Local News

Convicted Sittingbourne Sex Offender Rejailed

Convicted Sittingbourne Sex Offender Rejailed

A convicted sex offender from Sittingbourne is starting a prison sentence after ignoring measures imposed by the courts to prevent him from reoffending.

Lewis Mortimer has been jailed for five years after he was found in possession of a haul of child abuse material, which even included a paedophile manual.

Mortimer, 42, of Shortlands Road, had a number of previous convictions for child sex offences and when he was arrested had been the subject of measures imposed by the court which restricted his access to the internet. These restrictions meant he also had to notify police of any internet enabled devices he possessed, such as phone and computers, as well as details including online usernames, bank cards and passport information. 

In December 2019, Kent Police learned that Mortimer had contacted a woman on the internet and claimed to be a photographer who worked with young children. A similar report was made to police a few months later, when after contacting another woman Mortimer sent images of children being abused.

On 1st April 2020, he was arrested at his home address. Searches led to the seizure of several devices, including a tablet concealed within a base of a divan bed. The devices were examined, and a phone was found to contain files containing indecent images, as well as pages from a so-called paedophile manual containing explicit details of how to groom and abuse victims. More than 23,000 images were also recovered from the tablet Mortimer had hidden inside the bed, many of which were in the most extreme category.

Mortimer appeared before Maidstone Crown Court, where he pleaded guilty to three counts of distributing indecent images, four counts of possessing indecent images and with possessing a paedophile manual. He also admitted ten counts of breaching notification requirements and seven further counts of breaching a sexual offence prevention order.

He was sentenced on Friday (10th February) to five years’ imprisonment, with an extended licence period of a further two years. He will remain on the sex offenders register for life.

DS Vicky Whitmill, of the Offender Management Unit, told SFM News: "Mortimer was subject to strict measures designed to reduce the risk of him reoffending. He has been unable to adhere to these restrictions and has demonstrated a clear determination to access illegal and harmful images, many of which include the horrific abuse of children. Make no mistake, the material Mortimer deliberately sought and downloaded will have resulted from real victims suffering appalling abuse. He has a significant offending history and appears to have no understanding of the gravity of his actions. People like him must face the consequences and we will continue to do everything we can to ensure they are brought before the courts."

New Milton Rec Trees Kicked Down By Vandals

New Milton Rec Trees Kicked Down By Vandals

250 new tree saplings, planted at Milton Recreational Ground last week, have been kicked, uprooted and damaged by vandals.

Swale Borough Council and Southern Housing held a tree-planting day last Monday (6th February) aimed "to increase tree cover for biodiversity and boost the health and wellbeing of families, dog-walkers and other park users".

Local Swale Borough Ward concillor, Cllr Steve Davey, said "the damage was noted over the weekend and will be repaired tomorrow".

A spokesman for Swale Borough Council told SFM News: “It’s massively upsetting and frustrating for all those involved in trying to improve the park, and the wider local environment, when people do something like this. We’ve spent time and money trying to create a space that will be a benefit for generations to come. It’s hard to conceive of the levels of selfishness and petty small-mindedness that those responsible have, but we won’t let their idiotic behaviour spoil the park for everyone else.”

A similar iniative is currently being run in Milton Creek Country Park, after a donation of saplings was made last week.

Duo Jailed Following Stable Burglary Spree

Duo Jailed Following Stable Burglary Spree

Members of an organised crime gang who burgled stables acrossthe county have been jailed.

Frank Matthews, Jimmy Price and Lewis Collins were arrested after they conspired to steal horse equipment valued at around £100,000 at up to eight separate properties between 3rd May and 17th May 2020.

The gang targeted stables and other rural premises during the hours of darkness in areas including Sittingbourne, Faversham, Paddock Wood, East Peckham, Mereworth, Blue Bell Hill, Kemsing and Maidstone. Forcing open doors and disabling alarms, the men stole equine equipment before making off in vehicles, sometimes across open fields

After a break-in at stables near Bearsted, Maidstone on Sunday 17th May 2020, investigators identified the suspects had been using a Vauxhall Zafira.

