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

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    THIS evening's (Thursday) racing at Chelmsford City Racecourse gets under way at 5.35 with a modest maiden stakes over a mile, in which Silversmith can confirm the form of his debut after finishing second to Virtual Reality at Kempton on February 3.

    There, he challenged in the final furlong but was beaten by a head in the end.

    Sea Soldier stood out from his rivals in the paddock before winning over a mile here on February 1, safe with the race through the final furlong, and can put in a repeat performance in the one-mile handicap at 6.10.

    If he does it, he'll be completing a hat-trick, having won at Lingfield before his successful first visit to Chelmsford.

    Saved My Bacon can do well in the six-furlong handicap at 6.40. This one shaped well over five at Kempton on February 4, keeping on at the end and running as though the extra furlong he's got here is what he needs to be more competitive.

    He has an outside draw in stall nine, but we've seen before that it's not a disadvantage at this track. Recent course winner Satchville Flyer is the danger.

    Only five horses have been left in the 7.10, a one-mile, five-furlong handicap, at the declaration stage and it's difficult to see past The Yank.

    He has been second three times, and has won his past two races, and will not be inconvenienced by stepping down in distance, having won over two miles at Wolverhampton on Monday.

    Tatting brings the best recent form to the table in the one-mile handicap at 7.40 – another race with a smallish field, just the six lining up.

    His three-length fourth to Forceful Appeal here on January 28 over this trip was an improved effort compared with his sixth-placing behind Tryster over an extra quarter-mile here on January 11. Maybe it will be third time lucky on his third race at Chelmsford.

    Oratorio's Joy has a good chance of reversing the form with Flashman from when they met here on January 22 in the closing two-mile handicap at 8.10.

    The race last month was over a mile and five furlongs, and the selection was staying on late while Flashman was clearly coming to the end of his tether, only just holding on.

    Oratorio's Joy has been in action again since, running second to Precision Five here on February 4, but the longer trip could bring an upturn in fortunes.

    Roy's Runners

    5.35 Silversmith

    6.10 Sea Soldier (nap)

    6.40 Saved My Bacon

    7.10 The Yank (next best)

    7.40 Tatting

    8.10 Oratorio's Joy

    Expect Silversmith to show golden potential at Chelmsford City Racecourse tonight

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    The terrorist organisation Islamic State have hacked the Heybridge Swifts football club twitter feed last night in a peculiar propaganda stunt.

    The cyber-attack, on February 10, has left a picture of an Islamic state flag that cannot be removed from the feed and is visible to The Swifts' 3,500 followers.

    The Swifts, currently 18th in the Ryman League Division One North, believe that the jihadi hackers confused them with bigger club.

    A statement on the clubs website said: "Late on Tuesday night a number of Twitter accounts became locked and security resets failed to restore. This also affected the personal account of our

    "Club Photographer and a number of other Twitter users all at the same time.

    "At this current time we remain locked out of our account and have not posted the flag of the Islamic State.

    "Fellow Ryman One North side Chatham Town's website was hacked in January by extremists in an apparent mistake by people that thought they were a 'big' club.

    "We will continue to try and restore our account, in the meantime we apologise. We have no control at this current time of any part of the account."

    The propaganda stunt has currently attracted 17 retweets.

    ​Islamic state hack Heybridge Swifts twitter feed

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    A 24-year-old man has been jailed again after running away with a 16-year-old girl. 

    Luke Ratcliffe, 24, of Milburn Crescent, in the Westlands Estate, Chelmsford, was imprisoned for 10 months at Chelmsford Crown Court on Tuesday (February 10) for breaching a restraining order. 

    The order was issued when he was given a nine-month prison sentence at the same court on Tuesday, August 5, after pleading guilty to taking a child without lawful authority. 

    The 16-year-old girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, went missing from her Chelmsford home on October 17 last year.

    The girl, who police suspected was with Ratcliffe, returned home last month.

    Ratcliffe was arrested in Barking about a week later on Thursday, January 22.

    Chelmsford man Luke Ratcliffe, 24, jailed after running off with girl,16

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    Part of Southend Hospital has been evacuated after a member of staff found an item resembling a hand grenade.

    The suspected bomb was found on the first floor of the building shortly before 3.45pm today (February 11).

    Essex Police are at the scene, as of 5pm, along with specially trained Explosive Ordnance Disposal officers from the military.

