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Pedaling back to the dark ages: The Taliban celebrate a year of ruling Afghanistan which saw them ban girls from schools by taking to a lake with their families in pedalos

    Images of Taliban fighters enjoying time with families on pedalos in Band-e-Amir national park have emerged
    Pictures show fights on the boats at the popular tourist destination as a rally began in Afghan's capital, Kabul
    The rare rally comes one year on from Taliban takeover which has seen women's rights severely restricted
    Protestors dispersed by Taliban soldiers who shot guns into the air, tore at banners and confiscated phones

By Gemma Parry For Mailonline

Published: 12:04, 13 August 2022 | Updated: 13:52, 13 August 2022

A year on from seizing control in Afghanistan, pictures of Taliban fighters riding pedalos with their families in celebration have emerged.  The images, taken at one of the lakes in Band-e-Amir national Park, a popular weekend destination in the country, show members of the Taliban enjoying the sunshine as a rally gathered in the capital.  Pictures show them gathered on the boats, some holding weapons, smiling and chatting amongst themselves at the lake, which has been described as Afghanistan's Grand Canyon and attracts thousands of tourists a year.  Some were seen jumping into the cooling water amid soaring temperatures of 40c and above.  A rare rally gathered on Saturday (August 13) just days before the one year anniversary of hardline Islamists' take over, which saw around 40 women march in front of the education ministry building in Kabul.  Since seizing control, the Taliban have reversed many of the gains made by women in the two decades of US intervention in the country.  They were chanting 'bread, work and freedom' and carrying a banner which read 'August 15 is a black day' before being dispersed by Taliban fighters who shot guns into the air.   Some protesters, who were demanding rights to work and political participation, took refuge in nearby shops and were chased and beaten by Taliban fights with their rifle butts, according to reports.  Many women were not wearing face veils and chanted, 'Justice, justice. We're fed up with ignorance.'

One of the organisers of the march said Taliban fights tore their banners and confiscated phones as they dispersed the rally.   'Unfortunately, the Taliban from the intelligence service came and fired in the air, Zholia Parsi said.  They dispersed the girls, tore our banners and confiscated the mobile phones of many girls.'

According to reports, some journalists covering the protest were also beaten by the Taliban fighters.  Many restrictions have been reintroduced in the last year, particularly on women, to comply with the Taliban movement's vision of Islam.  Tens of thousands of girls have been shut out of secondary schools, and women have been barred from returning to many government jobs.  Women have also been banned from travelling alone on long trips and are only permitted to visit public gardens and parks in the capital on days separate from men.  Earlier this year, the country's supreme leader and chief of the Taliban, Hibatullah Akhundzada, ordered that women should fully cover themselves in public, including their faces.   The United Nations and rights groups and repeatedly slammed the Taliban government for imposing the restrictions.  Richard Bennett, UN special rapporteur on human rights in Afghanistan told reporters that the policies showed a 'pattern of absolute gender segregation and are aimed at making women invisible in the society' during a visit to Kabul in May.   Initially, some Afghan women pushed back against the restrictions in the form of small protests. But the ringleaders were soon rounded up and held incommunicado, while denying they had been detained.   The takeover of the country paved the way for a collapse in the economy and the freezing of Afghan and donor funds, which created a humanitarian crisis.  In the months since the takeover, most art, culture and pastimes have also been banned. 


Murdered as he told his killers 'I just want to go home': Teen, 18, was stabbed to death by 10 boys who 'swarmed like zombies' after 'selecting a stranger' to hurt - as his mother says, 'My cheeky chappy, blue-eyed boy just wanted to make his mam proud'

    Jack Woodley fatally stabbed after being 'surrounded and isolated' by a gang who chased him down an alley
    He had been due to start a job the Monday after he was attacked and was on way to pick up keys for a new flat
    Prosecutors said the group had gone out 'looking for serious trouble that day' and tried to 'create conflict'
    Judge said they'd shown 'regret', but 'regret is not remorse' as he gave minimum terms adding up to 124 years

By Rory Tingle, Home Affairs Correspondent and Alex Storey and Tom Brown For Mailonline

Published: 15:27, 5 August 2022 | Updated: 20:37, 5 August 2022

Ten teenagers who murdered an 18-year-old 'for excitement and pleasure' after attacking him at random as he walked home from a funfair in County Durham were today sentenced to life.  Jack Woodley pleaded with his killers 'I just want to go home' moments before the gang of 15 to 17-year-olds punched, kicked and stabbed the teenager with a 25cm 'Rambo style knife'.  Jack's mum Zoe McGill said: 'We always used to call him our cheeky chappy, blue-eyed boy.  He used to light up any room he was in. He hated to be serious, he always wanted to make a joke. He was happy go-lucky and very adventurous.'

The teen was 'surrounded and isolated' by the gang of youths who chased him down an alleyway and attacked him 'like zombies attacking an animal'.  The victim, who had been due to start a job the Monday after he was attacked, was on the way to pick up keys for a new flat when he was punched, kicked, stamped on, and stabbed with a 25cm 'Rambo style' knife during the attack on October 16.  Prosecutors said the group had gone out 'looking for serious trouble that day' and tried to 'create conflict' with Mr Woodley at the festival as they 'looked for any excuse to attack someone'.

One of the teenagers first put Mr Woodley in a headlock and punched him, before the others 'joined in', the court heard.  Jurors were told one of them was heard shouting 'get the chopper' - referring to the knife - in mobile phone footage of the incident.  Today, the 15-year-old who inflicted the fatal wound by stabbing Mr Woodley in the back was detained for a minimum of 17 years.  Witnesses described Mr Woodley as visibly 'so scared' as he curled up into a ball and received a torrent of kicks to his face and body from the attackers, who acted like a 'herd of lions'.  Judge Rodney Jameson QC sentenced the other nine defendants, aged between 15 and 18, to minimum terms of between eight and 15 years' detention.  He told them that if they are then released, they will remain on licence for the rest of their lives. He said they had shown 'regret', but 'regret is not remorse'.  The total minimum terms for all the defendants adds up to 124 years and six months.  Nine of the youths, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had denied murder and manslaughter.  One pleaded guilty to manslaughter, admitting he stabbed Mr Woodley but denying he intended to kill him, Newcastle Crown Court heard.  Prosecutor Mark McKone QC had told jurors that Jack had been enjoying a day out with his girlfriend at the Houghton Feast funfair when the defendants, who he did not know, 'surrounded and isolated' him near the Britannia Inn pub on Newbottle Street on October 16.  Mr McKone said: 'The attack took place outside the pub but the group also chased Jack down an alleyway at the side of the pub. Many people in the pub saw the attack.'

At the start of the trial in March, prosecutor Mark McKone QC said that while only one youth stabbed Mr Woodley, the other nine were guilty due to 'the concept of joint enterprise'.  A jury convicted all 10 defendants of murder in June.  Jack's mum warned youths against carrying knives, asking them to avoid putting 'yourself in that position where you might possibly use it.'

She added: 'There is never an acceptable excuse to carry a knife, and don't hang around with those who do.  If you know someone has a knife run, tell -on't involve yourself, don't be part of the violence because you will ruin your life and other people's lives too.'

Nine of the defendants intend to appeal against their convictions, the Crown Prosecution Service confirmed this week.  Sentencing the group, the judge said: 'No sentence can restore Jack to his family and loved ones, or reduce the pain they will endure now and in the future.  It may seem unfair that you will be able to live at liberty while still young men, while Jack cannot because of what you did.'

Judge Jameson said the group had attacked Mr Woodley 'solely for the excitement and pleasure of inflicting serious injury on an entirely innocent and randomly selected stranger'.

The judge told the defendants the violence inflicted on Mr Woodley 'though short-lived, was appalling' and all of them 'played a part in causing Jack's death'.

He said six of the teenagers had given evidence during the trial, but none 'was prepared to tell the truth about what the others did'.  He told them: 'You decided to put the interests of yourself and your co-defendants before those of Jack and his family. You did everything you could to deny them justice.  I'm sure you do regret what happened for many reasons, but regret is not remorse.'

Judge Jameson told the teenager who stabbed Mr Woodley: 'I have concluded that you intended to kill when you inflicted the second stab wound. I accept that intention may have been formed in the heat of the moment.  It is, however, that sort of escalation that can occur when violence is carried out mob-handed and when armed with a deadly knife.'

One of the teenagers first put Mr Woodley in a headlock and punched him, before the others 'joined in', the court heard.  Jurors were told one of them was heard shouting 'get the chopper' referring to the knife in mobile phone footage of the incident.  The teenager is survived by his father, John Woodley, mother Zoey McGill, stepfather Chris McGill and siblings Jayden, Jenson and Tyler.  Speaking during an earlier court hearing this week, Zoe said the whole family would be 'forever haunted about how horrific Jack's injuries were'.

Ms McGill said that Jack had been looking forward to the future, and she added: 'This has ruined our family's lives and life will never be the same again without Jack.'

In an earlier statement, she told the court: 'Jack was my reason to live and succeed in life. From the moment Jack was born he brought light and love to us all.  In the months before October, Jack had sat and passed his English and Math Level 3, CSCS Operatives Card, Forklift Truck License and had secured a job with Amazon which he was due to start the Monday after his death.  Jack had also secured his own accommodation and had received the keys for this on the day he was attacked. We were all very proud of Jack and this should have been a very exciting time in his life.  The devastation of losing Jack is immense and far reaching. The trauma of reliving this whole incident over a long trial has had a devastating effect [on] us all. We cannot see a way of recovering from this.'

The statement concluded: 'We will never be able to share treasured family moments with our cheeky chappy blue-eyed boy ever again.'

