Local News

Motorcyclist Jailed For Fatally Injuring Teenager

Motorcyclist Jailed For Fatally Injuring Teenager

A motorcyclist who fatally injured a teenager has been jailed for five years and three months.

Robert Varrier, 29, of Limehouse Court, Sittingbourne, dangerously drove an off-road motorcycle on a residential street on Thursday 16th April before he colliding with a 17-year-old boy.

The teenager was attending a funeral and walking along Tonge Road, Sittingbourne, when he was hit by the vehicle at around 10.42am. He sustained serious head injuries and was flown to a London hospital where he died 3 days later on 19th April.

During the incident Varrier also seriously injured a 27-year-old man from Sittingbourne. He was taken to a local hospital where he has since recovered.

After the collision Varrier attempted to evade capture and left the scene, however officers arrested him at his home address at around 4:00pm on the day of the incident.

He was charged on 19th April and subsequently pleaded guilty to the charges of causing death by dangerous driving and causing serious injury by dangerous driving. He was sentenced to five years and three months in jail when he appeared at Maidstone Crown Court early today (Thursday 9th July).

Varrier was also banned from driving for three years which will come into effect when he is released from prison. He was also ordered to take an extended retest.

Senior investigating officer Detective Inspector Lee Neiles, of Kent Police’s Serious Collision Investigation Unit, told SFM News: "Robert Varrier undertook a dangerous and appalling level of driving on a residential street among a large group of pedestrians having absolutely no regard for anyone else's safety. Following the collision his main concern was evading capture and prosecution and he only admitted his guilt several weeks later when he realised the evidence secured and presented was so vast it gave him no choice but to plead guilty. This case has highlighted the devastation of driving dangerously on our roads, in particular performing stunts on off-road motorcycles. Not only has the driver received a prison sentence, he has to live with the fact that he has caused someone's death for the rest of his life."

Police Search Warrants Uncover Large Sum Of Cash

Police Search Warrants Uncover Large Sum Of Cash

Two people have been arrested and more than £30,000 in cash has been seized following the search of a number of properties in Spade Lane in Hartlip.

Kent Police detectives, investigating the theft of vehicles across the county, carried out the pre-planned searched warrants on Tuesday (7th July) morning at around 7:00am.

Officers seized the cash and arrested two men aged 42 and 46 on suspicion of conspiracy to steal. They both remain in police custody whilst enquiries continue.

A suspected stolen motorhome and van were also seized by police.

Since January 2020 Kent Police has received multiple reports of stolen cars, vans and caravans taken from towns including Dover, Canterbury, Folkestone, Faversham, Gillingham and Maidstone with a value totalling more than £50,000.

Police Appeal After Reported Assault Of A Woman

Police Appeal After Reported Assault Of A Woman

Witnesses are sought by officers investigating reports of concern for a woman in Sittingbourne.

On Saturday (4th July) Kent Police were called after a group of people were seen in Ridham Avenue, Sittingbourne, where they appeared to be arguing.

Two men are then believed to have assaulted a woman at around 4.12pm before leaving in a black Mazda with a silver trimming. It is believed the woman also left the scene with the men.

Both men were described as white and in their early 30s with short hair. They were tanned and both were wearing blue jeans without tops.

One of the men, who is believed to be a passenger, was also described as having a slim build with broad shoulders and short, dark hair.

The woman was described as white, aged between 20 and 30 and around 5ft 2ins with a slim build. Her hair was dark and worn up in a ponytail. She was also tanned and was believed to be wearing a short skirt and top or a dress which was black or dark in colour.

Investigating officer Detective Sergeant Samantha Stuart told SFM News: "This is a concerning report and we are keen to talk to those involved to ascertain the details surrounding the circumstances of this incident. We have carried out a number of enquiries and are now encouraging anyone with information to get in touch."

Anyone with information is asked to call Kent Police appeal line for Swale on 01795 419119 quoting crime reference 46/114915/20.

Alternatively they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers, free and anonymously, by calling 0800 555 111, or by using the anonymous online form at Crimestoppers-uk.org.

