Local News

Hospital Arsonist Jailed For Life

Hospital Arsonist Jailed For Life

An arsonist who started two fires close to oxygen tanks and MRI scanners at Medway Maritime Hospital has been jailed for life.

Luke French entered the hospital grounds in September 2018 and started the fires less than a metre away from lorries containing the scanners.

The 29-year-old, of Peregrine Drive, Sittingbourne, admitted arson being reckless as to whether life would be endangered and was jailed at Maidstone Crown Court on Friday (5th July).

The court heard that at around 10pm on Wednesday 5th September Luke French walked onto the hospital grounds and set rubbish being stored in an outdoor cage alight. A nearby wheelie bin was also set on fire.

The bins were less than a metre away from two mobile MRI scanners that were being stored in articulated lorries and close to oxygen tanks.

A member of hospital staff was quick to the scene and extinguished the fire before it caused significant damage to the bins or medical equipment.

Security officers then chased French away from the vicinity and, following an area search, Kent Police officers detained him at around midnight.

CCTV evidence clearly captured French committing the offence and he was charged the following day. He has been remanded in custody since his arrest and must serve a minimum of five years in prison.

Police Constable Dennigan Tyson, Kent Police's investigating officer for the case, told SFM News: "although no injuries were caused from this offence, French's reckless actions needlessly endangered a huge amount of lives and the consequences could have been much more severe were it not for the quick actions of hospital staff. In addition to the immediate danger of the fire, lifesaving medical equipment worth over £1,000,000 could easily have been damaged and this would have caused a huge amount of disruption for medical staff and people needing the equipment. French's actions prove, beyond any reasonable doubt, that he presents a very real threat to public safety and the strong sentence imposed by the courts means he is no longer a danger."

Burglary Arrests After Stolen Items Recovered

Burglary Arrests After Stolen Items Recovered

Two suspected burglars were arrested shortly after a break-in was reported here in Sittingbourne.

At around 1.30am yesterday morning (Tuesday 18th June) Kent Police were called to reports of intruders being disturbed at a property in Cedar Close. Officers attended and carried out a search of the local area. A number of items believed to be stolen, including bank cards and car keys, were recovered nearby.

At around 2.30am a 42-year-old man and a 15-year-old boy, both from the Sittingbourne area, were stopped and arrested. Both were later released pending further investigation.

Kemsley Man Fined For Unlicensed Waste Carrying

Kemsley Man Fined For Unlicensed Waste Carrying

A Kemsley man, caught transporting scrap metal without a licence, is nearly a thousand pounds out of pocket after being prosecuted by Swale Borough Council.

David Varrier, of Ypres Drive, was stopped as part of a joint operation between the council and Kent Police in June 2018. He was found to be carrying the waste on Newbridge Avenue, Sittingbourne, without the necessary waste carrier certificate or waste transfer notes.

He was issued with a notice requiring him to produce the right documents, which he failed to comply with, and was issued fixed penalty notices which he failed to pay.

Cllr Tim Valentine, cabinet member for environment at the council, told SFM News: "We take these kinds of offences very seriously and will take whatever action is necessary to crack down on rogue traders and keep the borough tidy. We ask people who need to get rid of waste to do their part. Using unlicensed traders can result in your waste being fly-tipped, leaving local council taxpayers to foot the bill to clear up the mess. Having the right licence to transport waste shows businesses are legitimate and will dispose of waste responsibly.Anyone who takes away waste must have a licence. Simply ask to see it, and if they can't show one, find someone who can. If you don't, and the waste is found dumped, you could be prosecuted."

Mr Varrier pleaded guilty to two offences at Medway Magistrates Court last Wednesday (5th June) and was fined £360 for each offence and ordered to pay a £36 victim surcharge and £205 in costs. A collection order was granted should there be any issues with payment.

If you want to check whether someone is licenced to carry waste you can visit the Environment Agency website or call 03708 506506.

For more information about fly-tipping, and what Swale Borough Council is doing locally to tackle it, visit www.swale.gov.uk/fly-tipping.

Gordon Henderson Backs Boris Johnson For PM

Gordon Henderson Backs Boris Johnson For PM

Our local Member Of Parliament for Sittingbourne and Sheppey, Gordon Henderson, has declared his backing for Boris Johnson to become the next Leader of the Conservative Party and the UK's Prime Minister. He has confirmed that this was the first choice for members of the Sittingbourne and Sheppey Conservative Association in a Facebook post earlier today (copied above).

Two People 'Seriously Injured' In M2 Collision

Two People 'Seriously Injured' In M2 Collision

Two people were taken to hospital following the accident between Junctions 5 (Sittingbourne) and 6 (Faversham) overnight.

Kent Police confirmed that they were called at 9.47pm last night (Thursday 6th June) following a report of a single-vehicle crash. It's believed that an off-duty doctor and an off-duty police officer helped at the scene of the accident where two people were trapped and had to be freed by the Kent Fire & Rescue Service.

They were then taken to hospital by the South east Coast Ambulance Service.

The incident led to long delays in the area with the M2 being closed coastbound from Junction 5. The motorway was reopened at 2.12am this morning.

 

Man Jailed For Making Threats With Machete

Man Jailed For Making Threats With Machete

A dispute over taxi money led to an offender threatening a man with a machete outside a Sittingbourne pub.

James Hilden, also known as Jimmy, produced the weapon after the victim refused to give him money for a lift home in October 2018. He later visited the victim's house and intentionally drove into five vehicles parked on their drive.

