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Jay Sewell death: Mother says sentences are ‘no deterrent’

Jay Sewell

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Met Police

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Jay Sewell was fatally stabbed through a car window

The mother of a teenage boy who was stabbed to death by a love rival and his parents has called the sentences his killers received “a joke”.

Jay Sewell, 18, was attacked by a group led by Daniel Grogan, who thought he was dating his ex-girlfriend.

Mr Sewell’s mother Sharon Louch said she and her family were still “suffering” and felt they had been sidelined during the court process.

Grogan, 20, was found guilty of murder and jailed for a minimum of 21 years.

The Old Bailey heard he had deliberately engineered a stand-off with Mr Sewell and his ex-girlfriend Gemma Hodder in December 2018.

Mr Sewell and his friends were set upon in Lee, south-east London, by Grogan’s parents and friends who were armed with knives, hammers, a 4ft (1.2m) fireman’s axe and wooden sticks.

Ms Louch said her son had only known Ms Hodder for four days but in that time had received numerous threats.

“He decided enough was enough and he needed to go and sort it out. I wish he had come to me but instead he went to sort it out himself,” she said.

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Sharon Louch said she had to walk out of court because she was “very angry” about the process

She described her son as a “very popular, very loyal” teenager who “meant everything to me”.

“I lie awake at night and that’s all I think about…just his last minutes because I never got to say goodbye,” Ms Louch said.

On Tuesday, Grogan and a group of his friends and family were given sentences ranging from life imprisonment to a nine-month rehabilitation order.

Ms Louch said it was “completely and utterly wrong” that some of those involved “could be out on the street” soon.

She said: “I had to walk out, I couldn’t listen to it – I did feel very angry about it because we haven’t been able to say a lot at all.

“It was all about them. The court process is very much in their favour. I just don’t think there’s any deterrent to stop people from doing this or reoffending.”

The prime minister has previously called for tougher sentences and an end to automatic release for all killers.


Those jailed over fatal stabbing

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Met Police

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(Clockwise from top left) Daniel Grogan, Ann Grogan, Robert Grogan, Francesca Grogan, Charlie Dudley, Jamie Bennett, Liam Hickey

  • Grogan’s father Robert, 58, who had armed himself with an axe, was jailed for 14-and-a-half years for manslaughter, six years for wounding with intent and three-and-a-half years for violent disorder
  • Grogan’s mother Ann, 55, was jailed for seven-and-a-half years for manslaughter and three-and-a-half years for violent disorder, to be served concurrently
  • Friend and neighbour Charlie Dudley, 26, of Grove Park, was jailed for 16 years for manslaughter, six-and-a-half years for wounding with intent and three-and-a-half years for violent disorder, to be served concurrently
  • Cousin Liam Hickey, 19, of Eltham, was sentenced to three years in a Young Offenders Institution for wounding with intent and two years for violent disorder, to be served concurrently
  • Sister Francesca Grogan, 30, of Sibthorpe Road, was jailed for 12 months for violent disorder
  • Jamie Bennett, 32, of Sibthorpe Road, was sentenced to 20 months in prison for violent disorder
  • A 17-year-old boy, who cannot be named, was handed a nine-month rehabilitation order and a supervision order for violent disorder.

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Rail fares rise by 2.7%, hitting millions of commuters

King's Cross station in London in 2014

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Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Millions of commuters will have to pay an average of 2.7% more for train tickets from today.

The rise, announced by industry body the Rail Delivery Group in November, is lower than the 3.1% increase at the start of last year.

Train companies say it is the third year in a row that average fares have been held below RPI – the inflation measure on which rises are based.

But many commuters face an increase of more than £100 for annual passes.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps cited a new fund for trials for flexible fares as an example of how the government was committed to “putting passengers first”.

He said he planned to tackle the “fragmented” system and had begun the process to end the franchise for Northern Rail, whose performance was “completely unacceptable”.

“You can judge me on this at the end of the year,” he told BBC Breakfast. “These changes are going to take time but I think people will see things moving in the right direction.”

But Labour’s shadow transport secretary, Andy McDonald, said the rise showed passengers were “once again paying more for less under the Tories”.

Independent watchdog Transport Focus says most rail users (53%) do not feel train ticket prices offer value for money.

