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Jailed Kent man 'tearful' at support

A man from Kent has been "blown away" by the level of international support he has received since being jailed in Morocco for being gay, his son said.

A Facebook campaign has generated widespread support

Ray Cole, 69, was imprisoned for four months with his Moroccan friend Jamal Jam Wald Nass after homosexual images were found on his password-protected phone.

As the pair languish in a crowded, barbed-wire topped Marrakesh jail, Mr Cole's son, Adrian Cole, 41, spoke of his concern for his father and his hope that they will be freed on appeal.

Mr Cole, from Windsor, Berkshire, said: "My father spoke to my mother and he was blown away when told of the level of interest and care and concern about him. He became quite tearful."

The case has generated huge interest on social media from supporters hoping to persuade the Moroccan authorities to free retired Mr Cole, from Deal.

As well as a petition, a #freeraycole hashtag has been circulating on Twitter and a Facebook page has also been set up calling for the release of Mr Cole, who has a minor heart condition.

He struck up a friendship with Mr Nass, aged in his 20s, on Facebook. It was on Mr Cole's second visit to Morocco to see him that they were detained at a bus stop by officers.

Mr Cole, who turns 70 on October 25, was four weeks into a five-week break in the north African country when the pair were held on September 18.

Former deputy speaker of the House of Commons Nigel Evans, a gay MP, said he would be writing to the Moroccan ambassador to plea for his release as soon as possible.

  1. David Johns (@davidjohns_itv)

Family of jailed Deal man press for his release

He's seventy years old in a fortnight and went to Morocco for a holiday. But Ray Cole is now locked up in an overcrowded, overseas jail cell for four months - apparently because he's gay.

Mr Cole left his home in Deal and flew to Marrakesh for a five week stay. But he was arrested after he and a male friend were held at a bus stop in Gueliz by police, and compromising pictures were discovered on the friend's mobile phone. Both are now in prison.

Ray's son and daughter say their dad's done nothing wrong and that he would never have flaunted his sexuality in public.

They say he would have been careful not to offend local sensibilities and customs. David Johns reports, speaking to Ray's son, Adrian; Ray's MP, Charlie Elphicke; and Gillian Edwards from the Association of British Travel Agents.


Full report: Deal bombing - 25 years on

25 years ago today an IRA bomb tore through the barracks at the Royal Marines School of Music in Kent. Eleven young bandsmen lost their lives.

The horrifying attack in the seaside town of Deal was one of the worst terrorist outrages ever committed on British soil. The bombers were never brought to justice.

It was an atrocity which shocked and scarred the town and the country - but also gave rise to great acts of courage and dignity. Watch Sarah Saunder's report.

  1. Malcolm Shaw

High Street shops and customers celebrate being the 'Best in Britain'

The shops in our HIgh Streets have been fighting for survival over the past few years, facing increased competition from online rivals and out-of-town shopping centres.

But now some analysts are predicting the fortunes of high streets in the South East are about to change. The prediction coincides with the announcement that one of the high streets in the Meridian region has been named the 'Best High Street in Britain' by a national newspaper. Malcolm Shaw reports.


17 years behind bars for armed robbers

Michael Spencer Delsignore Credit: Kent Police

Two armed robbers who stole thousands of pounds of jewellery from a Deal shop were sentenced to a total of 17 years in prison.

Oguzhan Kaya, 18, from Hinchcliffe Way, Margate, and Michael Spencer Delsignore, 29, from Mill Road, Deal, were found guilty at Canterbury Crown Court.

The court heard how the pair were involved in a robbery at Simmonds Jewellers in High Street, Deal, on Wednesday October 31st last year.

Three masked raiders entered the store with a sawn-off shotgun and a hammer and threatened staff.

They smashed glass display cabinets and helped themselves to earrings and watches worth around £3,000.

Police later discovered a van used during the getaway hired to Delsignore, containing price tags and labels relating to some of the items stolen during the raid. Delsignore was arrested on November 1st.

Oguzhan Kaya Credit: Kent Police

Six days later a warrant was carried out at an address in Bath Road, Margate, where more stolen property was unearthed. Officers found Kaya hiding in the basement and he was arrested along with Kayleigh Somerville, 22.

Kaya was found guilty of robbery and possession of a firearm and Delsignore guilty of robbery. Somerville pleaded guilty to handling stolen goods at an earlier hearing.

Kaya was sentenced to ten years imprisonment. Delsignore was given a seven year prison sentence while Somerville, of Bath Road, Margate, was given a four month sentence, suspended for two years.

Det Const Nathan Scamp said: "This was a planned armed robbery designed to threaten and scare staff and make as much money as possible in the shortest amount of time. The staff at the store genuinely feared for their lives."

French Connection

An engineering company that wants to build a 40 billion pound airport on sandbanks off Deal on the Kent coast has outlined its scheme - to a French audience. Beckett Rankine were invited to explain the proposal to business leaders in Calais.

Here, the scheme has been labelled as ludicrous by the local MP. But backers say it's the best option for a new hub airport for south-east England - and northern Europe.

Derek Johnson speaks to French business representatives Vincent Didry and Thaddee Segard, Hilary Newport from Protect Kent and Tim Beckett from marine consulting engineers Beckett Rankine.

Deal airport plans: media briefing

The firm behind proposals to build a Kent airport on the Goodwin Sands off the Deal coast have outlined their ideas to business leaders and the media in Calais.

Our Correspondent Derek Johnson has been following the morning's events and has been tweeting about people's reactions.

Deal or No Deal: will airport plans take off?

More details of architects' proposals for a hub airport on the Goodwin Sands, six miles off Deal on the Kent Coast, are being revealed at a briefing in Calais today.

Beckett Rankine outline their proposals to the media Credit: Derek Johnson

The firm behind proposals to build a Kent airport on the Goodwin Sands off the Deal coast have outlined their ideas to business leaders and the media in Calais.

Maritime engineers Beckett Rankine say the £39 billion four-runway airport would benefit millions of people in northern France and become a hub for Northern Europe.

The plan - one of several being considered in an ongoing government review into airport capacity - is opposed by the local MP and environmentalists.

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