23/02/2012 Midlands Today


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Hello, welcome to Midlands Today with Jackie Kabler and Nick Owen.


The headlines tonight. Compensation for Cerys - a multi-


million pound payout for the six- year-old permanently disabled by a


dangerous driver. She has got the money she needs to


pay for the round-the-clock care, nurses and carers for the rest of


her life. Arrested on suspicion of conspiracy


to defraud - West Midlands MEP Nikki Sinclaire is questioned by


police. I do not know about a mistake, but


I do not think she would do anything deliberately because she


is an honest person who tries to get on with her life.


The specialist police team seizing millions of pounds worth of


cannabis from illegal drugs farms. And still no manager for Wolves as


Good evening and welcome to Thursday's Midlands Today from the


BBC. Our top story tonight. �5 million compensation for a six-


year-old girl left paralysed by a speeding teenage driver.


Cerys Edwards suffered a broken neck and severe brain damage, and


now needs 24-hour care. It was November 2006 when a Range Rover


collided with the Edwards' family car in Sutton Coldfield as they


returned from a trip to feed the ducks. Cerys was thrown from her


car seat. The 19-year-old driver was


sentenced to 21 months in April 2008. He served just six in jail,


leading to a campaign for longer sentences. Although Cerys has made


some progress, her life expectancy is limited. Here's Ben Godfrey.


Cerys Edwards is only six years old. But for most of her life, she has


been unable to breathe without a ventilator. She suffered extensive


brain injuries after this head-on crash. Her parents were told she


would not survive. Teenager Antonio Boporan was doing


more than 70 miles an hour in a 30 zone. At the High Court today, a


settlement of �5 million was approved, paid for by his insurers


as compensation for Cerys's catastrophic injuries.


No amount of money is going to turn the clock back. They are pleased


the case is finished and that Cerys' financial needs are assured.


She has got the money she needs for the round-the-clock care. It is


appalling. Currently there's a maximum


sentence of two years for anyone causing injury through dangerous


driving. Now the Government wants a new offence of causing serious


injury by dangerous driving, with a maximum term of five years.


Midlands Today has followed the Edwards family as they have


campaigned for tougher penalties. Today, for legal reasons, their


solicitor spoke on their behalf. They got a petition of something


like 30,000 people to sign it, they took that to Parliament and the


Home Secretary agreed to change the law. That Bell is now going through


Parliament. So what about the speeding driver?


Antonio Boporan now heads up a charitable trust. The website says


it offers financial support to disadvantaged children. The High


Court heard he had offered an unreserved apology. The judge said


this is one of the saddest cases I have ever come across. As well as a


lump sum of �5 million, Cerys Edwards has also been awarded


�500,000 for every year of her life to fund her ongoing medical care.


Cerys Edwards is paralysed and unable to speak to her parents.


Despite it all, she is a girl who is full of smiles. Ben Godfrey, BBC


Midlands Today, at the High Court. We're joined now from our London


studio by Amy Aeron-Thomas from Roadpeace - the national charity


for road crash victims. What is your reaction to the compensation


package Cerys Edwards received? am glad it was finally completed.


It takes of the worry away from the family. It has taken over five


years for it to be settled. It took them almost two years before they


even got an interim payment. These may seem it like a large a mines,


but the family has been given a life sentence and no amount can


compensate for what they have suffered.


There are new government proposals on compensation which mean that


future victims similar to Cerys are unlikely to get such big payouts.


That is right and it is worrying us. Under the proposals being discussed


in Parliament now, victims would have to pay for solicitor's fees.


Right now, it is the wrong doer, the one who caused the haar who has


to pay. The we heard about the new charges that will be brought them,


serious injury by dangerous driving. Also, tougher sentences for those


drivers. Is that a good thing? is. They have been talking about


that since 2003. It is long overdue. What worries us however is that the


Government is talking about restricting it to life the encases


when it should be extended to all serious injuries -- a life-


threatening case. Thanks for joining us here on


Midlands Today. Later in the programme.


Moved to tears. How 10,000 children have been warned about the horrors


of knife and gun crime. An MEP has been arrested on


suspicion of conspiring to defraud the European Parliament. Nikki


Sinclaire is accused of submitting false expenses. She has totally


denied the allegations. Three other people were also


arrested as part of the police investigation, as Bob Hockenhull


reports. You are nothing better than dictators. Nikki Sinclaire's


officers, looking for law today, there is a low point. -- For lawyer.