The watchdog’s director, David Sidebottom, said: “After a year of pretty poor performance in some areas, passengers just want a consistent day-to-day service they can rely on and a better chance of getting a seat.”

He encouraged passengers to claim compensation for eligible delays in order to “offset” the cost of fare rises.

Passengers at a mainline railway station

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Season ticket rises

Some annual passes go up by more than £100

  • £132Reading to London. Total £4,736

  • £118Gloucester to Birmingham. Total £4,356

  • £116Glasgow to Edinburgh. Total £4,200

However, Robert Nisbet, director of nations and regions for Rail Delivery Group, said rail companies were investing in improving journeys while holding fare increases below inflation.

He said 2020 will see 1,000 extra weekly services and 1,000 more carriages added to Britain’s rail fleet.

“There is a record level of investment going into the railway at the moment,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“For people who do suffer from poor punctuality in areas of the country, that could be for a variety of different reasons, we apologise. We are looking at at trying to make punctuality much better across the board,” he said.

Official statistics show that just over one in three trains failed to arrive on time in July, August and September 2019, although that figure was an improvement on the previous year.

Passenger complaints

About 40% of annual rail price rises are regulated by governments in England, Scotland and Wales. They are pegged to the Retail Prices Index (RPI) inflation measure for the previous July. Other fare rises are decided by train companies.

RPI inflation was 2.8% last year.

But RPI inflation is generally higher than the most widely watched measure of inflation, the Consumer Prices Index (CPI).

Passenger groups have repeatedly called for the system to be changed since RPI inflation was abandoned by the UK Statistics Authority as a national statistic in 2013.

Emily Yates, a freelance writer from Brighton who co-founded the Association of British Commuters, said the annual rises feel like “Groundhog Day” and a “complete charade”.

“Every year, we ask for a fares freeze, the government says no, and the rail industry defends the decision,” she said.

Protests will be held against the fare increase on Thursday, including a demonstration outside London King’s Cross station.

The rallies come as the Trades Union Congress (TUC) releases research suggesting fares have risen by twice as much as wages in the last 10 years.

The TUC said someone earning an average salary in the UK would have to spend 16% of their wages for a season ticket from Chelmsford to London (£511 a month), but similar commutes would cost 2% of the average salary in France, and 4% in Germany and Belgium.

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Second man charged over fatal stabbings in Barnet and Elstree

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@999London

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The two victims were found on 19 and 20 December

A second man has been charged in connection with the fatal stabbing of two men within hours of each other.

The first victim was found in the boot of a car near Scratchwood Park, Barnet, on 19 December, while a second man was discovered by officers in Hogg Lane, Elstree on 20 December.

On Christmas Day, Besnik Berisha, 42, of Martock Gardens, Friern Barnet, was charged with two counts of murder.

Kaziku Tuwisana, 31, of no fixed address, faces the same charges.

Mr Berisha is due before Willesden Magistrates’ Court on Thursday.

The Met Police has asked drivers who “may have caught something that could prove massively important” on dash-cam footage to contact them.

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@999London

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The victims were found within five miles of each other

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New life brewed for 100-year-old East End coffee stall

Coffee stall in 1920

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Jane Tothill / Museum of London

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Syd’s coffee stall has been on Calvert Avenue in Shoreditch since March 1919

An east London coffee stall which has been run by the same family for a century is to be given a new lease of life once it shuts for the final time.

Syd’s coffee stall was opened by a World War One veteran who started it using his invalidity pension.

It has been run by three generations of the Tothill family since then but will close on Friday after current owner Jane decided it was “time to move on”.

The stand has been acquired to go on display at the Museum of London.

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Museum of London

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The stall will be displayed at the museum once it moves into its new building

Sydney Edward Tothill spent £117 commissioning a local coachbuilder to construct the stall which has sat on Calvert Avenue in Shoreditch since March 1919.

By today’s standards, the initial menu was a little limited.

“Camp coffee”, a brown liquid made of essence of coffee-beans, chicory and sugar, was served alongside tea, cocoa and Bovex – described as a poor man’s Bovril.

The snack of choice was a “Sav and a Slice” – a saveloy sausage served with a slice of bread and English mustard.

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Museum of London

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Jane Tothill is Sydney Edward Tothill’s granddaughter

During World War Two, Syd and his wife May were given a special licence to remain open during blackouts so that they could cater for air raid wardens overnight.

