Author: NewsBot

Mugger targeted Good Samaritan because he gave money to the homeless

A mugger has been jailed for robbing a Good Samaritan who was targeted because he gave money to the poor and homeless.

Christopher McMahon attacked the 70-year-old victim and pushed him to the ground before searching his bag and pockets and stealing £40 cash and his phone.

The pensioner was first approached by McMahon’s fellow attacker Lisa Sweeney, who knew him because he had given her money in the past after seeing her at a food bank in Torquay.

McMahon, aged 27, of Woodland Park, Paignton, admitted robbery and was jailed for two years and ten months by Judge Paul Cook at Exeter Crown Court.

 

Homeless Sweeney, aged 26, admitted battery at an earlier hearing and was jailed for four months.

The judge told McMahon the robbery was more serious because the victim was elderly and vulnerable and had tried to help Sweeney.

It was also aggravated by the fact that McMahon has a long list of previous convictions including those for robbery and attempted murder and had only been out of jail for five months when he carried out this attack.

Mr Nigel Wraith, prosecuting, said the 70-year-old was walking in Teignmouth Road, Torquay, at 6.40 pm on October 3 when he was approached by Sweeney who asked for £10.

 

He said he had no money but McMahon intervened and hit him in the face three times, leaving him feeling dizzy, disorientated and in pain. He took his money and his phone and left.

The victim had injuries to his face and severe bruising to his back from being pushed onto the pavement.

Mr Simon Burns, defending, said Sweeney had started the incident and McMahon had taken advantage of it. He bitterly regrets his actions and plans to return to Scotland after his release.

The people we met at the magistrates courts in Devon this week

All these people appeared before magistrates in Exeter

Exeter Magistrates' Court
Exeter Magistrates’ Court

JANUARY 29, 2019

Justin Bernard Stamp, Elphington Street, Exeter. Age: 39. On 04/01/2019 at Exeter jointly with another stole food and alcohol, to the value of 146.52, belonging to Marks and Spencer. Plea: Guilty. Discharged conditionally for 12 months. Surcharge to fund victim services of £20. Costs of £40.

Gavin Griffin Marlow, NFA. Age: 55. On 10/01/2019 at Exeter in a public place, namely Exeter Central Railway Station, were guilty, while drunk, of disorderly behaviour. Plea: Guilty. Breach a conditional discharge for criminal damage. Fined £40. Surcharge £30. Costs £40.

Sasha Fiona Miranda Bianchini, Smythen Street, Exeter. Age: 28. On 05/01/2019 at Exeter dishonestly received stolen goods, namely diamond ring, to the value of £998 belonging to Ivor Doble, knowing or believing the same to be stolen goods. Plea Guilty. Community order made. Rehabilitation Activity Requirement for 10 days. Surcharge and costs of £185.

Nicola Moore, Younghayes Road, Cranbrook, Exeter. Age: 37. On 06/04/2018 at Cranbrook without the authority of the secretary of state, had in your possession a weapon designed or adapted for the discharge of a noxious liquid, namely oleoresin capsicum – pepper spray. Plea: Guilty. Discharged conditionally for 6 months. Pay a surcharge to fund victim services of £20. To pay costs of £85 to the Crown Prosecution Service.

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Exeter triple murder investigation

JANUARY 30

Dion Ash, Gyffarde Street, Taunton, Somerset. Age: 30. On 26/09/2018 at Willand drove a motor vehicle namely a ford motor car on a road namely M5 carriageway junction 28-27 while disqualified from holding or obtaining a driving licence. Plus speeding and driving without insurance. Plea: Guilty. Community order made. Carry out unpaid work for 240 hours. Surcharge to fund victim services of £85. Pay costs of £85. Disqualified for holding or obtaining a driving licence for 15 months. Fined £600.

FEBRUARY 2

Abu Muhidin Ahmed, No Fixed Abode. Age: 20. On 31/01/2019 at Exeter jointly had in your possession a quantity of “crack” cocaine, a controlled drug of class A with intent to supply it to another. On 31/01/2019 at Exeter without reasonable excuse, being in a public place with another having more than £200 in his possession, having more than one mobile phone in his possession in a public place which you were prohibited from doing by a criminal behaviour order. Sent for trial to Exeter Crown Court on 07/03/2019.