One of her fellow MEPs was quick to defend Nikki Sinclaire. I do not


think she would do anything it deliberately because she is an


honest person. I cannot believe she has taken anything. She is no


stranger to controversy air. She was expelled by UKip. Her campaign


to get the UK out of Europe force a referendum debate in the Commons.


She had been bailed by police along with three other people who were


also arrested. Her office has She goes on to say that the


allegations are old and come from a disgruntled ex-employee he. She


feels it would be inappropriate to comment further because of the


ongoing police investigation, but that is frustrating to her because


she has nothing to hide. With us now is our political


reporter Susana Mendonca. Will it make any difference to her work as


an MEP representing the West Midlands in Strasbourg? Essentially


not, because she has not been charged with anything. She wants to


clear her name. If she had been charged, there are disciplinary


procedures in place that the European Parliament can use.


She stands as an independent and does not have the backing of a


party machine any more. Does that make things more difficult for her?


It makes it quite difficult for her in terms of having influence. In


the European Parliament, parties form in groups. Nikki Sinclaire was


expelled from UKip and focuses on single issues, campaign issues. Her


major campaign issue is the idea of removing Britain from the European


Union. She took a petition to Downing Street last year. It is


quite difficult for somebody who is not going to a partly -- who is not


linked to a party to have any influence.


A man charged with the murder of retired Worcestershire school-


teacher Betty Yates has appeared in court. Stephen Farrow who is 47 is


also accused of killing a vicar at his home in Gloucestershire. Cath


Mackie reports. The prison van manoeuvred its way


swiftly passed the newspaper photographers waiting outside


Northavon Magistrates Court. Hidden from view behind the blacked-out


windows was Stephen Farrow who is facing two counts of murder.


The 47-year-old, who is 6 foot 4, wore a grey fleece and trousers in


court and spoke only to confirm his name, birth date and that he has no


fixed address. Stephen Farrow is accused of


murdering Betty Yates at her home on the banks of the River Severn in


Bewdley. The 77-year-old retired schoolteacher had been stabbed and


beaten with her own walking stick. Her body was found on January 4th.


Six weeks later in the town of Thornbury in Gloucestershire, the


Reverend John Stubbards was found stabbed to death in his vicarage.


Police launched a nationwide manhunt and arrested Stephen Farrow


on Sunday in Kent following a tip off from the public. In Bewdley,


where Betty Yates was regarded as a pillar of the community, a memorial


service will be held later this year.


Police involved in this inquiry have thanked the public for their


continued support and for their courage in coming forward. And


they're still urging anyone with information to contact them.


Stephen Farrow was remanded in custody. A trial is due to take


place at Bristol Crown Court in June. Cath Mackie, BBC Midlands


Today. A specialist team has recovered


more than �22 million worth of cannabis from illegal farms in the


West Midlands in the last year alone.


Almost 600 raids have taken place across the region, seizing and


destroying hundreds of thousands of plants. We sent our reporter Joan


Cummins to join the team today, as they cleared another illegal


cannabis farm. Noisy and necessary, a daily


occurance in the destruction of illegal cannabis farms across the


region. Today's target - a rented house in Oldbury. A specialist team


working in the West Midlands are now dismantling cannabis farms on a


regular basis. This is job number 585. Everything that has been put


him out for safety has been bypassed to steal electricity.


Neighbours say they did not know that anybody was living here.


Inside his house, 300,000 cannabis plants. The house has been turned


into a virtual death trap. You can see how it is set up. There is


water running round the house as well. Not only are they exposed


electricity cables, there are hosepipes and running water.


The regional cannabis disposal team was set up initially as a trial,


but the inhouse team has saved the police budget �1 million. The team


is also being used by other forces in the region, but are they winning


the drugs war? I think we will always be one step behind, but it


is a very short step at the moment. There is a lot more of them than


there is of us. But we are doing our best to keep up with them. We


are doing a lot of these cannabis farms and taking a lot of drugs of


the street. Cannabis is now classified as a


class B drug. Operating a factory like this could result in the man


arrested here last night facing 14 years in prison. But the team has


no doubt that cannabis is part of organised crime. It is not the same


as it was in the 1970s. It is not a mellow draw be any more. It is very


potent, there are different strains and varieties. There are links with


illegal immigrants, money laundering and all the other things


have got money from crime goes into. Much of the paraphernalia is


recycled whilst the plants end up in landfill. The continuing message


to communities though is report anything suspicious before you find


yourself living next door to a cannabis factory.