The stall was considered so essential that when May was injured by shrapnel from a nearby explosion, the War Office brought Syd’s son back from a secret overseas RAF mission so it could remain open.

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Jane Tothill/Museum of London

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Syd junior became a Freeman of the City of London and was the only caterer to ever be allowed to trade on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral

The son, also called Syd, successfully expanded it into a catering business called Hillary Caterers to commemorate Sir Edmund Hillary’s conquest of Everest in 1953.

Jane Tothill said reaching 100 years had been “an incredible milestone” but “it was time for the stall to move on to tell a new story at the Museum of London”.

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Museum of London

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The stall will sell its final ever coffee on Friday

Vyki Sparkes, curator of social and working history at the museum, said the stall was “an invaluable piece of our shared history as Londoners”.

It will go on display once the museum moves into its new building.

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General Election 2019: Polls open across London

Ballot box

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PA

Voting is under way to decide who will represent London’s 73 parliamentary seats.

Londoners will decide the fate of hundreds of parliamentary candidates including the prime minister and leader of the Labour Party.

Registered voters will be able to cast their ballots from 07:00 to 22:00 GMT.

Labour represented 46 seats in the city going into the 2019 General Election. The Conservative had 20 London MPs while Liberal Democrats had four.

The BBC, like other broadcasters, is not allowed to report details of campaigning while the polls are open. More details around electoral law and our BBC code of practice is explained here.

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London minicab qualifications from private schools banned

Minicab

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Minicab drivers must sit mandatory exams to get a licence from Transport for London

Minicab drivers in London will only be able to gain required qualifications at official centres after a cheating scandal was exposed by the BBC.

Drivers could previously sit mandatory exams at Transport for London (TfL) centres or authorised private schools and colleges to get a licence.

However the investigation found some colleges cheated the required tests.

TfL said all licences gained from colleges where cheating occurred had been revoked.

‘Urgent review’

As part of the cab application process, drivers must sit a topographical exam and an English test at one of eight official TfL testing centres.

Evidence of these exams can also be accepted via other qualifications including BTecs, which are usually taken at numerous private colleges and centres around the UK.

Some employees at one of these colleges – Vista Training Solutions in Newham, east London – offered to take the tests for several BBC researchers for £500 per BTec.

After the cheating was exposed, TfL carried out an “urgent review” of every licence gained through qualifications passed at private colleges.

It has now revoked those of 143 drivers who had gained them through Vista Training Solutions while another 209 licence applications made by people who passed their qualifications through the college have also been rejected.

The transport authority added that no evidence of “fraudulent activity” had been found at any other private colleges but from February, qualifications will only be allowed to be gained from one of TfL’s eight testing centres.

“The most robust and relevant topographical tests are our own assessments,” said Helen Chapman, TfL’s director of licensing, regulation and charging.

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Media captionGerti Qamili, a manager at Vista, was challenged after the secret filming

In a statement Ofqual, which regulates tests taken at private colleges, said it took “all allegations of qualifications fraud extremely seriously”.

Vista Training Solutions previously said it was “devastated to learn that such malpractice took place” and apologised “unreservedly”.

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Nuno Espirito Santo is a potential replacement if Arsenal sack Unai Emery

Unai Emery’s Arsenal are eight points adrift of the top four in the Premier League

Arsenal have identified Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo as a potential replacement for Unai Emery if the Gunners decide to sack the Spaniard.

Head coach Emery is under pressure after a winless run of six matches across all competitions.

Arsenal have only won four of 13 Premier League games this season.

BBC Sport understands that if Emery is sacked and Nuno is allowed to speak to Arsenal, then the Portuguese would be a strong contender to take over.

Nuno said it would be “disrespectful” to talk about being linked with Arsenal when asked in a news conference before his side’s Europa League tie against Braga on Thursday.

“I wouldn’t ever mention an issue which is not a reality,” he said. “Speaking about a job which has a manager would be disrespectful and I will not do so.”

My focus is on today and tomorrow – Emery

Emery said he still has the full support of the club, having been warned results must improve while being offered public backing by the Arsenal hierarchy earlier this month.

“Really the club is supporting me,” he said. “I feel the club, everyone responsible in that area, is backing me. Really I appreciate it a lot.

“I feel strong with that support and know my responsibility to come back and change that situation.”

