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Inquest into death of soldier who died in Afghanistan

An inquest is due to open today into the death of a soldier from Maidstone who was killed when his helicopter crashed in Afghanistan.

Captain Ben Babington-Browne, who was 27-years-old, was a member of 22 Engineer Regiment, Royal Engineers.

He was carrying out a routine engineering survey when the crash happened.

27-year-old Ben Babington-Browne died when his helicopter crashed in Afghanistan Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Bertha storm: Collapsed ceiling, localised flooding and transport delays.

The region prepared itself for torrential rain and gale force winds today as the remains of Hurricane Bertha arrived. The storm caused part of a supermarket ceiling to collapse in Maidstone, localised flooding across the region and transport delays - but in most areas, it had cleared away by the late afternoon.

Sarah Saunders' report has viewer footage from Ian Duffus and Charlotte Thurston. She spoke to flood victim Bill Smith and weather forcaster Philippa Drew.


Maidstone couple celebrate Euromillions win

A couple from Maidstone who used to joke about winning the lottery have had their dreams come true after scooping one million pounds on the Euromillions draw.

Wayne and Desiree Home celebrate their win with champagne Credit: ITV Meridian
Wayne and Desiree Home receive their Euromillions cheque Credit: ITV Meridian

Wayne Home decided not to tell his wife Desiree about the win until he was absolutely sure they'd won the money. The couple have suffered serious illness, both of them being made redundant and having to sell their family home.

Killers given life sentences

Three men who murdered an Italian waiter in Maidstone last year have been sentenced to life imprisonment.

Alexandras Zuravliovas, Salulius Tamoliunas and Linas Zidonas were yesterday found guilty of murder and grievous bodily harm after they drunkenly attacked 20-year old Joelle Leotta at a flat on Lower Stone Street.

Zuravliovas will serve a minimum term of 21 years; the others will be in prison for at least 20 years. The judge said the attack "outrages and horrifies the collective conscience of our community"

Day of the dragons: racers on the water for charity day

Fundraisers, keep-fit fanatics and even an Olympic gold medallist are among hundreds taking part in dragon boat races in Kent today.

The annual challenge is being staged at Mote Park in Maidstone by the KM Charity Team to help charitable groups with their fundraising .

It is hoped to raise more than £70,000 for more than 30 charities.

We speak to Simon Dolby , one of the KM Dragon Boat Race organisers. And to Etienne Stott the Olympic Champion in the C-2 canoe slalom.

Etienne was racing with the charity Hi Kent, which helps people with hearing difficulties.

Hundreds take to the water for Dragon Boat race

Preparing to take to the water Credit: ITV News Meridian

38 teams are taking to the water for this year's Dragon Boat Race in Kent. Organisers think that more than £50,000 will be raised for charity. Teams of 11 will be battling it out to make it through to the finals at the end of the day.

All aboard! Credit: ITV News Meridian


Harvesting the sunshine, solar farms set to soar

The number of solar farms in the South East is set to soar.

One of the latest could cover 66 acres and is planned for Great Tong Farm, South of Maidstone. Campaigners say it will ruin the local environment. But those in favour - feel we've got to produce more renewable energy.

The number of solar farms are increasing. In the south east region - so far, 44 have been built; 45 are under construction or awaiting construction - and planning applications are in for a further 37.

The developers of the site at Tong Farm told us :

"We believe that solar energy supports rural communities and we consult at every stage of the process."

Sarah Saunders spoke to Shellina Prendergast from Protect Our Weald; Hilary Newport from the Campaign for Rural England and Paul Barwell form the Solar Trade Association.

Public meeting for largest solar farm in the country

As planning applications for new solar farms soar, proposals for one of the country's largest solar developments is meeting stiff local opposition.

The solar farm would cover 66 acres at Great Tong Farm near Maidstone.

At a public meeting tonight, residents and industry representatives will air their views.

ITV Meridian spoke to local resident Shellina Prendergast.

Plans approved for 150-bedroom hotel in Maidstone

Plans for a new 150 bedroom hotel in Maidstone have been given the go ahead. The plans for the hotel on the 16 acre Eclipse Park, also include a restaurant and conference facilities.

The plans include 150 bedrooms, a restaurant and conference facilities Credit: Maxim

Nick Yandle, Chief Executive of Gallagher Group, said: "We can now enter into serious negotiations with a number of operators who have already expressed interest in developing a hotel of this size in Maidstone.

It is clear that the site's proximity to the recently opened Kent Institute of Medicine and Surgery, make it a very attractive proposition for a hotel operator.

"The planning officers were particularly impressed with the quality of the proposed design and we look forward to delivering a hotel that supports Maidstone's business and visitor economy."

Sex offender who travelled from Hants to Kent is jailed

Darren Andrews Credit: Kent Police

A man who travelled from Aldershot in Hampshire to Maidstone to sexually abuse a young girl has been jailed for 6 years. Darren Andrews, 33 years-old, and formerly of Cambridge Road in Aldershot, was sentenced at Maidstone Crown Court.

He was also given an extended licence period of five years for public protection. Andrews made arrangements online to abuse an eight year-old girl, trading emails and text messages as he made his plans. The exchanges however were with a law enforcement officer.

On 17th January 2014 Andrews travelled to Maidstone to sexually abuse the girl, but was arrested by officers from the Kent Police child exploitation investigation team.

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