Ruth Dodsworths abuse going public was best thing

An ITV Wales presenter harassed and stalked by her husband for years said it was the “best thing” her story went public as it gave her a platform to help others speak out.

Ruth Dodsworth’s husband Jonathan Wignall, 54, was last week sentenced to three years for coercive and controlling behaviour and stalking.

She described the abuse, which included putting a tracker on her car, as “degrading and dehumanising”.

She said speaking out saved her life.

On ITV’s This Morning, weather presenter Ms Dodsworth said her story becoming public was “something I never saw coming” as the details of her case and victim statement came out as her husband was sentenced.

“In a sense it has been the hardest time but – because that decision to go public was always taken away from me – it’s been the best thing in hindsight that has ever happened,” she said.

Ms Dodsworth suffered both physical and mental abuse from her husband of 18 years, including fracturing her rib, paying her children to look on her phone and showing up at her workplace, which she said escalated when his nightclub business failed.

She said at the peak of the abuse her children called her and said, “Mum, don’t come home – he is going to kill you”, which she said was “a turning point”.

“I didn’t go home that night because I think if I had I wouldn’t be here now in any way shape or form,” she said.

“I was married to this man for 18 years and I think sometimes, within a marriage, at first you try to make it work, you think, ‘OK, that’s happened’ and try to move on. And you make excuses to try to reason, you try to justify, you plaster this smile on your face.”

She added her job made it harder to speak out because “there is this expectation that you smile and you’re happy and sometimes that couldn’t have been further from the truth”.

She said it also “made me more determined to make it work”.

Last month Wignall pleaded guilty to one count of coercive and controlling behaviour and stalking.

As well as his three-year jail sentence he was also given a restraining order against contacting Ms Dodsworth.

Cardiff Crown Court was told Wignall had a “fragile ego” and repeatedly accused Ms Dodsworth, 45, of being unfaithful.

Ms Dodsworth said it was still hard for her to categorise her abuse, adding it had been hard to see the isolation while she was still in it.

She said: “The very phrase – ‘domestic abuse’, ‘coercive control’ – I find quite difficult to say because for a long time I didn’t recognise it or put it in that category.

“Looking back on it now I can see that the signs were there [in the beginning]. We were happy but there were moments where his temper became obvious at first towards other people but when you’re with someone you love you take things out on your nearest and dearest.

“I was the one person he could direct it at and looking back in horror now I can see the signs but you almost don’t want to admit it to yourself. I think that, in a sense, has been quite a difficult thing even for me to do now.

“It took confiding in someone else for them to say, ‘Ruth, if you don’t phone the police I will’ and that really changed everything.”

She said the abuse she suffered “was degrading, dehumanising and it is so very difficult to ask for help” but she wished she had done it sooner and that she “would not be alive if I had not asked for help”.

“My case is just once of so many and I am so lucky to have been given this platform and to use this public arena.

“Not being believed is something I really did fear but I was believed – and I would say to anyone that you will too.”

Shoppers making revenge purchases flock back to High Street

Shoppers flocked back to the High Street last week to treat themselves after non-essential stores reopened in England and Wales.

Footfall across all UK shopping destinations was up 87.8% week-on-week, analyst Springboard said.

Jewellers Beaverbrooks told the BBC visitor numbers and sales had spiked at its more than 60 shops.

It said people were making so called revenge purchases – splashing out after months of being unable to go shopping.

Boss Anna Blackburn said: “I think there’s a lot of that. Through lockdown we saw online that people weren’t going away, they were getting refunds and were spending and treating themselves because they’ve probably saved money.

“Now I think there are still limitations to what people can do, and I think they’re thinking they’ve always wanted that Swiss watch or that diamond ring, and they are just treating themselves which is brilliant to see.”

Springboard said footfall across High Streets, retail parks and shopping centres was up 330% from 11-17 April versus the same week a year ago.

The East Midlands, South East and South West saw the greatest demand. However, despite the surge overall demand remained 25% below 2019 levels.

Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard, said: “These results provide concrete evidence of the desire of shoppers to return to bricks and mortar stores and destinations.

“The key issue for retail destinations will be whether this momentum can be sustained.”

She said evidence from the last two lockdowns suggested footfall would continue to increase over the next few weeks, albeit at a lesser rate.