Jack's mum recalled how the boy had helped a homeless man and his dog he met by giving him money and buying dog food.  The man would later go to his funeral and write a verse for him.  Zoe said: 'He gave him his money and went and got his dog food from Aldi that was how Jack was. He always looked out for people who were less fortunate than himself. From a young age, he was like that.  I think he did make it on the news one time for helping the homeless at 11, he was in secondary school at Woodham. He always had a heart of gold, he wasn't an angel by no means but his heart was always in the right place.'

The second teen, who is 16-years-old, was the first to attack Jack.  He was described as having 'average intelligence' and was sentenced to serve a minimum term of 13 and a half years.  The third teen, 15, who went to collect the knife with the youth who inflicted the stabs, had one previous conviction for burglary and. He was sentenced to a minimum term of 15 years.  The fourth teen, who is now 18-years-old, had attended the fair in possession of a knuckle duster, but did not hit Jack with it.  Despite being one of the oldest, the court heard he was of low intelligence and was not a leader. He was sentenced to serve a minimum of 15 years.  The youngest of the defendants, a 15-year-old, was said not to have attended the fair wanting to fight.  The court heard he may have been called a 'girl' if he didn't attend and was said to have a learning disability. He was sentenced to a minimum of eight years.  The sixth teen, also 15-years-old, had drank vodka and smoked cannabis on the night of the murder and was heard to shout 'get the chopper out'.  The court heard the youth's parents and family had also been involved in criminality. He was sentenced to serve a minimum of 13 years.  The seventh teen, 15, had attempted to fight Jack outside a nearby dentist surgery, and was said to have a low IQ and was 'easily led'.  He has problems with mental health, 'anger management' and had been involved in 'some bad behaviour' while in custody. He must serve a minimum of 10 years.  The eighth teen, who is 16-years-old, became involved in the attack on Jack at a 'late stage' and cried in the dock as he was told he must serve a minimum of 11 years.  The ninth youth, 16, had written a letter to the judge describing how he is determined to turn his life around in the future. He must serve a minimum of 11 years.  The tenth teen, the second 18-year-old, was said to be 'lacking in self confidence', has a low IQ and ADHD. However, the court was told he was the most 'heavily disguised' of the group at the time of the murder. He must serve a minimum of 11 years.

'Don't do it': Jack's devastated mother warns against carrying a knife

After the hearing, Jack's mum said: 'My message? Don't do it. Don't carry a knife, don't put yourself in that position where you might possibly use it.  And don't think that just because you're not the one carrying the knife that you can't be prosecuted - because you can and Jack's case has proved that.  There were children there that night that kicked and punched Jack, held him down, swarmed him and they think that because they didn't hold the knife they're not guilty of murder.  But they involved themselves and they chose to involve themselves. You don't need to be the one holding the knife to contribute to a death or to be found guilty of murder.  There is never an acceptable excuse to carry a knife, and don't hang around with those who do.  If you know someone has a knife run, tell don't involve yourself, don't be part of the violence because you will ruin your life and other people's lives too.'

She added: 'He used to light up any room he was in. He hated to be serious, he always wanted to make a joke. He was happy go-lucky and very adventurous.  Things were really coming together for Jack and he was making his mum proud. We were just numb, I remember screaming. I think I was just in shock.  The days after his death were horrific. I just remember waking up and looking out my bedroom window and I kept saying to myself over and over, it was just a bad dream.  I kept thinking of my son in a morgue. Things that you never would expect to go through as a parent, I think I was just unable to even process some of it, to take it in.  I never want anyone else to ever go through that to go through this. No sentence will make a difference but I hope it sends a strong message to other kids, to stop this happening to other families.'


Meghan Markle and Prince Harry thought they had 'Diana's magic', book claims

Meghan and Harry embarked on a 16-day tour of Australia, which also took in New Zealand, Tonga and Fiji, to huge fanfare.

By Josh Luckhurst

03:31, 17 Jul 2022 Updated 07:48, 17 Jul 2022
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are thought to have believed they had "Diana's magic", according to claims from an explosive new book.  Revenge: Meghan, Harry and the war with the Windsors by Tom Bower claims the Duke and Duchess of Sussex had convinced themselves that they could follow in his mother's footsteps as the public's favourite royals as a result of their Australian tour.  Meghan and Harry embarked on a 16-day tour of Australia, which also took in New Zealand, Tonga and Fiji, to huge fanfare.  The trip was deemed a huge success with the pair visiting Bondi Beach, the Sydney Opera House and appearing at the 2018 Invictus Games, which were taking place in the city.  Bower suggests Harry and Meghan felt they had the qualities to lead the monarchy into a new age after the tour.  The trip kicked off with big news after Bower says Meghan had told some members of the royal family that she was pregnant during Princess Eugenie’s wedding reception in October 2018, according to an extract from the book reported by The Sun.  On the eve of their first royal tour since their marriage five months earlier, Meghan and Harry confirmed the news to the public on October 15, 2018.  A Kensington Palace spokesman said: "Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are very pleased to announce that the Duchess is expecting a baby in the Spring of 2019.  Their Royal Highnesses have appreciated all of the support they have received from people around the world since their wedding in May and are delighted to be able to share this happy news with the public."

Harry and Meghan welcomed son Archie in May 2019.  Bower wrote: "The Sussexes had convinced themselves that their Australian success blessed them with Diana’s magic.  Meghan could not understand that Diana had won the public's affection after years of work.  Neither she nor Harry could grasp that emulating Diana required time, to weave a narrative and create a brand from which influence would flow."

Harry is alleged to have told Meghan that she "resembled" his late mother, who gained huge support from the Australian public during a royal tour of the country in 1983 alongside the Prince of Wales.  Bower added that Meghan also believed her "activism would enhance the brand" of the Sussexes to gain similar opportunities as Barack and Michelle Obama.  In January 2020, Meghan and Harry announced their intention to step down as senior working royals and move to America to carve out new lives for themselves.  The new book Revenge: Meghan, Harry and the war between the Windsor's by biographer Bower, known for unflinching takes on his subjects, will draw on “interviews from insiders who have never spoken before”, according to publicity material.  Bombshells according to Bower include that the Queen didn't want Meghan at Philip's funeral, the Sussexes "festered with fury" after Jubilee plans were blocked and details of the furore following Meghan's Vanity Fair front cover.


Mum left paralysed from the waist down after feeling numb when she got home from Aldi

Debbie-Lyn Connolly Lloyd's morning was like any other as she did the school run before going to Aldi for the weekly shop, but events took a devastating turn when her legs started to feel numb and heavy

By Patrick Edrich & Sam Ormiston

22:42, 8 Jul 2022 Updated 07:40, 9 Jul 2022

A mum-of-four has been left paralysed from the waist down after she lost feeling in her legs while putting away the weekly shop.  Debbie-Lyn Connolly Lloyd dropped her children off at school before a shopping trip to Aldi on June 27 like any other Monday morning.  But things took a turn for the worse when her legs started to feel numb and heavy.  The 40-year-old quickly sat down and completely lost the feeling in her legs soon after.  Paramedics rushed her to Southport Hospital where she was diagnosed with Functional Neurological Disorder a condition where her brain stopped sending messages to her legs.  Debbie-Lyn said she was "really terrified" and couldn't stop thinking about what would happen, the Liverpool Echo reports.  The mum-of-four, from Birkdale, Southport, said: "I was just trying to stay calm not to alarm my children but I was absolutely terrified.  I went through a number of tests from the marvellous staff but the tests kept coming back normal which was reassuring but very confusing as well. No one could tell me why I was paralysed.  I needed assistance with absolutely everything on the ward and couldn't move the lower half of my body at all my legs were like a dead weight."

An MRI scan determined she had been struck down with Functional Neurological Disorder.  The disorder can be brought on by stress and fatigue and can affect anyone. It's also the second most common reason for a neurology visit after a migraine.   Debbie-Lyn said her brain had "become so overloaded" she could no longer function properly and the signals between her brain and body were not working properly.  After a week of intensive physiotherapy feeling came back to her legs and she was discharged with crutches.  She had adaptions fitted in her house to help her move. Her legs still give way underneath her and she has "uncontrollable jerky movements" in her head and shoulder.  Her speech is also slurred and tremors run down her body.  She now has an alarm around her neck which she has to activate if she falls and can't get up. The condition does not have a cure and she has to learn to live with it.  She's now a patient at The Walton Centre in Liverpool.  But despite this Debbie-Lyn said "the future is still bright for me" and "I will not let this disability define me".

The makeup artist has also worked as a curve model for the past four years and has a goal of walking down the runway at Liverpool Fashion Week in October.  She added: "I absolutely love modelling and makeup and just want to stay as positive as I can. It's my dream to be able to walk down the runway when the show comes around  I want to walk with confidence.  I will keep putting one foot in front of the other and show my children what a positive mental attitude can really do."


World's first pregnant ancient Egyptian mummy had CANCER: 2,000-year-old corpse likely died from a rare form of the disease while 28 weeks into her pregnancy, scans reveal

    Scientists have pinpointed a cause of death in a pregnant ancient Egyptian mummy dating back 2,000 years
    Scans of her skull suggest the embalmed woman, the 'Mysterious Lady', died from nasopharyngeal cancer
    Previous studies have shown that the woman died around 28 weeks into her pregnancy, likely while in her 20s

By Ed Wight and Jonathan Chadwick For Mailonline

Published: 09:50, 11 July 2022 | Updated: 10:22, 11 July 2022

The world's first pregnant ancient Egyptian mummy died from a rare form of cancer, a new study reveals.  Researchers in Poland were carrying out a scan of the ancient corpse's skull when they discovered unusual markings in the bone.  Similar to those found in patients suffering from nasopharyngeal cancer, the scientists concluded that the mummy most likely died of the same disease.  Nasopharyngeal cancer is a rare type of cancer that affects the part of the throat connecting the back of the nose to the back of the mouth.  It's already know that the woman, nicknamed the 'Mysterious Lady', died while 28 weeks into her pregnancy, but now researchers have pinpointed a cause of death.  Images released by the Warsaw Mummy Project (WMP) in Poland show the skull with lesions most likely made by a tumour and large defects in parts of the bones that wouldn't usually form during mummification procedures.  'We have unusual changes in the nasopharyngeal bones, which, according to the mummy experts, are not typical of the mummification process,' said professor Rafał Stec from the Medical University of Warsaw's Department of Oncology, who worked with experts at WMP.  Secondly, the opinions of radiologists based on computed tomography indicate the possibility of tumour changes in the bones.'

