Local News

CCTV Released After Six Upchurch Shoplifting Incidents

CCTV Released Following Six Upchurch Shoplifting Incidents

Kent Police have released the image of a man they are keen to speak with in connection with multiple shoplifting offences at shop in Upchurch.

On numerous occasions throughout December a man entered the shop on The Street in Upchurch and reportedly stole groceries.

Police would like to speak with the man in connection with six incidents of shoplifting from the store, the first of which was reported on 7th December 2013 when various items from the shop totalling around £120 were taken.

The suspect is described as being a white male, aged between 20 and 30-years-old of slim build and around 5'7 tall. He has short dark brown hair.

If you can help Kent Police with this investigation you are asked to contact them on 01795 433015, quoting reference XY/040317/13, or alternatively you can contact Kent CrimeStoppers free (from any landline) and anonimously on 0800 555 111.

Tributes Paid To Motorcyclist Killed In Sheppey Collision

Tribute Paid To Motorcyclist Killed In Sheppey Collision

The family of a man, who was killed in a road traffic collision in Queenborough on Sheppey, have described him as a 'proud father and family man'.

Harry Richard Higgins, of Hillside Road in Queenborough, died after he was involved in a road traffic collision in Main Road on Saturday (25th January) .

The 31-year-old was riding a purple Honda NES, at about 10.40am, when his bike was involved in a head on collision with a blue Honda CR-V travelling in the direction of Queenborough. He was later pronounced dead at the scene.

Harry's family have released the following tribute to the local media: 'Harry was a much loved father, son, uncle, nephew, brother and friend to many who will be sorely missed by all those that knew him. He died tragically doing something he loved - riding his motorbike - and his family are devastated at the news. He was a real family man and a proud father and it's hoped he will be remembered for the joy he gave to those closest to him. Harry's heart was always in the right place and he would do anything for anyone. Harry, you will be truly missed - behave yourself up there, all our love is sent to you and you will always be in our thoughts.'

The road was closed at 11.00am from the junction onto the A249 and was fully reopened again by 3.25pm.

Specialist investigators from Kent Police continue to appeal for witnesses to the collision. Anyone with any information, or who might have witnessed the collision, is asked to call the dedicated Serious Collision Investigation Unit Appeal Line on 01622 798538.

Fourth Man Arrested In Cock-Fghting Investigation

Fourth Man Arrested In Cock-Fghting Investigation

A fourth man has been arrested by detectives investigating suspected illegal cock-fighting and animal cruelty at a farm in Iwade.

Officers from Kent Police discovered up to 170 birds in a converted barn in Raspberry Hill after executing a warrant on last Monday (13th January). A number of dead cockerels were also found at the farm, as was a suspected fighting ring - known as a cockpit - and paraphernalia associated with the training of birds for fighting.

Further searches uncovered about 100 wraps of a suspected Class A drug, a substantial quantity of cash, suspected stolen vehicles and a number of dogs were also seized on suspicion of welfare offences in breach of the Animal Welfare Act.

This Monday (20th January), officers raided a business premises at Detling Aerodrome and unearthed three lorry-loads of illicit alcohol, worth an estimated £75,000 in evaded tax. A substantial quantity of cash was also seized by officers.

A 52-year-old man from Iwade was arrested on suspicion of a variety of theft offences, possession with intent to supply a controlled drug, animal cruelty and proceeds of crime.
He joins a 47-year-old man from Teynham and a 20-year-old man from Swanley who were arrested on 13th January in connection with the same offences, while a 21-year-old man from Upchurch was also arrested on the same day on suspicion of supplying a controlled drug.

All four men have been bailed to appear at Sittingbourne Police Station on Wednesday 9th April, pending further enquiries.

Defibrillators Installed At Swale Council Offices

Defibrillators Installed At Swale Council Offices

Swale Borough Council have now installed defibrillators at its office's in Sittingbourne and at the Sheppey Gateway in Sheerness.

Three machines are available across the two sites, with over 36 volunteers trained to use them.

Councillor Ken Pugh, Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Health, told SFM News: "When somebody goes into cardiac arrest, every minute without CPR and defibrillation, reduces their chance of survival by 10%. We support the need to make defibrillators available in public places. According to the Resuscitation Council (UK), 30,000 people in the UK, sustain a cardiac arrest every year and defibrillation is the only effective response.