“The reopening of indoor hospitality on 17 May will provide a further boost to retail destinations as many indoor venues are located in High Streets and shopping centres,” she added.

Catherine Shuttleworth, a retail analyst at agency Savvy, said good weather, school holidays in some parts of the UK and a desire to go out with family and friends all boosted the figures.

She added: “A lot of people have money in their pockets that they want to spend. Whilst online is a way we can do our shopping it is quite boring and dull, and I think we have overdosed on that.

“It is also a physical manifestation of getting back to normal. People want some signal that life is changing back to what it used to be and the shops opening is a sign of that.

“Our town centres have been like ghost towns so going back and putting your money into them is a really positive thing.”

Fishmongers Hall: Terror attacker shouted Im going to blow you all up

A former prisoner sprayed a fire extinguisher to try and stop a terror attacker who was “shouting like a loon”, an inquest has heard.

John Crilly described how he tackled Usman Khan, who was armed with knives and what appeared to be a suicide belt.

Khan killed Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones and attacked others at a prisoner education event on 29 November 2019.

A jury at London’s Guildhall was told that Khan was shouting “I’m going to blow you all up”.

Mr Crilly, who attended the conference at Fishmongers’ Hall, said he knew Jack Merritt through the Learning Together programme.

Recalling the moment he came face to face with an armed Khan inside the building, he said: “He had two big knives on his hands, there was no missing them.”

The inquests into the deaths of Ms Jones, 23, and Mr Merritt, 25, heard Mr Crilly describe Khan “shouting and jumping about like a loon. He was going nuts, shouting Allahu Akbar”.

He said: “He was in two minds, deciding which way to go, who to attack.”

“As I got closer I could see the (suicide) belt, pretty clearly. Like a black bodybuilder belt with bits stuck to it, bits of iron, bits of silver, a contraption.”

Answering Jonathan Hough QC, counsel to the inquiry, Mr Crilly described how he tried to “distract” Khan and “call his bluff”.

“I was hoping it (the belt) was fake. He started shouting and saying things like: ‘I’m going to blow you all up,’ so I said ‘blow it then’. He said: ‘I’m waiting for the police’.”

Mr Crilly said he tried without success to stop Khan using a series of makeshift weapons including an ornamental chair, before he picked up a fire extinguisher to tackle the armed suspect.

He continued: “I just sprayed him with it, it seemed to have an effect on him – like, blinded him.

“He started running through the foam so I thought I’d have to back off and spray him again.”

Mr Crilly was one of three men who followed as Khan went outside onto London Bridge.

“He looked back and would try and stab one of us. The three of us would be swapping places,” he said.

“Initially I hit him with the extinguisher in the head – this guy was trying to kill us.

“I think I hit him in the hand with the extinguisher, I grabbed his hands and tried to wrestle the knife off him.”

The counsel for the family of Mr Merritt told Mr Crilly he had been “astonishingly brave”.

Darryn Frost, a communications manager within the Prison and Probation Service was also at the event, and he told the jury that hearing “screams” was his “call to action”.

He said he grabbed a narwhal tusk from the wall and ran towards another delegate, Steve Gallant, who appeared to be trying to keep Khan “at bay” with “an old mahogany chair”.

The Guildhall heard that once on London Bridge, Mr Frost struck the attacker with the tusk as he, Mr Crilly and Mr Gallant fought with Khan.

“Khan flinched and went down. In that moment John Crilly let off the fire extinguisher, which miraculously disguised Steve Gallant as he went beyond Khan.

“Steve pulled him backwards and the assailant fell backwards,” he said.

Mr Frost told the inquests when police arrived and told people to leave Khan, he continued to hold him down as he didn’t want him to be shot.

“I saw the chaos he had caused in the hall – I didn’t want him to have the satisfaction of his choice when he had taken that away from others.”

He said a police officer then managed to pull him up “so I let go and ran”.

The Guildhall also heard from Jojo Athappilly, who described seeing Khan “lunging” at people about 50 metres in front of him on London Bridge.

He said: “The way he was running, it seemed like he might be wearing something – he was wearing a big jacket. It didn’t seem like he was running freely,” he added.

Mr Athappilly told the jury when police vehicles arrived he “saw one police officer get out with a gun”.