Professor Stec added that the young age of the mummy and the lack of another cause of death indicate an 'oncological cause'.  Scientists now plan to collect tissue samples and compare them with cancer samples from other Egyptian mummies.  By revealing the 'molecular signature' of cancer, it is hoped that this will expand the knowledge of cancer evolution and could contribute to the development of modern medicine.  The further research could also determine a cause of nasopharyngeal cancer such as whether it was associated with viral infection or genetics.  The Mysterious Lady is said to have been found in royal tombs in Thebes, Upper Egypt, coming from the elite of Theban community.  It was discovered in the early 1800s and dates back to the first century BC, a time when Cleopatra was Queen and the city of Thebes was a hive of activity.  The woman was taken to Warsaw in Poland in 1826, around the time of some of the most important discoveries from the Egyptian Valley of the Kings, and is currently on show at the National Museum in Warsaw.  Last year, an examination using tomographic imaging revealed that the woman was between 20 to 30 years old when she died and was in her 26th to 30th week of her pregnancy.  The body had been carefully wrapped in fabrics and left with a rich set of amulets to see her into the afterlife, according to the authors writing in the Journal of Archaeological Science.  Her foetus, which had been 'pickled like a gherkin', was located in the lower part of the lesser pelvis and partly in the lower part of the greater pelvis and was mummified together with its mother.  CT images of the infant were obscured by tissue from the uterus surrounding it, which meant they could not get a more detailed analysis beyond measuring the head.  Its head circumference was 9.8 inches, which the team used to determine it was between the 26th and 30th week of life.  It wasn't taken out from the uterus, as was in the case of the heart, lungs, liver and intestines with the stomach.  Experts at the Warsaw Mummy Project couldn't say why the foetus wasn't extracted and mummified on its own, as has been shown in other instances of stillborn children.  'It may have been thought to be still an integral part of the body of its mother, since it was not yet born,' they said at the time. 

The foetus hadn't been given a name, even though, according to ancient Egyptian beliefs, a name was an important part of a human being.  Thus, it's thought ancient beliefs stipulated the unborn child's afterlife could only have happened if it had gone to the netherworld as part of its mother.  The mummy was previously thought to be the remains of the priest Hor-Jehuti, until it was discovered in 2016 to be an embalmed woman.  This isn't the first time cancer has been detected in a mummy in 2017, scientists discovered the world's oldest known case of breast cancer and multiple myeloma, a type of bone marrow cancer, in two ancient mummies.

The female dating from 2,000 BC and the male from 1,800 BC belonged to the ruling classes of the governing Egyptian families of Elephantine.

The Valley of the Kings in upper Egypt is one of the country's main tourist attractions and is the famous burial ground of many deceased pharaohs.  It is located near the ancient city of Luxor on the banks of the river Nile in eastern Egypt 300 miles (500km) away from the pyramids of Giza, near Cairo.  The majority of the pharaohs of the 18th to 20th dynasties, who ruled from 1550 to 1069 BC, rested in the tombs which were cut into the local rock.  The royal tombs are decorated with scenes from Egyptian mythology and give clues as to the beliefs and funerary rituals of the period.  Almost all of the tombs were opened and looted centuries ago, but the sites still give an idea of the opulence and power of the Pharaohs.  The most famous pharaoh at the site is Tutankhamun, whose tomb was discovered in 1922.  Preserved to this day, in the tomb are original decorations of sacred imagery from, among others, the Book of Gates or the Book of Caverns.  These are among the most important funeral texts found on the walls of ancient Egyptian tombs.

World's first pregnant ancient Egyptian mummy

Brought to Poland in the mid-19th century, the 'Mysterious Lady' represents the first known pregnant ancient Egyptian mummy.  Last year experts at Warsaw Museum Project discovered that the mummy was pregnant and that the foetus had been 'pickled like a gherkin'.  An examination using tomographic imaging revealed that the woman was between 20-30 years old when she died and was in her 26th to 30th week of her pregnancy.  The mummy was previously thought to be the remains of the priest Hor-Jehuti, until it was discovered in 2016 to be an embalmed woman.

What is nasopharyngeal cancer?

Nasopharyngeal cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the nasopharynx.  The nasopharynx is the upper part of the pharynx (throat) behind the nose.  The pharynx is a hollow tube about 5 inches long that starts behind the nose and ends at the top of the trachea (windpipe) and esophagus (the tube that goes from the throat to the stomach).  Tests that examine the nose, throat, and nearby organs are used to diagnose and stage nasopharyngeal cancer.

Source: NIH


Gardaí announce full review of the Sophie Toscan du Plantier case

BY: Connell McHugh
June 29, 2022

AN GARDA Síochána have announced that a full review of the Sophie Toscan du Plantier case is to take place.  The announcement comes following a review by Assistance Commissioner of Organised and Serious Crime, and the Garda Serious Crime Review Team will conduct the review.  On completion of the review, the Serious Crime Review Team will provide recommendations to the local investigation team.  In a statement, An Garda Síochána said it will not be commenting on the specifics of the car as the investigation in ongoing.  Ms Toscan du Plantier was murdered in West Cork in 1996, and no one has ever been charged with her murder in Ireland.  However, journalist Ian Bailer was convicted in absentia in Paris in 2019 and received a 25 year sentence.  He has always denied her murder, and the Irish High Court ruled in 2020 that he cannot be extradited to France.  The case was the subject of two documentary series from Netflix and Sky, as well as a popular podcast from called West Cork.  An Garda Síochána continues to appeal to anyone who may have any information on this crime to contact the Garda investigation team at Bantry Garda Station 027 20860 or the Garda Confidential Line 1800 666 111.

Fun, Games And Silliness / Taxi
« on: July 06, 2022, 12:42:02 PM »
A guy in a taxi wanted to speak to the driver so he leaned forward and tapped him on the shoulder. The driver screamed, jumped up in the air and yanked the wheel over. The car mounted the curb, demolished a lamppost and came to a stop inches from a shop window.  The startled passenger said "I didn't mean to frighten you, I just wanted to ask you something."

The taxi driver says "It's not your fault, sir. It's my first day as a cab driver.  I've been driving a hearse for the past 25 years."


Thousands of disabled people's deaths linked to DWP's failure to act on benefits flaws

New research by Deaths by Welfare concludes the Department for Work and Pensions failed to fix systematic flaws in the disability benefits system that potentially led to thousands of deaths

ByJohn Pring Editor of Disability News Service

10:25, 4 Jul 2022 Updated 14:30, 4 Jul 2022

The Government’s failure to act on warnings about its disability benefits systems has been linked to hundreds maybe even ­thousands of suicides and other deaths of disabled people.   A detailed 160-page study published today exposes how the Department for Work and Pensions was alerted more than 40 times to life-threatening systemic flaws, by academics, coroners and its own researchers over the past 30 years.  The Mirror has been given exclusive access to the Deaths by Welfare Timeline, which brings together for the first time the three decades of ­investigations linking DWP and its social security reforms with the deaths of disabled benefit claimants.  It documents the DWP’s “cumulative harm” and “slow bureaucratic violence” that has led to countless suicides and other deaths, particularly in the post-2010 austerity era.

One piece of research connects just one area of the 2010 coalition government’s welfare reforms with an extra 590 suicides between 2010 and 2013.
Introducing Disabled Britain: Doing It For Ourselves

By Rachel Charlton-Dailey, guest editor and founder of The Unwritten

Disabled Britain: Doing It For Ourselves, is a week-long series across the Daily Mirror's print and digital platforms, showcasing the lives of disabled people and the issues important to us.  The articles have been conceived by disabled people, written by disabled people, and photographs where possible taken by disabled people.  Throughout this week, we aim to change your mind about how you view disabled people.  After all, there are 14 million of us, and we aren’t all the same, it’s time the public stopped listening to lazy stereotypes and viewed disabled people in all our wide-ranging splendor.  Disabled activist Ellen Clifford, author of The War on Disabled People, who provided key input into the Timeline, said it was “an enormously important piece of work”.

She said: “Welfare reform has destroyed lives and caused avoidable harm on such a scale that the United Nations made a [2016] finding of grave and systematic violations of ­disabled people’s rights. At the most extreme end this has meant the loss of life. We will probably never know the true number.  The culture of dehumanisation and hostility fostered within the DWP to justify the government’s conscious cruelty has meant a complete lack of ­accountability or remorse. The Timeline ­represents an important step in the continuing battle for justice for the victims of welfare reform.”

Work and pensions ministers have repeatedly been warned of the harm caused by the assessment system, mostly to claimants of out-of-work disability ­benefits such as ­incapacity benefit and employment and support allowance but also the personal independence payment, which was introduced in 2013.  As far back as 1995, Professor Nick Wikeley, who would later become an Upper Tribunal judge, was warning new social security legislation would “leave marginal groups with ­inadequate protection” against the risk of long-term illness.

In 2006, Professor Alison Ravetz warned that if the then Labour government was wrong about its proposed incapacity benefit reforms “the cost, in stress, to those people and their families will be ­incalculable”.