Joshua John Foster, George Nympton, South Molton. Age: 26. On 26/01/2019 at Landkey together with others robbed male and female of £100 sterling, a single Scottish £5 note, 1,085euros, 56 books of first class stamps, 27 books of second class stamps and a plastic cash box to the value of £1,647. Sent for trial to Exeter Crown Court on 07/03/2019.

Louise Jillian Hudson, George Nympton, South Molton. Age: 26. On 26/01/2019 at Landkey together with others robbed male and female of £100 sterling, a single Scottish £5 note, 1,085euros, 56 books of first class stamps, 27 books of second class stamps and a plastic cash box to the value of £1,647. Sent for trial to Exeter Crown Court on 07/03/2019.

Mohammed Izadin, Chatsworth Road, London. Age: 19. On 31/01/2019 at Exeter jointly had in your possession a quantity of “crack” cocaine, a controlled drug of class A with intent to supply it to another. On 31/01/2019 at Exeter without reasonable excuse, being in possession of a mobile phone/SIM card that is not registered to him which you were prohibited from doing by a criminal behaviour order. Sent for trial to Exeter Crown Court on 07/03/2019.

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Most Read

FEBRUARY 4

Ion Raduca, Lincoln Street, Deepdale, Lancashire. Age: 33. Between 01/10/2018 and 15/01/2019 at Exeter your course of conduct amounted to stalking and caused a female to fear, on at least two occasions, that violence would be used against her when you knew or ought to have known that your course of conduct would cause fear of violence to a female on each occasion in that you sent messages and called the victim making threats of violence. Between 01/01/2019 and 3/02/2019 at Exeter without lawful excuse made to a female a threat to kill her intending that the she would fear that the said threat would be carried out. Sent for trial to Exeter Crown Court on 07/03/2019.

Thomas Kane Rowe, Brook Meadow, South Molton. Age: 26. On 16/02/2018 at Stockport, stole Eastman Sunburst Guitar and an Eastman Classic Guitar, to the value of £2,800, belonging to another. Plea: Guilty. Community order made. Rehabilitation Activity Requirement up to a maximum of eight days. Surcharge to fund victim services of £85.

Anthony Edwin Seatherton, Mount Pleasant Road, Exeter. Age: 31. On 02/02/2019 at Exeter used towards two people threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour with intent to cause those persons to believe that immediate unlawful violence would be used against them by any person, or provoke the immediate use of unlawful violence by them whereby those persons were likely to believe that such violence would be used, or it was likely that such violence would be provoked. Plea: Guilty. Community order made. Rehabilitation Activity Requirement up to a maximum of 10 days. Unpaid work for 150 hours within the next 12 months. Surcharge to fund victim services of £85. Costs of £85.

Christopher Hughes, Avocet Road, Sowton. Age: 60. On 04/01/2018 at Kingkerswell committed fraud in that you dishonestly failed to disclose to a female information, namely a written cancellation notice in accordance with the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013, and intended by failing to disclose that information, which you were under a legal duty to disclose, intending, by that failure, to make a gain, namely unspecified, for yourself. Plea: Guilty. On 04/01/2018 at 3 Midway, Kingkerswell being a trader knowingly or recklessly engaged in a commercial practice which contravened the requirements of professional diligence under regulation 3(3)(a) of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 and which materially distorted or was likely to materially distort the economic behaviour of the average consumer with regard to a product, namely the product. Plea: Guilty. Fined £370. To pay a surcharge to fund victim services of £30. To pay costs of £200.

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More court stories

Daniel Alan Hughes, Avocet Road, Sowton. Age: 22. On 04/01/2018 at Kingkerswell committed fraud in that you dishonestly failed to disclose to a female information, namely a written cancellation notice in accordance with the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013, and intended by failing to disclose that information, which you were under a legal duty to disclose, intending, by that failure, to make a gain, namely unspecified, for yourself. Plea: Guilty. On 04/01/2018 at Kingkerswell in being a trader knowingly or recklessly engaged in a commercial practice which contravened the requirements of professional diligence under regulation 3(3)(a) of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 and which materially distorted or was likely to materially distort the economic behaviour of the average consumer with regard to a product, namely the product. Plea: Guilty. Fined £370. To pay a surcharge to fund victim services of £30. To pay costs of £200.

