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Civic pride and patriotism in Kent's county town

Troops from 36 Engineer Regiment have been marching through Maidstone exercising their Freedom of the Borough. Some of the soldiers have recently come back from Nepal. And as Andrea Thomas reports many of the troops still have one eye on the relief efforts in the country. She spoke to Lt Col Richard Walker, the Commanding Officer of the regiment and Mayor of Maidstone, Daniel Moriarty.

  1. Tom Savvides

Protests over planned warehouses in fields

Protesters have been demonstrating against plans to build a large warehouse complex in the Kent countryside. A public inquiry started today into the Waterside Park scheme close to junction 8 of the M20 near Maidstone. Tom Savvides talks to locals, Richard Knox-Johnston from the Campaign to Protect Rural England and Paul Carter, the leader of Kent County Council.

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Burglar jailed for stealing veteran's war medals

Kieran Vanner has been sentenced to 17 months in prison Credit: Kent Police

A burglar has been jailed for 17 months after stealing war medals belonging to the family of a late Second World War veteran.

Kieran Vanner, 20, of Palmerston Road, Chatham, took the military decorations during a raid of a house in Penenden Heath, Maidstone, on Monday 26 January this year.

He also stole a large quantity of jewellery as well as a laptop computer, a portable media player, bank cards and numerous other possessions worth a total of about £9,000.

Vanner was arrested several days later when some of the items taken in the burglary were found in a bag dumped in an alleyway near his home address. He was charged following the results of a forensic examination.

"Burglary is a terrible crime that leaves a long-lasting impact on victims, but Vanner spared no thought for those whose home he ransacked for his own personal benefit. Fortunately the war medals and other possessions he stole were returned to their rightful owners, and I hope the sentencing imposed on Vanner is of some additional comfort to them."

– Investigating officer Detective Constable Raj Dusanjh

Questions still remain over river death

A coroner has said she cannot be certain the death of a man, whose body was found in the River Medway, was an accident. Patrick Lamb's disappearance in December sparked a nationwide search to find him. His body was pulled from the water one month later.

Pat Lamb Credit: Kent Police

The cause of death is 'immersion' meaning he could have drowned or suffered a cardiac arrest due to shock brought on by entering cold water. Alcohol was cited as a contributing factor.

Maidstone United celebrate Ryman League title win

Maidstone United fans celebrated today as the club all-but secured the Ryman League title.

The Stones drew 0-0 with Dulwich Hamlet this afternoon which means Hendon would need to make up some 19 goals and six points in their last two matches to reach Maidstone.

The Stones will go into National League South, as it will be known next season.

Thief threw wheelbarrow at police during car chase

A man has been jailed after he stole a van and threw a wheelbarrow at police trying to catch him.

Wayne Byrne, 32, of no fixed address, also detached a trailer and digger during the chase in Kent, narrowly missing the officers travelling behind him.

Byrne and his accomplices stole the Ford Transit from outside a property on Sutton Road, Maidstone. Shortly after, officers saw the van travelling along Headcorn Road and gave chase.

Byrne climbed out of the passenger seat and into the back of the van through a side door. He then opened the back door to detach the trailer before throwing the wheelbarrow as well as a generator, various power tools and clothing into the road.

Byrne was sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment at Maidstone Crown Court on Thursday 9 April after pleading guilty of two counts of attempting to commit grievous bodily harm, and one count of theft.

‘Byrne showed no concern for the officers’ welfare or the safety of other road users while throwing items out of the back the van he had stolen, which is obviously an incredibly dangerous thing to do. ‘He clearly poses a risk to public safety so prison is the best place for him.’

– Investigating officer Detective Constable Laura Pallett

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Burglar who stole WWII medals jailed

A burglar who stole medals belonging to the family of a late Second World War veteran has been jailed for 18 months.

Bradley Richmond, 20, of no fixed abode, took the military decorations during a raid of a house inPenenden Heath, Maidstone, on Monday 26 January this year.

He also stole a large quantity of jewellery as well as a laptop computer, a portable media player, bank cards and numerous other possessions.

Bradley Richmond has been sentenced to 18 months in prison Credit: Kent Police

Richmond was arrested several days later in Folkestone after some of the items taken in the burglary were found in a flat he was known to be living in at the time.

He pleaded guilty to the offence and also asked for three other burglaries to be taken into consideration. These occurred at addresses in Snodland and Maidstone between 21 and 26 January 2015.

"During interview Richmond claimed he was tired of looking for work and had turned to burglary as an easy way to earn some money, which just goes to show how selfish his actions were. Burglary is a terrible crime that leaves a long-lasting impact on victims, but Richmond spared no thought for those whose homes he ransacked for his own personal benefit. Fortunately the war medals and other possessions he stole were returned to their rightful owners, and I hope the sentencing imposed on Richmond is of some additional comfort to them."

– Investigating officer Detective Constable Raj Dusanjh

Man charged over catapult attack on bus driver

Officers investigating an alleged assault on a bus driver in Maidstone have now charged a man in connection with the incident.

It was reported that on 2 March a ball bearing was fired from a catapult into the face of a bus driver who had stopped in Lacock Gardens.

Following enquiries Kent Police arrested Callum Walters on 28 March.

Walters, 18, of Oak Tree Avenue, Maidstone has been charged with wounding with intent and possessing an offensive weapon in a public place. He was remanded in custody and will appear at Maidstone Magistrates' Court today.

Carer jailed for stealing from vulnerable pensioner

A carer who stole more than £10,000 from an elderly woman has been jailed for 19 months.

David Baker, 56, of Roseholme, Maidstone, withdrew cash from his victim’s bank account while she was ill in hospital and even on the day she died. He also stole almost £4,000 from the woman’s elderly brother who lived with her for a while.

David Baker has been sentenced to 19 months in prison Credit: Kent Police

Baker was a neighbour of the woman and had been friends with her and her late husband prior to him being taken on as her registered carer, having previously helped her with household chores and other odd-jobs.

But following the woman's death in June 2013 it was discovered that a total of £10,990 had been withdrawn from two of her bank accounts and £3,700 from her brother’s.

"To steal from an elderly and vulnerable woman is cruel and heartless. To do so when that person counts you as a friend and carer is the ultimate betrayal of trust. David Baker’s victim died believing him to be a good man, when in reality he was draining her bank accounts of almost every penny to her name. He abused the trust that was placed in him, not only by his victim but the rest of her family and warrants the time he will now spend in prison for his actions."

– Investigating officer Detective Constable Darren Smitherman
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