Bolton park stab death: Child-killer missed taking medication

A mentally-ill woman who slit the throat of a seven-year-old girl at a park on Mother’s Day had not been taking her medication, a court heard.

Elation Skana, 30, who has paranoid schizophrenia, missed several days of taking anti-psychotic medication, Manchester Crown Court was told.

Emily Jones was killed in front of her parents in Bolton on 22 March.

Ms Skana admits manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility but denies murder.

Michael Brady QC, prosecuting, told jurors the main issue was whether Ms Skana’s paranoid schizophrenia was the reason behind the killing or “a convenient excuse behind which to hide?”.

Dr Victoria Sullivan treated Skana at a medium secure mental health unit in Manchester after her arrest and detention under the Mental Health Act.

She told the court Ms Skana’s sister, Olestra, turned up at the unit, “distressed”.

“She told us Ms Skana had been missing days in her medication,” Dr Sullivan said.

While on the unit Ms Skana was observed “muttering” to herself and turning her head abruptly as if to respond to visual stimuli.

She also claimed sometimes to see “angels” which communicated to her through gesticulations.

Dr Sullivan said: “I suspected she had either not been taking medication in the community or it had for some reason stopped working.”

The court has heard Ms Skana, originally from Albania, came to the UK in 2014 and was injected with anti-psychotic drugs each month since 2017.

She lived in a flat in Bolton, while her mother, two sisters and brother lived in Manchester.

Dr Suhanthini Farrell, an on-call psychiatrist who assessed Ms Skana after her arrest, described her as “clean, well kempt,” who maintained fixed, staring eye contact and was “guarded and suspicious” with a “tone of hostility and increasing irritability”.

“It did feel she was thinking carefully about the answers she was giving, rather than responding intuitively, naturally,” Dr Farrell told the court.

“My impression was there was active psychotic symptoms. The symptoms were subtle.

“Objectively she did appear to be paranoid.”

The trial continues.

PC had sex with woman in Launceston police station toilet

A police constable is facing a prison sentence after having sex with a crime victim in a disabled toilet at his station.

PC Christopher Wilson, 43, invited the woman to the toilet via text on 2 December, Exeter Crown Court was told.

He told her sex inside the police station in Launceston, Cornwall, was “the naughty bit which makes it more exciting”.

Wilson, of Saltash, East Cornwall, admitted misconduct in a public office.

The woman was reporting a crime when Wilson approached her, asking if she wanted to “get with a man in uniform”.

She followed him into the unisex disabled toilet where they engaged in sexual activity, the court heard.

Judge Timothy Rose told Wilson he was likely to be sent straight to jail when he returned for sentencing in January.

“Obviously, the court will consider other options but I don’t want to mislead you. You must come back realising that prison is very high on the agenda,” he said.

Mr James le Grys, prosecuting, said messages were found in which Wilson discussed sex with another woman.

He also sent sexual messages to the woman after she left the police station, the court heard.

Susannah Stevens, defending, said Wilson had not expected the woman to follow him into the toilet but accepted acting improperly when she did.

Wilson remains suspended from duty with Devon and Cornwall Police.

Algorithms: Public sector urged to be open about role in decision-making

Public sector bodies must be more open about their use of algorithms in making decisions, ministers have been told.

A government advisory body said greater transparency and accountability was needed in all walks of life over the use of computer-based models in policy.

Officials must understand algorithms’ limits and risks of bias, the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation said.

Boris Johnson blamed a “mutant” algorithm for the chaos over school grades in England this summer.

Ofqual and other exam regulators across the UK were forced to back down following a public outcry over the use of a computer program to determine A-level and GCSE grades after the cancellation of exams.

The regulator’s chief executive resigned after the algorithm used to “moderate” marks submitted by schools and grading centres resulted in nearly 40% of them being downgraded, in some cases by more than one grade.

It was accused of breaching of anti-discrimination legislation and failing to uphold standards.

The government was forced into another U-turn last month over aspects of its planning reforms after Tory MPs accused ministers of relying on a faulty computer-based formula to decide house building targets across England.

In a new study, the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation said there needed to be greater awareness of the risks of using algorithms in make potentially life-changing decisions and more done to mitigate them.

