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Inquiry begins into child sex abuse in Rochdale

Cyril Smith addressing a meeting in 1971 Credit: pa

A preliminary hearing into claims Cyril Smith sexually abused children in Rochdale will be heard by a national inquiry later.

It's alleged the late MP for the town, and others, were involved in abuse at Knowl View residential school and Cambridge House boy's hostel.

An operation was set up in 2014 following reports of both physical and sexual abuse that took place at Knowl View, a residential school for boys from 1969 until 1995 when it closed. It came after the town’s MP, Simon Danczuk published a book alleging widespread abuse at the school by Cyril Smith and others.

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Reports of shooting in Liverpool

Police say it was a targeted attack. Credit: ITV News

Armed police have been called to Harrops Croft in Netherton after two men were shot near a Primary School in Merseyside.

Police say a 23-year-old and a 27-year-old man have been shot on what's being described as a targeted attack.

It happened near the Grange Primary School in Netherton. Both have been taken to hospital in a serious condition.

Emergency services were called at around 4.20pm to reports two men had been shot near the canal at Harrops Croft.

A 27-year-old man and a 23-year-old man have been taken to hospital where police say the condition of the 23-year-old is serious and the condition of the 27-year-old is described as stable.

The area is cordoned off as Crime Scene Investigators examine the scene and enquiries are being carried out to establish the full circumstances of what happened and locate the offenders.

Police are tracing CCTV from the area as part of the investigation.

High visibility patrols have been stepped up in the area to provide reassurance to the community.

We are keeping an open mind as to why this has happened and the investigation is in its very early stages. Our priority now is to support the victims and establish who is responsible and to bring them to justice.

I'm sure the vast majority of people in the community will be appalled to find that two men have been shot and we look to them to help us by providing information to make the streets safer.

Criminals involved in gun crime have no regard for anyone else and I would urge the local community to come together to help us take a stand against the use of firearms and violence on our streets and report anything they saw or heard to us so we can take action.

– Detective Inspector Simon Vaughan, Merseyside Police

Liverpool man 'unlawfully killed' in suspected gangland execution

The parents of a British fugitive found murdered in a suspected gangland execution have said no justice will ever replace their son.

Francis Brennan, from Liverpool, was kidnapped reportedly by men posing as Spanish police officers on the Costa Blanca in Spain on January 24 2014.

The 25-year-old from Anfield was never seen alive again.

His trussed-up body was found wrapped in heavy-duty plastic and bound with adhesive tape when it washed up on a beach near Alicante on March 16 the same year.

A post mortem revealed he had been strangled, while reports from Spain also said the body showed evidence of torture.

Today at Liverpool Coroner's Court, Andre Rebello, senior coroner for Liverpool and Wirral, said he was satisfied Mr Brennan had been unlawfully killed.

He also said he was limited as to what he could say in court because of the potential for criminal proceedings in future.

Although the investigation by Spanish authorities had "ground to a halt" and there was not evidence for the suspect to be extradited from UK where he is serving a jail sentence, he could not rule anyone being charged with the murder in future.

Mr Brennan had reportedly fled to Spain after being charged over a stabbing at a Swedish House Mafia event in Milton Keynes months earlier and was due in court in the UK.

What I can't do is wreck any prospect of the killer or killers of Francis Brennan being brought to justice.

Don't think about that beach in March 2014, but think about important things in Francis' life, carrying him, his birth, his first day at school.

His life is self-evident in the love you have for him.

– Andre Rebello, Coroner

Francis came from a loving, close family.

His death has left a huge gap - the damage and devastation can never be repaired.

No justice will ever replace our son. No one deserves to have their life taken from them in such a cruel way.

– Janet Brennan, Francis Brennan's mother

Two dogs which attacked girl in Toxteth destroyed

Two of five dogs seized by police have been destroyed Credit: PA

Police investigating the attack on a two year old girl by dogs have humanely destroyed two of them.

Officers say they are are believed to be American Bully dogs, which are not classed as dangerous dogs under the Dangerous Dogs Act.

The little girl was attacked at her aunt's house on Cockburn Street, Toxteth yesterday. There were also six puppies at the scene.

