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‘My dad was controlling but I didn’t think he could kill my mother and sister’

Claire and Charlotte HartImage copyright Luke and Ryan Hart
Image caption Claire Hart was shot with daughter Charlotte days after leaving her husband

Luke Hart could never have foreseen his “controlling” father would kill his mother and sister in July 2016.

Claire Hart, 50, was shot dead outside a swimming pool in Spalding, Lincs, with daughter Charlotte, 19, days after finally moving out of the family house.

Luke and the other surviving brother Ryan say dangers can easily be missed.

They spoke as figures showed more than 113 women in England, Northern Ireland and Wales in 2016 were killed by men – two thirds a current or ex-partner.

The Femicide Census figures, based on information from police and media reports, found 85 of the 113 women killed by men last year were in their own homes.

There were 100 woman killed by someone they knew – including 78 by an existing or former partner.

According to the figures, more than three quarters of women who were killed by a former partner were killed within the first year of separating from them.

‘Willing to kill us all’

Lance Hart, 57, shot his wife Claire and daughter Charlotte with an unregistered single-barrel shotgun before turning the weapon on himself.

Claire had left her husband, moving out of the family’s home in Moulton four days earlier.

Luke, 28, and his brother Ryan, 27, both engineers, were working abroad at the time of the killings but had helped their mother and sister find a new rented house a few weeks before.

Image copyright Luke and Ryan Hart
Image caption Luke with his sister Charlotte

“I don’t think anything could ever, no matter how bad it was, lead you to expect what happened,” Luke said.

“The second we stepped out of line, he was willing to kill all of us and I don’t think anyone appreciated that.”

In a newspaper interview earlier this year, the brothers talked about how their father “rationed” Claire’s supermarket job wages.

Recalling growing up, Luke said: “Our father didn’t need to hit us. He generated enough fear in ways that were subtler.”

He added: “People fail to appreciate that many victims of abuse are just incredibly resilient people dealing with the traumas of their lives the best way they can.

“A lot of education needs to be done in terms of abusive behaviour and also the way people will respond to abusive behaviour. I didn’t understand them myself, none of us did.”

Image copyright Luke and Ryan Hart
Image caption Ryan with Charlotte

According to figures from the Office for National Statistics, a total of 601 homicides – cases of murder, manslaughter and infanticide – were committed in England and Wales in 2016.

Figures for 2016 have not been published in Northern Ireland but there were 17 homicides in the year to the end of March 2017 and 21 in the previous 12 months.

The Femicide Census says the total number of killings of women by men in 2016 is thought to be higher than the 113 it recorded because a number of cases are still under investigation and police forces did not provide some details to its freedom of information requests.

New measures

The figures were compiled by academic Karen Ingala Smith and the domestic abuse charity Women’s Aid who say they make clear the “disparity in the sexes of the victim and perpetrator” was not always clear from official crime data.

Ms Ingala Smith, chief executive of the organisation nia, which campaigns to end violence against women, said: “By breaking the barriers through which we contextualise violent crime, we’re able to build a different picture, a broader picture, about what causes and influences violence.”

Katie Ghose, chief executive of Women’s Aid, called on the government to provide a “long-term and sustainable funding model for a national network of refuges… [to] ensure that every woman can safely escape domestic abuse”.

The Home Office said the number of refuge spaces available in England has increased by almost 10% since 2010 to 3,810 this year, while local authorities are overseeing new schemes that allow victims to remain in their homes.

A spokesman added: “This government is determined to ensure that anyone facing the threat of domestic abuse has somewhere to turn to, and that perpetrators are brought to justice.”

He said domestic violence prosecutions have increased by 26% and convictions by 33% since 2010 in England and Wales, while the government’s approach will be transformed by measures in the draft Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill.

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Star Wars town set for special screening

Star Wars fan John Joe McGettigan in stormtrooper costume beside a road sign near Malin HeadImage copyright Niall Carson/PA
Image caption Security will be tight along roads near the set on Friday as Hollywood actors start to arrive

Residents of a remote Irish town set to feature in 2017‘s biggest movie will mark the occasion with a special screening of the film.