Police Appeal Following Serious Collision

Police Appeal Following Serious Collision

Officers from the Serious Collision Investigation Unit are appealing for witness to a collision in Sittingbourne.

Kent Police were called at 6.40pm on Saturday (20th June) to a report of a collision between a blue Volkswagen Golf and a cyclist on the A2 London Road near the junction with Hempstead Lane.

Officers attended along with the South East Coast Ambulance Service and the Air Ambulance for Kent, Surrey and Sussex and a 62-year-old man from Sittingbourne was taken to a London hospital by road. He remains in a serious but stable condition.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Kent Police's Serious Collison Investigation Unit on 01622 798 538 or they can email: sciu.td@kent.pnn.police.uk quoting reference LB/55/20.

Major Gas Leak Closes A2 At Newington

Major Gas Leak Closes A2 At Newington

Picture: Richard Palmer

Kent Police have had to closed the A2 at Newington due to a 'major' gas leak.

The road closure comes just a day after residents received a letter saying that months of roadworks along that stretch of road were finally finished and that the area would be 'getting back to normal'.

London Road is currently CLOSED between Playstool Road and Bull Lane, causing lengthy tailbacks on to Keycol Hill (coming from Sittingbourne) and back to Hartlip (coming from the Medway towns). 

Cllr Richard Palmer, who represents Harlip, Newington and Upchurch on Swale Borough Council, told SFM News: "This is really frustrating and causing chaos around the village in the country lanes. SGN Engineers had been working on this stretch of road with a contraflow for weeks and were hoping to complete on Sunday 21st June, ten weeks ahead of schedule. It is obviously an emergency and unplanned as police are manning the barriers."

SGN engineers, wearing masks, are still on the scene. The recent works were supposed to be the final part of the massive £1.8 million scheme to renew nearly 3 miles of aging gas main pipes, with contractors  even working throughout the recent coronavirus lockdown to keep the project on time.

Appeal Launched Following Serious M2 Crash

Appeal Launched Following Serious M2 Crash

Kent Police collision investigators are appealing for information after a one-vehicle collision on the M2 which left the driver with serious injuries.

The accident happened at 7.42pm last night (Saturday 7th June) when a white Citroen C1 left the carriageway during heavy rain, striking a tree on the embankment on the London-bound carriageway between junctions 6 and 5 near Faversham.

The driver was taken to a London hospital where she remains in a critical but stable condition with life-threatening injuries.

Officers from the Kent Police Serious Collision Investigation Unit are appealing for information and dashcam footage of the incident. Any witnesses are being urged to contact them on 01622 798539, quoting reference JW/49/20 or, alternatively you can emai: sciu.td@kent.pnn.police.uk.

Sittingbourne And Borden Village FC's Forge Link

Sittingbourne And Borden Village FC's Forge Link

Sittingbourne FC and Borden Village FC have announced a formal link between the two clubs going forward.

The two club committees say they have been discussing the tie up for sometime and following changes at Borden Village felt that the time was now right to join forces. The tie up has begun with Sittingbourne FC helping Borden finalise a strong management team that will now include names familiar to stalwart Brickies fans.

The Borden committee released this statement to SFM News: "We at Borden are excited to bring in our new manager Kevin Brown". Kevin, 45, brings a wealth of experience to Borden, having played for Sittingbourne, Tonbridge Angels, Gravesend, Worthing, Sheppey Utd, Greenwich Boro and Tunbridge Wells over a 25 year non league playing career. He moved in to coaching after retiring, at Ashford u23, but is now looking to make the step up In to management.

Joining him as no 2 /coach will be Simon Beard . Simon himself had a distinguished non league playing career starting at West Ham Utd as an apprentice before playing top level non league with Sittingbourne, Dover, and Hastings Utd .Simon is also a UEFA B licence coach and is academy coach at Rondos.

The Borden Commitee went on to say: "These are exciting times for the club which will include a link up with Sittingbourne FC which will benefit both clubs." There was already a link between the two clubs through committee members of both clubs, Roger Pudner (who is also the groundsman for both clubs), and Ian Jackson.