Those reforms were rolled out, first under Labour and then with even harsher restrictions under Tory-led governments. In March 2010 came the first indication from a coroner the reforms the work ­capability ­assessment (WCA) and the ­employment and support allowance (ESA) were having the impact of which Ravetz had warned.  Stephen Carré, 41, had taken his life two months earlier after his appeal against being found fit for work was rejected. Coroner Tom Osborne said this “trigger” led to his suicide, and urged changes to the WCA.  In April 2012, Colin Traynor, 29, died following a seizure, after months of growing anxiety about his finances and being wrongly found fit for work.  Five months later, Labour’s Michael Meacher became one of the first MPs to speak in parliament about the controversial medical assessments.  “Sadly, Colin was not an isolated case,” he said at the time.

Dad Michael O’Sullivan, 60, of North London, took his life in September 2013, again after being found fit for work and ineligible for ESA. He had been claiming incapacity benefit since 2000, due to depression, social anxiety and agoraphobia.  To read more content from our week-long series on Disabled Britain click here.  In January 2014, coroner Mary Hassell linked his death to the WCA, warning of “a risk that future deaths will occur unless action is taken”.

The needless deaths continued.  Jodey Whiting, 42, took her life in February 2017, after being told by the DWP she had been found fit for work.  DWP’s assessors had noted the severity of her mental health ­condition, and the risk posed if she was found fit for work.  Two years after her death, the DWP’s Independent Case Examiner found the department had failed five times to follow its safeguarding rules.  Errol Graham’s body was discovered by bailiffs who had been sent to evict him in June 2018. He had starved to death, months after DWP wrongly stopped his ESA, and weighed 4st 7lb.  In January 2020, Jodey and Errol, 57, were mentioned in the House of Commons with a demand by Labour’s Debbie Abrahams for an independent inquiry.  Errol’s daughter-in-law Alison Burton said: “It makes us angry and frustrated. You can’t put into words the devastation that department has caused. It just doesn’t seem to care.”

Debbie Abrahams, a former Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, said: “I don’t want any more families like Jodey Whiting’s, Errol Graham’s and hundreds, possibly thousands, more to go through the pain that they have.  "I have been calling for a public inquiry into the scale and causes of the deaths of social security claimants from 2008 to date. Despite all of this, the ­Government has refused to listen.”

Claimants continue to lose their lives because of DWP failings.  A ­disabled woman, who her family claims was traumatised by the daily demands of the universal credit system, took her life two months ago.  The DWP insists it is committed to being “compassionate and responsive”. It said: “These are tragic, complex cases and our sincere ­condolences remain with the families. We continually improve our services and have new teams to focus on our most vulnerable customers.”

The timeline, which is being published today in draft form before being launched officially later this year, is part of the Deaths by Welfare project headed by Dr China Mills and supported by Healing Justice Ldn (CORR), which works with marginalised and oppressed communities.  Dr Mills has led the work on the timeline alongside John Pring, editor of Disability News Service, with key input from disabled activist Rick Burgess, disabled activist and author Ellen Clifford, welfare rights expert and researcher Nick Dilworth, and disabled artist-activist Dolly Sen.  Dr Mills, Senior Lecturer in Public Health, said: “We may never know the names of all of those who have died the lives lived and lost. But we’re seeking people’s feedback, to remember those who have died and to reimagine welfare justice.”


By Saralee Perel

Last week, I joined a support group for caregivers of partners with dementia. You see, I have become my husband's eyes, ears, hands, words, well his lifeline. Bob's hopes dreams memories have all disappeared.   Being my husband's overseer is a duty I am honored to accept. Are we not one another's keeper?

Bob and I love with a love everlasting. It's a "no matter what" kind of love.  I am doing a lousy job as his caregiver. I'm no champion. I have cowered in fear, buried myself in frustration, isolated myself in an emotional closet filled with memories that are no longer shared by my best pal. He can't retrieve them. Does anything matter if it can't be remembered?

You know what I miss the most?

Small talk. But if we were walking along a path, and I was to say, "Did you see that blue jay?"

Bob would have no idea that a blue jay is a bird, or that a bird is a little flying thing.  I'll tell you, though; I say it anyway. The words don't matter, nor do their meanings. What does matter now?

That we are together.  Fancy this; years ago, when Regis Philbin was the host, Bob was a contestant on The Millionaire Show in New York City. In order to qualify, he had to answer, at lightning speed, questions such as: name the first five presidents in the order of their birth. He was magnificent on the show.  He is still magnificent in his heart.  My husband cherishes me. He spends hours a day using brightly colored pencils in his coloring book. Why?

So that he can make me fancy designs.  "Look," he'll say. "I made this for you."

"Beautiful. We're going to frame it!"

Although he doesn't remember that I have a spinal cord injury, he has never once forgotten to extend his arm to help me when I have to walk. And with only a few words remaining in his vocabulary, I hear, "I love you," a dozen times a day.

He still kisses real good.  When I dream, it's of a youthful, effervescent Bob, with piercing blue eyes and wavy blonde hair. I see him digging for clams on a sun-swept beach on a sparkling summer afternoon with the sky and the ocean a cerulean blue. He's happily showing me his basket filled with clams that we'll later steam for chowder. Those were the good days.  When I wake up, I pathetically hope for just one more glance of that clam basket. I reach over and feel that my husband is next to me, thank God. These are the good days.  My courageous beloved can no longer recognize anyone, nor can he read, write, follow TV, or cook. Although he has won 27 blue ribbons for his baked goods at the big Barnstable County Fair, he no longer knows that the rounded utensil used to mix dough is called a spoon.   So we bake cookies together, sort of. I want him to feel useful, so after I put one cup of raisins in the measuring cup, I ask him to pour that into the batter. This is always followed by my applause and his proud beaming smile over his grand accomplishment.   Until about a month ago, I didn't think I needed help. Support groups (or any groups) have always turned me off. Then suddenly, I was overcome with a desperate need to connect with others like me. To not feel so alone and lonesome.  I was frightened about speaking to the group. I predicted I'd just listen and not say a word. (You know where this is going, don't you?)

When I was introduced, I started telling my story and didn't stop. With each sentence, I could see all the others nodding in understanding. It was as if the whole group was saying, "You're here, Saralee. You are safe."

My tears flowed unencumbered. Taking this step has made me feel like I've opened the doors to my heart again. With my sweet husband near me and my many supports all around me, I will no longer power on alone.


Revealed: How SS overlord Heinrich Himmler developed the Final Solution after feeling 'sympathy' for Nazi troops ordered to shoot dead 33,000 Jews at 1941 Babi Yar massacre and thinking: 'there must be another way to do this'

    Massacre took place in 1941 at Babi Yar, a ravine on the edge of Ukrainian capital
    33,771 Jews were shot there by German soldiers over the course of just two days
     SS leader Heinrich Himmler witnessed the killings
    Historian James Holland said he felt sympathy for soldiers doing the shootings
    His experience led him to think there 'had to be a better way of doing this'
    Mr Holland added that it 'directly' led to the Final Solution
    From 1942, millions of Jews were murdered in a network of death camps

By Harry Howard, History Correspondent For Mailonline

Published: 17:06, 23 June 2022 | Updated: 17:13, 23 June 2022

The Final Solution was developed after Heinrich Himmler witnessed the horror of the Babi Yar massacre of more than 33,000 Jews and decided 'there has got to be another way of doing this', historian James Holland said.

Babi Yar, a ravine on the edge of the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, became infamous after 33,771 men, women and children were shot there over the course of just two days in September 1941.  At that point, the Nazis were three months into Operation Barbarossa their ultimately doomed attempt to invade and conquer the Soviet Union.  Only ten of the estimated 700 people that took part in the killings at Babi Yar were ever convicted of a crime.  Speaking to MailOnline at the Chalke Valley History Festival, which is sponsored by the Daily Mail, Mr Holland said the path to the Final Solution the name given by the Nazis to the murder of nearly six million Jews in a network of death camps from 1942 began at Babi Yar.  Nazi troops carried out the massacre in Ukraine after branding the local Jewish population 'terrorists'.

Mr Holland said SS leader Himmler, who was 'quite squeamish', 'did not like seeing all these people being shot'.

'He had no sympathy at all for the Jews, what he had was sympathy for the poor blighters who had to carry out these executions,' he said.

'How inhumane is that? He was one of the maddest. There is nothing good that you can say about Himmler. He is just an appalling person.'

He went away and said "we can't do this, we can't have our men expected to do this. There has got to be another way of doing this". And the other way of doing it was the death camps and gassing them.'

Although the mass killings of Jews began in 1941, it was not until the Wannsee Conference in Berlin that mass exterminations began in death camps such as Auschwitz-Birkenau.  The full name of the horrific plan was the Final Solution to the Jewish Question, with killings continuing until Nazi Germany's defeat in Europe in May 1945.  At Auschwitz alone, around 1.1million people were murdered in the camp's gas chambers.

There were further killings at camps including Treblinka, Belzec and Sobibor.

Mr Holland, who is an expert in the Second World War, added that the Final Solution was a 'direct consequence' of what he witnessed at Babi Yar.  'The way the Nazis justified this to themselves was that this was a terrible thing they had to do. This was the burden of their generation,' he said.

'And it was awful thing to do but otherwise the Aryans would be consumed by the Bolshevik Jewish conspiracy, the global conspiracy, and this was a matter of life and death.'

In March, the site of the massacre, which now hosts a memorial park, was bombed by Russian forces during their attempt to destroy a TV station nearby.  Last year, the memorial centre dedicated to the Babi Yar killings identified 160 people it considered guilty of the murders.  Along with their names, new information about the killers including biographies and testimony was made public.  One participant, Viktor Trill, who was a sergeant in the SS paramilitary group, described how he leapt down into the pits to kill any who survived the initial shooting.  He said that he shot between '150 and 250 Jews', and chillingly added that they were 'resigned to their fate like lambs'.

