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Questions over compensation paid to Guantanamo man

Questions have been raised about what happened to taxpayers' money paid to a man from Manchester, who's thought to have carried out a suicide bombing. Jamal al-Harith is reported to have died after a car bomb was driven into an army base in Iraq.

In 2010 he'd received substantial compensation from the British government over being detained at Guantanamo Bay.

But it's been suggested some of that money ended up paying for his extremist activities.

Rob Smith reports:

Four jailed after fake post office robbery

Four men have been jailed after a postmaster arranged a fake robbery at his branch in Rishton.

Police have released CCTV footage of the moment Mohammed Iqbal was ‘attacked’ by men wearing CSI-style suits before being chloroformed and tied up.

£185,000 was lost in the phoney raid.

Iqbal had earlier conspired with brothers Terry and Jason Yarwood, who donned boiler suit outfits, to carry out the staged robbery in front of the watching CCTV camera at the High Street branch.

The ‘robbers’, who had been hiding in the back of the post office for several hours, are shown on the CCTV to throw a sheet of material over Iqbal’s head before dragging him to the ground.

They then go on to bundle £185,000 in cash, stamps and postal orders into two large rucksacks before fleeing in Iqbal’s car.

Burnley Crown Court was told that the the gang plotted for several weeks to carry out the ‘carefully orchestrated and seemingly authentic’ robbery with one of the Yarwood’s armed with a ‘prop’ gun.

They also enlisted the help of Avaiz Samad to act as ‘getaway driver’ following the incident on June 5, 2015.

Lancashire Police have released the CCTV after all four men were jailed for a total of more than 10 years.

Today’s sentences are the culmination of a long and complex investigation into what at first appeared to be a genuine armed robbery at the Post Office.

While our enquiries soon established that the “robbery” was in fact planned by Mohammed Iqbal who worked at the Post Office and his associates Jason and Terry Yarwood and Avaiz Samad, it must have been extremely frightening and unsettling for the local community at the time to hear reports of an armed robbery in their local area.

I hope that today’s result brings the community some peace of mind that those involved have now been jailed. Although we disproved that it was a genuine armed robbery we still took the matter very seriously and left no stone unturned until those responsible were brought to justice

– DI Simon Upton of Lancashire Police


Blind man tasered by armed police in Greater Manchester

Armed police were called to Levenshulme Station last night Credit: MEN

An investigations been launched after a blind man was Tasered by armed police at Levenshulme Station after his walking stick was mistaken for a gun.

The man, 43, was hit by the stun gun after officers responded to reports that a man with a gun was on the station. In fact, the ‘gun’ was the blind’s man’s cane which was folded up as the man waited on the platform for a train.

When the he failed to respond to a challenge one officer fired a Taser stun gun, which carries a 50,000 volt charge and he was detained.

The incident has now been referred to Greater Manchester Police's Professional Standards Branch to investigate.

Officers were called shortly after 6.40pm on Thursday February 23, 2017 to reports of a man with a gun on Albert Road, Levenshulme. Armed response officers attended and a Taser was deployed. A 43-year-old man was detained. Officers later discovered the man was in possession of a folding cane and he was subsequently released.

– GMP spokesman

Officers responded quickly to the incident to ensure the safety of the community of Levenshulme. It has been established that there was no threat and enquiries are ongoing to fully understand the circumstances of the incident. In line with standard procedure on occasions such as this, a referral has been made to GMP’s Professional Standards Branch. I

– Superintendent Steve Howard , Greater Manchester Police’

Confirmation that remains found on Crete are missing Cheshire man

Steven Cook Credit: GTV

Cheshire Police have confirmed that remains found in a well on Crete are those of a man from Sandbach who went missing on the island 12 years ago.

Steven Cook who was 20, was last seen after a night out on his first holiday away with friends.

A human skeleton was discovered near Malia earlier this month by workmen who were clearing the well near where Steven was last seen, along with a disposable camera.

Forensic tests have now confirmed that it was Mr. Cook

Having a loved one go missing is a vacuum full of pain.

If they are no longer with us then the idle mind imagines horrors of 'what ifs' in order to account for them being alive and not in touch.

