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    IN ONE of their most important games for years Chelmsford won the battle of the top two to go four points clear at the summit of London Two North East.

    Chelmsford beat second-place Campion 34-20, scoring four tries to secure what could prove to be a vital bonus point.

    Campion, who are now seven points behind, were leapfrogged by Diss after they beat South Woodham Ferrers 19-7.

    Credit must be given to both teams for the way they tried to play open football in what was a muddy and waterlogged pitch. 

    Chelmsford played up the slope in the first half, but were quicker out of the blocks, so much so that after five minutes Campion were penalised for not releasing the tackler and fly-half, Simon Hoult made no mistake from fully 30 metres out.

    Just minutes later they increased their lead to 10 points when the referee awarded a penalty try for Campion collapsing the scrum near their own line.

    Campion then reduced the deficit when they successfully converted a penalty.

    Chelmsford then went through a phase of the game when they gave away a succession of penalties and some good line-out play saw the visitors work the touch effectively, culminating in a try in the corner from a catch and drive, and with a well-taken conversion they drew level.

    The weather deteriorated even further, with a heavy snowstorm blowing into Chelmsford's faces, but they managed to withstand this and their defence was outstanding.

    The forwards then started to exert pressure on the visitors and, if anything, Campion were perhaps guilty of not using the elements to their advantage in the first half.

    On the half hour mark Chelmsford were penalised when they were guilty of holding the ball on the ground and successful kick saw the visitors go into a 13-10 lead.

    On the stroke of half-time, Campion were then penalised for standing up in the front row and Simon Hoult slotted over his third successful kick to bring the half-time scores level at 13 points each.

    With the elements now in their favour, the home side were clearly the happier team

    Soon after the restart, Hoult was successful with another penalty after Campion were penalised for holding on and Chelmsford regained the lead.

    Some good driving play from Campion saw them close nearer to the Chelmsford line and then with seven minutes gone, they managed to suck in the home team's cover in the centre of the pitch and score a converted try underneath the posts to take a 20-16 lead.

    This seemed to stir the home side into action and with some good positional kicking from Hoult, coupled with some terrific driving runs from skipper, Paul Redford and flanker, Josh Cavey, they drove the opposition backwards.

    Chelmsford began to dominate the play and scored 18 unanswered points. They were now in total control in the scrum and took several strikes against the head. 

    Ten minutes into the half, the referee awarded a penalty to Chelmsford, but played advantage and from an astute kick ahead by Hoult, the ball was cleanly gathered by Jamie Morrish and he went over in the corner for a well-taken try to make it 21-20.

    With Campion unable to get out of their own half, due to the horrendous conditions, plus the tremendous tackling and pressure from the home side, they began to make errors.

    A further penalty from Hoult, for Campion not rolling away, saw Chelmsford increase their lead.

    Campion were then penalised once again for being offside near to their line and Chelmsford chose the scrum. With pressure being applied by the forwards, they drove their counterparts back and Redford dived over the line for an unconverted try to make it 29-20. 

    Chelmsford's final try was from an error by Campion when they lost possession in their own 22 metre area. Hoult picked up the loose ball and put substitute wing, Jack Acorn, over in the corner for the bonus point try.

    Shortly afterwards the referee blew for full-time and the players and supporters celebrated in what could prove to be a vital victory for this young Chelmsford side in the second part of the season.

    Following the game, Chelmsford's director of coaching, Eddie Gooby was full of praise for his troops.

    "What a fantastic game in probably the worst conditions both teams have played in," he said. "Credit to Campion they pushed us all the way, I thought today we were at a different level in the conditions, as the skill, power and pace we showed was outstanding.

    "The players deserve all the praise from the supporters but this was no fluke performance. Behind the scenes the coaching team have been pushing the boys hard and the preparation has been spot on and they all deserve the plaudits.

    "Our first half performance had everything we have been asking for in defence and attack, combined with our fantastic work rate against a very good team, and we produced the best controlled half of rugby this season and I can't stress too much about the conditions, it was very cold.

    "The second half I thought we were even better in terms of attack and control and no one who braved the conditions would argue against the 34-20 win, it was well deserved."

    This Saturday Chelmsford travel to fourth-placed, Saffron Walden, for another tough test.

    Chelmford RFC take a step towards league title with win over rivals Campion

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    HORSERACING fans finally got the chance to enjoy a flutter at Chelmsford City Racecourse on Sunday as the county's flagship new venue opened to the public for the first time.

    After two test events, which attracted around 1,000 people from the industry, Sunday's fixture was the first at which the public were allowed in.