Connor Charlton, Elizabeth Close, Whimple, Exeter. Age: 20. Between 14/01/2019 and 23/01/2019 at Exeter breached a domestic violence protection order made by Exeter Magistrates Court on 14/01/2019 in that you had direct contact with a female and intimidated, harassed and pestered her and a complaint is made for you to be liable for a penalty. Plea: Admits Breach. Committed to prison for six weeks. Reason: messages were two way and you have shown remorse, there was more than one breach of the order and you sent a very many messages to the complainant including making threats of violence.

David Bryant Singer, The Heathers, Okehampton. Age: 34. On 15/10/2018 at Okehampton stole a bottle of les Jamelles reserve mourvedre wine, to the value of £7.49, belonging to McColls, Okehampton. Plea: Guilty. On 20/10/2018 at Okehampton stole a bottle of wine, to the value of £7.49. Remanded on unconditional bail until 28/02/2019.

All these people appeared before the magistrates in South Devon

Newton Abbot Magistrates' Court
Newton Abbot Magistrates’ Court

FEBRUARY 8, 2019

Charles Robert ANGUS, Warren Road, Torquay. Age: 33. On 23/09/2018 at Totnes used a motor vehicle, namely Vauxhall, on a road, or other public place, namely Plymouth Road when there was not in force in relation to that use such a policy of insurance or such a security in respect of third party risks. Plea: Guilty. Fined £120. Surcharge to fund victim services of £30. Costs £85. Driving record endorsed with six points.

Nichola Louise SCIBILIA, West Golds Way, Newton Abbot. Age: 48. On 08/08/2018 at Newton Abbot had in your possession 1.703g of cocaine a controlled drug of Class A. On 08/082018 at Newton Abbot had in your possession 1.89g of crack cocaine, a controlled drug of class A. Plea: Guilty. Community order made. The defendant must comply with the following requirements: Alcohol Treatment Requirement for six months. Rehabilitation Activity Requirement up to a maximum of 15 days. To pay a surcharge to fund victim services of £85. To pay costs of £85 to the Crown Prosecution Service.

James Leonard Selvey, Burton Villa Close, Brixham. Age: 47. Between 05/04/2011 and 25/06/2018 at Torbay, were knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of income tax by yourself. Plea: Guilty. Committed to Exeter Crown Court for sentence on 11/03/2019.

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Murder in Devon

Lawrence George FLYNN, Happaway Road, Torquay. Age: 52. On 15/11/2017 at Torquay jointly with another committed fraud in that you dishonestly made a false representation, namely used a stolen bank card, intending to make a gain namely a car wash credit to a value of £6. Plea: Guilty. On 15/11/2017 at Torquay jointly with another committed fraud in that you dishonestly made a false representation, namely used a stolen bank card, intending to make a gain namely a car wash credit to a value of £5. Plea: Guilty. On 15/11/2017 at Torquay jointly with anothercommitted fraud in that you dishonestly made a false representation, namely used a stolen bankcard, intending to make a gain for yourself, namely obtained fuel and cigarettes to a value of £27.35. Plea: Guilty. On 15/11/2017 at Torquay jointly with another committed fraud in that you dishonestly made a false representation, namely used a stolen bank card, intending to make a gain namely obtained gas and electricity credit to a value of £20. Plea: Guilty. On 15/11/2017 at Torquay jointly committed fraud in that you dishonestly made a false representation, namely used a stolen bank card, intending to make a gain namely obtained cigarettes to a value of £7.35. Plea: Guilty. On 15/11/2017 a Torquay committed fraud in that you dishonestly made a false representation, namely used a stolen bank card, intending to make a gain for yourself, namely obtained toiletries to a value of £25. Plea: Guilty. On 15/11/2017 at Torquay dishonestly undertook or assisted in the retention, removal, disposal or realisation of stolen goods, namely a stolen bank card, of a value unknown, belonging to a male knowing or believing the same to be stolen goods. Plea: Guilty. Fined £120. To pay a surcharge to fund victim services of £30. To pay costs of £85 to the Crown Prosecution Service.

Alan Alfred POTTER, NFA. Age: 47. On 04/12/2018 at Torquay with intent to cause a male harassment, alarm or distress,used threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour or disorderly behaviour, thereby causing that person or another harassment, alarm or distress. Plea: Guilty. Remanded on bail until 01/03/2019.