The head of the Care Quality Commission who failed to spot poor


care at Stafford Hospital has resigned. Cynthia Bower was chief


executive of the West Midlands Strategic Health Authority when the


appalling failures at Stafford occurred. Ms Bower was criticised


at the Stafford public inquiry for disbanding the investigations team


and presiding over a bullying culture.


Police are to carry out fresh searches around the Herefordshire


village of Orlton for a pensioner who has been missing for more than


four weeks. 63-year-old Alethea Taylor was last seen in January.


Around 80 local people have been helping to look for her, but


there's been no trace so far. Air support will help ground teams with


the new search which will take place later this week.


A climber from Kidderminster has died after falling more than 1,000


feet from Ben Nevis. 32-year-old Paul Guest was climbing the UK's


highest mountain on Sunday when he fell. A fellow climber was injured


but survived. Still ahead this evening. We're


live with Stoke City fans hoping their team can reign in Spain.


was always going to be tough, but a goal down it makes it all that much


harder. And there's no need for the fans


back home to feel left out - it's been exceptional today. Sun and


sangria weather with record highs. I'll be telling what they were in a


More than 10,000 schoolchildren in the West Midlands have taken part


in a programme aimed at taking any idea of glamour out of guns and


crime. They have come face to face with the impact guns and gangs can


have on families and they have sat through a film which left some in


tears. Latest figures show that nearly 90


children in this region were charged with possessing a firearm


between April 2008 and March 2010. Louise Brierley reports.


Captured on CCTV, two teenagers are walking down a street. But look


closely and one is holding something in his right hand. It


appears to be a gun. Moments later, armed police are on


the scene. Pointing their weapons at the youngster in Erdington High


Street. It turned out it was a toy gun and he threw it down just in


time to save his life. We close the film with what the alternative


could have been, and knock on the door to your mother saying your son


has been shot. It's one of many real life incidents being shown to


pupils like these as part of a project by West Midlands Police to


tackle gun and knife crime. So what do they think? It is about


the consequences. It is not just the victim. It is the family as


well. The way that everything is brought to life and how realistic


it is. People might see this and think twice. The tragic case of


teenagers Charlene Ellis and Letisha Shakespeare, who were the


innocent victims of a gangland shooting in Aston in 2003, is also


featured in the video presentation. Letisha's mother Marcia is a guest


speaker. It is so important to speak to people, do not make their


parents be in the same position as I was. It is important because the


situation is so negative that something positive has to come out


of it. The project has reached 85 schools across the West Midlands.


It is hoped this sort of early intervention will make Young people


think twice before carrying a knife or gun. And after their close shave,


it is doubtful these boys will pick up an imitation firearm again.


Louise Brierley, BBC Midlands Today, Wolverhampton.


The former Rangers and Scotland manager Walter Smith is the latest


to rule himself out of becoming the new boss of Wolverhampton Wanderers.


The club sacked Mick McCarthy ten days ago vowing to have a new man


in charge for Saturday's game at Newcastle. But that's now being


left to caretaker Terry Connor. Dan Pallett reports.