In addition, members of our Swale Youth Forum granted £500 to Highsted Grammar school for the purchase of Defibrillator equipment, as part of the SADS UK campaign. The money will also be used to train members of staff and students to use the machines. It is important we are working together to ensure our communities are safe."

Last year the quick actions of Swallows Leisure Centre staff in Sittingbourne and the use of their defibrillator, saved a person's life after he went into cardiac arrest following a gym class.

The defibrillator is a machine that delivers an electric shock to the heart when a cardiac arrest is suffered. (Source: BHF). With prompt defibrillation, survival rates as high as 75% have been reported. Since 1996, the British Heart Foundation has put 9,700 defibrillators into the community, saving at least 230 lives.

Full training has been given on CPR and the use of the defibrillator to staff at both sites. Defibrillators give clear voice instructions to the user and will only deliver a shock if the heart is in ‘fibrillation'. The machine will detect the rhythm of the heart and only deliver a shock if necessary. This means that the machine will not deliver a shock unless it detects this given rhythm. SBC have purchased fully automatic machines, meaning you don't even have to push a button to deliver a shock. The machine instructs the user on how to prepare the patient and attach the pads, it will then do the rest itself.


Gambler, Who Swindled Clients Out Of £750k, Jailed

Gambler, Who Swindled Clients Out Of £750k, Jailed

A compulsive gambler, who swindled clients out of more than £750,000 by offering incredible deals on high profile sporting events, has been jailed for three years and four months.

James Edward Maxwell, who ran three Sittingbourne-based sports memorabilia and hospitality companies, "spun a staggering web of lies in order to persuade wealthy clients and charities to hand over cash, including claims that his young son had been diagnosed with cancer" according to Kent Police.

The 41-year-old, formerly of Leigh Road in Sittingbourne, was involved with three businesses selling sports memorabilia in the town - The Autograph Store in High Street, Sports Idols on St George's Business Park, and Premier Signings and Hospitality Ltd, registered at Velum Drive. None of the three businesses are still in operation.

Police found that from 2009 he had defrauded customers out of thousands of pounds by asking them to transfer cash into the business account for goods but giving them his own personal bank details, taking cash and using funds in the business account as his own. Maxwell also assumed the identity of one of his colleagues, unbeknownst to them, and made up other aliases to protect his own reputation and convince clients they were dealing with a larger company. He manipulated friends and customers into investing into Sports Idols and Premier Signings and Hospitality by professing 'cash flow' troubles and promising paybacks with interest - but the refunds rarely materialised and, when they did, were often followed by another plea for a loan.

Maxwell, who now lives in Horsham, Sussex, had set up another company, Premier Signings and Hospitality, in early 2011, auctioned off sports hospitality packages at charity auctions, private functions and directly to clients. He offered a multitude of packages for some of the most famous sports events in the world in 2010 and 2011, including the Monaco and British Grands Prix.

Police say that he lured customers into handing over tens of thousands of pounds for dream encounters with sports stars including Formula One drivers and football players, and accommodation on a super-yacht owned by motorsport tycoon Eddie Jordan. Maxwell claimed he could offer them at cost price because he had ‘connections' with the celebrities, telling them: ‘It's not what you know in this business, it's who you know.' However, following the Police investigation it would appear that Maxwell had never met any of the famous people he was offering as part of the deals.

He offered the packages - which ostensibly included flights and accommodation at five-star hotels or yachts - at incredible knock-down prices, taking deposits and payments from clients. Many would then be told days before that the yacht had been double-booked or the deal had been cancelled, only for Maxwell to promise to invest their money into another package, none of which ever materialised.

Other clients grew suspicious with repeated excuses from Maxwell, who regularly forgot which alias he was supposed to be using and signed emails off with the wrong name, and did their own research. They then found the incredible deal they had signed up for would cost so much more in real life that the prices Maxwell was offering were completely unrealistic.

When challenged, Maxwell would recite a litany of lies, claiming over and over again, to a number of different people at different times, that his father had just died. He also claimed to have been diagnosed with testicular cancer and told one client he was struggling to keep his finances straight as his young son had just been diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer. He would promise refunds and repeatedly insist he had made bank transfers, which investigators later proved never left his account, or write cheques for huge amounts that would immediately bounce.