    An Essex Police spokesman said: "We are at Southend Hospital at the moment following reports that an item that looks like a hand grenade has been found in the building.

    "It was located by a member of staff just before 3.45pm today.

    "This was on the first floor of the tower block.

    "Officers have evacuated part of the building. EOD officers have been called. The incident is ongoing."

    Soon after the discovery, users on Twitter posted a flurry of messages.

    Sarah Chapman tweeted: "My dad's at Southend Hospital to have an op when apparently everyone's been evacuated because of a grenade."

    Abbie Goodwin tweeted: "So Southend Hospital has been evacuated due to a bomb threat - how the hell can you evacuate a hospital??"

    Hand grenade bomb scare forces Southend Hospital evacuation

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    Investigations are underway after a 'hand grenade' at Southend Hospital sparked an evacuation.

    The item, which was found by a member of staff just before 3.45pm today, was on the first floor of the tower block.

    A part of the building was evacuated as was nearby Prittlewell Chase and a cordon was put in place.

    Things are now returning to normal, however.

    An Essex Police spokesman said: "Army bomb disposal experts attended and the item has been taken away for testing.

    "Enquiries into how the item came to be in the building are continuing.

    "Cordons that were in place around the building have been lifted and people have returned to the hospital."

    Cordon lifted at Southend Hospital, 'hand grenade' taken away by Army for testing

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    Around 25 firefighters are tackling a blaze above a cafe in Braintree High Street.

    The first floor and roof of the three-storey flat above Ben's Cafe were "well alight" when fire crews arrived after they were called at 7.31pm.

    One man has been treated by paramedics after he breathed in smoke.

    Two water jets, two hose reels and an aerial ladder is being used to fight the fire.

    Four fire crews plus the aerial ladder platform from Chelmsford and an incident command unit from Basildon were sent to the scene.

    Nearby resident Vicky Wiseman, said: "I'm home now, but the smoke was blowing into my back garden, 

    "I was starting to cough as it was really nasty, at one point I couldn't see the church spire from the kitchen window. 

    "Looking over now from a bedroom window smoke is still billowing from the fire. Looks more under control now. 

    "I can smell the smoke that's seeping through closed windows."

    Alison Deith added: "There are still fire engines, ambulances and police in attendance, a tent has been erected by the fountain. 

    "Water is being directed into the shell of the building via the fire engine's ladder. Smoke is still billowing from the building."

    A fire investigation officer has been called to the scene to establish the cause of the blaze.

    Firefighters tackling blaze in Braintree High Street

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    AN UNEMPLOYED paedophile who filled his empty days by downloading thousands of sick images of children has had his jail term cut by top judges.

    John Joseph Hanning, 62, downloaded more than 4,000 "appalling images" of children, some as young as two.

    Hanning, of Lyndhurst Drive, Bicknacre, was jailed for a total of five years in June last year at Chelmsford Crown Court.

    He admitted making and distributing indecent images of children, causing a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity and possession of extreme pornography.

    On Tuesday, Lady Justice Rafferty, Mr Justice Foskett and Mr Justice Carr, sitting at London's Criminal Appeal Court, cut his term to four years.

    The court heard that the children in the images found on Hanning's computer were "being abused in a quite appalling way". There were 4,135 still images and 192 film clips, downloaded between March 2008 and February last year.

    Hanning's lawyers told the court he committed his crimes when he was jobless and "bored". His sentence, they argued, was far too tough given his guilty pleas.

    Mrs Justice Carr agreed Hanning's original punishment was "manifestly excessive" and reduced it by a year.

    Bicknacre paedophile who downloaded 4,000 images because he was

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    A TRUST running a poorly-performing Braintree school has pulled out of running it and the head teacher has stepped down after a disastrous Ofsted report.

    On Wednesday last week a letter was sent to parents and staff of Tabor Academy notifying them Lilac Sky would by withdrawing from of the Panfield Lane school, adding that an "outstanding" trust would be taking over from Easter.

    Last month, Tabor was placed in special measures after an Ofsted report gave it the lowest possible ranking of "inadequate".

    As a result, the board of governors was removed and replaced with an interim executive board made up of six head teachers and county council officers.

    A mother of a Year 10 girl at Tabor, who wished to remain anonymous, said: "I'm so cross. Lilac Sky has tried to blame the parents for not working with them to make the changes they wanted, but they've tried lots of things that haven't worked.

