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Hampshire priest suspended amid indecent assault claims

The Rev Simon Sayers has been suspended Credit: ITV Meridian

The rector of a village church has been suspended while he is being investigated by police over an allegation of indecent assault dating back to the early 1990s.

Parishioners at St James CoE Church in Emsworth, Hampshire, and St Thomas a Beckett Church in Warblington were informed by the Bishop of Portsmouth, the Rt Rev Christopher Foster before services on Sunday morning that the Rev Simon Sayers had been suspended from his position.

St Thomas a Becket Church in Warblington Credit: ITV Meridian

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said that the alleged offence took place in the Islington area of London.

"Detectives from the Met's Sexual Offences, Exploitation and Child Abuse Command are investigating allegations of non-recent indecent assault.

"The offences are alleged to have taken place in the Islington area during the early 90s.

"A 55-year-old man was arrested on 23 January and has been bailed to return, pending further Inquiries, on a date in early April. Inquiries continue."

– Metropolitan Police spokesman

A spokesman for the Diocese of Portsmouth said: "We are aware of an ongoing police investigation into a serious allegation made against the Rev Simon Sayers.

"Because the investigation is ongoing, we can make no further comment at the moment. The bishop has suspended the Rev Simon Sayers while the investigation takes place, and is making alternative arrangements for ministry in the parish. Our prayers are with all of those involved in this difficult situation."

The £60 million cargo being unloaded from Hoegh Osaka

Combine harvesters are among the vehicles being unloaded Credit: PA

Work continues on the carrier Hoegh Osaka which is moored at Berth 101 at Southampton Port.

The Singapore-registered vessel, which has a cargo of 1,400 cars and 105 pieces of construction equipment, worth an estimated £60 million, was beached deliberately on Bramble Bank sandbank, near Southampton, on January 3 after it began listing as it left port.

The carrier docked in Southampton Credit: PA
Crews have been working round the clock Credit: PA

A large stone cutter machine weighing more than 30 tonnes was in the way of crews being able to remove other cargo from the ship, which also includes JCB construction equipment.

Once moved, it is likely the other vehicles can be driven off under their own power, a spokesperson from Hoegh Autoliners said.

"It is still too early to say more about the status of the cargo. Once the vehicles have been landed, proper cargo surveys will take place by the cargo owners and their surveyors."

– Hoegh Autoliners spokesman

The company hope the discharge operation will be over by the end of the week.

An investigation by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch is underway.

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Our own Fred Dinenage speaks to David Cameron with the general election on the horizon

The Prime Minister made a timely visit to the region today, on the eve of 100 days to the General Election.

He was at a community centre in Hampshire making a speech on the Conservative Party's manifesto.

Voters go to the polls on Thursday the 7th of May, with the NHS, the economy and immigration all key issues.

Never before has an election contest been so unpredictable. Fred spoke to David Cameron earlier today:

Police want to speak to man in connection with theft of an elderly woman's handbag

Police want to speak to this man in connection with the theft of a handbag from an elderly woman in Eastbourne Credit: Sussex Police

Police want to speak to this man in connection with the theft of a handbag from an elderly woman in Eastbourne.

The 79-year-old was robbed of her handbag by a man in Charleston Road at around 9.30am on Saturday, January 17. She was approached by a person who grabbed her bag and when she resisted, pushed her to the ground and ran off with it. She was attended to by a passing Good Samaritan who took her home and called the police. The victim suffered bruising in the attack.

Her bag was found in nearby Motcombe Gardens by police a short time later; it appears that only cash was removed from her purse, which was also discarded at the scene.

Detective Constable Matt Cherryman said: "This was a very alarming experience for the victim who, fortunately, was not seriously hurt in the incident. Our enquiries have led us to want to talk to the man in our photo who may have important information to assist our investigation.

"If you recognise him or were around the area on the morning of the robbery, please email101@sussex.pnn.police.uk or call 101 quoting serial 481 of 17/01. Alternatively, you can call the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111."

