08/07/2011 Midlands Today


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Hello, welcome to Midlands Today, with Suzanne Virdee and Nick Owen.


The headlines tonight: A grieving mum tells how she was


wrongly arrested over the death of her son. Just to think they would


even think I did that to my child, who was my world, my everything.


"Give him the maximum punishment", says the father of a Warwickshire


teacher killed in Japan. Hundreds attend the funeral of a


soldier shot dead in Afghanistan. And over 1,000 years-old and more


popular than ever with tourists. We Good evening, welcome to Friday's


Midlands Today, from the BBC. Tonight, a mother accused of


murdering her three-year-old son speaks out to clear her name.


Police arrested Abby Podmore after her son died following a harrowing


series of events earlier this year. Alfie Podmore first became ill on


2nd February and was sent home from nursery. The following day he was


taken to Birmingham Children's Hospital with a high temperature,


shoulder pain and a rash. Alfie was sent home after being diagnosed


with a virus. But on 6th February, his mother found him dead in bed.


To her horror, Abby was in police custody within hours, on suspicion


of killing her son. Joanne Writtle has this report.


I was devastated about losing my little boy. I was crying my eyes


out, saying, this isn't real. Maesteg mum was sitting with me and


even said, you must be joking. The officer lent into her face and said,


we don't joke about these things. Abby Podmore describes the moment


she was arrested, falsely accused of murdering her toddler. She was


held at Bournville Lane police station in Birmingham for 18 hours.


They took photos of me, fingerprints, cut my nails. They


did that and then obviously, I was kept in the cell. All I had was


Alfie's picture. A postmortem later revealed Alfie Podmore had died of


natural causes, after suffering from pneumonia and septicaemia.


Abby says she tried to tell police that he'd been ill. I even showed


them the medication and everything I was sent home with with Alfie. My


worst nightmare came true. All I have wanted was to see my little


boy... And then they would not let me see him for 10 days. By that


time, Major had taken its course and it did not look like him any


more. -- nature had taken its course. Alfie's bedroom in Quinton,


in Birmingham, is still full of toys. But Abby, a trainee dental


nurse, has only just moved back home, worried about false rumours


and bad memories. Is there a message you would like to get out


your community? I never heard my little boy. He died of natural


causes. -- I never hurt my little boy. He was taken to hospital with


what he had and then I had to deal with finding him and then getting


arrested. Abby and her family have consulted a solicitor. There are


grounds for concern and we are waiting for the police to try to


establish whether there is any justification at all as to why Abby


was taken into custody. He was amazing. He was always smiling,


singing. He always liked cuddles and kisses. Just so bright... He


was my world. Our reporter Joanne Writtle joins


us now from Bournville Lane police station in Birmingham. What have


the police had to say about this? It was here last February that Abby


Podmore was bought by officers and West Midlands Police have issued a


statement to us saying that the complaint is being looked into by


their professional standards And what have Birmingham Children's


Hospital said? They have also given us a statement saying, quite simply,


investigations are ongoing, but it has become clear that there was


more they could have done to help Alfie. We are devastated by what


happened to him and would like to express our deepest sympathies to


his family. Meanwhile, an inquest is due to be heard at Birmingham's


Coroner's Court, when the family says they hope to learn the answers


to many of the questions they still have.


Thanks for joining us. You're watching Midlands Today, from the


BBC. Later in the programme... be, or not to be, that is the


question... Which of these boys will make it into the Shakespeare


competition? The father of the murdered


Warwickshire teacher Lindsay Ann Hawker has asked a judge in a


Japanese court to impose the maximum sentence allowed on the man


accused of murdering his daughter. Bill Hawker was giving evidence


today in the trial of Tatsuya Ichihashi in Chiba, in Japan, who's


already admitted raping and strangling Lindsay Ann. Earlier, I


asked our correspondent Roland Buerk what happened in court today.