Maxwell also defrauded investors in a Spanish property scheme and began offering clients cut-price luxury package holidays to New York and St Lucia, leaving them puzzled and furious when they discovered he had never so much as booked them on a single flight after taking their money.

Kent Police began an investigation into Maxwell after a number of clients came forward to report him. Officers from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate spent months following Maxwell's messy paper trail and analysing financial accounts to find that he used most of the vast sums of money given to him in good faith on gambling, sometimes spending up to thousands of pounds in a single day. He also paid out on a number of luxury holidays for his family.

The painstaking work into his case was still going on, with officers poring over his finances, locating victims from years-old scams and working to build up a huge dossier of evidence against him when, on 14th January 2013, Maxwell was charged with 17 counts of fraudulent activity.

At Maidstone Crown Court on Monday 11th November 2013, he pleaded guilty to 17 charges of Section 1 fraud and offences under the Fraudulent Trading Companies Act 2006, with 37 other offences taken into account. He was jailed last Friday (17th January) and was sentenced to 40 months imprisonment for 17 offences to run concurrent. He was also disqualified from holding any Limited Company position for ten years.

His father-in-law, Terence Boswell, of Surrey, had been lured into fraudulent activity alongside him and was given a nine-month suspended sentence after pleading guilty to two counts of transferring criminal property.

Investigating officer, DC Steve Payne from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, told SFM News: "This was a huge investigation into, what turned out to be, a staggering web of lies spun by Maxwell in a desperate attempt to keep his gambling habit afloat. He betrayed dozens of people with his fraud when it emerged the deals he was offering were simply too good to be true. He was also a traitor to his clients, whom he manipulated into loaning him money and investing in the businesses he was involved with as silent partners. Maxwell preyed on people's hopes and dreams. He would offer dazzling hospitality packages, promising this, that and the other, to sports fans willing to pay vast sums of money to meet their heroes and watch these huge sports events in the lap of luxury. None of these packages ever materialised. His victims were left confused and embarrassed, but more than that, they were left out of pocket after promising their hard-earned cash to this swindler."

DC Payne went on to add: "His increasingly unstable structure of deceit led to his downfall - he had been betraying the trust of his colleagues for months by using their names and blaming botched payments on them, and eventually became so confused by his own lies that he forgot who he was pretending to be. He asked one hospitality source to ensure two parties were kept away from one another as one group knew him by one name and the other another name entirely. Maxwell has a gambling problem, that much is clear. His account went from dizzying highs to lows in just days as he would take his clients' cash and gamble it all away. As the net began closing in, he made even riskier moves in an attempt to keep the money coming in, but our investigators followed his every financial move. To see him in the dock and to know he is behind bars is to see the result of years' worth of work by the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate come to fruition."


Police Make "Cock Fighting" Discovery At Iwade Farm

Police Make "Cock Fighting" Discovery At Iwade Farm

Three men have been arrested after Kent Police officers uncovered evidence of animal cruelty and cock-fighting during a raid at a farm in Iwade.

Officers executed a warrant under the Misuse of Drug Act yesterday (Monday 12th January) morning where up to 170 birds were found in a converted barn in Raspberry Hill Lane. A number of dead cockerels, which were found to have had their combs removed, were also found at the farm. Removing the comb is believed to be common practice in breeding birds for fighting.

A suspected fighting ring, known as a cockpit, was also found at the site and paraphernalia connected with the training of birds for fighting and veterinary drugs were discovered and seized.

Further searches of the farm uncovered about 100 wraps of a suspected Class A drug, which has been sent off for testing while a substantial quantity of cash was also seized. Officers, who had been working with partner agencies including the RSPCA, discovered a number of dogs on the site - several of which were suspected to have been stolen and checks are now being carried out to re-home them. A number of dogs were also seized on suspicion of welfare offences in breach of the Animal Welfare Act.

Police searches of suspected stolen vehicles on the site found a number of dead birds hidden in their boots, while it's believed the remains of a dead horse was found near the barn.
A 47-year-old man from Teynham and a 20-year-old man from Swanley were arrested on suspicion of animal cruelty, proceeds of crime, possession with intent to supply and a series of theft offences. A 21-year-old man from Upchurch was arrested on suspicion of supplying a controlled drug. All three men have been bailed utnil Wednesday 9th April pending further enquiries.