“And then I heard some shouting and people jump away from the guy on the floor and then I heard one gunshot,” he said.

The inquests continue.

Shafiul Islam death: Men jailed over robbery killing

An ex-convict known as “the enforcer” and two other men have been jailed for killing a man they attacked at home.

Shafiul Islam, 22, was repeatedly hit with a cider bottle during a robbery in Tewkesbury Walk, Newport, on 14 November 2019 and died a week later.

Euan Peters, 42, of Cardiff, was found guilty of murder. Conlan Dunnion, 23, and Perrie Dunwell, 33, from Newport, were convicted of manslaughter.

The court heard Peters had a string of convictions dating back to 1993.

All three were found guilty of conspiracy to commit robbery.

Peters was sentenced to life with a minimum of 31 years in prison. Dunnion was jailed for nine years and six months, and Dunwell for 13 years.

The men were convicted at Newport Crown Court last week.

The court heard Euan Peters hit Mr Islam over the head twice with the bottle until it broke, and then slashed Mr Islam’s face.

The sentencing at Newport Crown Court heard “Euan Peters was recruited as an enforcer”.

Mr Islam suffered a brain injury in the attack.

Det Supt Nick Wilkie, from Gwent Police said Mr Islam “paid the ultimate price” after becoming involved in the illegal drug trade.

During the sentencing the court heard Mr Islam had been taken into care when he was 13, but remained close to his mother.

The court heard he was “shy and kind in his nature” and “funny”.

He was described as “strong and would always be happy and smiling”.

The court heard Peters had convictions dating back to 1993, including for possessing an offensive weapons, possessing a bladed article, assault, burglary of a dwelling, attempted robbery, and robbery.

The judge, Mrs Justice Jefford said Peters was convicted at Cardiff Crown Court in 2006 for a number of offences and was given an “indeterminate sentence for the public protection”.

Mrs Justice Jefford said that meant “the judge must have concluded you were dangerous”.

She added: “You clearly remain dangerous.”

A victim impact statement read to the court on behalf of Mr Islam’s family said they prayed five times a day, and each family member offered two extra prayers for Mr Islam.

They said: “Shafiul had a lot of struggles in his life.

“We didn’t get to see him much in our childhood,” adding they had been hoping to see him more.

They said: “We feel that has been taken away from us.”

His family did not realise how involved in drugs he was, adding: “He could not get himself out of the situation he was in.”

The court heard Mr Islam’s last words to his mother were: “I love you.”

The court heard Mr Islam had been discovered by police, unconscious and partially lying in a cupboard in his ransacked flat and he was killed as a result of a planned robbery.

Peters struck Mr Islam over the head twice with a Kopparberg cider bottle he had taken from an Indian restaurant where he and Dunwell had eaten hours before the attack, the court heard.

The court heard Peters also “slashed his face with the bottle”.

Det Supt Nick Wilkie said: “This was a horrific and calculated attack of a young man, in his own home, late at night.

“Shafiul Islam was victim of a robbery involving significant violence which resulted in him tragically losing his life.”

Chaos at home after rare identical triplets born

The mother of rare identical triplet boys born 10 weeks early has said it is “just chaos at home”.

River remains at Worcestershire Royal Hospital, after being born in January at 29 weeks along with Beau and Leo, who are at home after intensive care.

Mother Lauren Mountain, 28, from Bewdley, admitted she was shocked and “a little bit nervous”, after she found out she was having identical triplets.

She added she was “so grateful” for the care staff had given.

They are the first children she and Jack Mountain, 29, have had together, with Beau and Leo able to go home last week.

The new mother said she found out at the end of the summer they would be triplets and there were not “any multiples in the family”.

She added: “We were a little bit nervous about what could happen, because I knew that it would be a really complicated pregnancy.

“Thankfully we’ve got a lot of support in family and friends so I…. turned it all round and realised it’s actually a really special thing that’s happened to us, so we have been embracing it.”

Asked about how rare her sons were, Mrs Mountain said: “There’s a lot of random numbers floating around, one in two million, one in two hundred million.

“I think it’s hard to tell because ours were naturally conceived… I think that sort of throws the number off us a little bit because IVF babies are a little bit more likely to be multiples.