Sittingbourne manager Darren Blackburn will have an overseeing role over teams of both clubs and for Sittingbourne the interchange of players that this link up makes possible will prove invaluable. These are exciting times for Sittingbourne Football coming out of the country's COVID-19 Lockdown.

Swale Borough Council's Chief Executive Dies

Swale Borough Council's Chief Executive Dies

A statement released earlier today Swale Borough Council announced that their Chief Executive, Mark Radford, has died.

Mark had been undergoing treatment for cancer since last year, but during a recent stay in hospital, he contracted coronavirus. This proved to be one fight too many, and he passed away yesterday (Thursday 28th May).

Cllr Roger Truelove, Leader of Swale Borough Council, told SFM News: “We are all deeply saddened that our Chief Executive Mark Radford has passed away. This is so very sad because he has fought so long against his illness, only to catch the Coronavirus whilst receiving treatment for his condition. He has been so brave and sustained himself with the conviction that he would return to work with us. He was dedicated to the council and loved the borough, and he and I have spent much time discussing the future, as well as talking about our respective football clubs. It is a very sad day, and my thoughts and prayers are with Mark’s family and friends.”

Mark began working at Swale in 1987 as the council’s Estates Officer and Valuer, responsible for managing the property assets. In 1996 he was promoted to Director of Corporate Sservices and was responsible for running the business of the council as well as transforming service delivery of key services.

He became interim chief executive in February 2017 following the departure of Abdool Kara and his post was made permanent in January 2018.

Arriva Announce Bus Social Distancing Measures

Arriva Announce Bus Social Distancing Measures

Local bus company Arriva Kent have announced that they will be running more services from next Monday (1st June) - but passengers will be advised to wear face masks when social distancing isn't possible.

Other new measures will see a sign stating 'bus full' being displayed when the vehicle has reached its capacity and when this sign is showing, the bus will not stop to pick up any new passengers - it will only stop to let people off. If the bus does stop, only one new passenger will board for every passenger that disembarks from the service. On the bus itself any seats that are within two metres of the driver will be taped off, but wheelchair spaces will remain available and passengers will NOT be allowed to stand on their journeys.

Oliver Monahan, Area Managing Director at Arriva Kent, told SFM News: “We are committed to running vital services to support workers and people needing to undertake essential journeys at this time. Passengers can rest assured that during these times of change we are continually monitoring service levels in line with demand and will, wherever we can, adapt our services to meet this. We urge all those needing to travel to only use public transport if necessary and to check our website at www.arrivabus.co.uk/coronavirus for up-to-date advice and bus times before they travel.”

Revised timetables can be viewed and downloaded here, or by using the Arriva UK Bus App - available from the Apple Apps Store and Google Play.

First Ever Online Fire Station Open Day

First Ever Online Fire Station Open Day

Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) are calling on residents at home to tune into their first ever online fire station open day on Thursday 28th May.

Aimed at families and all ages, the virtual event has been organised in place of a number of the their annual ‘Family Open Days', which were cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and will take place from 11am on the Kent Fire and Rescue Service Facebook page, starting with Sittingbourne fire station.

Videos will be posted throughout the day until 2pm, each one with a different theme. Those who attended the annual open days last year, enjoyed hearing from station staff, watching firefighter displays, the Byrnes show and taking part in the new activity trail. The good news is, all of this will still play a part in the first ever online open day, meaning everyone can still experience what a real open day offers - but without even having to leave the house!

Those who 'tune in' will be able to learn important safety tips by watching the online firefighter videos and demonstrations and the service's education team, 999 control operators and the Byrnes family mascot, Woody, will also be making appearances through a number of fun, learn-at-home videos.

Ann Millington, Chief Executive of KFRS, told SFM News: "We know there's a lot going on in the world right now, but learning vital fire safety advice is still incredibly important- especially with more people at home during this time cooking, using electricals and having barbecues. We're really excited to launch the first ever online fire station open day, so that families can watch along and learn at home. We do hope you'll save the date and tune in on the day to enjoy the educational videos, shows and interactive activity trail, as created by our firefighters and support staff - it's going to be great fun for the whole family!"

For more information please visit: facebook.com/kentfirerescue.

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