Michael James TURNER, Coker Avenue, Watcombe, Torquay. Age: 29. On 09/10/2018 at Crownhill, Plymouth having been required by or on behalf of the chief officer of police failed to give information relating to the identification of the driver of vehicle, namely Vauxhall Insignia who was alleged to have been guilty of an offence.Plea: Not Guilty. Verdict: found Guilty. Fined £540. Disqualified for holding or obtaining a driving licence for 12 months. To pay costs of £620. To pay a surcharge to fund victim services of £30.

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Hundreds of court cases from Exeter

Frederick Thomas BUSHELL, Kingsway, Teignmouth. Age: 27. On 26/10/2018 at Newton Abbot drove a motor vehicle namely Peugeot 206 on a road namely Market Walk car park, while disqualified from holding or obtaining a driving licence. Plea: Guilty. On 26/10/2018 at Newton Abbot failed, without reasonable excuse, to co-operate with a preliminary test, namely roadside saliva test with a drug wipe. Plea: Guilty. On 26/10/2018 at Newton Abbot used a motor vehicle, namely Peugeot 206 on a road, or other public place, namely Market Walk public car park, when there was not in force in relation to that use such a policy of insurance or such a security in respect of third party risks. Plea: Guilty. Fined £360. To pay a surcharge to fund victim services of £30. To pay costs of £250. Disqualified for holding or obtaining a driving licence for 12 months.

FEBRUARY 11

Christopher John BINDON, Warren Hill, Torquay. Age: 34. Failed without reasonable excuse to comply with the requirements of a community order made by South and West Devon Magistrates Court on 26/09/2018 for causing harassment alarm or ditress with intent. Community order made. Curfew Requirement with Electronic Monitoring: Be under a curfew for 13 weeks with electronic monitoring.

Jade Elizabeth BIRCH, C/O Silverwell Park, Modbury Ivybridge. Age: 20. Failed without reasonable excuse to comply with the requirements of a community order made by South and West Devon Magistrates Court on 12/10/2018 by failing to attend appointments as directed. Plea: Admits Breach. Order to continue. Fined £80.

Rachel Louise FINCH, Braddons Hill Road West, Torquay. Age: 22. Failed without reasonable excuse to comply with the requirements of a community order made by South and West Devon Magistrates Court on 26/10/2018 by failing to attend as directed. Plea: Admits Breach. Order to continue. Fined £150.

Sold: three Westcountry homes changing hands this week

A couple re-locating from Hampshire bought Marden in Stokeinteignhead near Teignmouth. Perched on a hill overlooking the village, this four-bedroom house was built in the 1930s and has been improved over the years. Outside is nearly an acre of gardens.

Sold off a guide price of £489,500 by Stags, Torquay, 01803 200160, www.stags.co.uk

Tregolls Lodge in Truro is a handsome period house close to the city centre, with three double bedrooms and enclosed gardens. It was bought by a buyer re-locating from out of the county.

Sold off a guide price of £325,000 by Philip Martin, Truro, 01872 242 244, www.philip-martin.co.uk

The first of 12 new homes in Elburton on the fringes of Plymouth has now completed, and just four plots remain for sale. The homes at Wellspring Place are set in a cul-de-sac towards the bottom of a no-through road, convenient for Plymouth and the South Hams.

Sold off a guide price of £499,950 by Luscombe Maye, Yealmpton, 01752 880044, www.luscombemaye.com

 

Fears Torquay church blaze could ‘flare up again’

Fire crews who have been battling a large blaze in Torquay for the past seven hours say they will be at the scene “all night”.

More than 40 firefighters have been on the scene after a fire broke out at an abandoned church on Meadfoot Road, known locally as the Rainbow Fun House building.

The blaze was reported at 2pm after the fire service received 20 calls from the public.

The scene on Meadfoot Road in Torquay this evening
The scene on Meadfoot Road in Torquay this evening

A total of seven fire engines from Newton Abbot, Paignton, Teignmouth and Newton Abbot along with a command support vehicle from Totnes and an aerial ladder platform from Danes Castle are currently fighting the fire.

Speaking from the scene just moments ago, Devon and Somerset Fire Service group manager Jon Miller said: “We will be here pretty much all night.

 

“The issue that is worrying us is that there is bitumen just underneath the roof tiles.

“There are some hot spots we are keeping an eye on because we’re worried they could flare up again.