Those running organisations, it said, had to remember they were ultimately accountable for all their decisions, whether there were made by humans or artificial intelligence.

Its recommendations include requiring all bodies to record where algorithms fit into their overall decision-making process and what steps are taken to ensure those affected are treated fairly.

While organisations should be actively collecting and using data to identify bias in decision-making, it said there was a risk techniques used to mitigate bias, such as positive discrimination, could fall foul of equality legislation.

It urged the government to issue guidance on how decision by algorithm must comply with the Equality Act.

Adrian Weller said there was an opportunity for the UK to demonstrate global leadership in the responsible use of data and ensure appropriate regulatory standards were in place.

“It is vital that we work hard now to get this right as adoption of algorithmic decision-making increases,” he said.

“Government, regulators and industry need to work together with interdisciplinary experts, stakeholders and the public to ensure that algorithms are used to promote fairness, not undermine it.”

The Information Commissioner’s Office urged organisations to consult guidance on the use of artificial intelligence.

“Data protection law requires fair and transparent uses of data in algorithms, gives people rights in relation to automated decision-making, and demands that the outcome from the use of algorithms does not result in unfair or discriminatory impacts,” it said.

Michael Ball and Alfie Boes Christmas album beats BTS to UK number one

Michael Ball and Alfie Boe’s Christmas album has denied South Korean boy band BTS the UK number one spot.

Ball and Boe have gone to the top of the chart with Together At Christmas, on which they croon festive classics.

It has sold more than 31,000 copies on CD, which counts for much more than streaming in the chart calculations.

BTS have had two UK number one albums in the past two years, but their latest release, Be, had to settle for entering this week’s chart at number two.

Together At Christmas is Ball and Boe’s fourth album of duets following Together, Together Again and Back Together.

The new album includes covers of such seasonal songs as It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas, Silent Night and Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, and a new track titled My Christmas Will Be Better Than Yours.

Ball said reaching number one was “the greatest early Christmas present we could’ve wished for”.

AC/DC, whose Power Up was last week’s number one, dropped to third place in this week’s chart, while Taylor Swift’s Folklore jumped from 37 to number four following its vinyl release.

Neil Diamond and Iron Maiden also had new entries in the top 10, but there was no place in the top 40 for US rapper Megan Thee Stallion with her debut album Good News.

Megan spent three weeks at number one in the singles chart with Cardi B earlier this year and received four Grammy nominations earlier this week. Good News is expected to land near the top of the US album chart.

In the UK singles rundown, Ariana Grande, Billie Eilish and Little Mix occupy the top three spots for the third week in a row.

This week sees a number of Christmas songs climb the charts, led by Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You at 14, the earliest the track has ever appeared in the top 20.

She is joined in the top 40 by festive favourites by Wham!, The Pogues featuring Kirsty MacColl, Shakin’ Stevens, Michael Buble and Band Aid.

Cardiff violence: Police to check city revellers for knives

People will be checked for knives when entering “certain premises” in Cardiff city centre after violent clashes, South Wales Police have said.

The force said “screening devices” would be in place to stop people carrying weapons.

On Saturday, six people were taken to hospital after a clash between two groups in Queen Street.

And on Wednesday, a 17-year-old was stabbed in the Canton area of the city.

Three teenagers and a man have since been arrested.

The force has said both incidents were “not random” and involved groups of local teenage boys “targeting each other”.

Det Sup Esyr Jones said: “There will be a very visible police presence across the city this weekend and screening devices will be present outside some city centre premises to help maintain a safe environment, reassure the public and deter anyone thinking of carrying a weapon.”

A 17-year-old boy was taken to the University Hospital of Wales with non life-threatening injuries after being stabbed in Broad Street, Canton, at about 10:00 GMT on Wednesday.

On Thursday a 16-year-old boy, from Canton, was arrested on suspicion of assault, while a man, 43, from Penarth, was arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender.

It brings the total number of people arrested for the Canton incident to four.

Earlier this week a 15-year-old boy, from Riverside, was arrested on suspicion of violent disorder and possession of an offensive weapon. He has been released on police bail.

While a boy, 17, from the Grangetown area, was arrested on suspicion of violent disorder and assault on Thursday, and remains in custody.

It was the second violent incident to take place in the city in a matter of days.