The Nazis' concentration and extermination camps: The factories of death used to slaughter millions

Auschwitz-Birkenau, near the town of Oswiecim, in what was then occupied Poland

Auschwitz-Birkenau was a concentration and extermination camp used by the Nazis during World War Two.  The camp, which was located in Nazi-occupied Poland, was made up of three main sites.  Auschwitz I, the original concentration camp, Auschwitz II-Birkenau, a combined concentration and extermination camp and Auschwitz III–Monowitz, a labour camp, with a further 45 satellite sites.

Auschwitz was an extermination camp used by the Nazis in Poland to murder more than 1.1 million Jews

Birkenau became a major part of the Nazis' 'Final Solution', where they sought to rid Europe of Jews.  An estimated 1.3 million people were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau, of whom at least 1.1 million died around 90 percent of which were Jews.  Since 1947, it has operated as Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, which in 1979 was named a World Heritage Site by Unesco.

Treblinka, near a village of the same name, outside Warsaw in Nazi-occupied Poland

Unlike at other camps, where some Jews were assigned to forced labor before being killed, nearly all Jews brought to Treblinka were immediately gassed to death.  Only a select few mostly young, strong men, were spared from immediate death and assigned to maintenance work instead.  The death toll at Treblinka was second only to Auschwitz. In just 15 months of operation between July 1942 and October 1943 between 700,000 and 900,000 Jews were murdered in its gas chambers.  Exterminations stopped at the camp after an uprising which saw around 200 prisoners escape. Around half of them were killed shortly afterwards, but 70 are known to have survived until the end of the war.

Belzec, near the station of the same name in Nazi-occupied Poland

Belzec operated from March 1942 until the end of June 1943. It was built specifically as an extermination camp as part of Operation Reinhard.  Polish, German, Ukrainian and Austrian Jews were all killed there. In total, around 600,000 people were murdered.  The camp was dismantled in 1943 and the site was disguised as a fake farm. 

Sobibor, near the village of the same name in Nazi-occupied Poland

Sobibor was named after its closest train station, at which Jews disembarked from extremely crowded carriages, unsure of their fate.  Jews from Poland, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the Soviet Union were killed in three gas chambers fed by the deadly fumes of a large petrol engine taken from a tank.   An estimated 200,000 people were killed in the camp. Some estimations put the figure at 250,000.  This would place Sobibor as the fourth worst extermination camp in terms of number of deaths after Belzec, Treblinka and Auschwitz.   The camp was located about 50 miles from the provincial Polish capital of Brest-on-the-Bug. Its official German name was SS-Sonderkommando Sobibor.  Prisoners launched a heroic escape on October 14 1943 in which 600 men, women and children succeeded in crossing the camp's perimeter fence.  Of those, only 50 managed to evade capture. It is unclear how many crossed into allied territory.

Chelmno (also known as Kulmhof), in Nazi-occupied Poland

Chelmno was the first of Nazi Germany's camps built specifically for extermination.  It operated from December 1941 until April 1943 and then again from June 1944 until January 1945.  Between 152,000 and 200,000 people, nearly all of whom were Jews, were killed there. 

Majdanek (also known simply as Lublin), built on outskirts of city of Lublin in Nazi-occupied Poland

Majdanek was initially intended for forced labour but was converted into an extermination camp in 1942.  It had seven gas chambers as well as wooden gallows where some victims were hanged.  In total, it is believed that as many as 130,000 people were killed there.


Harry and Meghan skipped Jubilee events as they 'weren't centre stage', says expert

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle only made one public appearance during the Queen's Platinum Jubilee celebrations and one royal expert says it may have been because they weren't given front row seats

By Jennifer Newton Royal Features Writer

12:51, 10 Jun 2022

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were not more visible at the Queen's Platinum Jubilee celebrations as they knew they wouldn't have centre stage seats, a royal expert has said.  The couple only attended one Jubilee event publicly the service of thanksgiving at St Paul's last Friday.  They were sat in the second row of the cathedral and across the aisle from Prince William and his wife Kate, with the couples not acknowledging each other or exchanging eye contact.  Apart from being glimpsed at Trooping the Colour last Thursday, Harry and Meghan were not seen at any other royals events and even left to travel back home to California before Sunday's Jubilee Pageant ended.  And according to expert and royal editor of Vanity Fair, Katie Nicholl, this could have been because they knew they would have front row seats in the royal box for the Pageant.  She told True Royalty TV's The Royal Beat: “I honestly think it’s [because] they knew that they wouldn’t be in that front row. And why did they leave the Royal Family?  They left because they weren’t in the front row. I believe that’s why they weren't at the other celebrations as they did not have centre stage seats.”

Her comments come after fellow royal expert and biographer Duncan Larcombe claimed Harry will be haunted by the Queen's Platinum Jubilee celebrations for the rest of his life.  He pointed to the the fact that Harry and Meghan and their family flew home to California before the festivities ended, saying it was very telling.  Duncan explained: "Those four days will haunt Prince Harry for the rest of his life.  They [The Duke and Duchess of Sussex] were relegated to sitting behind the Duke of Gloucester.  They didn't take part in any way, shape or form visibly at the Trooping of the Colour and fair play to them.  You can take your pick with things they were excluded from this weekend, whether they excluded themselves or not, they flew home on a private jet before the thing had even finished.  That you could say was just them being respectful of not stealing the limelight but that will not be how Prince Harry sees it.  He will be fuming about the way he and his family were treated if it was the Royal Family who said, ‘you’re not coming to the royal box’, 'you are not going to sit there while the likes of Mike Tindall and other minor non-working royals were there."


‘Harry and Meghan are no longer stars’: Royal experts say Sussexes left Jubilee early after monarchy 'moved on' without them and 'should learn their lesson' after 'fabulous' four days showed 'how wrong they were to do Oprah interview'

    The Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrived back in Santa Barbara, California on Sunday after departing the UK
    It is believed the couple left UK an hour before Jubilee Pageant began on Sunday and missed the Queen's appearance on the balcony at Buckingham Palace
    Harry and Meghan attended the Thanksgiving service, but were absent from most key Jubilee moments
    Their children Lilibet and Archie were not seen, but baby equipment could be seen being offloaded from the private jet when they arrived back in America
    Latest Platinum Jubilee news as the Queen celebrates 70 years of service

By Martin Robinson, Chief Reporter

Published: 14:12, 6 June 2022 | Updated: 14:36, 6 June 2022

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle left the Queen's Platinum Jubilee early because the Royal Family has 'moved on' without them and the couple are not the stars that they think they are, experts told MailOnline today.  The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will have been 'really fed up' at being sidelined by the palace's 'men in suits' they have been so scathing about since quitting in 2020, it has been claimed.  And as they were met with some booing at their only public appearance at St Paul's on Friday, the couple will have learned that the British public believe being a royal is 'about service, not about self', one critic said. Another told MailOnline: 'Their attitude seems to be if we’re not centre stage we don’t really want to be here'.

Harry looked particularly glum as they landed back in California yesterday - with royal experts saying the sixth in line to the throne appeared angry, anxious and very uncomfortable during 'fleeting glimpses' of him and his wife during the UK visit. On Thursday they were relegated to the Major General's Office with minor royals for the Trooping the Colour, where they were photographed playfully shushing children. Their children Archie, three, and Lilibet, one, were not seen in public at all.  Investigative journalist Tom Bower, who is working on a biography of Meghan, told MailOnline that the Sussexes had been 'trounced' on their return to the UK.  He said: 'I think Palace officials were unusually skilful in managing the Sussexes. Just enough exposure to please the Queen but at the same time so limited to show them that they have been sidelined. Harry’s grim expression exposed and confirmed the troubles he now faces. Meghan now faces problems about her status. Netflix are left with a problem: The Sussexes are no longer stars'.

Harry's biographer Angela Levin said the couple were probably kept apart from Prince Charles and Prince William because of their ongoing rift and fears any private conversations could end up in Harry's memoirs or on a US TV chat show.  She said: 'I do wonder if they [Harry and Meghan] decided: "We've had enough of this, let's go early". I think they were furious. I think they believed they would come back and be welcomed with open arms but the truth is that the world, and the Royal Family, has moved on without them. They thought that everyone would drop everything for them, but they didn't'.

She added: 'When Harry arrived at St Paul's, he had a growling face. It was there throughout. They were really really fed up. William and Charles have grown closer they have filled the gap left by Harry, that must be hard for him. I suspect his brother and father will have been worried about speaking to him in private in case it ends up in his memoirs or on US TV’.

Harry, Meghan and their children reportedly flew out of Farnborough Airport, west of London, at 1.30pm yesterday, an hour before the Jubilee Pageant started in central London. It marked the end of their Jubilee, where they were left without any official role having quit as frontline royals in 2020.  Royal author Phil Dampier told MailOnline: 'Their attitude seems to be if we’re not centre stage we don’t really want to be here.  They must realise they are no longer popular with the general public, and travelling in and out by private jet hardly helps their so-called green credentials.  I’m afraid that all the time Harry is writing a book and making Netflix fly on the wall programmes, Charles and William will not trust him. They would worry that any in depth conversations would be repeated in the media, and so I’m sure they are keeping him at arms length for the time'.

And after the Sussexes were met with some boos at St Paul's on Friday, commentator Richard Fitzwilliams said: 'This was about the Queen and the future of the monarchy, which they opted out of as senior working royals. Yet they owe their entire profile and contracts to the institution. This fabulous four days showed now strong it is and also how wrong they were to do the interview on Oprah, which caused it to lose support among the young and ethnic minorities and aired when Prince Philip was ill.  The Sussexes should have learnt a lesson over the last few days. When it actually comes to capturing hearts and minds it is about service, not about self'.