The 'not knowing' hurts but not as much as the thoughts that your imagination conjures in the dark hours whilst also having to try and quench the flames of 'what ifs', rumours and gossip that becomes accepted as fact.

Knowing that Steve is now coming home is an end to all of that and the fog can lift at last.

Our memories of him finally released without being accompanied by the horrific mental images, feelings and type of thoughts that can easily destroy you.

In getting Steve home then we have truly found him again, and he will now continue to live through the shared memories of all that knew him.

– Cook family statement

Steven’s family have been kept fully updated on the developments and are currently being supported by Cheshire officers. They have been provided with support since Steven first went missing and this will continue over the coming weeks.

This is understandably an extremely upsetting and distressing time for the Cook family. Steven’s relatives are very appreciative of all the support the media and the public have given them over the years in their quest to find him but they have asked for their privacy to be respected at this time as they are trying to come to terms with the news.

It is important to remember that the discovery of Steven’s body is being managed by the Greek authorities, who have had primacy for this case since Steven was first reported missing, and they will continue to liaise with us moving forward.

Our priority is to ensure that Steven is flown home to the UK as soon as possible. The remains will then be subject to the Cheshire Coronial process.

Steven was 20 at the time of his disappearance. Over the years Cheshire Constabulary has remained committed to finding him. A file on Steven’s disappearance has been maintained by the force and we always said that it will not be closed until information is received which confirms what has happened to him.

Officers involved in Steven’s case will continue to liaise with the Greek authorities, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Steven’s family moving forward.

– Detective Inspector Gary McIntyre, Cheshire Police

Electricity restored to thousands of homes after Storm Doris

Trees bring down power lines in Cheshire Credit: GTV

Engineers working through the night have restored power to seven and a half thousand properties after Storm Doris.

Winds of 70 to 80 miles per hour caused power cuts to thousands of homes - Electricity North West say that around 20 properties in High Peak are still without power, though work will continue today to reconnect them.

We were well prepared for Storm Doris and I’m happy to report that we have now restored power to the vast majority of customers affected throughout the day.

Our engineers are continuing to work to restore power to any customers who remain without power and we are aiming to restore all supplies by late afternoon.

– Mark Williamson, Electricity North West

Serial Liverpool fly tippers jailed

Two men from Liverpool have been jailed for serial fly tipping.

55 year old George Kevin Parry and David Smithwho is 53, both of Aspes Road, West Derby, pleaded guilty at Liverpool Magistrates Court to eight charges.

The pair were caught dumping tonnes of illegal trade waste, including asbestos, yards from a children's dance school.

Parry was given 20 weeks immediate custody in respect of each of four counts to run concurrently. He was also disqualified from driving for 12 months and fined £580 in victim surcharge and costs.

Smith was given 12 weeks immediate custody in respect of each of four counts to run concurrently, and was also fined £580 in victim surcharge and costs.

Both men were unemployed, but were offering a 'man and van' service and were caught repeatedly dumping just a few metres from the entrance gate of Jade School for Dance at Back Broadway, an area that is well used by young children every day. The waste was regularly set on fire which caused a danger to nearby property, although there is no suggestion that this was done by the defendants.

Although they pleaded guilty to four charges each, both defendants are suspected of carrying out similar activities over an extended period before they were caught.

Liverpool City Councillor Steve Munby says there is no hiding place for fly tippers.


Historic England objects to Neville's tower plans

Historic England is objecting to plans backed by Gary Neville to redevelop part of the centre of Manchester.

The charity says that the two tower blocks on Jacksons Row would dominate the conservation area around them.

They also say it would involve the destruction of historic buildings.

We are deeply concerned about how this scheme would affect some of Manchester's most precious heritage. It would have an impact on people's appreciation and experience of the stunning town hall and library but it would also erase different layers of this area's history, irreparably damaging the special character of the surrounding conservation area.

A dynamic city like ours needs to fully embrace development but this scheme is not good enough to justify the damage it would cause to the streets around the site and to the setting of the city's most important buildings and spaces. It threatens Manchester with the loss of historic places that have soul and tell important stories about our city's past.

– Catherine Dewar, Historic England
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