On Saturday, six people were taken to hospital with injuries including stab wounds, after a violent clash between two groups in Queen Street.

Detectives have said the incident involved two groups, from the Grangetown and Rumney areas of the city.

Seven boys aged 16 and 17 have been arrested on suspicion of violent disorder and have been released on bail pending further inquiries.

“I want to re-emphasise that Wednesday’s stabbing and Saturday’s violent disorder in the city centre are not random attacks, they involve groups of local teenage boys targeting each other and we appeal to the community for information,” Det Sup Jones said.

On Thursday police held a virtual meeting with community leaders in the Canton, Riverside and Grangetown areas of the city in a bid to deter knife crime.

Officers had been temporarily granted increased stop and search powers under Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act, allowing them to search anyone in the areas of the city.Four people were stop searched as a result of a Section 60 notice in the Canton and Grangetown areas on Wednesday and Thursday.

Nigel Wright death: Pair satisfied lust for sex after killing man

A man and woman “decided to satisfy their lust for sex” after kicking her husband to death in a “brutal eruption of violence”, a court heard.

Nigel Wright, 64, died after an attack in his living room on Park Road in Peterborough in May.

Prosecutors said Melanie Wright and Barry Chapman had “been flirting… for some period of time” before the attack.

Wright, 48, and Chapman, 34, have been found guilty of murder and are due to be sentenced next month.

Jurors at the trial at Peterborough Crown Court were told that Chapman, now of Paynels, in Orton Goldhay in the city, had lived in the couple’s flat since Christmas 2019, having previously been homeless.

Prosecutor Karim Khalil QC said Mr Wright had “confided in [a friend] that he thought Melanie Wright and Barry Chapman were having an affair”.

On 25 May, Chapman’s birthday, police were called by a neighbour and when PC Joe Woolf arrived Chapman said: “Hang on a minute, let me get dressed.”

Jurors were told the police officer asked if anyone else was in the flat and Melanie Wright, now of South Parade In Peterborough, replied: “Not as far as I’m concerned.”

Mr Khalil said the officer entered the living room and was “immediately confronted by the sight of Mr Wright spread-eagled across the floor, a pool of blood around his head”.

He was declared dead at the scene and a neuropathologist found “clear evidence of traumatic brain injury”.

Mr Khalil said the pair had kicked Mr Wright to death in a “brutal eruption of violence – in his own sitting room”.

The prosecutor said they then “went into the garden for some fresh air” before they “discarded their clothing and decided to satisfy their lust for sex”.

The sentencing hearing is on 11 December.

Ex-Great Ormond Street porter admits child sex abuse

A former Great Ormond Street Hospital porter has admitted sexual offences against six boys over 35 years.

Paul Farrell, 55, pleaded guilty to 58 sex offences against children carried out between 1985 and 2020.

The charges relate to six victims, who cannot be named, who are now aged between eight and 43.

Farrell, from Camden, appearing at Wood Green Crown Court, admitted charges including attempted rape and the sexual assault of a child aged under 13.

He pleaded guilty to 33 charges, having previously admitted 25 counts at an earlier hearing.

He has denied a further 21 charges, including rape.

The court heard Farrell held a number of positions, including working as a porter at Great Ormond Street Hospital between 1994 and 2020.

At least two victims allege they were sexually abused by Farrell at the hospital.

Judge Noel Lucas said: “The prosecution have made it clear that this is not a case where it is alleged that Mr Farrell was targeting children at the Great Ormond Street Hospital.

“Rather that children were abused in parts of the hospital in which he had access.”

Police arrested Farrell on 16 January.

According to the charges, Farrell continued to offend until June this year.

One boy, under the age of 13, says he was sexually assaulted “during lockdown”.

Alex Salmond was opposed to child abuse inquiry

The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry has heard that then-first minister Alex Salmond and other senior Scottish government figures were against it being set up.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney told the inquiry there had been clear division over the issue.

He said an inquiry was only authorised “after the change of first minister had taken place”.

Mr Salmond has been approached for comment by BBC Scotland.

The inquiry was set up in October 2015 and is investigating the abuse of children in care in Scotland or where their care was arranged in Scotland.