    Chelmsford City Marketing Director, Ben Turnbull said: "It was fantastic to see so many people visiting Chelmsford City for the first time. It was a cold day, but that didn't dampen anyone's spirits. There was a real buzz about the track and a great atmosphere inside the new stand where many racegoers enjoyed the warmth and the extensive catering and betting facilities.

    "Overall today was another encouraging day for the racecourse. We have received a lot of positive feedback and will continue to make improvements as we work towards the Grand Opening set for late spring."

    Most people had bought at their tickets online in advance and at a discounted rate, but there were still a number of people who bought their tickets at the gate.

    On the track, Charlie Appleby continued his excellent Chelmsford City strike-rate with impressive debutant Wanting in the opening race, a filly that looks to be going places.

    The most impressive winner of the day was Thanksgiving Day ridden by Jamie Spencer and trained by Jamie Osborne, the same combination who landed a second in the Breeders' Cup with Toast of New York.

    The feature race went to Come On Dave, who made a mockery of his handicap mark with a seven-length success.

    Elsewhere on the card, Rock Charm won the third race for owner P Ransley, who now boasts an impressive record of two winners and a second from his three runners at Chelmsford.

    The next race day is Thursday.

    Chelmsford City Racecourse opens to the public for first time

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    MORE than 10,000 farmers, construction workers and professional grass cutting contractors are expected to flock to Ulting this weekend for the 55th annual Doe show.

    The show, which runs from Tuesday, February 3, to Thursday 5, is a chance for more than 150 suppliers, including organisers Ernest Doe and Sons Ltd, to show-off their tractors, construction and cultivation equipment to a mass audience.

    Founded in 1898, Ernest Doe is a family-run business with more than 500 employees and has held an annual show at its HQ off Maldon Road since 1960.

    Derek Marriott, marketing manager, told the Chronicle: "We always look forward to the show and work begins the day after we finish on next year's show.

    "It's unique to have all of this equipment and the demonstrations all in one place and we hope to have a lot of visitors next week."

    There will be new machinery stands for New Holland Agriculture, Manitou, Lemken, KRM, Shelbourne Reynolds, Great Plains, Lely, Marshall Trailers, Bomford, Maschio and other major agricultural franchises.

    As usual there will be a large selection of used machinery, with ex-demo machines, shop soiled equipment and famous 'Doe tractors'. In the construction area will be a display from Hyundai, New Holland Construction, Thwaites, Bomag and other manufacturers.

    Graham Parker, sales director at Ernest Doe, added: "This is the most important three days in the company's year.

    "It offers the opportunity for our customers to pick up a bargain from our extensive range of used and ex-demonstration machinery and also to talk about new machinery with the technical staff of the machinery manufacturers that we represent."

    One of the highlights of the show will be the record-breaking CR10.90 combine harvester from New Holland, which during the summer of 2014 took the Guinness World Record for harvesting 800 tonnes of wheat in just eight hours.

    In the agricultural demonstration area, both New Holland and Case IH tractors will be working with a variety of implements.

    And going through their paces on the construction side there will be a Hyundai excavator, Thwaites dumpers and Bomag light compaction equipment.

    For groundcare and forestry contractors, interest will focus on the demonstrations of chainsaws, wood chippers and quad bikes.

    This year's show will be particularly poignant as it will be the first without former chairman Alan Ernest Doe, who died, aged 85, in July.

    Derek Marriot, who was Ernest's son-in-law, said: "He enjoyed every day, but he loved the show, which gave him a chance to catch up with a lot of people he knew in the industry."

    Entry to the show is free and for more information call 01245 380311.

    Thousands expected at 55th annual Doe show in Ulting

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    The northbound A414 Three Mile Hill is currently closed at junction 15 of the A12 following a collision between a car and a van.

    The accident happened at around midday, and an ambulance is currently on the scene, with another believed to be on its way.

    More to follow

    Breaking: A414 Three Mile Hill closed northbound after two-vehicle crash

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    BIG SPENDERS: Love-struck people from Chelmsford splash out more on Valentine's Day flowers than most other cities across the country. Generous lovers in the county town of Essex are the fourth highest spenders, shelling out an average of £38.31 on bouquets. This is compared to the highest spenders in Worthing, who part with an average of £52.99 and those unlucky in love residents in Eastbourne where the mean spend is just £28.49. If you live in Chelmsford, the chances are you'll receive a rose and freesia bouquet on February 14 as that's the most popular order. If you're called Sarah you'll double your chances of getting a Valentine's posy as that's the most common recipient name on order forms. Guys don't fare as well however as ladies in the South East are less likely to send a bouquet back. This research was carried out by online florist which analysed more than one million online orders to come up with these romantic figures.