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“We have just got access to the under side of the roof visually so we can now see where the fire has been.

“The main damage has been to the roof space and the boarding underneath the roof tiles.”

 

Group manager Miller said that, amazingly, the old ball park inside the building is “pretty much intact”.

Several roads in the area remain closed – including Parkhill Road, Meadfoot Sea Road and Torwood Gardens.

Police and fire units are still on the scene and a bright light has been seen shining up and down the churches spire.

An update at 8.15pm on the fire service website said: “Crews continue to make steady progress using the aerial ladder platform cutting away affected areas of the roof whilst also continuing to dampen down hot spots.”

For all the latest on this fire, follow our live blog here .

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Fire crews to battle blaze into the night at Rainbow Fun House

More than 40 firefighters are currently on the scene in Torquay after a fire broke out at an abandoned church – and they are expected to be there through the night.

A total of seven fire engines from Newton Abbot, Paignton, Teignmouth and Newton Abbot along with a command support vehicle from Totnes and an aerial ladder platform from Danes Castle are currently fighting a large fire involving the derelict building locally known as Rainbow Fun House building.

It is currently unknown whether any people are inside the building but the fire is involving the first floor and the roof space.

 

Residents nearby are also being advised to stay indoors and to keep their windows shut.

Group Commander for South Devon, Matt Johnson who is currently on the scene said: “One of the problems is that the building is full of old play equipment and that is hampering us very much.

“We are likely to be here for some time, we still have seven fire engine here and the aerial ladder carrying out extensive searches in the building.

“The roof space has two layers of wooden boarding under the tiles.”

Here’s the latest video from the scene

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At the moment fire crews on the aerial platform are ripping off tiles off the roof to expose the wooden boards beneath.

Station manager Nick Bankes-Fay added: “We are ripping the tiles off but the wooden boarding is aiding the fire.

“We have breathing apparatus crews in there and we believe the fire started on the first floor, there are concerns about people who have been inside the building but we are not overly concerned.”

Follow our live blog here for all the latest updates and pictures from the scene.

Broken down train causes disruption at Exeter St Davids

A broken down train between Exeter St Davids and Barnstaple has blocked all lines.

National Rail say there will be no trains to or from the station until at least 10.30am this morning.

Buses will replace trains here until the train has been removed.

The train is thought to have broken down just before 7am on Thursday morning.

Passengers face more disruption from next week because of tunnel upgrades and track replacement works.

The   closure of the Whiteball Tunnel  near Tiverton Parkway   – which will last from  Monday February  18, to Friday  March 8 –  will sever the rail mainline into Devon  and Cornwall, forcing passengers to catch a bus between Taunton and Exeter. 

 

The closure of  one of the two tunnels at Marley,  near Totnes (which also will last from  Monday February  18, to Friday  March 8)  –  will be less disruptive, but will result in reduced services – and the replacement of trains with buses for one day only.

The other works will also be less disruptive, and confined to single days or weekends.

CrossCountry’s  website says : “A revised train service will be in operation between Exeter St Davids, Dawlish, Teignmouth, Newton Abbot, Totnes and Plymouth.

“Rail replacement road transport between Taunton and Exeter St Davids will operate from Monday 18 February. Road transport will operate between Newton Abbot, Totnes and Plymouth on Sunday 17 February.”

 

This morning, GWR announced on Twitter that: “Upgrade works are taking place in Devon & Cornwall between 18 February and 8 March.

“Long distance trains will be diverted, extending their journey times, and run at a reduced frequency with buses to supplement some journeys.”

An infographic on the Tweet states that, from Monday February 18, to Friday March 8

  • Buses will replace trains  between Taunton and Exeter
  • Train services between Exeter and Plymouth will be reduced
  • A shuttle train service will operate in Cornwall
  • On February 17, buses will replace trains between Newton Abbot and Plymouth

Inadequate and unsafe care home left “confused and distressed” residents at repeated risk of harm

An “inadequate” Devon care home has been criticised for being understaffed, unsafe and leaving “confused and distressed” residents unattended and at repeated risk of harm.

Inspectors witnessed one resident fall and hit their head with no member of staff present, heard another had become stuck under their bed railings on four separate occasions and found residents’ safety was not being monitored or managed.

Staff told inspectors they struggled to meet people’s needs, with one employee telling them: “I’m scared for the people here, for their safety.”

