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KnowAbout Coventry, West Midlands
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Coventry, West Midlands

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15 YEARS JAIL FOR VICIOUS CAR PARK ATTACK ON SEX WORKER

A man who repeatedly stamped on a woman’s head during a brutal attack in a Birmingham car park – shoving a dumped fridge-freezer on her as she lay injured on the floor – has been jailed for 15 years.  Edward Wolstenholme (pictured) left a sex worker with horrific injuries after assaulting her in a secluded car park in Ladywood on 4 February.  He had offered to pay the 46-year-old for sex – but soon after they got to the car park in Parker Street, Ladywood, he launched a frenzied attack, repeatedly kicking, stamping and jumping on the woman’s head.  A man in a nearby building was alerted to the attack by the woman’s screams and shouted out of his window causing 25-year-old Wolstenholme to run off; he called the emergency services and waited with the woman until they arrived.  At hospital the full extent of the woman’s injuries were revealed, including severe facial fractures and a bleed on the brain. Doctors later said she was lucky to survive. Kitchen porter Wolstenholme was quickly linked to the attack through forensic evidence. And the West Midlands Police investigation also revealed that, moments after the attack and covered in blood, he ran to a local shop to try and buy a knife. Chillingly, he returned to the car-park but left when he saw the victim was not alone.  He was arrested by officers on 9 February at his home in Westminster Road, Selly Park – and due to the overwhelming evidence against him he was charged with attempted murder later that day. And at Birmingham Crown Court today (May 26) Wolstenholme was jailed for 15 years and nine months after admitting attempted murder. He must serve a minimum of 12 years and nine months before he can be considered for parole.  If he is released he will be subject to a Dangerous Offender Order for a further three years and nine months.  Investigating Officer DC Sarah McDonnell said: “This was a truly horrific attack. It has left a woman with lasting psychological and physical damage that will continue to affect her for the rest of her life.  "We accept today’s decision and believe that a dangerous man has now been taken off the streets for a long time. We hope that this gives some comfort to the victim as she continues to recover from her ordeal."  In a personal statement, read out to the court his victim said: “I’m scared all of the time. He has destroyed me; I’m the shell of the person I used to be. My confidence and self-esteem have been shattered.  “I really thought I was going to be killed. Even now, I realise how close I came that night and I thank God every day that I’m alive. “I know some people will judge me for what I was doing for work and then me ending up being attacked in such a way. But no matter what a person does, no matter what walk of life they have or are from, no one deserves this.  “I have no words to describe the man that did this to me. All I know is that – that night, he wanted to kill me. As far as I am concerned that was what he ultimately tried to do and if it wasn’t for the person who had seen what was going on, called the police and come to help me I really don’t think I would be here today writing this.  “I can’t thank him enough for his kindness in coming to help me…I will always be thankful for that stranger.”

WEST MIDLANDS POLICE SUPPORT BIRMINGHAM PRIDE THIS WEEKEND

West Midlands Police will be working proudly alongside the community this weekend to ensure visitors to the city’s annual Pride festival enjoy a safe and happy event. The initial Pride parade begins at midday on Saturday (27 May) and officers will be ensuring the vibrant sea of colour and music passes safely through the centre of Birmingham. Throughout Saturday and Sunday, you will see an increase in police officers and staff around the city to keep the public safe. Officers and staff from the force’s LGBT Network - an internal West Midlands Police network for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans employees - will also be supporting uniformed officers at the event and speaking to visitors. Superintendent Phil Dolby, responsible for policing pride this weekend, said: “This is a busy weekend of celebration in Birmingham, with tens of thousands of people expected to join the Pride celebrations. “Officers will be ensuring that all celebrations take place safely and will also be maintaining a visible presence around Birmingham city centre during both Saturday and Sunday evening. “I appreciate that people planning to attend may feel a sense of nervousness following events earlier this week in Manchester but I would like to offer some reassurance that a full policing operation is in place and is subject to on-going reviews. “We will have a large number of police officers, specials and police staff on hand to keep the public safe. I would ask people to be our eyes and ears – if you see something suspicious tell a police officer or member of security staff.” Visitors to Pride can do their bit to keep themselves safe by staying with friends, looking after their property and parking in a secure location if driving into the city. Crime prevention messages as well as policing updates about Pride will be tweeted through the Birmingham Police twitter account (@brumpolice). If you see something suspicious that could be related to terrorism, don't delay, Just ACT. Contact Police in confidence 0800 789 321. In an emergency always call 999 #ActionCountersTerrorism