    How much do Chelmsford men spend on Valentine's Day?

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    FIVE men who posed as police and bank staff to trick elderly and vulnerable people out of more than £40,000 in an elaborate phone scam have been jailed for a combined 17-and-a-half years. The London gang members made more than 1,200 cold calls in which they told potential victims their banks accounts had been targeted by thieves. Of those, they managed to convince 11 people into handing over their bank cards and pin numbers, before draining their accounts of more than £40,000. One elderly woman in Hertfordshire lost more than £20,000 when the gang members called her every day for 30 days asking for more cash. Mohammed Miah, 21, of Coopers Lane, Kings Cross, Muhammad Ahmed, 22, of Hemingway Close, Gospel Oak, London, Motahir Rahman, 23, of Kiln Place, Kentish Town, Dedar Ali, 20, of Cressfield Close, London, Mohammed Hussain, 23, of Malden Crescent, Shepherds Bush, all admitted conspiracy to defraud, between March and July 2014. Miah and Hussain posed as couriers, picking up the cards and cash, while the others posed as police officers. Detective Inspector Danny Lawrence, who leads the ERSOU Cyber Crime Unit, said: "These men preyed on the elderly and vulnerable and took advantage of people's trusting nature. They left the victims and their families in a great deal of distress by committing these frauds and this has been reflected in today's sentencing. "I hope this sends out a clear message to anyone thinking about becoming involved in organised crime and, particularly in this case, phone scams. We will identify you and we will bring you to court. "These arrests were made following effective partnership and collaboration through ERSOU where a number of police forces are working together. This should reinforce the message that the eastern region is a hostile place for organised crime and we will continue to identify, disrupt and dismantle any organised crime groups." The gang members claimed to be from the Metropolitan Police and used the names DC Lescott, DC, DS or DI Rogers or DI Maguire, and told victims they needed to do forensic tests on bank cards or cash. One victim in Dedham lost £5,000 on March 24, while three members of the same family in Steeple Bumpstead were tricked on March 30, losing £7,000. Of the other victims, two were from Hastings, two in Bishops Stortford, Herts, one each in Bedford, Basingstoke, Thame, Oxfordshire, and one attempted theft at Felixstowe, Suffolk. Four of the men were arrested in July after search warrants were executed in north London during an operation by officers from the Eastern Regional Special Operations Unit, which set up a special taskforce in March to investigate the rapidly-spreading fraud. A fifth man, Ali, was arrested in October. More than 80 officers from Essex, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and the Metropolitan Police Service, were involved in the searches of addresses in the Camden area. Numerous phones and computers were seized by the regional team, which was set up to investigate hundreds of similar frauds and attempted frauds being carried out across East Anglia. The five men were sentenced at St Alban's Crown Court today, Monday, February 2, after pleading guilty at an earlier hearing. The judge, Stephen Warner, strayed from the sentencing guidelines to ensure the sentences reflected the seriousness of the offences, telling the men: "These were mean and cynical offences deliberately planned to take advantage of the vulnerable and done to obtain financial gain. Those who commit these offences can expect substantial terms of imprisonment." Miah who had supplied the hired cars used by the gang, was jailed for three years and seven months. Ahmed, who had impersonated police officers down the phone, was jailed for three years and seven months. Rahman, who was found with cards when he was arrested, was jailed for three years and four months. Hussain, who had collected cards from people, was jailed for three years and nine months and Ali, who had got involved in the conspiracy to pay off £700 debt was jailed for three years and four months.

    Essex telephone fraudsters who tricked elderly out of £40,000 are jailed for 17-and-a-half years

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    If you receive a call you're not expecting, you should be suspicious. 

    The vital things to remember are that your bank and the police would:

    1) NEVER ask for your bank account details or PIN number over the phone, so do not disclose these to anyone, no matter who they claim to be.

    2) NEVER ask you to withdraw money and send it to them via a courier, taxi or by any other means.

    3) NEVER ask you to send your bank cards, or any other personal property, to them via courier, taxi or by any other means.

    If you are not happy with a phone call and are suspicious of the conversation you have with the caller then please end the call and contact police via the non-emergency number, 101. 

    Remember, when reporting a suspicious phone call to police, wait at least five minutes before attempting to make the call or use a mobile or neighbour's phone to ensure you're not reconnected to the offender.

    Essex Police issue top tips to avoid falling victim to telephone fraud

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