 

Inspectors who visited the premises on December 4 last year rated the home “inadequate” overall and noted several breaches of health and social care regulations.

The White House care home in Teignmouth
The White House care home in Teignmouth

A damning report from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) deemed that The White House in Teignmouth was not safe, unresponsive and poorly managed.

The home, which is run by Teignmouth Care Limited, is a 22-bed residential care home set over three floors on Woodway Road.

The report found the safety of the home inadequate, stating: “For one person who was at an identified, ongoing risk of abuse, there was no risk management plan in place.

 

“We felt this person was at risk of harm and on the first day of inspection asked for an urgent risk assessment to be put in place and this be communicated to staff.

“Two of the upstairs windows did not have restrictors. This placed the person whose bedroom it was at avoidable risk of harm of a fall from a height.

“Records showed multiple instances of unwitnessed falls with no evidence that measures were put in place to reduce the risks to people.

An overview of the CQC's findings
An overview of the CQC’s findings

“Records showed one person’s limbs had become entrapped under their bed rails on four occasions between June 2017 and 1 December 2018.

“The last incident report from December 2018 said the person was found ‘distraught and shouting out with both legs trapped under the bed rails causing pain’.”

The report also found that records were not always accurate, up to date or stored securely, staffing levels were not enough to keep people safe and not all staff administering medicines had been assessed as competent to do so.

 

At the end of the report it stated: “If not enough improvement is made within this time frame so that there is still a rating of inadequate for any key question or overall, we will take action in line with our enforcement procedures to begin the process of preventing the provider from operating this service.

“This will lead to cancelling their registration or to varying the terms of their registration within six months if they do not improve. This service will continue to be kept under review and, if needed, could be escalated to urgent enforcement action.

“Where necessary, another inspection will be conducted within a further six months, and if there is not enough improvement so there is still a rating of inadequate for any key question or overall, we will take action to prevent the provider from operating this service.

The White House care home in Teignmouth
The White House care home in Teignmouth

“This will lead to cancelling their registration or to varying the terms of their registration.”

The White House has issued a statement about the report.

A spokesman for the home said: “The quality of care and support we provide is our utmost priority. We have taken on board the findings of the CQC report and are taking proactive steps to ensure these are addressed. 

“The homes were under administration for three years prior to our take over in May 2018.  As a result we identified a number of failings and are looking to address these.

“Following an extensive recruitment process, a new highly-experienced home manager has been appointed and will be working to ensure we deliver the best outcomes for the people we support and their families.”

“Following on from the inspection the following is already underway at the homes:

  • A comprehensive training program for all staff including specialist Dementia training
  • A new electronic care plan and monitoring system
  • A comprehensive auditing process to identify pro-active steps to improve the service and maintain quality levels
  • A rolling program of refurbishment and upgrading of the home.”

You can read the full report on the CQC website here.

Remembering the night the ‘Devil’s footprints’ were left across Devon on the anniversary

The Devil’s Footprints of Devon is one of the most enduring mysteries in the county’s history, and despite multiple attempts to solve or explain what happened we are still no nearer to understanding the disturbing phenomenon.

The mystery is so strange and so intriguing it inspired a film, Dark Was the Night, which explored what the reaction would be if it happened today.

Similar stories have been told around the world, but none on such a huge scale as was seen in Devon on the snowy night of February 8 to February 9, 1855.

On the morning of February 9 people across Devon woke to find a trail of hoof-like marks in the snow. Each print was four inches long and three inches wide, and each step was eight to 16 inches apart.

The trail was reported from 30 locations across Devon, an unbroken line that carried on across the roof tops of houses, crossed rivers, mounted high walls and carried on across haystacks.

The trail was even reported to lead into and exit pipes as narrow as four inches across.

 

All told the trail of hoof prints in the snow stretched for 100 miles across the county, and it quickly spread that the Devil had walked over Devon that night.

The trail stretched across the Exe Estaury in East Devon and right across the south of the county, with hoof prints found in deep snow.

A news report at the time read: “It appears on Thursday night last, there was a very heavy snowfall in the neighbourhood of Exeter and the South of Devon.

“On the following morning the inhabitants of the above towns were surprised at discovering the footmarks of some strange and mysterious animal endowed with the power of ubiquity, as the footprints were to be seen in all kinds of unaccountable places – on the tops of houses and narrow walls, in gardens and court-yards, enclosed by high walls and pailings, as well in open fields.”