Detective Sergeant Pat Holmes, of Kent Police, told SFM News that "officers carrying out a drugs warrant made several grim discoveries at a farm in Iwade yesterday morning. While a significant haul of drugs was discovered, as well as a sizeable quantity of cash, countless dead birds were found on the site, suspected to have been involved in illegal cock-fighting. Officers also uncovered a barn fully stocked with live birds, which at this stage are believed to have been bred for fighting. Kent Police will work with the RSPCA to investigate further and also determine whether dogs and other animals found on the site are stolen or have been subjected to animal cruelty."


Two Charged After Attempted Burglary Of Newsagent

Two Charged After Attempted Burglary Of Newsagent

Two men have been charged in connection with an attempted burglary at a Sittingbourne newsagent over the Christmas holiday period.

Kent Police were called at 1.15am on Monday 30th December after an alarm was triggered at Lakeside News in Todd Crescent, Church Milton. Allegedly two men were seen attempting to gain entry to the rear of the store. Patrols attended within minutes of taking the call and arrested two men. A search of the shop revealed damage to the alarm system but no entry had been gained.

Toby Earnshaw-Glazier, 19 and of London Road in Sittingbourne, was charged with attempted burglary other than dwelling and possession of a controlled drug of Class B - cannabis.
David Varrier, 46, of Glenbrook Grove in Sittingbourne, was charged with attempted burglary other than dwelling.

Both men appeared before Maidstone Magistrates' Court on Tuesday 31st December where no plea was entered. They were bailed until Tuesday 14th January to appear before Maidstone Magistrates' Court again.

Police Appeal Following "Road Rage" Assault

Police Appeal Following "Road Rage" Assault

Kent Police are appealing for information following an assault on Friday (27th December) in Sittingbourne.

The incident occurred on Mill Way, between 7.40pm and 7.45pm, when a 27-year-old woman and a 26-year old man (both from the Sheerness area) were at the traffic lights outside the Morrisons supermarket andovertoo k a black Range Rover. It is believed that the driver of the Range Rover flashed their lights and used the horn. As a result of this the 26-year-old man decided to pull his Audi over to the side of the road and stop.

It is then reported that the Range Rover hit the back of the Audi and a group of women got out and started to punch the Sheerness couple. A large white vehicle, possibly a Toyota, pulled up in front of the Audi, stopping it from getting away. Two men then got out of this vehicle and reportedly smashed the windscreen of the Audi. The 26-year-old man was then punched in the face repeatedly.

Three women have been arrested in connection with this assault ( a 17 and 18 year-old from Queenborough) and a 17 year-old from Sittingbourne. Their vehicle was seized and examined for forensic evidence. They have been bailed pending further enquiries.

The man and woman received facial injuries in the incident and around £200 worth of damage was caused to their car.

The assault is being investigated by Sergeant Jason Hedges, from Sittingbourne Police Station, who told SFM News that the "assault left the victims terrified. In her statement the female victim said she thought she was going to die. We do know there were a number of motorists who may have witnessed the attack and we would like to hear from them so we can move the investigation forward. If you can help, please contact Kent Police on 101 or alternatively you can contact Kent CrimeStoppers free (from any landline) and anonimously  on 0800 555 111".

Flood Alert In Place For Isle Of Sheppey

Flood Alert In Place For Isle Of Sheppey

The Environment Agency have issued an Amber Alert for flooding in some parts of the Isle Of Sheppey.

Rail services to the island are currently suspended with a rail replacement bus service in operation.

The main A249 Sheppey Crossing also remains closed until further notice, with all traffic having to use the old Kingsferry Bridge.

Stay tuned to 106.9 SFM for further updates or follow our Twitter Feed on the main page or via @SFMRadio.

Train Services Suspended After Incident At Bobbing

Train Services Suspended After Incident At Bobbing

A person has been fatally hit by a train near Bobbing, just outside Sittingbourne, earlier this afternoon.

The incident is currently causing delays of up to 60 minutes and the following changes to services have been made by South Eastern Trains:

  • Trains are suspended between Rainham and Teynham
  • Buses are running between Gillingham and Faversham
  • Buses are replacing trains between Sheerness-on-Sea and Sittingbourne

Stayed tuned to 106.9 SFM for updates or follow us on Twitter @SFMRadio.


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