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Aspiring doctor wants to give back to her community

Hana Barzinji at Rochdale Sixth Form College
Hana Barzinji, who is originally from Iraq, receives her A-level results at Rochdale Sixth Form College Credit: PA

An aspiring doctor from Rochdale who fled strife-torn Iraq to the UK at the age of six wants to "give back" to the country after she achieved four A* A-level grades.

Rochdale Sixth Form College student Hana Barzinji, 18, will now go on to study medicine at the University of Manchester where she is determined to repay Britain for taking in her and her family.

In 2000 - before the fall of dictator Saddam Hussein three years later - her father, Hiwa, 43, and mother Tka, 42, decided their native Kurdish region of northern Iraq was too volatile to bring up their children.

Qualified teacher Mr Barzinji came to the UK that year and did any odd job he could find to pave the way for his wife, also a teacher, and their then two children to follow in 2002.

"I spoke to my mum after I opened my results and she was ecstatic. It will make them proud but it is a great feeling of satisfaction for myself predominately.

"I am really grateful to this country for providing the opportunity.

"Hopefully I can contribute back by becoming a doctor. This is my chance to give back."

– Hana Barzinji
Hana shows off her results.
Hana shows off her results. Credit: PA

"My father first needed to establish some sort of life to come here.

"My parents wanted a safer environment for their children to grow up in. A better place for an education. I was only very young at the time but it was a turbulent place.

"The situation in Iraq that we are seeing on TV at the moment is precisely the thing they were trying to protect us from."

– Hana Barzinji

The family are now settled in Norden, Rochdale, with Mr Barzinji studying for a computing degree at Bolton University while Mrs Barzinji works as a teaching assistant at a local primary school.

Hana, who has two younger brothers, Taman, 16, an engineering student at Bury College, and nine-year-old Ara, is the first member of her family to go to university.

Hana achieved top grades in biology, chemistry, maths and an extended project in which she looked at the effects of calorie restrictions on people with age-related neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer's disease.

Hospital order for Littleborough man who knifed his mother to death

A man who killed his mother just days after moving back in with her has been given a hospital order.

Matthew Brierley, 45, of Calf Hey, Littleborough, was sentenced today after he pleaded guilty at Manchester Crown Court to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

Shortly before midnight on Saturday 14 December 2013, Brierley called police from a public telephone, telling the call handler to get a police car to the address as he had “just murdered somebody”.

Officers attended and discovered the body of his mother, 64 year old Glennis Brierley - a local artist and trained counsellor and psychotherapist.

She had been stabbed in the throat and chest.

Glennis Brierley
Glennis Brierley. Credit: Greater Manchester Police

Matthew was arrested in the town centre the following morning near to Rochdale Town Hall. It was established he had moved back into his mother’s home just two days before he killed her.

During his interview he told police that he confronted his mother over a missing lamp that he had been storing at her house and had attacked her after she had said she thought he was "delusional".

"Glennis was a very popular and respected member of her local community and her death continues to be keenly felt, not just by her family and friends but also the people of Littleborough.

"For her to have been killed in her own home by her own son was as needless as it was absolutely tragic."

– Senior Investigating Officer, Duncan Thorpe, Greater Manchester Police


Rescue dog saves litter of kittens trapped in roof space of RSPCA centre

Meg licks the kittens.
Rescue dog Meg has adopted the kittens. Credit: Manchester Evening News

A rescue dog who had her leg amputated after being battered by children has become a surrogate mum to a litter of kittens.

Meg, a cross-breed rescued by Rochdale’s RSPCA centre as a puppy back in 2008, turned doggy detective when she helped staff to find five young cats in the ceiling of the animal centre on Redcross Street.


Meg and one of the kittens.
Meg saved the kittens which were trapped in roof space at the RSPCA in Rochdale. Credit: Manchester Evening News
Hero of the hour, Meg. Credit: Manchester Evening News
The kittens.
The kittens are recovering from his ordeal. Credit: Manchester Evening News

Jean Spencer, centre manager, who adopted Meg after the ordeal, often takes the dog to work with her.

