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Missing trawler search called off

The search for a missing Belgian-flagged trawler which vanished in the English Channel have been called off.

The 130ft-long vessel disappeared with its four-strong crew on board amid rough seas in the Dover Strait on Wednesday.

A major Anglo-French air-sea operation was launched involving RNLI lifeboats, an RAF helicopter and a French fixed-wing aircraft. Their efforts led to the discovery on Thursday of two bodies on the French side of the Channel, north-west of Boulogne.

Their two crew-mates remain unaccounted for. None of the four people on board the boat were British.

"The French have responsibility for the search and rescue but they are not carrying out any search, and it's unlikely they will do so unless any evidence comes to light. Dover Coastguard continues to make their usual broadcasts to ships asking them to look out for any wreckage or pollution."

– A spokeswoman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA)


Man jailed for child sex offences

A New Ash Green man who committed a catalogue of child sex offences has been jailed for 25 years and two months.

Ashley Wright, was sentenced at Maidstone Crown Court after pleading guilty to 12 counts of rape and a further nine sexual offences, all of which took place between 2011 and 2014.

Ashley Wright has been sentenced to 25 years in prison Credit: Kent Police

Wright, 29, formerly of Millfield, New Ash Green targeted two girls, both who were aged under 13 at the time of the offences.

He committed the crimes in places including the inside of his car and a van.

On one occasion he threatened one of his victims that if she didn’t do as she was told he would ‘take her to a place where there were lots of men’. Wright also forced his victims to watch pornography on his laptop and mobile phone.

He was initially arrested by Kent Police in the Ilford area on 7 March 2014.

Wright later pleaded guilty at court to 21 separate counts as follows: 12 counts of rape of a child aged under 13; three counts of sexual assault of a child aged under 13; two counts of causing or enticing a child under the age of 13 to engage in sexual activity; one count of causing child pornography; and three counts of possessing indecent images of children.

Wright was sentenced at Maidstone Crown Court on 30 January and imprisoned for a total of 25 years and two months.

"Wright gained the trust of his victims, which he then used to his advantage to obtain his own depraved sexual gratification. He deliberately instilled fear into his victims and the impact of his depravity will, sadly, no doubt be felt for many years to come. I would like to pay tribute to both his victims and also their families. It is thanks to their tremendous strength and courage that Wright has been brought to justice and will now thankfully spend a very long time behind bars."

– Detective Constable Claire Bassett, of Kent Police’s Public Protection Department

Snow falls across the south

The Met Office has issued a warning for the south and south east of England to prepare for ice with further wintry showers.

Outbreaks of rain and sleet are expected today with possible snow on hills where a slight covering is possible.

More wintry showers will affect Kent overnight where some snow may settle on the North Downs.

The snow settles in Havant in Hampshire this morning Credit: Annette White
Snow settles in Botley in Oxfordshire Credit: Rachel Trafford
The outlook in Basingstoke in Hampshire this morning Credit: Vanessa West
A light dusting of snow in Tunbridge Wells in Kent Credit: Fiona Rich
Snow falls in Haslemere in Surrey Credit: Gaynor Ann Williams

Faster service promised for commuters

A high-speed Javelin train travelled along the East Sussex coast for the first time today - in what's being billed as a 'transformational' moment for transport and regeneration.

The arrival of the train was a PR stunt. But the Government - and Network Rail - say it underlines an 'absolute commitment' to extending HS1 from Ashford in Kent to Hastings, Eastbourne and Bexhill. Derek Johnson reports.

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