On the following day a patrol saw the vehicle in Cranbourne Avenue, Maidstone and indicated for the driver to stop. The driver, Matthews, did not stop and drove dangerously through residential areas until the vehicle came to a halt in Woolley Road due to a mechanical issue. Officers, who had been pursuing the vehicle, arrested Matthews and his two passengers, Price and Collins.

Following a complex investigation, detectives were able to prove all three had been responsible for several break-ins. Matthews, of Crispin Court, Coxheath admitted eight burglaries; Collins of Clare Place, Maidstone admitted six and Price of Well Street, Loose admitted involvement in seven. They were charged with conspiracy to burgle and Matthews was also charged with dangerous driving.

All pleaded guilty at Maidstone Crown Court. On Friday (3rd February 2023), 27-year-old Matthews was jailed for two years and three months, 28-year-old Price was jailed for two years and four months and 25-year-old Collins received a sentence of one year and six months, suspended for two years.

Detective Constable Rob Fagg, of the Chief Constable’s Crime Squad, told SFM News: "These men targeted remote rural locations to steal a considerable amount of equine equipment from horse owners. The victims will have spent many years collecting expensive saddles, tack and in some cases specialist equipment, and the loss would have been hard to bear. The damage this gang caused at the break-ins would also have been expensive to repair and I have no doubt they did not spare a thought for the impact their crimes would have on the victims. A prison sentence for two members of this crime gang is entirely appropriate."


M&Co Sittingbourne Store Set To Close

M&Co Sittingbourne Store Set To Close

UK clothing retailer, M&Co, has announced that all of it's stores across the UK, including the branch here in Sittingbourne, are set to close in April.

In a Press Statement the company confirmed that "unfortunately, we haven't received the news we would have hoped for during our administration period. As we haven't received any funded, deliverable offers that would result in the transfer of the Company's stores or staff to a potential buyer, this means that all our stores will close".

The Renfrewshire-based Scottish company, which used to be known as Mackays Stores, was originally founded in 1834 and most recently sold clothing and homeware from 101/107 High Street, Sittingbourne.


Power Issues Disrupting Local Broadband Users

Power Issues Disrupting Local Broadband Users

Broadband users in the Eden Village area of Sittingbourne have been experiencing outages with their broadband over the past week.

It is believed that the main Open Reach infrastructure in the area is to blame. Cabinet 77, which is the one covering the roads affected, has been relying on batteries that should operate in short power outages, to allow broadband and now digital voice services to continue to operate.

Open Reach have confirmed to SFM News that a part, that controls all the power in the cabinet, has been ordered but "may take time to arrive". In the meantime engineers are having to regularly visit the cabinet to replace the batteries.

Unfortunately residents in Eden Village have learnt how long those batteries last and the time it takes to swap them out, resulting in outages lasting 30 to 45 minutes affecting customers of BT, TalkTalk and Sky - who all use the Open Reach infrastructure.

For those working from home, or running a business, gaps in service can cause all sorts of problems and the 'Think Broadband' website suggests that when broadband is critical it is worth having a back-up option, such as:

  • Connecting your laptop to the mobile hot-spot on your mobile phone.
  • Using a broadband router that has a built in 4G/5G SIM with automatic failover, or more commonly support a USB mobile dongle.
  • You can installing a second broadband connection ahead of time, making sure it uses a different technology e.g. ADSL2+ instead of FTTC, or cable broadband instead of FTTC. This incurs an additional monthly cost, but if you're working from home routinely some firms will pay for a second connection, particularly as a dedicated connection can avoid contention caused by others in the home.

We will be updating you with the latest on this story as and when we have it.

School Extension Work Gets Under Way

School Extension Work Gets Under Way

Work to provide the permanent buildings required for the expansion of Borden Grammar School has begun.

The school has already increased its intake for Year 7 admissions over the past two years from four forms to five (up from 120 to 150 pupils) through the provision of two mobile classrooms.

This follows a demand for places due to an increase in the number of births from 2008 to 2012, inward migration and house building in the area. The school was rated Good in its most recent Ofsted inspection, in November 2021.

The construction company Kier Group has been awarded the £6.975million contract to build a two-storey teaching block, specialist classrooms for science and IT, staff rooms and a three-court sports hall with changing facilities. Among other requirements are a new lift and staircase.

