Matthew Hopkins

The Witchfinder General of Essex

Many myths surround Matthew Hopkins, the self proclaimed Witchfinder General but his actions in 1645 in Essex are well documented.

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Pair jailed for over 40 years for churchyard murder

Two men have been jailed for the murder of man in a Northampton churchyard last year.

Mark Lewis and Michael Francis were sentenced to over 40 years between them for killing Jamie McMahon.

Mr McMahon was attacked by the pair in the St Giles churchyard after a night out with friends last October.

We are pleased with the significant jail terms handed down to Lewis and Francis. They are both extremely dangerous individuals who targeted a young man who was on his way home from an evening out with friends, for no other reason than to steal from him. Hopefully these lengthy prison sentences will provide some closure to Jamie’s family, who have been left heartbroken by this senseless murder.”

– Detective Inspector Louise Hemingway


Museum loses its Arts accreditation

The musuem
Musuem has lost its Art Council accreditation Credit: ITV News Anglia

Northampton Museum has lost its accreditation with Arts Council England because of the sale of an ancient Egyptian statue.

The Sekhemka statue fetched more than £15 million at auction in July.

The Borough Council made the sale to fund an extension to the museum but the Egyptian Embassy was critical of the sale.

The museum will not be able to participate in the Accreditation scheme until at least August 2019.

The Sekhemka statue
The statue in question. Credit: ITV News Anglia

“It is always hugely regrettable when we have to exclude a museum from the Accreditation Scheme. However, it is equally important that we are robust in upholding the standards and principles which underpin the Scheme and are shared by the vast majority of museums. I am confident that the museums sector and wider community will share our dismay at the way this sale has been conducted and support the decision to remove Northampton Museums Service from the Scheme. It is of great importance that the public retain their trust in museums to look after the collections held in their name. There is a very real risk that this trust, and particularly that of potential donors and funders, will be seriously undermined if disposals from public collections are seen to be driven by financial considerations and in breach of our professional standards and ethical code.”

– Scott Furlong, Arts Council

Could statue sale mean museum loses its Arts Council accreditation?

The Sekhemka statue.
The Sekhemka statue which was sold by Northampton Museum.

Northampton Museum will find out later this morning if it will lose its accreditation with Arts Council England because of the sale of an ancient Egyptian statue.

The Sekhemka statue fetched more than £15 million at auction in July.

The Borough Council made the sale to fund an extension to the museum but the Egyptian Embassy was critical of the sale.

Killers to be sentenced for Northampton churchyard murder

Jamie McMahon
Jamie McMahon was murdered in a Northampton churchyard.

Two men are due to be sentenced today for the murder of a 26-year-old man in a Northampton churchyard.

Jamie McMahon was attacked at St Giles' Church in the town after a night out with friends in October last year.

Michael Francis, 33, was found guilty of murder and robbery following a trial at Northampton Crown Court.

Nineteen-year-old Mark Lewis pleaded guilty to the same offences.


Police appeal on third anniversary of murder

Karoly 'Charlie' Varga
Karoly 'Charlie' Varga Credit: Northamptonshire Police

Northamptonshire Police have made a new appeal for witnesses on the third anniversary of the murder of a Hungarian man in Wellingborough.

Karoly 'Charlie' Varga being was assaulted in his home in Cannon Street with a hatchet-like weapon on the afternoon of Wednesday 27 July 2011, shortly after he had let in an unidentified visitor.

76-year-old Charlie Varga had lived in the United Kingdom since the 1950s.

Northamptonshire Police are appealing for anybody who finds the murder weapon or abandoned black and grey Lonsdale training shoes to make contact with them.

Detective Chief Inspector Martin Kinchin said: "Even after three years this murder remains an open investigation, and I still believe it can still be solved. The case is reviewed whenever there is an advance in forensic science, but key to solving the case would be the discovery of the murder weapon and the killer's training shoes."

The murder weapon and the key to Mr Varga's back door were taken from the scene by the killer who would have needed to dispose of the weapon, and could have hidden it anywhere in the Cannon Street area of Wellingborough, or further afield. The murderer also would have needed to dispose of his clothing, including a pair of black and grey Lonsdale training shoes.

DCI Kinchin added: "While many materials decompose over time, items such as the murder weapon and the killer's Lonsdale training shoes would be likely to survive to this day and finding these items would be a major breakthrough. If the murderer did not destroy these items, they would certainly want to hide them and so they could still be lying undiscovered.

"The murderer would probably not want to travel very far with the weapon, so it may have been pushed into a hedge, thrown into a garden, or hidden in the rubbish and undergrowth of the many alleys and overgrown areas around the street off Cannon Street and Clark Road.

"It may even be that somebody has later found the weapon in their garden and kept it, not realising its significance."

A £10,000 Crimestoppers Reward remains unclaimed for information leading to the conviction of Charlie's killer.

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