He looked like the one, but now he's gone. Walter Smith is just the


latest manager to say thanks, but no thanks, to Wolves. He was


offered the post of manager, but turned it down. And he's far from


the first. Alan Curbushley was thought to be the club's first


choice, but he ruled himself out at the weekend. Brian McDermott is now


off the radar after signing a new deal at Reading. And Gus Poyet is


happy at Championship Brighton. So today caretaker Terry Connor had to


face the media and will run the team on Saturday. But he knows his


13 years at the club could end any day. If that is the case, that is


the case. I know what happens. When I signed the contract, I knew their


ups and downs. Ryan Leister is on the fans' parliament and constantly


takes the fans' pulse. He says the club should do the same over the


new manager. It is hard to ignore all the comments on Twitter and


Facebook. They need to make the right decision and putting someone


in that the fans are not keen Ellen could be detrimental. Work


continued on the ground today, but fans are less impressed by the work


finding a new manager. I was disappointed when Alan Curbishley


said it was not right for him. thought that their new manager


would be in place by the game against Newcastle. Mick McCarthy


was a big character at Wolves. It seems it's not easy trying to fill


his shoes. A big night for Stoke City fans. 5,000 of them have


headed for Spain. But many more had to stay at home. Nick Clitheroe is


with some of them in Stoke on Trent. Plenty of people have made the trip


out of Valencia for the game. But on the pitch, nothing to cheer


about so far. Stalker did get off to a good start in the game. Plenty


of early pressure. -- Stoke. But Valencia have scored and it is a


mountain to climb for it -- Stoke. They got off to a good start. It


should have been a free kick on the edge of their area but Valencia


went up to the other end and scored. It will be difficult from here. Can


they get back into this? I can see Valencia coming out of the second


half and having two or three more goals. But it has been a great


adventure? Yes, it has been brilliant. A good experience.


Better luck next time. Do you think they could get out of this one?


Maybe. They would have to be market. They could do, but it is going to


be tough. -- the would have to be lucky. We will bring you the full


story in the late bulletin. Thank you very much.


It's nearly 40 years since the Birmingham soul singer with the


huge voice, Ruby Turner, first took to the stage. She was born in


Jamaica, but came to this country as a child.


Her early days in the showbiz world were a tough slog, but it was not


long before she was performing with the likes of Mick Jagger, Boy


George, Brian Ferry and UB40. A far cry from the day she arrived here


after travelling from Montego Bay, all alone, with a name tag on her


coat. Her talent was yet to emerge! That talent has taken her around


the world as an actress and a singer. As a new British tour gets


under way, I went with her to the theatre where it all began. It is


very special to me because this is where it all started. I came you


when I was 16 years old and it changed my life. Her family it was


part of a wave of new arrivals from the Caribbean who came to


Birmingham in the 1960s. I was just nine. I was looking for the trees


and wondering what all these walls were. There was a nice gentle


breeze, but no smell of the sea, no mangles. No coconut palms waving. -


What is it about people with a Caribbean background, those big


voices that? My grandfather was a lead singer in a gospel group.


your mother has sung with you recently? She has. I put out a


gospel album about two years ago. I thought my mum would be great on it.


It was so moving for me. What strikes me is you keep your feet


for a -- keep your feet firmly on the ground. I can tell that. I


think it is growing up and that Midlands. And you are still happy


to live here? I am still happy to be here. I love coming home. I of


the quiet, I can relax here. A love being with my family and friends.


She has always struggled with her weight, but tries to keep in trim


playing badminton. I do play badminton. Thank you. Pleasure. I


loved every minute of that. And, besides appearing throughout


the year with Jools Holland, Ruby is performing this Sunday at the


Warwick Arts Centre in Coventry. It's been an exceptional day in


every way. The winds were lighter. The sunshine made an early


breakthrough in spite of yesterday's indications to the


contrary and so the temperatures just kept rising and rising. These


were the final numbers - not only was Coleshill in Warwickshire the


warmest spot in the region, it broke its own February record of


16.8, although records were only started there in 1997. -- 18.7.


Even elsewhere, we exceeded expectations. A really lovely day.


Now we're still in a warm sector, so it'll still remain quite warm


overnight. Although compared to today's temperatures, the drop is


quite steep - nine or ten Celsius overnight and turning cloudier from


the North. And then the rain comes through tomorrow. It's a weak front


that'll be crossing the region. Once it's gone through, the


temperatures will start to fall. So feeling cooler tomorrow with a


maximum of between 10 to 13 Celsius. There's a brisk breeze too. And for


the weekend - cooler but mostly dry with some sunshine. Could be some


rain later in the day on Sunday, but a frost on Saturday night.


A look at tonight's main headlines. RBS - the taxpayer-funded bank -


records its fourth straight year of losses, and it's double the


previous year. And �5 million compensation is


awarded to a six-year-old girl left paralysed by a teenage speeding


driver. A Muntjac deer got more than he


bargained for when he was scavenging for food in Sutton


Coldfield. He tried to take a short cut through some railings but got


stuck. Eventually Warwickshire Fire and Rescue service were able to


free him. The deer had only suffered minor grazes and was


immediately released back into the wild.


Poor little thing. Tomorrow, we will be at the launch


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