At lunchtime yesterday the Montecito-based couple were reportedly driven from Frogmore Cottage in Windsor, where they were staying since arriving in the UK on Wednesday.  And they were already crossing the Atlantic as Harry's grandmother, father, brother and nieces and nephews waved to the adoring crowds from the balcony at Buckingham Palace at the denouement of four days of wonderful celebrations marking the Queen's 70 years on the throne.  After they left an estimated 18million people also took part in Jubilee street parties yesterday, one of which was attended by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in west London.  The Sussexes, who have been largely absent from the Jubilee fanfare, were last seen in public on Friday at the Thanksgiving service at St Paul's Cathedral, where they were booed and cheered as they arrived and left.  On Thursday they were relegated to the Major General's Office with minor royals for the Trooping the Colour, where they were photographed playfully shushing children. Archie and Lilibet were not seen in public at all.  Instead they spent most of their stay at Frogmore Cottage with their children and hosted a 'relaxed' party for Lilibet's first birthday at the Windsor residence, believed to be attended by the one-year-old's British cousins.  The Sussexes arrived back in California at 6pm on Sunday. Equipment that appeared to be a high chair was seen being offloaded from the plane. Harry was then photographed in the passenger seat of a black Range Rover that had arrived to transport the family home, and looked very serious after almost five days away from the US.  The Duke and Duchess did not attend the Platinum Party and stayed in Windsor alongside the Queen to reportedly watch the concert with Her Majesty.  Harry and Meghan then drove, according to The Sun, to Farnborough Airport at 1.30pm, an hour before the Pageant started at 2.30pm and made their way back to California.  This was hours before the Queen who sources say was 'determined' to bravely overcame her painful mobility issues returned to Buckingham Palace to personally thank the thousands of well-wishers in the crowd who had turned out to express their own gratitude.  She was flanked by her three heirs son, Prince Charles, grandson, Prince William, and great-grandson, Prince George offering a glimpse into the monarchy's future.  The Platinum Jubilee Pageant was an afternoon of entertainment for members of the royal family, who all sat together alongside their siblings and cousins.  The parade told the story of her life, and the nation, with an eccentric, fun and imaginative carnival-like display.  Instead of attending this and a concert yesterday, Harry and Meghan celebrated their daughter Lilibet's first birthday in Windsor on Saturday with a 'relaxed' birthday party with royal second cousins invited to the festivities.  The little girl's birthday party was open to Zara and Mike Tindall's three children, Mia, eight, Lena, three, and Lucas, one, as well as Savannah, 11, and Isla, 10, daughters of Peter Phillips and Autumn Kelly.  The couple were also seen at the Friday's thanksgiving service at St Paul's Cathedral, where a huge cheer went up as Harry and Meghan arrived and they were greeted at the great west door by the Dean of St Paul's.  It was the first time that the couple were on full public view alongside the Windsors since they quit the monarchy for a new life in the US two years ago.  They spent a few minutes talking to the senior cleric before they entered the place of worship and proceeded to greet the long line of clergy.  But before the festivities started an aide told The Telegraph: 'The media might try to make them prominent, but in reality they are not going to be playing a prominent role. A line has been drawn.'

Harry stopped to chat for a few moments with the Archbishop of York who later will give the sermon and is expected to praise the Queen's 70-year reign.  The Sussexes were also seen from a window at Thursday's Trooping the Colour, but were not on the balcony alongside working royals.  Neither Lilibet, nor her older brother three-year-old Archie, have been seen in public at any of the festivities.  An emotional Queen said she remains 'committed to serving' the nation to 'the best of my ability' after she concluded her Platinum Jubilee celebrations by greeting crowds of adoring fans on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.

The 96-year-old monarch was absent for much of the extended Bank Holiday weekend, after finding the first day enjoyable but tiring, and in a message of thanks acknowledged this but said her 'heart' had been with well-wishers.  The Duchess of Cornwall, patron of the Big Lunch, estimated that up to 18 million people could have taken part in Jubilee street parties, and the Queen expressed her hope this 'renewed sense of togetherness' would be felt for years to come.  After the outpouring of public affection during her balcony appearance, the Queen said she was 'humbled and deeply touched' so many people had taken part in celebrations marking her 70-year reign.  Surrounded by her family, including Prince Charles, Camilla, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, George, Charlotte and Louis, she was cheered by thousands of well-wishers after stepping on to the balcony following the Platinum Pageant, which told the story of her life, and the nation, with an eccentric, fun and imaginative carnival-like display.  Smiling as she acknowledged the spectators, she looked down on The Mall where tens of thousands had waited in hope of seeing her.  The Queen said later in her message: 'When it comes to how to mark seventy years as your Queen, there is no guidebook to follow. It really is a first. But I have been humbled and deeply touched that so many people have taken to the streets to celebrate my Platinum Jubilee.  While I may not have attended every event in person, my heart has been with you all; and I remain committed to serving you to the best of my ability, supported by my family.  I have been inspired by the kindness, joy and kinship that has been so evident in recent days, and I hope this renewed sense of togetherness will be felt for many years to come.  I thank you most sincerely for your good wishes and for the part you have all played in these happy celebrations.'

The Queen had not been seen since she made two balcony appearances on the first day of the Jubilee celebrations, when Trooping the Colour was held, and the Duchess of Cambridge later said she had found the day enjoyable but tiring.  But the Queen looked at ease on the balcony as the celebrations drew to a close, leaning on a walking stick, now a routine aid following her mobility issues, and acknowledging the crowds with a wave.  The Prince of Wales stood with the Queen along with the Duchess of Cornwall, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.  After the national anthem was sung by a choir of celebrities including Sir David Jason, Harry Redknapp, Sir Cliff Richard, Sandie Shaw and Felicity Kendal, the Queen waved again at well-wishers and was joined by her great-grandchildren, with Louis waving with both hands.  The royal family had planned to see a display by the Red Arrows from their balcony vantage point, but it was called off due to the low clouds which had threatened rain all day.  Earlier in the day Charles had expressed the same sentiment as the Queen when he spoke about the camaraderie the Jubilee events had fostered.  He told revellers at The Big Lunch's flagship event in London, which he attended with Camilla, that he hoped 'bickering' did not return after the feeling of 'togetherness' across the nation.  Princess Eugenie described the Jubilee Pageant as 'incredible', writing on her Instagram: 'The Platinum Jubilee Pageant was just incredible. To all the people that took part, organised it, made it flawless for us all watching, Thank you. You made us all so proud.'

A post on the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's Twitter account read: 'Amazing display of street art, theatre, music, sport and more.  What a joyous occasion at the #PlatinumJubile pageant!'

President Volodymyr Zelensky congratulated the monarch, saying he was 'grateful [to Britain] for supporting Ukraine in the fight for our freedom and independence'.

It comes after she stepped out onto the Buckingham Palace balcony for nearly three minutes, in her first public appearance since Platinum Jubilee celebrations began on Thursday.  The monarch, 96, was greeted by roars from thousands of spectators gathered on The Mall as Britain's longest-serving head of state was helped onto the balcony by Prince Charles, Camilla, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, George, Charlotte and Louis.  The royals then joined the crowd in a spine-tingling chorus of God Save The Queen shortly after 5pm, bringing the the Jubilee celebrations to a close.  Her Majesty, dressed in green, was missing from the royal box but arrived at the Palace from Windsor Castle at around 4.30pm, when the royal standard was raised. She was last seen four days ago after pulling out of two Jubilee events amid growing concerns for her health.  Pomp and pageantry kicked off the final day of Jubilee celebrations celebrating the Queen's astonishing 70-year reign as a hologram of the young monarch waving at royal fans and a ceremonial military procession launched the 2½-hour pageant.  Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, their children George, Charlotte and Louis, Princess Anne, and Zara and Mike Tindall are all seated in the royal box alongside Boris Johnson and his wife Carrie, Keir Starmer and Sadiq Khan to watch the two-mile procession through central London.  Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, who are visiting the UK together for the first time since they acrimoniously quit royal duties, were absent for a second day running. Yesterday they celebrated their daughter Lilibet's 1st birthday, and introduced the child to her namesake.  The pageant was split into four acts: For Queen and Country with a military parade; The Time of Our Lives progressing through seven decades of culture, music and fashion; Let's Celebrate telling the story of the Queen's life in 12 chapters with corgi puppets and carnival creations; and the Happy and Glorious musical spectacle.  Close to 200 national treasures including Sir David Jason, Harry Redknapp, Sandie Shaw, Felicity Kendal, Joe Wicks and Holly Willoughby joined pop sensation Ed Sheeran in a mass rendition of God Save The Queen outside Buckingham Palace at the end of the pageant.  Guardsmen, Gurkhas, Royal Marines and the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment in their breastplates and plumed feathers were among the hundreds of servicemen and women who led the way marching along the streets around Buckingham Palace.  Charles took the salute of various military units when they passed the royal box and he stood to acknowledge the servicemen and women as they passed.  Some 10,000 people including a cast of 6,000 performers are involved in staging the carnival route from Horse Guards, along Whitehall to Admiralty Arch and down The Mall to Buckingham Palace, echoing Her Majesty's 1953 coronation procession.  British eccentricity was soon to the fore when the cyclists on a menagerie of bikes rode past Buckingham Palace, including a biker dressed as the character Elliot from the sci-fi Movie ET, complete with the Extra Terrestrial in the cycle's basket.  As the decades flashed by revellers in period 1940s clothes danced the Lambeth Walk and further down The Mall jiving performers represented the 1950s.  Interspersed were iconic vehicles from Morris Minors, rockers on classic motorbikes and Mods on scooters, while the national treasures - celebrities from across the years including Katherine Jenkins, Bonnie Langford, Alan Titchmarsh, Basil Brush, Kate Garraway and RuPaul's Drag Race stars Baga Chipz and Blu Hydrangea, and fashion royalty Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell travelled on buses.  Sir Cliff Richard sang from the 1950s bus, former boxer Chris Eubank posed from the open top-deck of another, and TV presenter Johnny Ball joked on the BBC about the experience on the 1970s bus: 'It's all right, but I'm worried I haven't paid my fare'.