There was an extraordinary emotion to the day. Bill Hawker spoke in


court. He began by stopping near the man accused of murdering his


daughter, Lindsay Ann Hawker, and that was Tatsuya Ichihashi. He said


their lives had been torn apart by her death in March 2007. Her body,


of course, was found in a bathtub full of soil and sand in a Tatsuya


Ichihashi's flat. He did ask for the maximum sentence possible for


Tatsuya Ichihashi if he is found guilty. Bill Hawker said the court


should show no mercy because Tatsuya Ichihashi had shown none


too Lindsay. At what is the maximum punishment in Japan for this kind


of defence? It does retain the death penalty. That phrase did not


pass Bill Hawker's lips. In the past, when Lindsay Ann Hawker's


flatmate was called to give evidence, she said he -- she felt


Tatsuya Ichihashi should get the full sentence. It would be unusual


for that tour happened. In Japan, it is normally reserved for those


who have committed multiple murders, not just one. And there is the


possibility that the family could question Tatsuya Ichihashi


themselves. Do you think that could happen? I think it is pretty


unlikely because there is a new judicial system that gives families


more save. The lawyer did get a question Tatsuya Ichihashi today


and he was asking the accused about plastic tags and ties he had used


to bind the wrists and legs of Lindsay Ann Hawker. The defence in


this case is saying that although Tatsuya Ichihashi has admitted to


raping her, he killed her unintentionally. The defence say he


should be facing a lesser charge, one of inflicting injury causing


death. What happens now? What we are expecting is more evidence from


Bill Hawker on Monday. He will be questioned by the defence lawyers.


A verdict in this case is expected on 21st July. Thank you.


Missing girlfriend and boyfriend Charlotte Ford and Luke Jarvis have


been found safe and well in North Wales. Following an appeal from


their parents, a member of the public called police saying they'd


seen the 15 and 16-year old in Rhyl. They were last seen at Dudley bus


station almost a fortnight ago and are being brought home to their


families in the Black Country. Hundreds of mourners have paid


their respects at the funeral of a soldier killed in Afghanistan.


Private Gareth Bellingham, who was 22, was laid to rest with full


military honours. He served with the 3rd Battalion the Mercian


Regiment, the Staffords. He is one of 375 British soldiers to have


lost their lives in the conflict so far, 32 of them from our region.


Liz Copper reports. His coffin, bourne by his comrades,


Private Gareth Bellingham was described as a soldier who was a


fearless and loyal friend. He was shot whilst on patrol last month in


Helmand province. He was 22 years- old. Members of his regiment say


his loss has created a gulf. Somebody said he was able to make


friends in an empty room and he is just that sort of character who


would come out, go anywhere and meet people. He just had a bubbly


personality which people used to warm to. Hundreds of mourners


packed St George's Church in Newcastle-under-Lyme. They heard


how Private Bellingham was held in high esteem, not just by his


regiment, but also by the Afghan forces he was working alongside.


Closer to home, his death has been felt keenly by the entire community.


There is a pride about our young men who still feel called to be


there for their country. And, yes, this will draw people together. And


in a way, make it more real to people. About the dedication of


these young men. After the funeral, a committal ceremony with full


military honours, including a And as the cortege made its way


through the streets, applause, on a day when a town came together to


pay tribute to bravery and self- The Culture Secretary has said he


wants to see small local TV stations set up across the country,


and already in Birmingham and Stoke-on-Trent people are working


to make that idea a reality. It's inspired by the American system,


where viewers often have four or more local news programmes to chose


from. David Gregory has been in America to find out more.


Visiting America, you notice they have a lot more local TV than we do.


Like CBS 42, Birmingham Alabama. So we're spending the day here.


Looking at this potential running order, this could be an edition of


Midlands Today. We have travel, weather and budget cuts. And where


we have cattle in Herefordshire, they have armadillos with rabies.


There are four stations providing local news in this part of country,


all funded by advertising. So who wants to advertise on local TV?


you drive through town you will see 17 different fast food restaurants.


They are all interested in advertising with us. So... Everyone.


We take it. This is one argument for local TV in the UK. That


there's an untapped, under-served pool of potential advertisers. But


one Midlands agency has crunched the numbers... And doubts that.


Because I cannot see that there would be any real demand from the


consumer, I cannot see who would be watching local TV. And if the


television station doesn't have an audience, they haven't got anything


to sell. But others who have already expressed an interest in


local TV disagree. I am chairman of a theatre company. We and 40


theatres around the country. We cannot afford, by and large, to


advertise on regional television. We would love to advertise on local


television. But we are not trying to bring the whole American


television system to the UK. The idea is to graft additional things


on top of it. The question is, well that work?