Late last Wednesday evening, Jean noticed Meg was looking up at the animal centre roof and whimpering as if to indicate something was amiss.

Knowing Meg was trying to tell her something, Jean started to investigate, and several hours later, after she and helpers made a huge hole in the building’s plasterboard ceiling, the five kittens were located and brought to safety.

The RSPCA said it was an Credit: Manchester Evening News

“It was a really unusual rescue,” said Jean, 51. “I know Meg and she was obviously worried about something in the ceiling so I thought I’d better have a look and it was a good thing I did.

“There was only a space in the ceiling cavity of about eight inches, so we had to make a big hole in the ceiling and work through the night to get them out.

“We think the kittens’ mum must have sneaked in through the roof to have them.”

– Jean Spencer, centre manager RSPCA Rochdale
The kittens are now awaiting rehoming. Credit: Manchester Evening News

Jean believes the centre is also caring for the kittens’ mum, as a female cat who has recently given birth was recently found in a cat trap left outside the centre to catch a different feline.

But the suspected mum will not look after the babies, so centre staff and volunteers are working around the clock to feed them, with a little help from Meg.

“Meg is really fond of the kittens,” added Jean. “She is really kind and gentle with them and is always licking them, it is very sweet to see.”

Despite losing a leg, she has thrived under Jean’s care and is a friendly face to visitors to the centre.

Staff and volunteers are now facing an uphill battle to care for the kittens at the centre, which is so busy some gerbil enclosures are having to be used for cats.

To enquire about rehoming a cat or to donate, call 01706 861897 or visit the RSPCA Rochdale Animal Centre Facebook page.

The kittens
Can you give home to the kittens? Credit: Manchester Evening News

Sentence due for man who killed his mother

A man is due to be sentenced later for stabbing his mother to death at her home in Littleborough near Rochdale. Glennis Brierley was found with multiple stab wounds in December 2013. Her son Matthew Brierley has paranoid schizophrenia and wrongly believed his mother was part of a satanic paedophile cult. Sentencing will take place at Manchester crown court.

Glennis Brierley
Glennis Brierley son wrongly believed she was part of a satanic paedophile cult Credit: Greater Manchester Police

Former social worker jailed for child sex plot

A former social worker who arranged to have sex with an eight-year-old girl has been jailed for four years.

Nicholas Allen
Nicholas Allen has been jailed for four years Credit: Kent Police

Nicholas Allen, 54, believed he was meeting with the mother and stepmother of the girl when he travelled from his home in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, to the village of Leybourne, Kent, in order to carry out the sexual abuse, Maidstone Crown Court was told.

But the two women, who had also told Allen they were in a lesbian relationship, turned out to be undercover police officers from the Kent force and he was arrested.

Today, the father-of-two pleaded guilty to arranging the commission of a child sex offence between April 9 and May 15 this year, with the intention of having penetrative sex with an eight-year-old child.

He had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to arranging or facilitating the commission of a child sex offence, the court heard.

Allen claimed that he had been gathering evidence of alleged abuse to give to police when he was questioned about the online and text message conversations with the undercover officers, prosecutor Serena Gates said.

She said that although Allen's dialogue with the two officers was cautious at first, as he became more confident he talked about what he would like to do to the girl and asked how he would go about meeting up with them to carry out the abuse.

Allen also asked what protection there would be for the three or them saying "no-one wants to end up next to Stuart Hall", the former BBC broadcaster who was convicted and jailed last year and earlier this year for child sex offences, the court was told.

On May 14, Allen met with the officers and was arrested, Miss Gates said. She continued: "He told police he had been a social worker for 30 years but that he had been dismissed for sending inappropriate text messages to a 15-year-old girl."

The court heard Allen also had a caution for a previous sexual assault on a teenager.

Kieran Moroney, representing Allen, said the defendant had suffered a breakdown in his late 40s and early 50s which had culminated in the end of his marriage.

He said that although Allen was a "sexual deviant" he had talked about being "stupid, naive and angry with himself" for getting involved and that there was "remorse" for what he had done.