A peloton of 300 cyclists travelled down The Mall led by Sir Chris Hoy and cycling golden couple Dame Laura and Sir Jason Kenny.  The Queen's three-minute appearance on the balcony delighted the crowd who were not sure whether she would be there.  It came after Ed Sheeran took to the stage to play his hit song Perfect, against a moving back-drop of a montage of video clips of the Queen throughout the years.  Paula and Patrick Queenan, from Radlett in Hertfordshire, said the Queen and the royal family coming out on to the balcony was the best part of the Jubilee celebrations.  Mrs Queenan, 57, said: 'Seeing the Queen come out on the balcony was amazing.  We didn't know if she'd come or not. This was the first day that I've been here and this was the real highlight.'

Mr Queenan, 58, added: 'I came for the fly past on Thursday and the atmosphere was fantastic.  Our daughter and her fiance came down from Sheffield today. They're both doctors and so they're going to head back now and they're on duty tonight.  We had a street party on Friday, the whole street came to ours and sang the national anthem. Seeing the Queen has been the best bit of this week.'

Charles spoke about the camaraderie the Jubilee celebrations have fostered, telling revellers at The Big Lunch's flagship event in London he hoped 'bickering' does not return after the feeling of 'togetherness' across the nation.  Sadiq Khan hailed the Queen's Jubilee Pageant as 'spectacular' as celebrations draw to a close.  The Mayor of London tweeted: 'Wasn't that spectacular?'

'It was moving to see so many of London's performers, service people, key workers and school children involved in today's #PlatinumJubilee Pageant to tell the story of the Queen's historic 70-year reign.'

His sentiment was echoed by Pageant Master Adrian Evans, who has spent 18 months planning the £15 million event, featuring some 10,000 people including a cast of 6,000 performers.  Mr Evans told BBC News: 'I hope at the end of the day people will feel a great sense of pride in what they've seen, enjoyment in what they've seen, humour and joy is an important part of what we're doing today but also connected, that we are much more connected then we think we are.'

He told Sky News: 'What I wanted to do first and foremost was provide an opportunity for people to express themselves in their own wonderful, idiosyncratic, quirky way and that to the iconic streets around Buckingham Palace.'

Close to 200 national treasures will take to the stage to serenade the Queen, if she makes an appearance, by singing the national anthem at the grand finale of the Platinum Jubilee festivities.

Harry and Meghan's Platinum Jubilee


The Sussexes land in Britain on a private jet. The Queen sent three of her own protection officers, her royal Land Rover and a bullet-proof VW people carrier to meet the family at Farnborough Airport, taking them to Frogmore Cottage.


A Range Rover with a modest escort swept them in to Central London and onto Whitehall, where they took up position in the Major General’s Office overlooking the parade ground ready for the other royals to arrive.  Among the first to greet them were Princess Beatrice and her husband, Edo, as well as the queen’s grandson Peter Phillips.  Meghan was seen kissing his elder daughter, Savannah, 11, as his younger daughter, Isla, 10, held Zara and Mike Tindall’s younger daughter Lena, almost four.  Meghan, wearing a large wide-brimmed navy and white hat, put her finger mysteriously to her lips as the girls mimicked her, laughing.  Her husband, Prince Harry, 37, who looked tanned in a lounge suit rather than military uniform, was also seen later entering into the spirit of things, apparently urging Lena to ‘shush’.  The couple were later seen chatting to the Queen’s cousin, the Duke of Kent, 86, before he left the family gathering to join the monarch at Buckingham Palace, where they took the returning military salute together.


The couple went to St Paul's Cathedral for the morning's service celebrating the Queen.  The couple arrived after the Earl and Countess of Wessex, and their two children, and Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie along with their husbands.  Harry and Meghan held hands and were smiling broadly as they walked up the steps of the cathedral, while cheers and some boos could be heard from the crowd.  The Duke of Cambridge and his wife Kate sat on the front row alongside Prince Charles and Camilla, who were representing the absent Queen at the Service of Thanksgiving for her 70-year reign.  But Harry and Meghan were placed on the opposite side of the aisle, half-way down a second row of seats, along with other lower-ranking, non-working royals.  There was no chance for the once-close siblings to talk as William, 39, and Kate, 40, were part of the main party.  They arrived after Harry, 37, and Meghan, 40, were seated and left before them in order to attend a post-service reception at the nearby Guildhall.  Notably, the California-based Sussexes were the only members of the extensive royal party who were absent from the second event.


Instead of attending the concert at Buckingham Palac, Harry and Meghan celebrated their daughter Lilibet's first birthday in Windsor on Saturday with a 'relaxed' birthday party with royal second cousins invited to the festivities.  The little girl's birthday party was open to Zara and Mike Tindall's three children, Mia, eight, Lena, three, and Lucas, one, as well as Savannah, 11, and Isla, 10, daughters of Peter Phillips and Autumn Kelly.  The Queen was also rumoured to have been invited but it is claimed that she met her great-granddaughter for the first time on Thursday or Friday.


The Duke and Duchess of Sussex and their children reportedly flew out of Farnborough Airport at 1.30pm yesterday, an hour before the Jubilee Pageant began.  The California-based couple are believed to have been driven from Frogmore Cottage in Windsor, where they were staying, at lunchtime.  They landed in the US at around 5pm, LA time.

The Queen 'committed' to serving nation

In a message of thanks, the Queen said: 'When it comes to how to mark seventy years as your Queen, there is no guidebook to follow. It really is a first. But I have been humbled and deeply touched that so many people have taken to the streets to celebrate my Platinum Jubilee.   While I may not have attended every event in person, my heart has been with you all; and I remain committed to serving you to the best of my ability, supported by my family.  'I have been inspired by the kindness, joy and kinship that has been so evident in recent days, and I hope this renewed sense of togetherness will be felt for many years to come.  I thank you most sincerely for your good wishes and for the part you have all played in these happy celebrations.'


Woman who was raised by members of ultra-religious Christian 'cult' after she was abandoned by her parents reveals they TIED her to her sister with rope to keep them in line, and told her she was being PUNISHED by God if she got sick

    Elizabeth Hunter, 28, was raised by a family in Texas that belonged to the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP), also known as ATI
    She was three when she was abandoned by her biological parents, and she spent years in and out of foster homes until her parents took her in when she was nine
    Hunter had been rehomed by her legal guardian, but she didn't learn until she was an adult that her parents had never legally adopted her
    The writer and digital creator has opened up about her life in IBLP and how she broke away in a series of TikTok videos
    She wasn't allowed to watch TV, listen to pop music, or read certain books when she was growing up, including The Diary of Anne Frank 
    Everything her dad said was considered 'absolute law' and had to be obeyed
    Hunter was in college when she told her therapist that her parents used to tie her to her younger sister to keep her in line and realized she was in a 'cult'
    She later came out as a lesbian and broke away from the religious organization
    Hunter is slated to publish her first fantasy novel, Hearts of Clay and Tempest, a retelling of the Little Mermaid, next month

By Erica Tempesta For

Published: 13:16, 31 May 2022 | Updated: 16:11, 31 May 2022

A woman who grew up in an ultra-conservative Christian sect has detailed how she left the fundamentalist group, came out as a lesbian, and wrote her first novel after her therapist helped her realize she was in a 'cult.'  Elizabeth Hunter, 28, was raised by a family in Texas that belonged to the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP) also known as ATI after being abandoned by her biological parents and rehomed.  The ministry founded by Bill Gothard promotes a patriarchal family system in which children are expected to follow his interpretation of Bible scriptures and always obey their fathers. Hunter, who is known as @thatlizhunter on social media, has been opening up about her experience and answering questions about being raised with IBLP's teachings in a series of TikTok videos.  'Whatever your dad said was absolute law, and you had to do whatever your dad wanted you to do or you were disobeying God himself,' she explained in one clip.

She was three when her biological parents gave her up, and she spent years in and out of foster homes until her parents took her in when she was nine.  'My legal guardians drove me up to a home, unloaded my one backpack full of things, and then drove off,' she recalled in another video.

'For the rest of my life, I believed I was adopted by my mom and dad. I told people that. I thought they were my parents. Nine-year-old me thought I was adopted.'

It wasn't until she was an adult and trying to enroll her sister in public school that she learned she had been rehomed and was never legally adopted, though she still considers her mother and father to be her parents.   Hunter reflected on her strict religious upbringing in an interview with UNILAD, recalling how she was homeschooled and studied the Bible.   'There was no TV in our house. We weren't allowed to watch movies or television shows,' she explained. 'We weren't allowed to listen to any contemporary or non-Christian music. I was not allowed to cut my hair. I was not allowed to wear makeup.'

She couldn't wear clothes with words on them because her mother felt they drew attention to her body. She wasn't even allowed to wear the color green, simply because her father didn't like it.  Hunter said that when she got sick, her mom blamed her, claiming the cold was a punishment for disobeying her parents.  She said her mom told her, 'You're sick, so you must have done something to get sick. God is punishing you because you've gone out from the umbrella of protection. This is why you're sick. You must have done something to be punished.'

Hunter was taught how to bake bread, how to sew, and how to play piano all skills that she 'needed to be a good wife.' By the time she was 17, her parents had her thinking about marriage.  'I wasn't supposed to date or flirt with any guys because my dad was going to pick my husband,' she said.

In one of Hunter's recent TikTok videos, she shared some of the books she got in trouble for reading when she was growing up in IBLP.  Her parents took issue with George Orwell's 1984 because 'the main character has an affair' and Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson because 'the word hell is used.'  The Diary of Anne Frank was deemed 'too explicit' because 'she wrote about her crush and sex,' and she also faced backlash for reading the American Girl Meet Felicity book collection because 'Felicity is too independent and lies to her parents.'  Many viewers wanted to know how Hunter was able to go to college as a female, which is typically not allowed in IBLP.  She explained that she was homeschooling her two sisters for her parents when she convinced them to let her go to school for teaching.  'I was like, "Well, if I'm doing all of this, I might as well become a teacher and have an education degree,"' she recalled.