    "There was such a high teacher turnover rate it was ridiculous, my daughter had five maths teachers last year – that's just not acceptable.

    "Why are these teachers leaving? They say there's a shortage of teachers, but some were coming over temporarily from Canada. How can that be economical?

    "On the one hand it's good Lilac Sky have gone so someone else can come in who is hopefully better, but there's going to be a lot of disruption in the meantime.

    "I feel sorry for all GCSE students. The trust have just walked away from over a thousand students."

    Braintree MP Brooks Newmark was due to have a meeting with Lilac Sky bosses last week, but the meeting was cancelled at the last minute.

    Head teacher Michael Slater, who had only been appointed in September last year, has been replaced by acting principal Mark Bowman.

    The letter to parents, seen by the Chronicle, goes on to say that the trust is in discussions with the regional schools commissioner, Tim Coulson, for a new trust to take over at the end of the current term.

    Trevor Averre-Beeson, Lilac Sky chief executive, said the trust would continue to run the school until a new sponsor could be found.

    "As part of the departure of Lilac Sky Academy Trust as sponsors of Tabor Academy, Matthew Slater will be stepping down as principal to concentrate on other responsibilities," he said.

    "We are sorry to be losing Matthew after such a short time, but we hope the decision for the new sponsor to bring in a new principal will prove the right one for Tabor Academy.

    "We would like to thank Matthew for his efforts during a very difficult time for Tabor Academy and wish him every success in the future.

    "We have requested the withdrawal of sponsorship from Easter 2015, but will remain as sponsors to after that date until a new sponsor is in a position to take over the academy.

    "There are also no plans to close the academy in any circumstance."

    Lilac Sky also run Baddow Hall School, Bishops Primary School, Broomfield Primary School, Margaretting C of E Primary School, Larkrise Primary School, Melbourne Park Primary School, all in Chelmsford, as well as two other schools in Essex.

    The new Maltese Grove Academy, a 210-place primary school on the site of the former Columbus College in Chelmsford, is due to open in September under the Lilac Sky banner.

    Tabor Academy in Braintree is dropped by education trust after inadequate Ofsted rating

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    A man clambered out of his window onto the top of a bus to escape a flat blaze above Ben's cafe in Braintree High Street, according to the fire service.

    Firefighters say they pitched a ladder to the man, aged in his forties, to rescue him before leaving him with the ambulance service suffering smoke inhalation.

    Firefighters were called yesterday (February 11) at 7.31pm to a "well alight" and "smoke logged" first floor of the three-storey flat.

    Initially two fire engines were sent to the scene, but they were later joined by another six appliances, including an aerial ladder platform.

    By 8.47pm the incident commander reported steady progress in bringing the blaze under control.

    Firefighters in breathing apparatus were using two hose reels, two jets and an aerial ladder platform as they worked to extinguish the flames.

    By 9.12pm firefighters reported that the blaze was surrounded and steady progress was being made to extinguish the flames.

    At 10.30pm the blaze was under control. Three jets and three hose reels were being used to fight the fire.

    The incident was dealt with by 3.15am.

    The fire service said a joint Police and Fire Service investigation was being carried out.

    PICTURED: Fire escapee jumps onto bus to flee Ben's cafe flat blaze in Braintree High Street

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    Internet hackers who bizarrely chose to hijack the Twitter feed of non-league football club Heybridge Swifts have posted another extremist message from the account.

    The message, which follows a Tweet portraying the Islamic State flag, reads all in capital letters and spells Al-Qaeda incorrectly.

    A Tweet from the account, sent at about 10pm last night, reads: "FREEDOM JiHAD… I LOVE AL QAIDA.. I KURDISH ARMENIAN MUSLiM.. I LOVE iSiS."

    The Tweet has been retweeted 83 times and "favourited" 12 times.

    The Twitter account was first hijacked on Tuesday, February 10, when a picture of the flag was Tweeted to The Swifts' 3,500 followers.

    Essex team The Swifts, currently 18th in the Ryman League Division One North, believe the Jihadi hackers confused them with a bigger club.

    The strange stunt, showing the picture of the flag, initially attracted about 17 retweets.

    Yet after coverage on the Mail Online website yesterday, that rose to 147 retweets.