“But we know of a few other identical triplet boys in the UK, so it’s quite interesting to see how they’ve grown up as well and chat to their mums.”

She said River was “really stable” now and “just needs a little bit more breathing support”.

Mrs Mountain added: “The other two are lovely babies. They’re really healthy, over nine pounds and growing by the day and doing what babies should be doing.

“So it’s just chaos at home now, as well as travelling back and forth to the hospital which is pretty tough.”

Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust said Beau and Leo had gone home and were “thriving together”.

European Super League: Five things that lasted longer

It feels like only a few days ago that we first heard six British clubs would be joining a new European Super League (ESL).

That’s because it was.

In the biggest whirlwind in recent sporting history, we watched as the plans were announced, discussed, raged against and finally… cancelled. All in the space of just two days.

So, what’s had a longer lifespan than the idea of the ESL?

Remember last month when all we could talk about was that huge ship that got stuck in the Suez Canal and completely disrupted worldwide trade?

Seems like simpler times now.

It was lodged there for six days – four days longer than the idea of the ESL was around.

“No amount of money would keep me here, I have got to make the right decision.

“I have to leave, it ain’t for me.”

No, not the words of UK football bosses yesterday, but Gemma Collins in the jungle back in 2014.

After just three days on the programme, the reality star decided she wanted out.

Still, she lasted longer than the ESL.

You might’ve brewed a cup of tea to watch the news about the football league unfold.

And you were probably still pouring from the same carton of milk for your celebratory cuppa once it was all cancelled.

On that note, it reportedly takes two days to digest some meats.

If you’d eaten a burger when the ESL was announced, chances are it wouldn’t have fully made its way through your system before the league fell apart.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that a marriage lasted longer than the league-that-never-was.

But this was Britney Spears’ first marriage, back in 2004, to Jason Alexander.

It lasted 55 hours before it was annulled.

Her team called it a “joke that had gone too far”.

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Benjamin Hannam: Convicted neo-Nazi Met Police officer sacked

A Met officer convicted of being part of a banned neo-Nazi terrorist group has been sacked by the force.

Benjamin Hannam was found guilty earlier this month of membership of the outlawed right-wing extremist organisation National Action (NA).

The 22-year-old was dismissed without notice from the force by Met Assistant Commissioner Helen Ball following a misconduct hearing on Wednesday.

He will appear at the Old Bailey on 30 April for sentencing on six offences.

The hearing at the Empress State Building in west London was told that Hannam was also convicted of lying on his application and vetting forms to be a Met Police officer.

He had also pleaded guilty to being in possession of multiple prohibited images including “pseudo images” of young boys and girls – mocked-up images which looked like photographs.

Previously, the Met said it had reviewed Hannam’s time in the force and found no evidence his actions had been influenced by extremist ideology.

But his criminal trial and the misconduct case heard how Hannam lied on his application form and a subsequent vetting form in which he denied having links to an organisation “similar to the BNP”.

Hannam, who was not present at the misconduct hearing, joined the Met in 2018 and during his training was shown videos relating to NA.

He passed out in early 2019, but was identified by detectives on the neo-Nazi web forum Iron March following a database leak of users and later prosecuted.

Despite his six convictions, Hannam maintained his innocence insisting he has never been a NA member, a representative said on his behalf.

Ms Ball, who chaired Hannam’s misconduct hearing, was told that when he was arrested in March 2020, a search of his home found him to be in possession of extremist material.

It included the manifesto of Norwegian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik – who killed 77 people in 2011.

The hearing was told other items included notes of a NA meeting Hannam attended, as well as books and paraphernalia relating to fascism.

Before dismissing Hannam from the Met, Ms Ball said: “He could be in no doubt what he was doing was unacceptable behaviour at every stage. It is therefore proven that this is gross misconduct.”

Ms Ball said Hannam was already subject to a final written warning and therefore could not be given a second one or have his first one extended.

She added: “His rank of PC cannot be reduced so the only option is dismissal.

“He had every opportunity to move away from this course of conduct. I do not find any mitigating factors as his behaviour has been so grave.

“PC Hannam has disgraced himself and the MPS. This is very serious misconduct which undermines policing as well as our reputation.”