Police discover cannabis farm in Heathfield

Police discovered a large cannabis farm at a unit on an industrial estate in Heathfield Credit: Sussex Police

Police discovered a large cannabis farm at a unit on an industrial estate in Heathfield on Friday (23 January), after being alerted by bailiffs who had visited the location.

Officers found approximately 2,000 plants at a unit on the Ghyll Industrial Estate. Five different rooms within the unit contained around 400 plants each, all in various stages of growth.

Thang Cao Do, 41, of no fixed address, was charged with being concerned in the production of a class B drug and remanded in custody. He was due to appear at Brighton Magistrates Court on Monday (26 January). Detective Constable Tod Stewart, said: "We have disrupted an organised and significant operation, preventing harmful drugs from reaching the local community. I would ask all members of the public to be vigilant, as both commercial and private properties can be used for the production of cannabis.

"Signs to look out for are covered over windows or curtains constantly closed, people visiting properties at odd times, for example to water plants, extractor fans in walls and a sweet, distinctive herbal smell. If you witness any such suspicious activity please email information to101@sussex.pnn.police.ukor call 101."

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Man jailed for drugs offences in Reading

Charlie Hiatt sentenced to two years and eight months’ imprisonment for drugs offences Credit: Thames Valley Police

Following an investigation by Thames Valley Police, a man has been sentenced to more than two years’ imprisonment for drugs offences in Reading.

Charlie Hiatt, aged 21, of Deeley Road, London, was sentenced at Reading Crown Court today (26/1).

He was sentenced to two years and eight months’ imprisonment for one count of possession of heroin with intent to supply and two years and eight months’ imprisonment for possession of crack cocaine with intent to supply, to run concurrently.

Hiatt was stopped by officers in the Oxford Road, Reading, at about 5.30pm on Sunday 10 August last year.

Hiatt ran away from the officers but was stopped and detained in Catherine Street, where 118 wraps of drugs were found on his person.

Hiatt pleaded guilty to both offences at a previous hearing.

Investigating officer, Det Con Ali Bagshaw of Local CID based at Reading Police Station, said: “Charlie Hiatt lived in London at the time of the offence and was in Reading for one purpose and one purpose only; to sell heroin and crack cocaine.

“His Honour Paul Dugdale highlighted that Hiatt is not a user of the drugs he was supplying and is therefore not aware of the devastating harm that such drugs have on users and their families. Further, many drug users commit crimes in order to fund their habit, so there is a collateral effect

“I hope Hiatt’s conviction and sentence will send out a clear message to anyone considering dealing drugs in Reading that you will be caught, you will be prosecuted and you will spend a significant period of time in custody.”

Donations provide new equipment for RNLI

Donations provide new equipment for RNLI Credit: RNLI Littlehampton Lifeboat Station

It was to Peter Cheney that the RNLI turned when the decision was made in 1966 to establish a new lifeboat station in Littlehampton. Donations made in his memory, following his death in 2014, have funded the provision of Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) for the volunteer crew of Littlehampton RNLI lifeboat station.

Peter Cheney was appointed honorary secretary of the lifeboat station, which he managed for 25 years after it opened in 1967, operating the very first Blue Peter lifeboat. After Peter stepped down, he remained for a further five years as deputy launching authority, and then became the station chairman, a role that he held until his death.

The PLBs provide the crew with an additional level of protection when at sea and are stowed within each lifejacket. They are designed to be manually activated if a crew member falls overboard and becomes separated from the lifeboat and all other means of self-rescue have been exhausted. Activation alerts the Coastguard to the distress and pinpoints the location of the crewmember so that assistance can be provided.

A short dedication service attended by volunteer members of the crew, shore crew and operations was held at the lifeboat station, where Peter’s widow, Susan Cheney MBE, formally presented the newly commissioned PLBs to the crew, following their blessing by Rev David Farrant.

Littlehampton RNLI’s Lifeboat Operations Manager, Nick White said: “The volunteer crew of Littlehampton RNLI lifeboat are grateful to Mrs. Cheney’s family, friends and many others for the kind donations they have made in her husband’s memory. The PLBs will greatly enhance the personal safety of the crew who put their lives at risk to save others”.

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