The prints ran from Exmouth to Topsham and across the Exe estaury, then on to Dawlish and Teignmouth, also taking in Totnes and Torquay.

In 1950 letters and drawings from the 1850s detailing the mystery were uncovered for the first time. Several priests had written to the Revered H T Ellacombe, the vicar of Clyst St George, detailing the phenomena in various Devon parishes.

A letter had also been written to the Illustrated London News, with tracings of the footrpints.

Those who do not believe the devil marched in Devon that night have put forward various ideas as to what caused the strange marks.

Some say the incident never happened at all, and others that it was a hoax.

Some say the marks were made by horses and ponies, or even mice and rats jumping across the snow. They say mass hysteria saw people share a story which became wilder and wilder, linking incidents which had no real connection.

Author Geoffrey Household said he had been told by the grandson of a man who worked at Devonport Dockyard in 1855 that an experimental balloon escaped from the military base on that night.

He said shackles at the end of two ropes would have left the marks as they dropped repeatedly into the snow – and the incident was hushed up as the balloon left a trail of destruction before crashing in Honiton.

Sceptics say the balloon would not have followed the unusual trail the prints let, and ropes would have caught in trees.

In the summer of 1855 Professor Owen claimed the prints were left by a hungry badger.

Whatever the truth, the story has become firmly imprinted in the folklore of Devon, and is known around the world.

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Ghosts in Devon

What is Dark Was The Night?

Dark Was the Night (released as Monster Hunter in the UK) is a 2014 American thriller film directed and produced by Jack Heller, and written by Tyler Hisel. It stars Kevin Durand, Lukas Haas, and Bianca Kajlich

In the forest near the small isolated town of Maiden Woods a team of loggers goes inexplicably missing. Unable to contact them the Foreman goes searching for them, finding only a logger’s severed arm. He is then violently killed by an unseen creature.

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Sheriff Paul Shields and his new deputy Donny Saunders from New York speak to farmer Ron who insists one of his valuable horses has been stolen.

The next morning Paul finds large footprints in the snow around his house that appear to come from an animal with hooves that walks on two legs. Donny informs him the footprints are around everybody’s houses in the entire town. Paul and Donny follow the footprints into the woods where they also find large claw marks on the trees where the footprints disappear. After hearing from Park rangers that no known animal with hooves could walk such a distance, Paul later hears from the town priest that his dog and a lot of other animals have gone missing…

Hydrogen not a substitute for electrification – IMechE

Investment in hydrogen trains is vital to improve air quality but must not be seen as an “easy replacement” for electrification schemes, says The Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE).


In The Future for Hydrogen Trains in the UK, published on February 7, the organisation says the Government must rethink its cancellation of electrification programmes and move forward with a more innovative and “long-term, rolling programme” approach.


However, it also urges the rail industry to encourage the development and deployment of hydrogen trains and their fuelling and servicing facilities, and that the technology is developed in industrial areas where hydrogen production already occurs and can support the wider transport system (such as hydrogen-powered buses).


The report also questions whether the production of hydrogen means it is truly environmentally friendly, with just 4% of the global total produced by electrolysis.


  • For the FULL story, read RAIL 873, published on February 27, and available digitally on Android, iPad and Kindle from February 23.

European Commission blocks proposed Siemens/Alstom merger

The proposed Alstom/Siemens merger will not take place, after it was rejected by the European Commission on February 6 on the grounds that the companies were not willing to address the EC’s concerns.


EC Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Verstager confirmed the decision in a press conference. She later tweeted: “Without remedies the merger would have resulted in higher prices, less choice and innovation, so the merger is blocked.”


In a statement confirming that the proposed merger would not take place, Siemens said that it and Alstom regretted that the remedies offered, including recent improvements, had been considered insufficient.


It added: “The remedies were extensive in scope and addressed all the concerns raised by the Commission with respect to signalling as well as very high-speed trains. In addition, a number of credible and well-established European players expressed strong interest in the remedy package, thereby fully confirming its viability.”


The company said it will now assess all options for the future of Siemens Mobility.


  • For the FULL story including reaction from the UK, read RAIL 872, published on February 13, and available digitally on Android, iPad and Kindle from February 9.