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Sister turns to Facebook to track down thief who stole tribute from brother's grave

Andrew Clarke, top right, and sister Sharron, bottom right. The rolex seen here on Andrew's grave, left Credit: MEN Syndication

A grieving sister turned Facebook detective to trace two suspects after a unique tribute to her brother was stolen from his grave. Sharron Clarke, 33, and her mum Maureen, 60, spent two weeks building a giant Rolex watch to place on Andrew Clarke’s grave for his 30th birthday.

Sharron, from Openshaw, told the Manchester Evening News Andrew loved watches but couldn’t afford a Rolex, so they made the tribute from artificial flower petals in his memory. The father-of-two, from Gorton, died aged 27 in a motorbike crash in May 2012.

The tribute was laid against his headstone at Gorton Cemetery last Friday morning – but went five days later.

Mum-of-three Sharron, believing it stolen, posted an photo on Facebook. Appealing for anyone with information to get in touch, she got an immediate response saying a man and a woman had tried to sell the tribute in a nearby pub. Sharon viewed the pub’s CCTV and saw two people with the watch. Sharron said: “To steal from the dead is the lowest of the low. I just couldn’t believe it when I saw them on the CCTV. I felt sick. To steal something like this is horrible anyway but then to try and sell it – it just made my stomach churn."

The images have now been given to police, who are investigating. Sharron has called for CCTV coverage to be introduced at Gorton Cemetery.

Labour conference comes to Manchester

The Labour Party will return to Manchester this weekend for its Annual Conference, an event which is expected to generate 25 million for the local economy. It's the 5th time it's been held in the city, Ed Miliband, the shadow cabinet and some 11,000 delegates and exhibitors will convene at Manchester Central from Sunday, 21 September to Wednesday, 24 September. It will mean a number of road closures:

From 7am on Thursday 18:

  • Windmill Street, from Mount Street to Museum Street

From 7am on Saturday 20:

  • Lower Mosley Street, from Great Bridgewater Street to Windmill Street
  • Windmill Street, from Lower Mosley Street to Mount Street
  • Mount Street, from Windmill Street to Peter Street

Restrictions will begin to be lifted on the evening of 24 September, and all of these roads will re-open Thursday 25 September morning.

Diversions will be sign posted. Access to the Manchester Central car park will be available during this time. Existing road closures will remain in place during the conference.

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Prayers for Alan Henning's release

Mosques across the North West are expected to hold prayers for the release of hostage Alan Henning. He was abducted on Boxing Day last year while on a humanitarian aid mission to Syria. On the 14th of September the cab driver from Salford was filmed being threatened with execution by his captors - Islamic State. Now a campaign for Alan's release is growing with leading Muslims calling for the people holding him to show mercy and return him to his family.
Anjum Anwar, speaking at Blackburn cathedral said she hoped Alan would be set free soon.

Downton is back.

The waiting is almost over for fans of Downton Abbey. The drama about life in a big country manor is back on our screens on Sunday 21st of September. Now a hit on both sides of the Atlantic, Downton is watched by millions. Granada's Entertainment Correspondent Caroline Whitmore met the cast to see if she could get some clues as to what viewers can expect in this latest series.

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British hostage has been taken captive in Syria before

British journalist John Cantlie, who appears in a new video released by Islamic State militants, has been taken hostage in Syria before.

Despite being injured in a failed escape attempt before his release the first time, Mr Cantlie chose to return a few months later.

Speaking in August 2012, he said: "We were moved at gunpoint with the weapons loaded, with the safeties off, down into another larger tent where there were two Syrian prisoners.

"We were told that we should prepare to meet our maker and at that point we decided 'this isn't going so well'."

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Terrorism expert: IS 'an organisation with a strategy'

Islamic State militants have released the video of British hostage John Cantlie to engage in "strategic communications" with Western governments and the Muslim youth in those countries, a terrorism expert has said.

"They are acting as an organisation that has a strategy, and that means that they are an actor that can be influenced, and they calibrate what they do with what we do," Professor John Gearson told ITV News.

"Therefore it's a campaign - it's not merely mindless murderers who kills anyone they can find".

Leaders call for release of Alan Henning

Leading members of the Muslim community have appealed for the release of the Salford taxi driver Alan Henning. He was abducted while taking aid to Syria by Islamic State fighters, who're threatening his life. In an open letter, one hundred Muslim leaders are calling for him to be freed. At the same time new pictures have emerged of Alan chatting with friends and explaining why he wanted to help in Syria. Just hours later he was abducted as Elaine Willcox reports

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Foreign Secretary: IS videos distressing for families

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond says he has not seen a new IS video which appears to show a British hostage who was kidnapped in Syria in 2012.

Mr Hammond says such videos "can be very distressing for the families of the individuals involved" and the British government is doing everything it can to help British hostages and their relatives.

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