'And my parents were like, "Well, we would rather you get married, but if you insist on finishing your education, you can go to school to be a teacher and stay at home and teach your kids when you get married."  And that's how I wormed my way to college.'

Hunter was 22 when she enrolled in one of the most conservative colleges in the U.S. and got her driver's license.  'I did not know I was in a cult until I was a sophomore in college, and I was talking to my therapist,' she said in another clip. 'I was explaining that my parents used the Duggar "buddy system" to discipline me and my sister.'

Conservative Christian parents Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, who have attended and promoted IBLP events, implemented a 'buddy system' with their 19 children in which each older child was paired with a younger child to take care of.  If it weren't bad enough that my parents were having me parent my younger sister, when my younger sister fought against it and would refuse to hang out beside me, my parents got a rope and tied us together,' Hunter said.   

'When I told that story to my therapist, she looked at me and she said, "Elizabeth, not only is that child abuse, but your parents are a part of a cult." And it just dawned on me, and I was like, "Oh, yeah, you're right."'

A year later, she realized she was a lesbian after listening to a podcast with Christian people who were gay, something she didn't realize was an option before.  Growing up in a cult, it's difficult to know what your sexuality is when the only thing that you're given is an option is to marry a man and have lots of kids,' she explained.  'I was like, if they exist, I think I am one, and it just clicked,' she added. 'I was like, "Yeah, I'm definitely gay."'

Hunter has since broken away from IBLP and is now working as a writer and digital creator. Her first novel, Hearts of Clay and Tempest, a retelling of the Little Mermaid, is slated to be published on June 14.  However, she hasn't completely cut off contact with the parents who raised her because they are the only parents she has.  She detailed the trauma she felt after being abandoned by her biological parents, saying she spent two years hoping they would come back for her.  'I basically cut off all mental ties to them when I was five years old,' she said. 'When I was rehomed at age nine and thought I was adopted, within two weeks my parents told me that I had asked to call them mom and dad. I remember being so happy that somebody wanted to be my mom and dad because, from the ages of three to nine, everyone told me very plainly, "I'm not your mom. I'm not your dad." And these were the first people who were like, "Yeah, you can call us mom and dad."  So, it's hard to let go of that, even though I thought they were abusive and wrong in many ways,' she explained. 'I know that they still loved us even though they did not do right by us completely.  And they're the only parents I have.'


Ruth Neave: Who is Rikki Neave's mum and where is she now?
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Will Durrant
Published: 7:32 PM April 27, 2022

A new tell-all Channel 5 documentary looks into the case of murdered six-year-old Peterborough boy Rikki Neave, and how his mum Ruth waited 28 years to secure a conviction.  Rikki's killer, James Watson, who was aged 13 when Rikki disappeared on November 28, 1994, was found guilty of murder at the Old Bailey in London last week (April 21).  The case and trial is unpacked in The Murder of Rikki Neave: The Mother's Story, which features a TV exclusive interview with Ruth Neave.  Ruth herself was jailed in 1996 after admitting child cruelty - but she was never found guilty of murdering her son.  What happened to Ruth, and where is she now?

Rikki's mum reported her son missing at 6pm on Monday, November 28 in 1994. Rikki had eaten Weetabix for breakfast and left his home at 9.30am, but he never arrived at school.  Ruth's neighbours said they saw Rikki accompanied by James Watson that morning.  Officers from Cambridgeshire Police turned up at Ruth's home on Redmile Walk at 6.17pm, and they found Rikki's body naked and laid in a star shape in nearby woodland the following day.  A post-mortem examination concluded he was strangled with the zip of his anorak hood.  The then 13-year-old Watson gave a false account to police on December 5.  On January 19, 1995, Ruth was arrested on suspicion of murder.  By October 1996, a jury at Northampton Crown Court unanimously acquitted Ruth of her son's murder, but she pleaded guilty to child cruelty and was jailed for seven years.  Upon her release, she returned to Cambridgeshire where she met her husband Gary Rogers.  She approached the Cambs Times in 2014, and together with her husband Gary and editor John Elworthy, Ruth campaigned for police to reopen her case.  Press conferences followed, and police looked at DNA evidence on Rikki's clothing which matched samples provided by Watson and a Crown Prosecution Service lawyer decided in 2019 that Watson should face prosecution.  The murderer was charged in 2020, and a trial began in February this year.  A jury in London deliberated for 36 hours and 31 minutes before delivering their guilty verdict.  "Gary worked night and day going over every document, statement and piece of evidence he could find (and how he got hold of them will remain untold)," explained Cambs Times editor John Elworthy.

"I interviewed them, often, and compiled fresh stories, offering fresh thoughts, fresh perspective with a growing sense a provincial newspaper editor might just ‘have something’.  I grew fond of Ruth and Gary. And never wanted to quit even when a family member threw hot coffee over me for ‘siding with that scum’.  Now, with the verdict in, I am simply relieved."

But Ruth will not watch the documentary.  "It’s far too emotional for me and I don’t want to see it," she said.

Since the verdict, Ruth suffered a fall at her Cambridgeshire home and shattered her shoulder.  She had emergency surgery in Cambridge on Monday, and is recovering at home.  "Both my husband Gary and I are exhausted and need to recharge," she said.

Ruth is determined to attend Watson's sentencing on Monday, May 9, where she would like to read her victim statement out before the man who killed her son.


The moment a manhole cover COLLAPSED under 18-month-old toddler who fell five feet down sewage drain to his mother's horror before she jumped in to save him from river of human waste

    Amy Blyth, 23, was strolling with son, Theo Prior, when he disappeared through drain cover as it flipped over
    CCTV footage showed terrifying moment the youngster disappeared on Sunday afternoon in Tenterden, Kent
    Theo was taken to the William Harvey Hospital and where medics diagnosed him with mild concussion
    Southern Water have launched an investigation into incident to establish cause and apologised to family

By Kaya Terry For Mailonline

Published: 09:33, 24 May 2022 | Updated: 12:54, 24 May 2022

A terrified mother has revealed she will 'never mentally recover' after she watched her 18-month-old toddler fell five feet down a sewage drain in horror.  Amy Blyth, 23, was strolling with her son, Theo Prior, when he disappeared through a drain cover as it flipped over and then closed on top of him on Sunday afternoon.  The footage, captured on CCTV from a neighbouring house, showed the moment the quick-thinking personal trainer jumped into the drain to rescue the tot and quickly plucked him from a river of human waste in Tenterden, Kent.  The mother-of-one stood on ledges at the side of the sewer to reach down to her toddler son who had fallen to the very bottom.  Luckily, she was able to grab hold of him and lift him out but his clothes were left covered in human waste.  Describing the 'horror film' moment, Ms Blyth said: 'My first thought was "Oh my God, he's dead.'''

The incident happened on a public pavement and Southern Water have since apologised to the family and said they are 'taking the matter very seriously'.  She added: 'I yanked the drain lid out, and I just saw him down there, screaming my name. There was sewage up to his knees.  I jumped down the drain, but it's not big enough for me to bend over to grab him. I had to sort of arch my body to grab him and pull him up.  I don't know how I did it. My body went in ways I've never bent before, just to get him out of that drain.  It was so deep you couldn't see my head from the ground, and I wasn't even on the floor.  Just as I pulled him up I think someone flushed a chain because we were soaked with I think, possibly, wee. Our clothes are absolutely disgusting.'

The terrified mum rushed the little boy - who is said to have swallowed some sewer water to Ashford's William Harvey Hospital, where medics diagnosed him with mild concussion, but x-rays revealed he miraculously got away without a broken bone.  Ms Blyth, said: 'It could have ended up so much worse. If he'd gone down head first, I don't even know if he would be here.  It makes me feel sick to think of it. It's an absolute nightmare I'm petrified of drains now. I still feel really shaken from it. I just can't really get over it.  He literally went straight to the bottom, and I thought I was going to lose him. It was actually like a horror film.'

She added: 'We were just walking out for him to go to his dad's house. I saw the drain was a little bit loose, but I didn't realise what level it was loose.  He ran to the drain, stood on it, and just fell the whole way through. And then the drain lid shut on top of him.'

The personal trainer said: 'Just as I pulled him up I think someone flushed a chain because we were soaked with I think, possibly, wee. Our clothes are absolutely disgusting'

The personal trainer said: 'Just as I pulled him up I think someone flushed a chain because we were soaked with I think, possibly, wee. Our clothes are absolutely disgusting'

Ms Blyth said she dreads to think what might have happened had a child fallen through the drain cover unseen.  She added: 'If he'd been on his own, or if it had been another kid on their own, we wouldn't have found him.  We wouldn't have known where they'd gone. You couldn't even hear him because it's sound-proof.  He could have fallen down and I'd have gone running round the block trying to find him, not in a drain.'

Theo is now home and doing well, but Ms Blyth complained to Southern Water and said she 'needs answers' as she believes the drain cover has been faulty for some time.  Writing in a post on Facebook, she added: 'I mentally will never ever recover from this, my baby now is screaming when leaving my side.'

Describing the 'horror film' moment, Ms Blyth said: 'My first thought was "Oh my God, he's dead''.  I will not give up until we get an answer as to why a drain was left so dangerously.  I will fight every day to get what Theo deserves, I will now focus on ensuring mine and Theo's happiness is a priority.'

It is understood Southern Water is working to establish who is responsible for the drain and manhole.  Around four investigators were seen in the area yesterday looking into the cause of the accident.  A Southern Water spokesperson said: 'We are aware of a situation involving a child and an open manhole.  This is clearly an upsetting situation for those involved and our team is on-site. A dedicated customer liaison officer has been assigned to support the family.  We are taking this matter very seriously and our first priority was to make the area safe. Next steps are to understand exactly what happened.'

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