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Gone in a flash. Didcot power station's massive chimneys come tumbling down

In a cloud of smoke and with a thunderous blast three historic towers were demolished today after dominating the Thames Valley's skyline for more than four decades.

The three southern towers of Didcot A power station in Oxfordshire were brought down by nearly 400lbs (180kg) of explosives in a matter of seconds. Hundreds of local residents were up all night to get the best vantage point to see the towers come tumbling down

The decision to demolish the towers in the early hours of the morning angered some locals, with a petition to change the timing gaining more than 3,000 signatures. Didcot town council had also expressed its disappointment but npower said the timeslot between 3am and 5am had been chosen for safety reasons, taking into account the risk of people getting too close to the explosion, and the impact of the dust cloud on local roads and a nearby rail line.

Warning sirens were sounded 15 and then 10 minutes before the explosion at 5am. During the build-up to the explosion #DidcotDemolition was trending on Twitter, and one Oxfordshire resident said: "This has gotta be Didcot's most momentous occasion since we won the FA vase".

The coal-fired power station ceased generating in March last year after dominating the skyline around the town since 1970, with the neighbouring gas-fired Didcot B continuing. The towers' appearance was not universally appreciated with many people finding them an eyesore. Whtaever your point of view, the journey along the A34 will never look the same.

Demolition: End of an era for iconic Didcot towers

The iconic cooling towers of Didcot Power Station have been a landmark across Oxfordshire, dominating the skyline for more than 40 years, but this weekend three of them will be demolished.

The towers have been a point of reference for walkers and drivers, and provided jobs and a way of life for many local families since the 1970s.

But new European rules over greenhouse gases which came into force two years ago mean the plant has to be completely demolished by 2016. Juliette Fletcher reports on the end of an era.

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Jayden family: 'Our nightmare will never end'

Jayden Parkinson's family have given their reaction Credit: Thames Valley Police

The family of Jayden Parkinson have issued the following statement after her killer was jailed for life for her murder.

“Finally justice has been done for our Jayden.

“First, we would like to record our enormous gratitude to the officers of Thames Valley Police, in particular members of the Major Crime Unit, whose professionalism and perseverance secured Ben Blakeley’s conviction.

“We would also like to thank all of the prosecution’s witnesses who gave evidence, in particular three of Ben Blakeley’s former girlfriends, who showed immense courage in attending court to speak of his sick and twisted mind.

“From the day that Jayden’s life was so cruelly taken, the kindness shown to us by the people of Didcot has been immeasurable.

"For this, we will always be thankful from the bottom of our hearts.

“Over the months we have also found strength in the messages of support from strangers around the country and indeed worldwide.

“We will never be able to find an ounce of forgiveness for the evil that murdered Jayden and then concealed her body in such a cold, calculated and callous manner.

“For us as a family, today is not the final chapter in this tragedy.

"But now we can at least begin the challenge of coming to terms with the heartbreak which we all feel, and the rebuilding of our lives.

“Despite today’s sentencing of Ben Blakeley, our nightmare will never end.

"We can never erase from our minds the pain that was inflicted on Jayden, nor can we erase the image of Jayden’s battered and bruised body.

"We will never be able to celebrate birthdays, Easter or Christmas with Jayden, and we will never get to see Jayden grow up, get married and have children - this is our life sentence, it’s now time for Ben Blakeley to start his.”

Jayden killer jailed for life: Police reaction

Speaking after the sentence, Det Ch Supt Chris Ward from Thames Valley Police Major Crime said: “Ben Blakeley has today been sentenced to a minimum of 20 years after being found guilty of the brutal murder of 17-year-old Jayden Parkinson, on the 3rd December last year.

“Jayden was a teenager when she became involved in a relationship with Blakeley, who has proved to be a violent and dangerous liar.

"Ben mistreated Jayden, controlled her and often beat her which eventually resulted in her murder last year.

“Blakeley has never shown any remorse, nor has he cooperated with the police investigation.

"Instead, Ben chose to lie and has put Jayden’s family and friends through a harrowing trial, where they have been forced to listen to the details of his abuse of Jayden and other former girlfriends.

“Justice will now be served, as Ben faces a lengthy jail term.

“Of course, we respect the decision of the jury in respect of Jake Blakeley, who was charged with preventing a lawful burial.

"The Crown Prosecution will have seven days to decide whether to apply for a re-trial.

“I would like to thank all the police officers and staff who have worked on this complex case, as well as the Crown Prosecution Service, who the Force has worked with very closely.

“Finally, I would like to pay my respects to Jayden and to her family and friends, many of whom who have had to give evidence during this trial.

"I hope that today's conviction will allow them some closure and they can remember Jayden as the fun-loving young lady that she was.”

Jayden killer jailed for life for her murder

Ben Blakley has been sentenced to life imprisonment Credit: Thames Valley Police
Jayden Parkinson Credit: Thames Valley Police

Ben Blakeley, 22, has been jailed at Oxford Crown Court for life with minimum term of 20 years for the murder of his pregnant ex-girlfriend Jayden Parkinson, 17, who was strangled and later buried in a grave at a cemetery

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Ben Blakeley found guilty of Jayden's murder to be sentenced

The boyfriend of Jayden Parkinson, who was found guilty of her murder yesterday, will be sentenced at Oxford Crown court later today.

Ben Blakeley, who is 22-years-old and from Reading, killed Jayden in the Oxfordshire countryside in December 2013.

After strangling the 17-year-old, he buried her in his uncles grave in a cemetery in Didcot.

A jury at Oxford Crown Court yesterday found Blakeley guilty of Jayden's murder, following a five-week trial by a majority of 11-1 after more then 20 hours of deliberations.

Ben Blakeley was found guilty of the murder of Jayden Parkinson and will be sentenced today Credit: ITV Meridian

Ben Blakeley 'guilty' of Jayden murder: the background

The ex-boyfriend of teenager Jayden Parkinson has been found GUILTY of her murder. Ben Blakeley, aged 22 and from Reading, strangled her after he found out that she was pregnant.

Jayden, who was 17-years-old, had grown up in Kent, but was was living in Didcot. She was last seen following Blakeley through Oxford - on the way to her death. In court he was described as 'cold and callous', 'violent and controlling'.

Cary Johnston has been following the four week trial at Oxford Crown Court, here is his report on Jayden's last journey.

The interviewees are: Detective Chief Superintendent Andrew Murray, Thames Valley Police Dr Jennifer Wild, Clinical Psychologist, University of Oxford Reverend Karen Beck, All Saints' Church

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