Category Archives: Kent News Online

Widow of Peter Franklin wins payout from two NHS trusts four years after his suicide

The widow of a mentally ill man who threw himself off a motorway bridge hours after being sent home from A&E five times has won a payout from two health trusts.

Peter Franklin died after jumping from the crossing at junction 5 (Aylesford) of the M20 four years ago.

It later transpired the 67-year-old went to Maidstone Hospital five times on the day of his death.

Peter Franklin, who died after falling from a bridge onto the M20

Peter Franklin, who died after falling from a bridge onto the M20

On one occasion he was taken there by a taxi driver who had stopped him jumping from the same bridge where he later died.

On that occasion Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust (KMPT) nurse Christine Watts phoned his daughter to pick him up and warned her he would be arrested if he returned.

She also failed to flag up that he was a suicide risk and record the encounter properly.

She was handed a two-year condition of practice order last year after a Nursing and Midwifery Council panel heard she had done so as she felt it was unfair to make Mr Franklin wait to see her.

Now Mr Franklin’s widow Lynne, 60 and of Hadley Close, Meopham, has won a payout from KMPT and Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust (MTW), which runs Maidstone Hospital.

Nick Fairweather, who represented Mrs Franklin, said issues like those present in Mr Franklin’s case are recurrent yet easy to address through better communication between mental health and acute trusts.

An MTW spokesman said: “We have actively fostered closer working relationships with our partner healthcare organisations and make every effort possible to ensure our processes of communication with them are robust, thorough and effective.”

A KMPT spokesman said: “We improved processes that address the identification and management of risk.

“It is vital we work with our partners to provide safe mental health services and essential immediate care for those in crisis.”


Kent Police officers taking double the number of days off due to mental illness

body“>The number of sick days Kent Police officers are taking due to mental illness has more than doubled in the past seven years.

body“>A total of 8,896 days were missed for psychological reasons last year when the average head count was 3,780, compared to 3,714 days in 2010/11 when it was 3,758.

That worked out as 2.35 days per officer, compared to one day per officer seven years ago.

Police sick days for 'mental health' reasons have doubled in seven years

Police sick days for ‘mental health’ reasons have doubled in seven years

The figures released following a Freedom of Information Act request by the Kent Messenger also showed while days missed as a result of any illness also increased over the same period, it was by just 12% from 19,440 to 21,689.

In total, 130 officers had at least one long-term absence (more than 28 days) due to psychological illness last year, which was down on the previous two years but more than double 2010’s total of 59.

There were 45 medium term (eight to 28 days) and 46 short term absences (up to a week) last year and 207 staff were signed off sick due to mental health issues.

In the same period, 265 staff were referred to the force’s counselling service, in 2015/16 the figure was 215 and the previous year it was 251.

Eighty-nine members of staff have retired due to ill health since 2014, although the force was unable to provide the nature of their illnesses.

The latest figures show 130 officers had at least one long-term absence of more than 28 days

The latest figures show 130 officers had at least one long-term absence of more than 28 days

As a result of the increase, Kent Police has more than doubled its spending on its internal welfare and counselling department in the past two years.

In that period the force, which employs more than 6,000 people, drastically reduced spending on external providers meaning its total outlay last year was £207,006, compared to £119,889 in 2014/15.

The sickness figure has slightly reduced over that period suggesting the investment is having some impact.

Richard Leicester, head of human resources at Kent Police, said: “The force is dedicated to removing stigma attached to mental ill health and directly employs counsellors whose services are available to all officers and staff.

“Officers and staff are our most important asset and when they do return to work after an extended period of absence, we ensure support is in place.”

Kent Police record nearly 750 offences involving dangerous dogs

Almost 750 crimes were committed last year where a person was found to be in charge of a dangerous dog, an increase of more than 46 times in the last six years.

Figures given to KentOnline following a Freedom of Information request reveal 745 people were charged with being an owner or person in charge of a dog dangerously out of control causing injury in 2016.

