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VIDEO: CCTV released following horrific farmer attack

CCTV has been released following an horrific attack on a farmer in Halesowen who doctors say 'could have lost an eye'.

70-year-old Robert Withers from Halesowen heard an intruder in the early hours of Monday 8th September and when he confronted the man, he was attacked, leaving him with deep cuts and severe blood loss.

CCTV has now been released of a man police would like to speak to in connection with the attack.

Farmer 'could have lost his eye' in horrific attack

A farmer beaten on his own land was told by doctors his injuries were so horrific he could have lost an eye.

The horrific injuries inflicted on Robert Withers Credit: West Midlands Police

70-year-old Robert Withers from Halesowen heard an intruder in the early hours of Monday 8th September and saw a figure stood outside his door.

When he confronted the man he attacked him, leaving him with deep cuts and severe blood loss.

He was in hospital for several days after having an operation to pin his left arm which was broken in the attack. He also had stitches to two deep cuts above his right eye and a broken nose.

The farmer’s injuries were so severe, that at one point doctors feared he may lose an eye. Fortunately he is making a steady recovery.

– Detective Sergeant Leighton Shingles


Christina Edkins' family: 'Real change is needed'

A damning report into the killing of schoolgirl Christina Edkins has blamed a catalogue of failures by the authorities who could have kept her killer off the streets.

16-year-old Christina, from Birmingham, was stabbed in the chest as she travelled on a bus to her school in Halesowen last year.

The report says there had been a string of failures dating back 12 years from mental health services, police and the prison service in the region - and makes 51 recommendations.

Her attacker, paranoid schizophrenic Phillip Simelane, had chosen her at random.

The spokesman for Christina's family, Chris Melia, says they now want real change to prevent further deaths.

Mental health trust vows to improve after critical report

The mental health trust which dealt with convicted killer Phillip Simelane - who stabbed 16-year-old Christina Edkins to death on a Birmingham bus - has vowed to improve services in the future.

A homicide report into Christina's death criticised the Black Country Partnership NHS Foundation Trust for not liaising with Simelane's counsellors, only discussing his notes on a verbal basis, and for exercising an 'opt in' policy which discharged patients back to their GP if they did not contact the trust to make an appointment themselves.

CCTV footage of Simelane on the bus at the time of Christina's attack Credit: West Midlands Police

Trust chief executive Karen Dowman said the death of Christina was "a desperately sad and shocking event".

Her death affected a huge number of people, and I send my sincere condolences, on behalf of the Trust, to her family and to her friends for their terrible loss.

As one of the agencies that had been in contact with the perpetrator, Philip Simelane, we take today’s report very seriously and have committed to putting into effect the recommended changes to help prevent a similar tragedy from happening.

The report makes it very clear that more could have been done to prevent Philip’s mental health from deteriorating as it did. My sympathies also go out to his family for the distress they will have suffered.

Our trust is fully committed to carrying out all the changes recommended in the report, and some of this work has already been completed.

We have already phased out the use of ‘opt in’ letters in which a patient is asked to make an appointment. These letters were previously used for patients with minor mental health problems. In response to the report’s recommendations we are now proactively assessing all patients who are referred to us.

We are working to improve the way our services join up others, particularly external agencies, in the care of someone with severe mental illness. We will shortly be introducing electronic patient records which will enable teams across different parts of the service to access information more quickly.

Making these changes happen is a very high priority for our trust. We are committed to doing everything we can to prevent such a tragic death from happening in the future.

– Karen Dowman, Black Country Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

Police: Improvements made since Christina was killed

West Midlands Police's lead officer dealing with mental health issues has said improvements have been made since teenager Christina Edkins was stabbed to death.

Ch Insp Sean Russell said a series of recommendations had already been acted upon.

The report criticised authorities' handling of paranoid schizophrenic Phillip Simelane Credit: West Midlands Police

It comes after a homicide report criticised authorities in the region for not properly tackling the mental health problems plaguing paranoid schizophrenic Phillip Simelane, who attacked and killed the 16-year-old on a bus last year.

This was a tragic and deeply distressing case in which a young girl was killed by a man who, sadly, was not receiving the necessary support when he committed this appalling crime.

In the years prior to Christina’s death West Midlands Police had contact with the young man involved, in the form of repeated calls to his home regarding concerns around his behaviour and breaches of the peace. He was arrested multiple times.

On each occasion, including those which led to this young man appearing before the courts, the force acted in order to safeguard those affected by his crimes, whilst alerting partner agencies involved in offering support to such an individual.

We have worked with those agencies to conduct a review of the events prior to Christina’s death and have implemented all of the recommendations made to try and ensure that such a tragedy will not happen to another family in the future.

Our thoughts are, as ever, with the families of those so deeply affected by this crime.

– Ch Insp Sean Russell, West Midlands Police


New photo released of missing Halesowen woman

Police searching for a missing woman from Halesowen have released a new photo of her.

Ruth Lewis, 59, hasn't been seen since Saturday.

Police say she is often in the Haden Hill Park area and usually wears outdoor trekking clothing.

Penguins witness man's proposal to girlfriend at zoo

More than 60 penguins witnessed the proposal Credit: PA

Dozens of penguins at Dudley Zoo witnessed a poolside proposal when a man dropped to his knee and asked his girlfriend to marry him.

28-year-old Dan Pearson and 29-year-old Claire Tedstone from Halesowen are season ticket holders at the zoo and he decided penguin bay would make the ideal romantic spot.

Dan and Claire Credit: Dudley Zoo

We both love Dudley Zoo and the penguins are my favourite animals. When he pulled out the ring and got down on one knee I was so surprised I forgot to say yes – I was too busy hugging him and squealing with delight!

– Claire Tedstone
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