FIVE YEARS JAIL FOR BIRMINGHAM RAPIST

A man who raped a woman as she made her way home after celebrating her 21st birthday has today (26 May) been jailed for five years and four months.  Florian Lupu targeted the woman as she and two friends walked home from Broad Street in Birmingham on 31 July last year. The three friends had taken a short cut through a building site near to Paradise Circus when they realised they couldn’t get out the other end. Lupu, who was nearby, helped the women by lifting the fence so they could get out. He then walked alongside the women attempting to befriend them, putting his arm around one of them. When she shrugged it off and walked ahead, Lupu put his arm around her friend and steered her towards the road.  A few minutes later the two friends realised that the 21-year-old was not with them and retraced their steps. The women found the man raping their friend in a doorway of an office block near to Paradise Circus. They shouted at him and he ran off. Officers scanned CCTV in the area and found footage from an office building that captured the incident. CCTV also showed Lupu enter and leave Walkabout bar the same night. He was shown walking down Broad Street towards Paradise Circus. More footage showed the moment he dragged the woman across the road to the doorway of the office building where he carried out the sickening attack.  Officers attended Walkabout bar and seized a screenshot of a provisional driving licence belonging to Lupu that had been scanned that night to allow him into the bar. The 29-year-old no longer lived at the address on his driving licence so he was marked as wanted on the police national database. Three months later he was stopped and arrested by officers in West Bromwich.  Florian, a Romanian national, admitted rape at Birmingham Crown Court on 3 April 2017 and was today (26 May) sentenced to five years and four months in prison, he has also been placed on the Sex Offenders Register for life.  Speaking after the hearing, investigating officer DC Gavin McGrath said: "There are no excuses or grey areas when it comes to rape - if someone says no, then it is a criminal offence. "I would like to commend the woman in this case for her courage and I hope today’s sentence will help her to move on with her life knowing the person responsible is behind bars." West Midlands Police has specially trained officers (STOs) who understand the trauma of sexual assaults and are available 24 hours a day to guide people through the formal complaints process, offer a place of safety and medical treatment as needed.

FIVE YEARS JAIL FOR DRIVER WHO KILLED PEDESTRIAN IN AMBLECOTE 

A driver who was using his mobile phone when he killed a pedestrian in Amblecote has been jailed.  Ryan Freeth, of Marshall Crescent, Wordsley, was driving at speeds in excess of 48mph in a 30 limit when he hit 66-year-old Leslie Marks in November 2015.  Freeth left Mr Marks injured in the road on Brettell Lane and deleted texts and call data from his mobile phone before returning to the scene.  But, when officers checked his phone records, it revealed that he had made two calls at around the time of the collision.  And at Wolverhampton Crown Court yesterday (Thursday 25 May) the 27-year-old was jailed for four years and five months.  He was also banned from driving for five years and told he will need to take an extended driving test before he will be allowed behind the wheel again.  Sergeant Alan Wood, from the regional Collision Investigation Unit, said: "We believe that Freeth left the scene of the collision to try to cover his tracks.  "When we investigated the collision we revealed that Freeth had been driving at excessive speed and that he had been talking to a friend on his mobile phone at the time.  "The driving ban will not come into effect until he is released from prison and then he will have to wait a further five years before he can take a driving test, meaning he will not be able to drive for many years to come.  "Today he was served with justice and we hope that the sentencing will offer some comfort to Mr Marks’ family and also act as a deterrent to other people using mobile phones whilst driving."   

HOSPITAL SECURITY CALL MADE IN GOOD FAITH

Police were called to Queen Elizabeth Hospital at 6.20pm today (Thursday 25 May) following reports of a man acting suspiciously. Working alongside hospital security staff, officers detained and searched a 46-year-old Birmingham man in an area away from the main building. As a precaution access to parts of the hospital was restricted for around 50 minutes while checks were completed. Officers sent to investigate were supported by firearms officers including some who were already at the hospital. The man has not been arrested and the call to police by security staff was made in good faith. We thank the guards for their vigilance and for acting on their concerns. We continue to ask for people to remain alert and report suspicious behaviour to us on 101 or via the confidential Anti-terrorism Hotline 0800 789 321.  