At the time of the attack, the girl was playing with her cousins aged six and four.

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Robbers who wore burkas jailed

CCTV caught the gang as they carried out their raids Credit: MEN Syndication

A gang of robbers who dressed in burkas to disguise themselves as Asian women while carrying out terrifying raids have been jailed.

They used the ruse to get into a jewellers in Manchester and steal more than £100,000 worth of gems.

They used the same method on a raid at an Aldi supermarket in Bolton which netted the gang £76,000.

During a 12-month spree the organised crime gang carried out at least 10 raids between June 2015 and June 2016 across Greater Manchester. Now gang members have been jailed for a total of 87 years.

In the Aldi raid in Bolton on June 29, 2015, one shopper, Mark Cooper, tripped one of the gang as he ran off wearing a burka.

But two other robbers - both wearing burkas - ran up and one used a machete to hit Mr Cooper in the shin causing a deep wound.

A judge ordered that Mr Cooper should receive a reward for his efforts to stop the raiders.

The gang were caught after a special operation carried out by Greater Manchester Police.

On some of their raids the gang wore burkas Credit: MEN Syndication

We can finally say these men are off the streets of Greater Manchester and unable to cause any more damage or detriment to the community for their own selfish gratification.

We will continue to dismantle organised crime groups and make it impossible for those who make a living from committing crimes to operate, no matter how versed in police tactics they believe themselves to be. Thanks to information from people in the community and our partners, we can make sure we are one step ahead of criminals like these and bring them to justice.

– Detective Constable Matthew Whittaker, GMP
They stole thousands of pounds worth of gems Credit: MEN Syndication

Firefighter reduced to tears after meeting boy he saved

Mick Massey meets up with Finlay Credit: MEN Syndication

A firefighter from Bolton was reduced to tears after he met a little boy whose life he'd saved after he was knocked down.

It was feared that eight year old Finlay Collins would never walk again after he was hit by a van as he crossed the road on his scooter.

Mick Massey had just left work last July when he came across the accident in Crompton Way, Bolton.

He gave Finlay first aid until other emergency services arrived.

Now the pair have met up again at Mick's retirement party when Finlay paid him a surprise visit at Bolton North Fire Station.

Mick, described as ‘the absolute heart and soul of the fire station’, had no idea of the planned gesture, and was brought to tears by the brave youngster.

He would have bled to death. I have got my baby boy because Mick saved him.

Unfortunately he won’t ever make a full recovery as a lot of damage is irreparable but we are incredibly lucky to still have him. The firefighters at Bolton North were so warm and welcoming. They made Finlay feel special and safe. We have told him that Mick is like Batman or Superman and swept in out of nowhere to save his life. Though he’s been left with many disabilities and long term physical, neurological and mental issues, the skill set and quick thinking of Mick not only saved Finlay’s life but also his leg. I’ve said it before and I still stand by it, he was our angel in our greatest time of prayer.

– Finlay's mum Michelle
Mick and Finlay Credit: MEN Syndication

It was very humbling. I wasn’t expecting to see Finlay at all. I had no idea.

Then when I saw him walking I thought, don’t cry, but it was very emotional so I shed a tear or two.

Finlay was in a critical state after the accident and it didn’t look good so he has done really well to recover. Seeing him capped a wonderful retirement parade.

– Mick Massey

Police appeal for help after gang threaten woman in her own home

Police are appealing for witnesses Credit: PA

Police hunting three men who robbed a woman in her own home have appealed to the public for help.

The men burst into the woman's home in the Farnworth area of Bolton last Wednesday, threatening her with violence and dragging her through rooms, demanding money before escaping.

A woman was scared for hers and her young children’s safety and it is imperative that we catch the people that put them through this.

One of the men was wearing a distinctive high-vis suit and I’m hopeful that someone saw him in the area shortly before or after the robbery and can help our investigation.

If you saw three men acting suspiciously in the area or have any information about who is behind this violent crime, please get in touch as a matter of urgency.

– Detective Constable Carl Fairbrother, GMP’s Bolton Borough
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