    Part of a statement on the league's website reads: "We will continue to try and restore our account, in the meantime we apologise. We have no control at this current time of any part of the account."

    Internet hackers spell Al-Qaeda incorrectly in second bizarre Heybridge Swifts FC Tweet

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    Oil has spilled out onto a country road in Heybridge Basin following a multi-vehicle crash.

    Several vehicles were involved in a collision shortly after 8.20am in Goldhanger Road near the Mill Beach pub.

    UPDATE: The road has been cleared. No one was seriously injured.

    Also, a three-vehicle accident blocked Fambridge Road in Maldon.

    The collision happened shortly before 7am today (February 12) outside the Royal Oak pub near the Limebrook Way junction.

    Oil spill in Heybridge Basin by Mill Beach pub after multiple-vehicle crash

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    An accident involving two vehicles has closed a key road into Chelmsford city centre.

    Essex Highways Authority reported a collision involving two vehicles on the Widford Bridge, which runs over the railway line between Tesco in Princes Road and Three Mile Hill which links the A12, at about 9.40am.

    The road has been closed in both directions.

    A Chronicle reporter is at the scene.

    More to follow.

    Two-vehicle crash closes key Chelmsford road at Widford Bridge

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    Commuters in Essex could be enjoying free Wi-Fi on Greater Anglia trains, but may have to wait longer than passengers elsewhere in the country. 

    David Cameron pledged that train users would get the free internet access by 2017 during Prime Minister's Question Time yesterday, but did not include the main franchisee for Essex in the announcement.

    In a speech yesterday, Mr Cameron said: "It's vital for businesses and for individuals to be able to access Wi-Fi and do their work and all other contact while they are on trains.

    "Passengers that make over 500 million journeys every year with the four rail operators, TSGN, Southeastern, Chiltern, Arriva Trains Wales, will all benefit from this investment."

    Even though Greater Anglia were not included in the Prime Minister's list, the rail operator has said getting passengers access to free Wi-Fi is likely to be a feature of their franchise bid, that runs until October next year.

    A spokesman for Greater Anglia said: "Our current franchise runs until October 2016. The Department for Transport is already undertaking a consultation exercise as part of their development of the specification for the new franchise contract due to start in October 2016. 

    "It will be our parent company Abellio UK who will be bidding, and plans for further development of Wi-Fi on trains will clearly form part of their work on future franchise bids, as outlined in the DfT's announcement today.

    The bidding process is likely to start later this year with an announcement on the future franchisee expected in 2016.

    In December improvements to the track and trains were announced, with the first phase of the improvements by Network Rail to see some line speed increases on the Intercity trains that run from Norwich to Liverpool Street between 2015 and 2016.

    The second phase of upgraded or new rolling stock is likely to be on the whole of the East Anglia mainline, probably around 2019 after the franchise has been decided.

    The third phase is the additional infrastructure improvements, such as loops north of Witham and improvements to overhead lines, the track and signalling that could happen between 2019 to 2024.

    Essex train passengers could get free Wi-Fi on Greater Anglia carriages

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    Chelmsford City Council will be taking its place on the world stage next month to mark Commonwealth Day.

    The Council, along with other local authorities and civic dignitaries, community groups and charities throughout the British Isles and beyond will be taking part in local flag raising events and ceremonies of dedication at 10am on Monday 9 March.

    This unique initiative, building on highly successful inaugural events last year, will see more than 650 other Commonwealth Flags raised in 38 Commonwealth countries.

    Chelmsford City Council will raise the Commonwealth Flag on their flag pole at the Civic Centre on Duke Street. The service will begin at 9.50am on Monday 9 March in the Marconi Plaza, Fairfield Road, Chelmsford. The Mayor of Chelmsford will read a specially written Commonwealth Affirmation, following which the flag will be raised and will remain for the duration of Commonwealth Day.

    The Mayor of Chelmsford, Councillor Bob Villa, said "The overwhelming success of the inaugural event last year bodes well for the future, and I am delighted with the news that it will now take place annually. It provides us all with an opportunity to mark Commonwealth Day, wherever we may be, and to consider at the same time the personal and communal contributions we can make towards shaping the future we share. I do hope that as many people as possible will join me in raising the flag on this worldwide day of celebration."