Two more offences were logged of a person owning or being in charge of a dangerous dog that injured an assistance dog last year – one less than in 2015.

Police recorded more than 700 offences involving dangerous dogs. Stock image

Police recorded more than 700 offences involving dangerous dogs. Stock image

In contrast the total number of offences offences involving dangerous dogs logged in 2010 stood at 19, dropped to 16 in 2011, rose to 97 in 2012, jumped to 321 in 2013, reached 455 in 2014 and then 597 in 2015.

The statistics come as the owner of a dog who attacked nine-year-old Reggi Jarvis is due to be sentenced this week.

His mum Lecretia Barnes said: “The impact on our family was massive.

“The bite broke one of the main bones in Reggi’s hand so he had to go to Chelmsford Hospital. He was there for two weeks.

“He used to love dogs but he doesn’t like to go near them now.

“He will have to have a metal plate in his hand for the rest of his life.”

The youngster was bit by a Japanese Akita.

Reggi in hospital after the dog attack

Reggi in hospital after the dog attack

The RSPCA‘s dog welfare expert Dr Samantha Gaines thinks aggression in dogs is a deep routed issue.

She said: “Aggression in dogs is very complex and there are different reasons why a dog might bite such as an underlying medical condition or injury, or fear of certain situations or circumstances.

“Whilst, in general, the number of dog bite incidents per year are small, they can cause significant physical and psychological trauma to the person involved.

“The RSPCA believes it is vitally important that owners care for their dog’s properly and ensure that they are happy and healthy.

“It is vitally important owners care for their dogs properly and ensure they are happy and healthy” – Dr Samantha Gaines

“Providing the right training, interactions and experiences help shape well-rounded, happy, friendly dogs, but it is also crucial that people learn how to act around dogs and understand and respond to their body language and behaviour.

“This is especially the case with children as they can be very difficult for dogs to understand.

“Children often treat dogs like their friends using a lot of physical contact to express their affection which dogs generally find threatening.

“It is therefore imperative that parents actively supervise their children when around dogs looking for signs that their dog might be uncomfortable and in need of some space.

“They also need to teach their children how to behave and interact safely with dogs – whether it’s their own family pet or other dogs in public places or private homes and gardens.

“Any dog owners who have concerns about their pet’s behaviour should seek advice from their vet who may refer them to a clinical animal behaviourist.”

Police have been approached for comment.

Maidstone: Home tutor Gopalan Srinivasan convicted of sexual assault

A vulnerable university student was molested by a home tutor after she went to him for help in preparing for exams, a court heard.

Gopalan Srinivasan was said to have had “a moment of insanity” when he touched the woman‘s breasts and thigh while asking her questions about the subject they were discussing.

But a judge told the 58-year-old she was able to suspend “the inevitable sentence of imprisonment”.

Gopalan Srinivasan was convicted of sexually assaulting a student

Gopalan Srinivasan was convicted of sexually assaulting a student

Maidstone Crown Court heard the victim suffered from disabilities including sight and hearing problems.

An agency put her in touch with a Cambridge graduate and she went to see him last August.

Prosecutor Trevor Wright said the student’s mother took her to Otham House in Angelica Square, Maidstone, and were somewhat surprised to find Srinivasan and not the tutor they were expecting.

The mother was going to sit in with her daughter but he told her to wait in another room.

“While giving the tutorial he patted and rubbed her back,” said Mr Wright. “He put his arms around her. She thought he was merely a tactile person.

“While explaining about organic chemistry he touched her on the shoulders and then down to her breasts over her clothing, all the while asking questions about the subject they were discussing.

“It must have been frightening for her… I have no doubt you took advantage in part because she had disabilities” – Judge Adele Williams

“She didn’t know what to do. She put herself nearer to the desk to shield he breasts.

“She put her arms over her breasts. He started prodding her on her thigh.

“She told him she had a fuzzy head to get away. The lesson lasted two hours and payment was made.

“On the way home she told her mother what had happened.”

When they arrived home she told her father and he contacted the agency and the police.