VAN DRIVER JAILED AFTER KNOCKING DOWN AND KILLING TEENAGE GIRL

A Birmingham van driver who knocked down and killed a teenage girl on her way to school, has been jailed for seven years for causing death by dangerous driving. Neel Balu, aged 43 from Walsall, was driving a Mercedes Sprinter van, when it collided with 17-year-old Zoe Shapiro as she used a pedestrian crossing on a dual carriageway in Birmingham Road, Walsall.   Balu, a self-employed builder, was driving towards Birmingham, when the collision took place in February 2016. The court heard Zoe was just a few steps away from reaching the safety of the central reservation when she was hit. Zoe, a student at the Q3 Academy in Great Barr, suffered serious injuries and was taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, where she tragically died. Balu was arrested at the scene.  The court heard Balu had been speeding at the time of the collision and had gone through a red light before hitting Zoe. Balu claimed in his defence that he was trying to wipe away ice from his window and had been dazzled by the sun which distracted him. In order to collect the most accurate forensic evidence for the case, the force enlisted the support of Professor Mark Williams from Warwick Manufacturing Group at the University of Warwick, who used state of the art 3D imaging technology, normally used within the automotive industry. Using the scanner, the professor and his team managed to prove the injuries suffered by Zoe matched the damage caused to the vehicle. A 3D virtual scene of the collision provided critical evidence for the prosecution.  Professor Mark Williams said: “State-of-the-art 3D imaging technology allowed us to precisely recreate multiple elements of the crime scene, and put together the pieces of what really took place. “It’s an honour to provide evidence to this investigation and to help the police in uncovering the truth about that tragic day." Zoe’s parents have paid tribute to their daughter.  Her mum, Joanne Corbett, said: “I am Zoe's mum and for 17 years I had the privilege and honour of being mother to an amazing, beautiful, kind and exceptional young women. She was intelligent, funny and lit up those who she met.  Zoe was my first born and only daughter.  She was big sister to Maximus and TJ.  Maximus was born severely disabled and passed away at the age of four.  When Max was born, Zoe became more than a daughter, she was my best friend, my biggest support and my rock. When Max died, Zoe was just 14, I could not have functioned without her. She got me through my darkest hours. She was, and always will be, my inspiration. “But on Wednesday 24 February 2016, my life was destroyed and changed forever, beyond all comprehension. My amazing daughter was cruelly and senselessly robbed from myself, my only remaining child and my family, who love this beautiful girl beyond words.   “I try and control my mind from wondering, but this is an impossible task.  Not to think of all the "Never will be’s" and the "what ifs".  But it is hard for me not to sob when I think of her beautiful face, her distinctive laugh or when her post arrives, when I hear her favourite music or think about her laughing along with her little brother TJ, a bond now stolen from him, or hearing her cheeky banter when she arrived home. Zoe would have been 18 on the 16 September. Instead of shopping for her gifts, and buying her her first car, as I intended, I was instead dressing her grave, alongside her little brother Max. I miss her in so many ways, cuddled up on the sofa with TJ under her favourite blanket. I miss singing and dancing along with her to her favourite songs, filled with happiness and laughter.”   Her father Dominic Shapiro said: “My beautiful daughter Zoë was my only child, the centre of my universe, my best friend. She was such an intelligent, funny and loving girl, she had an amazing life ahead of her. Zoë’s future was set to mould my future. Everything I did in life from the day she was born, was driven to ensuring I could protect her and provide her with the best life possible. “Tragically, a totally reckless act of irresponsible behaviour changed everything, ending Zoë’s life as she innocently crossed the pedestrian traffic lights she used every day during her daily walk from our home to school. “The devastation this has caused for myself and all who loved her is immense, far reaching and never ending. The aftermath of such a tragic incident just continues to come in waves of cruelty, in ways I wouldn’t have thought possible.” Sergeant Adam Green, from the force’s regional Collision Investigation Unit, said: “This was a devastating tragedy for Zoe’s family and we are pleased that the judge’s sentence reflects the enormity of Balu’s actions that day. “His actions have cut short the life of an aspiring young woman and cost her family the joy of watching her achieve her potential. “Balu drove for approximately 100 metres without seeing the red traffic light on the crossing that Zoe had been using correctly. Alongside driving in excess of the speed limit, travelling through a red traffic light at a minimum of 37mph, the prosecution submitted that he was ‘grossly, avoidably distracted’. “We are grateful to the University of Warwick for their invaluable assistance in this investigation.” Balu was sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court today (Thursday 25 May) after being unanimously convicted by a jury. He was also disqualified from driving for nine and a half years and will be required to take an extended retest before being allowed behind the wheel again.

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