Armadillos with rabies! That is different, isn't it?


So what can we learn here from America's experience of local


television? Our political editor, Patrick Burns, is here with us.


Patrick, it does seem to work over there? It does. Most of the


successful local channels there have the backing of the big US


networks. That is definitely not the route the Government one to go


through here. It is very much rooted in local communities and


there is no shortage of people coming through with business plans


for it and a warning for the regional press. I would be worried


if I were a local newspaper but we can work with them because we know


them. ITV and BBC, they deliver local news. But they do not deliver


it in the style that city television world. -- City TV will.


Local TV in Great Britain failed to make money, when for most people


there for only five television channels. So why would now work


when people have the choice of 500? Does Gary Hudson have a point?


We've seen local stations here in the past and they all failed.


what is different now is that the BBC can help prime them with a


budget of �40 million. Today, the BBC put out his statement


confirming its commitment to plurality. When can we expect these


new local stations to start going on the air? The Government of


forcing the pace. Would you believe, in a year from now, some of these


channels could start going on air. You can find out more from my blog.


And there's more on this, including the man who's planning a station in


South Warwickshire, on this Sunday's Politics Show at the


earlier time of 11am, here on BBC One.


Now, we all learned it at school, but apart from some very famous


lines how many of us can recite a passage or a whole Shakespeare


sonnet? Well, students are being asked to do just that to win the


title of Schools Shakespeare Champion. It's for a BBC Programme


which will coincide with the RSC's World Shakespeare Festival next


April. Here's Satnam Rana. If you tickle us, shall we not


laugh? A final rehearsal for George from


King Edward VI School in Stratford- upon-Avon. He's one of 18 boys


competing to take part in Off By Heart Shakespeare, a BBC contest to


find a Schools Shakespeare Champion. I would like to get far in this


competition. It would be very nice. I am sure I can if I put my mind to


it. The setting - the school hall, but not any old school hall. This


is where the Bard himself was educated. Speak not! Reply not! Go


now, mauve. The battle of the words gets underway. Have you not hands,


organs, dimensions? How was it for George? I think I did quite well.


The decision now lies with these judges behind me. They will pick


three boys who will make it to the regional heat of the Off By Heart


Shakespeare, which takes prays in the autumn. -- which takes place.


To get this far has been an achievement for many of these


thespians. The whole contest so far has challenged the boys' perception


of Shakespeare. And then the winners. As these three get ready


for their Autumn run, you, too, could be joining them. If you know


a school that would like to take part, you can get details on our


website. Take a bow! It is a long time since


I remember doing any Shakespeare. Thanks for joining us this Friday


evening. Still to come in tonight's Midlands Today, Genelle's got all


the details on the weekend weather. Mixed weather over the weekend, but


it is a slowly improving picture. Find out all the details later in


the programme. Dan's here with the sport now, and


it's a big weekend of athletics. Birmingham stages its own mini-


Olympics on Sunday. The city hosts its first ever Diamond League


athletics meeting at the Alexander Stadium. And it's attracted some of


the world's finest athletes, including the world's fastest man


and woman so far this year. This report contains flash photography.


A woolly hat? In July?! Well, I suppose if you're the world fastest


man in 2011 and you come from Jamaica, you can get away with it.


And he remembers the weather from his last visit. I think it was


raining! It went OK in the 200. There was a good crowd and good


support. You know, once you have the support, everything else can


work. Asafa Powell has yet to win a world or Olympic gold in the 100


metres. But he became the fastest man in the world this year, with


9.77 seconds. Could he win this year's title? And those lucky


enough to have tickets for Sunday's sell-out will also see the world's


fastest woman, Carmelita Jeter. She's become a regular visitor to


Birmingham. I am very pleased to be back here in Birmingham. You treat


me so well so I will always return. We you respond to that with a good


performance on Sunday? I really her pan prayer I give a good


performance for the fans. I will compete to the best of my ability.


The one thing that's changed since her last is the improvement of the


Alexander Stadium. Jeter and Powell both plan to use it next year as


their 2012 Olympic training base. But if the weather's bad, they'll


have to bring their own woolly It has many different names and it


is guaranteed to be one of the most popular sports in the Olympic Games.