When interviewed, Srinivasan, of Otham House, claimed it had been made clear he would be taking the session and not his son.

He denied sexual assault at magistrates’ court but was convicted.

Srinivasan launched an appeal but abandoned it when he appeared at Maidstone Crown Court.

Daniel Stephenson, defending, said: “This was a moment of insanity.”

Suspending 15 months imprisonment for two years and imposing 80 hours unpaid work, Judge Adele Williams told him: “You had the good sense to abandon your appeal.

“What you did was wholly unacceptable.

“Your victim was a young woman in your charge.

“You touched her sexually, which is not only wholly unacceptable, it must have been frightening for her.

“I have no doubt you took advantage in part because she had disabilities.”

Under a sexual harm prevention order Srinivasan will have to be accompanied by an adult while tutoring.

Dover: Union officials lobby passengers over rail fare rises

Union officials lobbied rail passengers this evening to protest against the latest rail fare rises.

The rise of 3.6% is the highest since 2013.

Members of the RMT, with Labour Party members, handed protest cards to commuters coming off the trains at Dover Priory Station.

Mike Sargent of Dover RMT

Mike Sargent of Dover RMT

It gave passengers the chance to fill in their names and addresses and send them on to their local MP.

Mike Sargent, Dover secretary for the RMT’S rail section, said: “So many low paid workers are caught in transport poverty.

“They spend more than 10% of their income just to get to work.

Callum Stove

Callum Stove

“We think it’s outrageous that every year fares go up and up yet people‘s wages are stagnating or not going up at all.”

Passenger Callum Stove, of Crabble Hill, Dover, commutes to Ashford paying £188 for a monthly ticket.

He said: “The service is getting worse and they are changing us to use it. It is outrageous.”

A Southeastern train. Stock image

A Southeastern train. Stock image

The increase is for next year but the Department of Transport says 97p out of every  £1 paid by customers goes back into rail investment.

Southeastern says that the government regulates fare rises to meet the cost of running the railways.

It says that it has invested more than £70 million to improve train services and stations.

Herne: £1 million community centre building work begins

A new £1 million community centre in Herne is expected to open next spring after building work finally started.

Leaders behind the scheme gained planning permission in August 2014, but only awarded the contract to a building firm earlier this year.

The centre is expected to open in May or June next year in St Martin’s View.

Artist's impression of what the new Herne community centre could look like

Artist’s impression of what the new Herne community centre could look like

Parish council vice chairman Carol Davis said: “Work has started and we are very pleased that they have been able to start the heavy groundwork during the school holidays when it is quieter.”

To help raise cash to fit the new centre out, call 01227 742700.

M2: Two lanes shut after manhole cover collapses

A collapsed manhole cover has closed two lanes of the M2 near the Medway bridge.

Highways officials have shut the lanes on the coastbound stretch between junction 2 for Strood and junction 3 for Chatham.

Lanes one and two of four are closed, with the speed limit set to 40mph.

The Medway Bridge. Picture Christopher Hilton

The Medway Bridge. Picture: Christopher Hilton

The entry slip road to J2 A228 (Strood/Rochester) has also been closed to assist with repairs to the road surface and bridge expansion joints. 

Listen to kmfm for travel updates

Maidstone: Police issue appeal after a spate of motorbike and moped thefts

Police have issued a warning to motorbike owners after a spate of thefts across Maidstone.

In the space of a day five motorcycles and mopeds have been taking from residential areas in the south of the town.

Officers are urging witnesses to come forward.

Stock picture

Stock picture

The first theft happened between 8.30pm on Sunday, August 13 and 10am the following day, when a Honda WW125 motorbike and clothing were taken from the front garden in Wootton Close.

Over the same night between 9.30pm and 6am, a Yamaha Verago 750 motorbike was taken from a front garden in Hastings Road.

Police were also informed a Yamaha WR 125X had been stolen by two people from a front garden in Highcroft Green just before 3pm on Monday. It was later found burnt out in Park Wood Walk.

