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Queen's Award for 'Square Pegs'

Square Pegs Credit: Beth James

An arts organisation that runs activities for young people with special needs has become the first in Kent to have won the 2017 Queens Award for Voluntary Service.

Square Pegs' award was made by the Queen’s Vice Lord Lieutenant at a special presentation ceremony.

The recipients are based in The Brook Theatre, Chatham, and run regular groups, as well as projects in Maidstone and Canterbury.


Two people charged with murder of man in Chatham

Credit: ITV Meridian

Two people have been charged with murder in connection with the death of a man in Chatham.

29 year old James O'Rourke, was found in a block of flats on Shipwrights Avenue on Monday morning.

Neil Taylor, 35 and Caroline Rushworth, 34, both of Shipwrights Avenue, Chatham were each charged on Wednesday 30th August with one count of murder.

They remain in custody and are due to appear at Medway Magistrates' Court later today.

Credit: ITV Meridian

Murder investigation launched after man's body found in Chatham

Credit: Google Images

Kent Police have launched a murder investigation after a man's body was found at a block of flats in Chatham.

Officers were called to a block of flats in Shipwrights Avenue at 7.36am this morning (Monday 28 August) where they found the man already dead.

His age and identity have not yet been made public.

A 35-year-old man from Chatham and a 34-year-old woman from Chatham have been arrested on suspicion of murder. They remain in police custody.

Officers remain at the scene conducting ongoing enquiries.

Pensioner hit by car in Chatham

Credit: PA

Police are asking the public to come forward with information after a woman in her 80s was hit by a car in Chatham on Friday.

Officers were called to Maidstone Road at the junction with Watson Avenue to find the woman with serious injuries after being hit by a silver Ford Focus. She was taken to a London hospital.

The road was closed for some time while Kent Police and South East Coast Ambulance Service dealt with the incident.

Anyone with information can call the Serious Collision Investigation Unit on 01622 798538 or email quoting reference RY/GD/161/17.


Sex offender who targeted children online jailed

Mark Stopher Credit: Kent Police

A sex offender from Chatham in Kent who used online chat rooms to target children has been jailed for 4 years.

Mark Stopher arranged to meet with someone he thought was 13 years old after sending a number of explicit messages on an app.

The 44 year old, formerly of Victoria Road, Chatham logged on to the app in January this year.

Over the next few days he messaged another user, called Jess and sent her an explicit image of himself.

When he was told she was only 13, he warned her to keep their conversations secret.

Stopher arranged to meet Jess near Maidstone East train station with the intention of committing sexual offences.

Unbeknown to him, Jess did not exist and the profile was part of a fictitious account.

He was arrested and later bailed as Kent Police continued to gather evidence.

Then in April, Stopher used the same app again, to engage in conversation with a user called Zoe, who told him she had just celebrated her 15th birthday - but the account was fake.

He gave Zoe his mobile phone number and invited to her to spend time in his room, before then attending a location in Bryant Street, Chatham to meet her.

He was arrested and remanded in custody, faced with two charges of arranging or facilitating the commission of a child sex offence.

Appearing at Maidstone Crown Court he pleaded guilty to both charges and was later sentenced to four years in prison.

He will be placed on the sex offenders’ register for life.

Stopher claimed he would never have gone through with his plans. However, he sent a large number of messages containing content which was very graphic and disturbing. His intentions to sexually abuse children were clear."

"This case acts as a reminder to parents of children who have mobile phones and tablets to speak to them and help them understand the precautions they should take when using the internet, or the many instant messaging services that are available. Children should only communicate with people that they know personally and report any suspicions or inappropriate advances from strangers to their parents, schools or the police."

– Detective Constable Karl Brett, Kent Police Public Protection Department

Pit bull-type dog, involved in attack, was banned breed

The local community was shocked by the attack Credit: ITV

A dog which seriously injured a young girl in Chatham was found to be a pit bull type - a banned breed under dangerous dog legislation.

The animal was shot dead at the scene by armed Kent Police officers to ensure the safety of the public.

The child remains in a London hospital with very serious injuries.

Earlier this week officers investigating the incident, which took place in the Jenkins Dale area, arrested a man, a woman and a teenager, all from Chatham, on suspicion of offences under the Dangerous Dogs Act.

The man and woman have since been bailed, pending further enquiries, until Wednesday 26 April 2017. The teenager has been released under investigation.

Anyone who may have witnessed this incident or who has any information is asked to call Kent Police on 01634 792209, quoting reference 04-1003.

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