The latest phase of the inquiry, heard before judge Lady Smith, is exploring reasons why calls between August 2002 and December 2014 for a public inquiry to be held were resisted by ministers.

James Peoples QC, senior counsel to the inquiry, said the current Constitution Secretary Mike Russell told him on Thursday that “influential figures, including Alex Salmond, Kenny MacAskill and the then Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland were not persuaded” of the need for an inquiry.

Mr Swinney agreed, saying: “There was a difference of views in Cabinet in the summer of 2014 if there should be an inquiry.”

Mr Peoples said Mr Russell had said the difference of views was “quite robust” and that there were concerns about the amount of time it would take and the cost involved.

Mr Swinney replied: “There was a perfectly respectable debate among Cabinet but there were two opinions.

“One argument was that the inquiry would not address the issues and would not deliver the outcomes survivors hoped for.

“Mike Russell had engaged heavily with survivors and his view was we had to confront this issue as a country, to do justice for survivors to enable them to have their experiences documented, understood and reflected on, and for the state to accept responsibility for what happened to them.

“I supported him in that view in Cabinet.”

Mr Swinney said the inquiry was authorised in December after the change of first minister had taken place.

“Without a doubt, there was a division of views in Cabinet,” he said.

Mr Swinney also said the cost of an inquiry would not have been a deterrent, saying: “I’ve seen a lot of traffic about money in the papers and I was finance minister for nine years, so I controlled that money.

“Ironically, in the period after 2007, the financial issues were a lot less than in early 2014.”

He added: “When I came to office in 2007, I was pleasantly surprised there was £1.6bn in an account in the Treasury that hadn’t been spent.

“When I was going through the accounts in 2006 and saw that, I thought that would be quite handy to have that. We still had the block grant and there was £1.6bn that had not been spent, which I found quite surprising.”

Mr Peoples asked: “Although you weren’t approached about finding money for an inquiry, there was money there?”

Mr Swinney said: “There was a hidden money tree at that point. So the idea that money was an issue – I had the ability to fund the financial priorities my colleagues found to be important.”

In 2002 a former resident of a care home submitted a petition to the Scottish Parliament calling for an inquiry into the abuse of children who were in care and an apology.

In 2004, the then First Minister Jack McConnell said sorry on behalf of the people of Scotland but his Labour-led administration stopped short of ordering an inquiry.

Lord McConnell gave evidence about this last week, saying he had been worried that an inquiry would cut across legal action that was being taken by some of the survivors at the time.

The SNP took power in 2007, and Mr Swinney has been a government minister ever since.

Calls for an inquiry intensified after a BBC documentary was broadcast in 2013 which contained allegations that children were abused at the Fort Augustus Abbey School in the Highlands.

The inquiry continues.

Gay couple in Devon called abomination for holding hands

A gay couple holding hands say they were called “an abomination” while on a walk.

Iain and Wahaj Mahmood-Brown were on a cliff top path near Plymouth when they were subjected to homophobic abuse.

The man who abused them was smiling at the time and uttered the words “calmly”, the couple said.

They have reported the incident to Devon and Cornwall Police, who said homophobic crimes were “all too prevalent”.

The police said the case, which they treated as a hate crime, had been investigated as far as possible with no arrests made.

Iain Mahmood-Brown said: “We were holding hands, it was a nice day and we were just enjoying the otherwise peace and quiet by the beach.

“But as we passed this guy, he quite calmly turned around, smiled and looked at us and said ‘you know you’re an abomination’.”

Mr Mahmood-Brown said their response at the time was to ignore him because they “didn’t want to engage” with abuse.

He said they found the abuse “strange more than threatening” as it had been some time since they had experienced anything similar.

Mr Mahmood-Brown explained he spoke about the incident publicly to raise awareness of the abuse and other problems LGBT people still face in the UK, despite the public perception “everything is fine”.

“But I think it’s also important to remember that when I did post about it on social media, the amount of supportive messages and the kindness that people show on social media was really overwhelming,” he added.

Sgt Dylan Bristow from Devon and Cornwall Police said: “We see a lot of crimes that are reported in relation to people’s sexual orientation.

“Unfortunately it’s all too prevalent in society at the moment.”

Sgt Bristow said homophobic crimes were under-reported and urged any victims to get in touch with police.