The former Sevilla and Paris St-Germain boss added he is only focused on “today and tomorrow” as he prepares for his side’s Europa League match at home to Eintracht Frankfurt on Thursday.

“My job is to prepare for the match, to show the best performance in front of our supporters,” he said.

Arsenal go into Thursday’s game top of Group F, four points clear of both their German opponents and Standard Liege.

On Sunday, a number of Arsenal fan groups called for “urgent action” over the “state of things” at the club.

“My focus is only today and tomorrow, to do all the things that we have worked on here at the training ground,” Emery added.

“We know our supporters were disappointed by the draw against Southampton, but we have the perfect chance to reconnect with our supporters.

“Our wish is that every supporter tomorrow helps the team, we need them.”

Arsenal are also eight points adrift of the top four and 19 points behind Premier League leaders Liverpool.

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General election 2019: ‘We’re just represented by white people’

Young people from black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds (BAME) have described how they feel the 2019 general election has failed so far to take on their views or represent them.

Students at London’s Westminster Kingsway College talked about the issues they care about and the changes they would like to see in politics.

Video by Jamie Moreland

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London Underground: Victoria Line staff to strike

Victoria station

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Getty Images

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Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union will walk out for 24 hours from 22:00 on 27 November

Train drivers on the Victoria Line are to go on strike following a falling out with London Underground (LU) for “breaking promises”.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union will walk out for 24 hours from 22:00 on 27 November.

The line is one of the busiest on the Tube network, carrying hundreds of thousands of passengers a day.

The union warned it would consider further strikes in December if the dispute was not resolved.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash accused LU management of reneging on agreements reached during talks.

‘Childish behaviour’

Abuses of procedures, pay arrangements and constant harassment of staff were also were at the heart of the dispute, he added.

“It is extraordinary that LU seriously believed that they could get away with mugging off drivers on the Victoria Line by making promises and then pulling them away the moment that they step out into the daylight.

“LU’s actions are deliberately provocative and the announcement of action later this month is solely down to their childish behaviour.

“I have informed LU that the union remains available for talks to resolve this matter, but such talks have to be genuine, honest and based on mutual respect and trust.”

A Transport for London spokesman said: “We have been making progress with the RMT on these issues and are disappointed they have chosen to call this action without notice.

“We urge them to continue working with us to solve these issues rather than disrupt Londoners with strike action.”

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London Piccadilly Theatre ceiling collapses on audience

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Media captionActor Wendell Pierce apologised for the roof collapse

Five people were taken to hospital and several others were injured when a roof collapsed during a Piccadilly Theatre show in London’s West End.

The venue in Denman Street was packed for a performance of the Arthur Miller play Death of a Salesman, starring US actor Wendell Pierce.

Screaming was heard from the circle when part of the ceiling collapsed just before 20:00 GMT on Wednesday, covering many theatre-goers in plaster debris.

More than 1,000 people were evacuated.

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PA Media

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Rescue units were sent to the theatre by London Fire Brigade after the collapse

Wendell Pierce, who plays Willy Loman in the show – which only opened on Monday – apologised for having to stop the show and evacuate the theatre.

A video shared on social media shows the US actor outside the venue asking the crowd to come back and see the play another time.

“We’re so honoured that you came tonight. We are so sorry that this happened,” he said.

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Getty Images

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Wendell Pierce with Dominic West, his co-star from acclaimed crime drama The Wire, at the play’s opening night on Monday

BBC journalist Iain Haddow, who was in the audience, said the collapse happened about 20 minutes into the show.

He said that before the collapse there had been a steady drop of water “which turned progressively into a stream” – although it was not raining at the time – and said there was some panic when the ceiling fell in.

He said that outside the theatre there was scaffolding and building work going on.

Following the collapse, a spokeswoman for theatre production company Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG) confirmed the section of ceiling collapsed in the rear upper circleand that five people required hospital treatment.

“We take the safety and security of our audiences extremely seriously and we are doing everything we can to ascertain the cause of the incident,” she said.

The company said on its website it would be making an announcement later “regarding the recommencing of performances”.

In December 2013, 76 people were injured, seven seriously, when part of a ceiling at London’s Apollo Theatre collapsed during a show, while 1,200 people had to leave the Queen’s Theatre in Shaftesbury Avenue, following a small fire during a matinee performance of Les Miserables.

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