Hannam will be sentenced at the Old Bailey for being a member of a banned organisation, two counts of possession of a document likely to be of use to a terrorist, two of fraud by false representation and one of being in possession of a prohibited image of a child,

Driving tests: Agency moves to clear lockdown backlog in NI

All efforts are being made to clear the backlog of driving tests once the system reopens in NI on Friday, the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) has said.

Theory and practical tests were cancelled when lockdown was imposed on 26 December.

They will reopen on 23 April, with thousands waiting to take both tests.

Jeremy Logan, chief executive of the DVA, said there was “no question” demand would be high.

Speaking to Stormont’s Infrastructure committee on Wednesday, Mr Logan said he estimated there were about 22,000 people in Northern Ireland with valid theory tests who could be waiting to take a practical test.

The resumption of driving tests will work in several phases:

Mr Logan said he estimated there were about 8,600 people in those first two phases who would be offered a test in the next couple of weeks.

Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon told the committee there would be extended opening hours at test centres to help with demand, and that an additional temporary theory test centre would be opened in Ballymena to provide about 1,000 test slots per week.

Mr Logan said prior to the pandemic, the DVA carried out approximately 3,900 practical driving tests every month for those wanting to drive a car.

The agency’s goal was to “maximise the amount of resource and to exceed the amount of tests to start to eat into that backlog, to try and clear those people waiting for a test as quickly as we can,” he added.

He said he recognised that reopening the service fully presented a challenge, but that the agency would do its best to help all customers.

The committee was told that the agency was working to ensure there would be a number of additional examiners in place to carry out practical driving tests.

Four temporary centres in Belfast, Coleraine, Cookstown and Omagh have also been identified to commence practical tests from mid-May.

Prince Andrew: Woman held after trespass report at Royal Lodge

A woman was detained under the Mental Health Act after police responded to reports of a trespasser at the home of the Duke of York.

The 43-year-old was initially arrested when police were called to the Royal Lodge at Windsor Great Park on Monday.

She was later “de-arrested” and sectioned – meaning she was taken to a safe place to be assessed by medics.

Thames Valley Police said there was no risk to anyone living at the Royal Lodge.

The investigation continues, police said.

It is not known if Prince Andrew was at the home he shares with his former wife, the Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson.

But the incident came just two days after he attended the funeral of his father, the Duke of Edinburgh, at Windsor.

Daily Mail owner sues Google over search results

The owner of the Daily Mail newspaper and MailOnline website is suing Google over allegations the search engine manipulates search results.

Associated Newspapers accuses Google of having too much control over online advertising and of downgrading links to its stories, favouring other outlets.

It alleges Google “punishes” publishers in its rankings if they don’t sell enough advertising space in its marketplace.

Google called the claims “meritless”.

Associated Newspapers’ concerns stem from its assessment that its coverage of the Royal Family in 2021 has been downplayed in search results.

For example, it claims that British users searching for broadcaster Piers Morgan’s comments on the Duchess of Sussex following an interview with Oprah Winfrey were more likely to see articles about Morgan produced by smaller, regional outlets.

That is despite the Daily Mail writing multiple stories a day about his comments around that time and employing him as a columnist.

Daily Mail editor emeritus Peter Wright told the BBC’s Today programme that the search engine’s alleged actions were “anti-competitive”.

He suggested that the Daily Mail’s search visibility dropped after using online advertising techniques “which were allowing us to divert advertising traffic away from Google to other ad exchanges, which paid better prices – and this was their punishment”.

“We think it’s time to call this company out,” he said.

The Daily Mail’s MailOnline site is one of the world’s most-read websites. It has 75 million unique monthly visitors in the US alone, according to the lawsuit, which was filed in New York on Tuesday.

A Google spokeswoman said: “The Daily Mail’s claims are completely inaccurate.

“The use of our ad tech tools has no bearing on how a publisher’s website ranks in Google search.

“More generally, we compete in a crowded and competitive ad tech space where publishers have and exercise multiple options. The Daily Mail itself authorises dozens of ad tech companies to sell and manage their ad space, including Amazon, Verizon and more. We will defend ourselves against these meritless claims.”

Separately, Google is facing antitrust lawsuits brought by the US Justice Department and attorneys general in several states.

The technology giant has denied abusing its market power and has previously said the ad technology market is competitive.

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