Malin Head will empty when locals leave for their Star Wars: The Last Jedi premiere at a cinema in nearby Derry.

In May, the film’s stellar cast and crew descended on the Donegal town to shoot scenes for the film.

Now, locals will finally see how their hometown fares in the galaxy far, far away.

Publican Hugh Farren said it felt right that the community were coming together to watch the film – and said it meant a huge deal for all of them.

“It is massively exciting for everyone and we’re looking forward to watching it together,” he told BBC news NI.

“The cinema has 15 screens and we’ve booked one just for us.

“There could well be people going who haven’t been to the cinema in years. This film is likely to be the biggest of all time.

Image copyright Wallace Media
Image caption Mark Hamill, right, visited Farren’s Bar in Malin Head during filming in May

Since shooting finished at Malin Head – Ireland’s most northern point – there has been much speculation as to how it will appear on screen.

During filming, thousands flocked to Malin Head intrigued by what was happening there.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Effective no-fly zones where in place over the scenic headlands during the filming

The construction of a space-aged structure on cliffs a mile from Banba’s Crown, a headland known for producing dramatic photographs of the Northern Lights, led to much speculation that the Millennium Falcon would feature in Malin Head scenes.

A non-disclosure agreement with the filmmakers sees locals and landowners sworn to secrecy.

That hasn’t stopped the rumour mill though, Mr Farren said.

“There has been lots of talk about how long the town will be on screen,” he said.

“At one stage people were saying it’s about 13 seconds now we are hearing it could be as much as four minutes.

“Someone has even said the film’s ending will be set here, so there’s hope they might all come back to film again for the next movie.”

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The painting of Yoda on Farren’s Bar has been attracting plenty of attention

He said everyone in the town had their own Star Wars story to tell, and with a steady influx of curious fans and tourists, there’s always someone to listen.

“At the moment there is nothing here that really connects visitors to the film, say in the way Game of Thrones is promoted in Northern Ireland – nothing, that is, but the people,” he added.

In October, the film’s first full length trailer depicted scenes shot in Malin Head, along with scenes filmed in Skellig Michael, off the County Kerry coast.

The previous instalment of the Star Wars saga, The Force Awakens, dramatically closed with a scene shot at the Kerry location, and a long awaited reunion with Luke Skywalker on the planet Ahch-To.

Image copyright Niall Carson/PA
Image caption Star Wars fan John Joe McGettigan exploring the Malin Head set in full stormtrooper regalia

Released in 2015, that movie has now surpassed $2bn at the box office.

Meanwhile, Tourism Ireland has launched its first-ever interstellar marketing campaign to promote the country’s role in Star Wars.

Niall Gibbons, the body‘s CEO, said the billboard – launched into space using a weather balloon – was “a bit of fun, designed to create some excitement as Star Wars fans everywhere get ready for the release of The Last Jedi”.

Its launch marks the start of Tourism Ireland’s €500,000 (£440,000) Star Wars campaign that will run until mid-January.

Mohammed Abdallah jailed for joining Islamic State

Mohammed AbdallahImage copyright GMP
Image caption Mohammed Abdallah was convicted following a trial at the Old Bailey

A British man who travelled to Syria to join so-called Islamic State has been jailed for 10 years.

Mohammed Abdallah was helped by his brother Abdalraouf, who set up a “hub” of communication for would-be fighters from his home in Manchester.

Abdallah, of Westerling Way, Moss Side, Manchester, was convicted after a trial at the Old Bailey.

He was found guilty of membership of IS, possessing an AK47 gun and receiving £2,000 for terrorism.

The judge said Abdallah had “bragged” about acquiring weapons in messages and was “totally committed” to signing up to IS.

Having seen first-hand people being maimed and killed in Libya, he was undeterred from travelling abroad again to “kill or be killed” in Syria, she said.

“There is no evidence of possession of extremist propaganda material. The evidence of your mindset is to be found in your actions.

“Your commitment to violence abroad is clear and you have not shown any sign of changing your views or attitudes,” she said.

The judge added: “I do accept to some extent you acted under the influence of your brother.”