    The event has caught the imagination of thousands of participants worldwide, enabling people of all ages in their local communities to become involved with widespread public expression of commitment to the Commonwealth, appreciation of its values and opportunities offered to its residents.

    For more information, please visit:

    Chelmsford City Council will be Flying a Flag for the Commonwealth

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    Police investigating a burglary of two iPads and a laptop in Chelmsford are appealing for two witnesses to come forward.

    Suspects broke into a house in Springfield Road sometime between 4.30pm and 6.30pm on Thursday, February 5.

    Police would like to speak to a man and a woman, who they say are witnesses, who were seen outside the address at about 5.50pm on the day of burglary.

    The white man is described as aged in his late teens or early 20s, of slim build, around 5ft 9ins tall, with collar length dark hair and as wearing dark clothing.

    The woman was of a slim build, in her late teens to early 20s, of around 5ft 6ins tall, as wearing a black hat and black clothing and with a long chain around her neck.

    Anybody with any information is asked to contact Dc Danielle Markoutsis on Chelmsford CID on Essex Police 101.

    People can also give information to the independent crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or via an Anonymous Online Form at

    Police seeking couple over iPads and laptop burglary in Springfield Road, Chelmsford

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    Essex Police are treating a fire in a flat in Braintree High Street as arson.

    The force has confirmed it has launched a criminal investigation after firefighters were called to a "well alight" and "smoke logged" flat above Ben's cafe at 7.31pm yesterday (February 11).

    Police want to speak to a man, thought to be about 19 years old, who was seen fleeing the scene.

    For a photo gallery of images documenting the blaze, click here.

    A force spokesman said: "Police are working with the fire service to investigate an incident at a premises in High Street, Braintree. 

    "Shortly after 7.30pm yesterday (Wednesday, February 11) police were contacted with reports of a fire. 

    "Officers attended along with the fire service who remain at the scene dealing with the blaze. 

    "Police are treating the incident as arson. A man was taken to hospital for treatment to smoke inhalation. He has since been discharged.

    "Police are looking to trace a man who was seen fleeing the scene and is believed to be around 19 years of age."

    An ambulance service spokesman has also since confirmed that it sent a Hazardous Area Response Team (HART), two ambulance officers and an ambulance to the scene last night before treating three patients in total.

    HART Team leader Damian Sherman said: "Upon arrival a male patient was rescued from the top of a double decker bus that he had climbed onto from a second floor window. 

    "We set up a mobile treatment centre to treat the patients along with a holding area used to provide medical cover for Essex County Fire and Rescue Service who were using breathing apparatus to tackle the fire from within the building.

    "We assessed three patients and treated one for smoke inhalation. The HART team was in attendance for seven hours to support the fire service as they managed the building fire."

    Anybody with any information regarding the fire is asked to contact Essex Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

    Arson investigation launched over Ben's cafe flat blaze in Braintree High Street

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    A COUPLE who met at a bus stop, were reunited at a bus stop and got engaged at a bus stop have tied the knot – opposite a bus stop.

    Former national bus driver of the year Mick Willson and his ex-passenger Denise, both from Chelmsford, wedded at an intimate ceremony last week to conclude a romantic nine-year journey.

    Mick said: "Considering how I feel about my job and how I feel about Denise, this has all been perfect, she's my dream girl."

    The 44-year-old, a First Bus driver since 2001, became the face of Denise's weekday commute to her recruitment job at County Hall, from the Sandon Park and Ride, when it opened in March 2006.

    But after two years of friendly banter and the odd lunch break spent together, Denise broke the news that she'd found a new job in Basildon.

    Mick continued: "It was only then that it dawned on me that I was actually in love with her, but that I was never going to see her again, and that's pretty much what happened for the next six years. It got kind of sad."

    A downcast Mick left First Bus for two years but after returning to drive the X30 Southend to Stansted service, he bumped into her in March 2014 at Chelmsford bus station.

    Mick said: "Denise walked past and I said 'hello, how are you'? She said 'fine, fine' and she asked me how I was and I said 'no, actually, I'm not fine'.

    "Basically I said 'I should have told you but this is how I feel about you' and that when I ever drove past her bus stop in Victoria Road South at 5pm I would always have a glance over to see if she was still standing there stupidly knowing that she wasn't – and that I would have to know that for six years. So then we started dating and everything moved faster than I would have expected because we already knew each other so well."