Two teenagers were also spotted stealing a Honda CB125F motorcycle from Cumberland Avenue at 4.45am on Monday. They were described as wearing a hooded top and a black jacket. The motorbike was abandoned nearby.

A Sinnis Harrier moped was also reportedly stolen from a driveway in Quarry Road between 2am and 2.18am on the same morning.

Inspector Rachael Cumberland of Maidstone Police’s Community Support Unit said: “I would urge motorcycle and moped owners who cannot park in a garage or other building to secure their motorbikes and mopeds to an anchor point in the ground.

“You should also take any clothing, helmets or navigation devices into your house overnight.”

Anyone with information that can help is asked to contact Kent Police on 01622 604100 quoting reference YY/23091/17. Alternatively contact Kent Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.


One arrested and two dead after Eloise Dixon, formerly of Gravesend, shot in Brazil

Two men are reportedly dead and a third is being questioned by Brazilian police after a mum was shot in the South American country

Eloise Dixon, 46, who was born in Dartford and grew up in Gravesend, was shot in the stomach on Sunday, August 6 after accidentally straying into a slum while looking for water.

Her three daughters and husband Max witnessed the horrific ordeal. 

Eloise Dixon was shot in front of her family in Brazil. Picture Eloise DixonFacebook

Eloise Dixon was shot in front of her family in Brazil. Picture: Eloise Dixon/Facebook

Brazilian police told the Estadao agency last week they had identified two suspects, both of whom were already known to the authorities, the Telegraph reported.

Police officer Bruno Gilaberte, who is leading the investigation, did not name the suspects but reportedly said the pair had previously been investigated for belonging to a gang.

This week The Guardian reported that police had arrested Jackson Ferreira Lima, also known as JK, following a gun fight between police and civilians, which left two men dead.

Eloise Dixon was on holiday with her husband Max and three children when she was shot. Picture Eloise DixonFacebook

Eloise Dixon was on holiday with her husband Max and three children when she was shot. Picture: Eloise Dixon/Facebook

According to The Guardian, Colonel Castro, the commander of the Angra military police battalion, said officers went looking for possible suspects and were “received with gunfire”.

The officer reportedly said the two men who died were holding guns and were shot by officers

The former Northfleet School for Girls pupil and her family reportedly asked locals where they could buy water and, due to language difficulties, ended up in a slum area called Agua Santa. Agua is the Portuguese word for water.  

Mrs Dixon, who now lives near Bromley, was said to be recovering in a hospital in Rio de Janeiro following surgery. 


Kent Wool Growers KWG in administration

A farming retailer has gone into administration after nearly 100 years of trading.

Kent Wool Growers (KWG) Ltd was set up in Ashford in 1920 with 73 members but had expanded to support more than 4,000.

But the farmer-owned co-operative, based at Tannery Lane in Ashford, has suffered a downturn in both retail and account sales, putting pressure on its cashflow.

The KWG site in Tannery Lane, Ashford

The KWG site in Tannery Lane, Ashford

The company, which employs 48 staff, offers a variety of services to farmers and the countryside, selling clothing, footwear, shooting accessories and vet medicines.

It has shops in Ashford, Eastry near Canterbury and in Handcross in West Sussex.

It had been rumoured to be seeking a buyer, but no firms have come forward to take over the company, while a plan to move to a new headquarters near the proposed junction 10a development fell through.

Now administrators Steve Absolom and Will Wright from KPMG have taken over and put the business up for sale.

The plans for a new home at Sevington fell through. Picture from Hobbs Parker

The plans for a new home at Sevington fell through. Picture from Hobbs Parker

It will continue to trade with a view to finding a purchaser for all or for parts of the business as a going concern.

Mr Absolom said: “We have received a number of expressions of interest in the business and assets, and so our efforts are focussed on achieving a going concern sale which will secure as many jobs as possible.

“The stores remain open and KWG continues to support the farming community as best it can in these circumstances.”

The company will continue to provide services such as farming clothing and footwear, equine supplies, animal feed and medicines, shotguns and shooting accessories, and a fuel brokerage service.