The court heard Abdallah had an IQ of 68 and had a previous conviction in 2013 for assaulting a police officer while drunk or high.

Image copyright GMP
Image caption Abdallah’s IS registration document was translated into English and analysed by detectives

The trial heard the 26-year-old intended to meet three fellow jihadis in Syria.

He was outed as an IS fighter last year when his IS registration document listing him as a “specialist sniper” was leaked to Sky News by a defector.

In mitigation, Rajiv Menon QC said there was no evidence Abdallah was “on a mission” in the two years between leaving Syria after four weeks and the time his involvement with IS emerged.

Mrs Justice McGowan jailed Abdallah for 10 years with five years on extended licence.

The trial was told the Abdallah brothers, who had dual Libyan nationality, joined the “Tripoli Brigade” in 2011 and during a bloody battle against the Gaddafi regime, Abdalraouf was shot and paralysed from the waist down.

Image caption Abdalraouf Abdallah has been in a wheelchair since he was injured in Libya at the age of 18

In the summer of 2014, Abdallah headed to Syria via Libya with fellow Libyan Nezar Khalifa, 27, planning to join IS with former RAF serviceman Stephen Gray, 34, and Raymond Matimba, 28, who were also from Manchester.

Gray was turned away in Turkey, but Matimba eventually caught up with the others and appeared in footage with IS killer Jihadi John.

In 2016, Sky News received files from an IS defector which listed Abdallah as a specialist sniper with expertise with the “Dushka”, a Russian heavy machine gun, and fighting experience in Libya.

It cited Manchester recruiter Raphael Hostey, also known as Abu Al-qaqa Al Britani, as a reference in Raqqa as well as a “family friend”, the Libyan narrator of an IS video called Demolishing Borders.

During the trial Abdallah denied swearing allegiance, saying he only went to Syria to help deliver $5,000 to the poor and someone else must have filled out the form without his knowledge.

He said: “It’s true I refused to swear allegiance. They did send me to prison.

“I was threatened with being beheaded.

“I was shot at. I was hit. I had bruises and a black eye.”

Abdallah’s trial was delayed in the wake of the attack on the Manchester Arena over reported links with bomber SalmanAbedi, who attended the same mosque as the defendant and Hostey.

He too had Libyan parents, lived in Manchester, and had travelled to Libya before returning to the city to plan the May 22 attack on an Ariana Grande concert that killed 22 people.

In 2016, Abdalraouf Abdallah was found guilty of assisting others in committing acts of terrorism, and terror funding and jailed for five-and-a-half years.

Gray, of Whitnall Street in Manchester, admitted three terrorism offences, including his attempts to travel to Syria, and was jailed for five years.

Hostey left the UK in 2013 and is believed to have been killed in a drone strike in 2016.

Mohammed Abdallah guilty of joining Islamic State

Mohammed Abdallah: Denied joining the IS groupImage copyright GMP
Image caption Mohammed Abdallah, who has dual Libyan-British citizenship, denied joining Islamic State

A British man has been found guilty of travelling to join so-called Islamic State in Syria.

Mohammed Abdallah received help from his brother Abdalraouf, who set up a “hub” of communication for would-be fighters from his home in Manchester.

The Old Bailey heard the 26-year-old intended to meet three fellow jihadis in Syria.

Abdallah, of Westerling Way, Moss Side, Manchester, was convicted following a trial lasting more than four weeks.

He was found guilty of possessing an AK47 gun, receiving £2,000 for terrorism purposes and membership of IS.

Abdallah was remanded into custody until his sentencing on Friday.

The jury heard the defendant was assisted by his disabled younger brother Abdalraouf, who was previously jailed for helping other members of the same network.

Image caption Abdalraouf Abdallah has been in a wheelchair since he was injured in Libya at the age of 18

Abdalraouf was left paralysed after he was shot while taking part in the 2011 Libyan uprising.

His brother was outed as an IS fighter last year when an IS registration document listing him as a “specialist sniper” was leaked to Sky News by a defector.

The court heard how the defendant arrived in Britain as a refugee at the age of three after his family fled the Gaddafi regime in Libya.