    Denise, 47, soon started plotting to propose to Mick, and in July last year she suggested they go on a late-night walk. Mick said: "She stopped in her Park and Ride stop and I sat next to her looking around smirking to myself and she looked at me and asked 'what's the matter with you'?

    "I was giggling and said this is where it all started all those years ago and with that she smiled at me and gently shook her head and asked me to marry her.

    "I'd been set up.

    "When she asked, I was probably as shocked as she felt when I told her how I felt about her. She was a little bit jaw-dropped."

    The pair, who live in Canside overlooking the Stone Bridge in the city centre, married at Chelmsford registry office, opposite the same Victoria Road South bus stop, on Thursday last week.

    They then dined at The Lion Inn at Boreham and enjoyed a honeymoon at Dunston Hall in Norwich.

    "No matter how much money we had we would have still got married there," said Denise, who now works in London.

    "It's been perfect. I would never have dreamed I'd be here now married.

    "It would be nice for other people to read this and see that there is hope for other people looking for love."

    Bus driver and passenger marry after romantic nine-year journey

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    Firefighters are expecting an increase in calls this weekend as couples attempt to recreate steamy scenes from 50 Shades of Grey.

    Fire chiefs are worried that the S&M-style film will lead to call outs for people trapped in handcuffs or rings – something the London Fire Brigade has seen an increase in since the 50 Shades books came out several years ago.

    Just last year, the Brigade saw 472 incidents involving people being trapped or stuck, often in everyday household items.

    And Essex Fire Brigade has said Valentine's Day, which falls on Saturday, is always a cause for concern, as couples attempt to cook romantic meals or light candles to create a passionate atmosphere.

    Warning couples not to get distracted when cooking up a storm, Essex Fire Brigade Divisional Officer Neil Fenwick said: "The kitchen is a major flashpoint for fires. More house fires start in the kitchen than any other room so we are urging everyone to make sure that they take care when they're cooking.

    "We know that it's an everyday activity but it is still not something people should be blasé about and requires your full attention.

    "Just a moment's distraction could lead to a fire which turns you into the killer in your kitchen."

    And for anyone feeling inspired by the 50 Shades film, London Fire Brigade issued the following advice:

    • Common sense is needed – if it doesn't look safe, it probably isn't, so don't do it!
    • If you use handcuffs, always keep the keys handy
    • Fingers and electrical appliances don't mix, especially those with blades

    Fire Brigade may see more kinky call outs as 50 Shades of Grey is released

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    A real hand grenade found in Southend Hospital was not planted their in a "malicious attack", according to Essex police.

    Emergency services were told just before 3.45pm yesterday (February 11) that an item, resembling a bomb, was found in the first floor of the hospital tower block.

    Part of the building was evacuated, as was nearby Prittlewell Chase, as part of a major police incident.

    Army bomb disposal experts have since made the grenade safe and have taken it away for testing.

    Chief Inspector Simon Anslow said: "From our investigation so far there is no indication that this was a malicious attack against the hospital or anyone working or being treated there.

    "I would like to thank staff, patients and visitors at the hospital for their co-operation yesterday in what was a fast-moving situation.

    "Thanks to them, police and other emergency services were able to work quickly to assess the level of danger and work to keep staff, visitors and a number of vulnerable patients safe.

    "Once the grenade was made safe and taken away, we made sure there were no other items of concern in the area before the hospital was re-opened. 

    "The hospital is open and working as normal today.

    "Our investigation into how the grenade came to be in the hospital continues and if anyone has any information or saw anything suspicious they should contact Southend CID on 101."

    Hand grenade found in Southend Hospital heart and chest clinic was real, police confirm

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    A TERRIFIED cashier was forced to hand over a "four figure-sum" after a bookies was held up by a gunman.

    The Betfred shop in Forest Drive, Chelmsford was robbed around 5.55pm on Tuesday (February 10).

    An Essex police spokeswoman said the man was white in his late 20s, of slim build and around 5ft 6in to 5ft 8in.

    He was wearing grey jogging bottoms and matching tracksuit top with white sleeves, and threatened the lone cashier with what appeared to be a gun, before stealing a four-figure sum in the process.

    Police are appealing for witnesses and ask anyone with information to contact Chelmsford CID on 101.

    Alternatively contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

    Armed robbery:  Betfred in Forest Drive, Chelmsford robbed of four-figure sum

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