The 54-year-old, of no fixed address, pleaded not guilty to threatening a person with a bladed article, affray and criminal damage. He was found guilty of each offence and sentenced to 18 months imprisonment by Maidstone Crown Court last Friday (24th May).

The court heard that on the evening of Friday 26th October Hilden entered a pub in Chalkwell Road and bragged about threatening a man with a machete earlier that evening.

He then approached a customer, who he said he knew through mutual acquaintances.

Later that evening Hilden asked the customer, a man in his 20s, for £20 to cover the cost of a taxi. The man refused to provide the money and, in response, Hilden led him to a nearby pick-up truck and began to reach into his pocket.

The victim, who remembered Hilden had been bragging about using a machete earlier that evening, ran away because he feared the weapon would be used against him.

A friend of the victim then intervened and was swung at several times by Hilden, who was by this point holding a machete. No injuries were sustained from the altercation.

Later that night Hilden drove to the victim's home and demanded to speak with one of their family members.

When they refused to come out, he pulled out his machete and slammed it on the bonnet of his own vehicle.

He then got into his vehicle and used it to drive into five parked cars before leaving the scene.

The incident was captured on privately held CCTV and Hilden was arrested the following evening. He was charged with possessing a bladed article, affray and criminal damage and his been remanded in custody since.

Detective Constable Dan Mead, the investigating officer for this case, told SFM News: "The nature of Hilden's offending, and his willingness to threaten people with a machete, shows he presents a very real threat to the public. There can be no tolerance for people who are willing to carry or use bladed weapons. Carrying a knife increases your chances of becoming a victim or, as this case shows, makes you more likely to commit a criminal offence and be imprisoned".

New Swale BC Administration Unveiled

New Swale BC Administration Unveiled

Cllr Roger Truelove has been elected as leader of a new coalition administration at Swale Borough Council.

The Leader was elected by fellow councillors at the Annual Council meeting last night (Wednesdat 22nd May) following elections earlier this month.

The meeting also saw a new cabinet and deputies appointed to make decisions on resources and priorities to deliver and implement the budget and policies decided by the council.

The new cabinet is made up of:

• Cllr Roger Truelove - Leader of the Council and Lead Member for Finance
• Cllr Mike Baldock - Deputy Leader and Planning
• Cllr Richard Palmer - Community
• Cllr Monique Bonney - Economy and Property
• Cllr Tim Valentine - Environment
• Cllr Angela Harrison - Health and Wellbeing
• Cllr Ben J Martin - Housing

The new deputy cabinet members are:

• Cllr Derek Carnell - Finance
• Cllr Alastair Gould - Planning
• Cllr Julian Saunders - Community
• Cllr Sarah Stephen - Economy and Property
• Cllr Eddie Thomas - Environment
• Cllr Hannah Perkin - Health and Wellbeing
• Cllr Ghlin Whelan - Housing

The meeting also agreed new chairs for council committees and appointments to outside bodies.

For more information, including more details about what the cabinet portfolios cover, you can read the reports on Swale Borough Council's meeting agenda page by clicking here.

Heartless Thieves Steal Kart Champion's Equipment

Heartless Thieves Steal Kart Champion's Equipment

Sittingbourne based Ambition Motorsport had their team van containing team equipment, kids karts/engines and kids equipment stolen from Northwood Road in the early hours of yesterday (Thursday 16th May) morning at around 3.40am.

The van was loaded up and ready to go off to what should be a fun weekend for the team at the British Kart Championships in the Cotswolds for the 13 and Under drivers. One of the drivers, who had two karts stolen, is currently leading the British Championships. The equipment stolen won't be worth anything to the thieves who stole them, but to the children and Paul Janes (Team Principal - far left at the back of the picture) it's everything.

Things have been made worse by finding out that because of some issue on the paperwork the contents of near £30,000 will not be covered.

If you are able to help please check out their Just Giving Page: www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/ambitionmotorsport

Following an appeal on 106.9 SFM earlier today one person has donated £5,000 and another unnamed person has donated £1,000 but the guys have got a long way to go.

Anyone who may have seen anything is asked to contact Kent Police on 101 (quoting ref: 16/0145) or they can call Kent Crimestoppers, free and anonimously, on 0800 555 111.

More Than 700 Cannabis Plants Seized In Sheerness

More Than 700 Cannabis Plants Seized In Sheerness

More than 700 cannabis plants have been seized from a property in Sheerness.

Officers from the Swale Community Policing Team attended the house, in New Road, yesterday afternoon (Thursday 16th May) after receiving concerns the address was being used to grow the substance.

Inside officers uncovered a large cultivation spread across numerous rooms, along with evidence to suggest electricity was being illegally abstracted to help grow the plants.

A 23-year-old man from Sheerness and an 17-year-old boy of no fixed address were arrested on suspicion of cultivating cannabis and abstracting electricity.

They remain in custody as enquiries continue.

Election Will See Big Changes At Swale Council

Election Will See Big Changes At Swale Council

The Conservatives have lost control of Swale Borough Council after this year's Local Elections.

In a shock result from Boughton And Courtenay Council Leader Andrew Bowles lost his seat.

The full results (by party) were as follows:-

  • Conservative - 16 seats
  • Labour - 11 seats
  • Swale Independents - 10 seats
  • Liberal Democrats - 5 seats
  • Independent - 2 seats
  • Green Party - 2 seats
  • UKIP - 1 seat

 

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