Additional investment has been made since the project was first mooted, including providing artwork to the side of the new Sports Hall to comply with a planning condition to complement the environment of the Avenue of Remembrance, enhanced drainage and sustainable soakaway provisions, to avoid overwhelming the street and school drainage, and solar panels on the roof to reduce the school’s carbon footprint. A more resilient buffer against inflation has also been provided.

Rory Love, KCC’s Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, told SFM News: “I am delighted to see this permanent expansion of Borden Grammar get under way. The demand in Swale for extra secondary school places has required an increase in both the selective and non-selective provision. The work at Borden as well as the planned new accommodation to be built at Highsted Grammar School for girls will enable them to continue to take five forms of entry on a permanent basis and help us meet the demand for grammar school places.”

Man Charged With Greyhound Stadium Break-Ins

Man Charged With Greyhound Stadium Break-Ins

A Sittingbourne man has been charged in connection with a series of burglary and theft offences including several break-ins at The Central Park Greyhound Stadium.

It is alleged that between Sunday 1st and Monday 2nd January 2023, entry was repeatedly forced to bar areas inside the stadium in Murston and that alcohol, including multiple bottles of spirits, was stolen. Three laptops and a tip jar containing around £100 were also reportedly taken, with damage to the Church Road premises estimated in the region of several thousand pounds.

Officers from the Swale Local Policing Team have also been investigating allegations that yesterday (Monday 30th January) a man walking around Bourne Place car park in Sittingbourne had been seen trying a number of vehicle door handles. The suspect is also alleged to have tried to steal a bike from outside Sittingbourne train station.

On the same day, Liam Wood was arrested and taken into custody. Aged 32 and of Crown Quay Lane, Sittingbourne, he was later charged with four counts of burglary, going equipped for theft, two counts of vehicle interference and with the attempted theft of a bicycle. He was also charged with possession of a knife in a public place.

The suspect has been remanded in custody to appear before Medway Magistrates’ Court later today (Tuesday 31st January).

Chalkwell To Take On 347 And 349 Bus Routes

Chalkwell To Take On 347 And 349 Bus Routes

Local Sittingbourne-based bus company, Chalkwell, have announced that they will be taking over two local bus routes from Arriva next month.

The two routes serve the Murston, Kemsley and Milton Regis areas with a service to and from the Sittingbourne Bus Hub in the centre of town.

Chalkwell takes over the 347 and 349 services from Monday 20th February and have produced a timetime available to see and download from their website:- https://chalkwell.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/347-349-chalkwell-tim....

Chalkwell has also confirmed that it's current offer of single fares capped at £2.00, until the end of March, will be available on these new services.

Police Appeal Following Serious Faversham Assault

Police Appeal Following A Serious Assault In Faversham

Detectives are appealing for witnesses to a serious assault in Faversham yesterday (Wednesday 25th January) evening.

Between 5pm and 5.20pm a silver BMW, driving along Lower Road, is reported to have been driven at a man standing on the pavement.

It is alleged some men got out of the vehicle and chased the victim into St Paul’s Avenue where he suffered an injury consistent with a stab wound.

The 19-year-old was taken to a London hospital where he remains in a stable condition. It is thought the victim and the suspects were known to each other.

Earlier today (Thursday 26th Janauary) a 40-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of assault and taken into custody.

Detective Inspector Pete Smith told SFM News: ‘An investigation is underway into the circumstances including house-to-house enquiries in the area. We are urging witnesses or anybody with information to call our appeal line. Motorists with dashcam and residents with private CCTV are also asked to check for relevant footage.’"

Anyone with any information is asked to call 01795 419 119, quoting reference 46/15282/23 or, alternatively, they can contact Crimestoppers free and anonymously on 0800 555 111, or by using the online form on their website.

Local Man Charged With Money Laundering Offences

Local Man Charged With Money Laundering Offences

A Sittingbourne man is set to appear in court accused of receiving more than £300,000 in illegally-earned funds.

Luke Barling, aged 49 and of Blenheim Road, has been charged with three counts of money laundering, following an investigation by detectives from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate.

The money is believed to be linked to alleged fraud offences committed by unknown suspects against 16 victims, most of them elderly, between February and July 2020.

Mr Barling has received a summons to appear at Medway Magistrates’ Court on Thursday 2nd March.


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