Judge David Griffith-Jones jailed Allen and told him he would have to sign the sex offenders' register for an indefinite period.

He also made him the subject of a sexual offences prevention order (Sopo) and said it was likely that Allen would be barred by the relevant statutory authority from working with children.

He said: "It's quite clear that your offending behaviour was sexually motivated.

"Initial protestations that you were involved in some kind of research or crusade to reveal perpetrators of these offences was wholly untrue." He went on: "These offences were, in short, calculated over a significant period of time."


Foreign Office investigate reports Rochdale man killed in Gaza

Smoke rises after reported Israeli air strikes in the Gaza Strip
Smoke rises after reported Israeli air strikes in the Gaza Strip Credit: PA

The Government is urgently looking into reports that a British national has been killed in Gaza, David Cameron has said.

The Prime Minister said the apparent death of the man, said to be from Rochdale, in an Israeli strike underlined the need for "an immediate unconditional humanitarian ceasefire observed properly by both sides".

Mr Cameron said:

"I'm extremely concerned about these reports and we are doing everything we can to get to the bottom (of them) and find out exactly what has happened.

"I don't want to say anything before we've been able to do that but this only reinforces the need for an immediate unconditional humanitarian ceasefire observed properly by both sides."

– David Cameron, Prime Minister

Rochdale Council 'welcomes' new investigation into potential cover-up of Cyril Smith abuse

Linda Fisher, Acting Chief Executive, Rochdale Borough Council:

“The historic activities at Knowl View and any subsequent accusations of wrong doing must be fully examined and Rochdale Borough Council very much welcomes the investigation by GMP police.

“We will continue to co-operate fully with the force’s inquiries making all information available.

“This is a positive step on the road to resolution and we are pleased the Force has acted swiftly to launch a criminal investigation.

“The people of Rochdale, the Council and most importantly the victims, need to have confidence in the process and faith that the truth will be discovered and any necessary actions taken.

“Our own independent review, being carried out by Neil Garnham QC, will recommence when this is deemed appropriate and in agreement with GMP.”

Police to investigate whether authorities in Rochdale covered-up abuse at Knowl View

by Daniel Hewitt - Political Reporter
knowl view cyril smith abuse
Knowl View school closed in 1994 Credit: ITV Granada

Greater Manchester Police is to launch a new investigation into whether reports of abuse by Cyril Smith and others were covered-up by the authorities in Rochdale.

The independent inquiry will be separate from the investigation underway into alleged abuse at Knowl View school. The investigation announced today will focus on how reports of child abuse by were handled by local authorities, namely Rochdale Council and local Police forces.

Assistant Chief Constable Ian Wiggett from GMP, said: “Following the publication of MP Simon Danczuk's book 'Smile for the Camera’, GMP conducted an assessment of the allegations contained within that book. As a result of the assessment, GMP decided that a criminal investigation was required.

“This also followed consultation with Rochdale Council and the QC conducting the independent inquiry on their behalf. The council asked Neil Garnham QC to suspend his independent review and he has agreed to do so.

“The GMP investigation will now seek to identify whether any offences have been committed in the way that previous reports of abuse were handled or allegedly covered up.

“The main concerns relate to the response to child abuse over several decades connected to Knowl View School in Rochdale.

“We have consulted with the Home Office in relation to the national inquiry that has been announced into how organisations responded to child abuse, but as these matters relate to criminal allegations in the GMP area, the responsibility to investigate them falls to the Chief Constable.

“We are aware that some of the allegations relate to the past involvement of police officers, and therefore we have referred those matters to the IPCC. In addition, we have established an independent oversight panel to demonstrate the independence and rigour of the investigation that we will be conducting.

“If there are further allegations that relate to the conduct of police officers, these will similarly be referred to the IPCC, as we are required to do.”

Calls for suicide prevention classes to be made compulsory in schools

Figures show the North West has the highest rate of suicide in the country. The prevention charity Papyrus say there's a need to break down the stigma associated with talking about suicide. We want to know whether young people are being failed by an education system and a society that in the main, refuses to talk about this taboo subject.

You can join in our facebook debate and find out where you can find help and support.

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