Earlier, I headed over to Birmingham, where 55 Tennis Table


tables appeared. And I say to the world, ping-pong


is coming home. He was talking about London 2012. But if only


Boris had been in Birmingham today, because the city's just gone table


tennis-tastic. And everywhere you looked, people were itching to have


a go. It is good. I like playing it. It is good exercise. I saw this


when I came down to the library and I started playing. I love it.


a game everyone can play. No matter whether you are a to or 80, you can


pick up a bat and play. Fitting neatly into that age range, I


grabbed a bat and went to pick up a few tips from the experts. Danny


Reed and Chris Doran are ranked amongst the top five in England.


They both play professionally in Europe. And next month they're off


to China to train for next summer's Olympics. In amongst the crowd, a


couple of familiar faces gave the royal seal of approval. I have won


a few games but maybe we will take it a bit more professionally.


is competitive as well. everybody saw the funny side but it


was the Victorian upper classes who made table-tennis popular. You can


now play ya in St Paul's Square, one of the 55 tables dotted around


the city. -- now play here. It is great fun and great to get people


involved. It is great to see people you haven't played before getting


on the tables in random places and enjoying it. Back in May, two of


the most powerful men in the world decided to take part. They found


they might just have met their match in these two.


With the royal couple playing table tennis in Birmingham, who are those


impostors who went to Canada? know! A fabulous name.


It's longer than Hadrian's Wall and is a truly demanding long distance


walk. We're talking about Offa's Dyke. The 177-mile footpath is 40


years-old and more popular than ever. It follows an 8th-century


mound and ditch built by King Offa. Despite its success as a tourist


attraction, there are fears the upkeep of the path might be


affected in the future by spending cuts. Bob Hockenhull reports.


Britain's longest scheduled ancient monument passes through beautiful


and remote countryside in Shropshire and Herefordshire.


Offa's Dyke, a ditch built by the King of Mercia to keep the Welsh


out, may be 1,200 years old, but the long distance footpath next to


it has only existed since 10th July 1971. And to celebrate the 40th


anniversary, this halfway Fingerpost has been elected on the


hills above Newcastle, telling walkers they are exactly midway


between these two places. The grand opening made national headlines.


Since then, tens of thousands of walkers have enjoyed the scenery.


People who have walked it have said they did not know we had such


countryside in Britain. It is old- fashioned countryside, lots of


small trees, hedgerows and pathways. But the path comes at a price.


Eight different authorities contribute to its upkeep, so could


funding be a problem in the future? We do not know yet but there are


cut left right and centre, and the management of the path are both


funded from the public purse. funding is available, work is being


carried out to improve accessibility. It's estimated


visitors have increased by 25%. have been working very hard with


the landowners and manager of authorities to try to move as many


styles as we can and it makes the trail as accessible as possible to


everybody. Is there great danger the place might lose its


tranquillity? I don't think so, because we have a 177-mile trail


here, and like today, there is a few people walking and it is never


going to be like the Lake District and his other places. Even so,


people travel from all over the country to take on the challenge.


What I appreciate about it is that it is so unspoilt. We have been


elsewhere but here, the people and scenery make-up for it. Those who


live near the path largely don't seem to mind the attention it


brings. They are very important to our tourist trade. This Sunday, at


the Offa's Dyke Centre in Knighton, there'll be a fair to celebrate


By Sunday, we are expecting to have some fairly decent weather. This


evening, we are expecting any showers to be scattered. That is


because they were quite prominent today and quite heavy, but we're


expecting they will be fewer and further between. We will actually


have some sunshine next to him between the scattered showers for a


nice end to the week. From this radar picture, you can see how many


showers have gone through in the day. One minute we had sunshine and


the next, it was chucking it down! We should have more brightness


tomorrow and drier spells overnight. The temperatures are the same as


last night. Those carry through to tomorrow's so there will be fewer


showers and a bit more sunshine. We are looking at times of 22 degrees


Celsius on Saturday, so if you are in the sun, it will feel very


pleasant. By Sunday, those showers should fade away completely. Sunday


night, fairly mild, just a touch cooler than tonight. High pressure


begins to build and takes charge and we see temperatures rising as


we go into Monday. Still a few showers, but mainly sunny.


That is lovely. Let's have a look at tonight's main headlines. The


Prime Minister's former spin-doctor is arrested in the phone-hacking


inquiry. And here, a grieving mother tells


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