Abdallah went to Burnage High School in Manchester and also attended Didsbury Mosque, where Manchester Arena suicide bomber Salman Abedi was also known to have worshipped, it can now be reported.

Abdallah previously said he failed to pass any exams and was “not particularly religious”, preferring to spend time drinking and smoking cannabis.

Image copyright GMP
Image caption Abdallah’s IS registration document was translated into English and analysed by detectives

In 2011 the brothers joined the “Tripoli Brigade” and during a bloody battle against the Gaddafi regime, Abdalraouf was shot and paralysed from the waist down.

Jurors were shown video footage of both siblings handling heavy Russian-made machine guns on vehicles in Libya.

In the summer of 2014, Abdallah headed to Syria via Libya with fellow Libyan Nezar Khalifa, 27, the jury heard.

Prosecutor Mark Heywood QC said they planned to join IS with former RAF serviceman Stephen Gray, 34, and Raymond Matimba, 28, who were also from Manchester.

Gray was turned away in Turkey, but Matimba eventually caught up with the others and recently appeared in footage with the late IS killer Mohammed Emwazi, known as Jihadi John.

In 2016, Sky News received files from an IS defector which listed Abdallah as a specialist sniper with expertise with the “Dushka”, a Russian heavy machine gun, and fighting experience in Libya.

Image copyright GMP
Image caption Former RAF serviceman Stephen Gray also tried to enter Syria but was turned away in Turkey

His record, which had the IS flag in the top right-hand corner, listed his former occupation as “supermarket vendor”, although jobless Abdallah told jurors he got by in Britain by stealing and selling cannabis.

The form listed Manchester recruiter Raphael Hostey, aka Abu Al-qaqa Al Britani, as a reference for Abdallah, as well as a “family friend”, the Libyan narrator of an IS video entitled Demolishing Borders.

Giving evidence, Abdallah denied swearing allegiance to the jihadi group, claiming he went to Syria to help deliver $5,000 to the poor.

He said someone else must have filled out the registration form without his knowledge.

Whose is it?

Time magazine cover honouring "The Silence Breakers" as collective Person of the YearImage copyright Time
Image caption Clockwise from top: Ashley Judd, Taylor Swift, Susan Fowler, Adama Iwu and Isabel Pascual

The faces of five women who have spoken out about sexual harassment appear on Time magazine’s Person of the Year front cover – along with a mystery right arm. But whose is it?

If you simply glanced at the front cover of the latest Time magazine you may have missed it – an apparently rogue right arm poking into shot.

The faces of five women – including singer Taylor Swift and actor Ashley Judd – feature on the magazine’s 2017 Person of the Year cover.

The quintet represent the “the Silence Breakers” – “the thousands of people across the world who have come forward with their experiences of sexual harassment and assault” this year, the magazine says.

However, in the bottom right-hand corner of the cover is the arm of an anonymous woman, with the remainder of her body deliberately cropped out of shot.

Helpfully, the magazine has now explained who the arm belongs to and why it’s there.

“It belongs to an anonymous young hospital worker from Texas,” the magazine says in an editorial.

She is a sexual harassment victim, who “fears that disclosing her identity would negatively impact her family”.

“She is faceless on the cover and remains nameless inside Time’s red borders, but her appearance is an act of solidarity, representing all those who are not yet able to come forward and reveal their identities,” Time says.

The woman told the magazine she could not stop wondering if she could have prevented the incident.

“I thought, ‘what just happened? Why didn’t I react?’ I kept thinking, ‘did I do something, did I say something, did I look a certain way to make him think that was OK?'”

The magazine’s award comes after a flurry of allegations were made against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein and the #MeToo hashtag went viral around the world, as women shared their harassment experiences online.

Hollywood actor Ashley Judd was one of the first women to speak out against Weinstein.

Allegations were made against him in the New York Times.

Pop star Taylor Swift, who won a civil case against an ex-DJ who she said had grabbed her bottom, also appears on the cover.

The other women on the front cover include Adama Iwu, a 40-year-old corporate lobbyist in Sacramento, and Susan Fowler, 26, a former Uber engineer who made allegations of sexual harassment at the company.

The fifth women was Isabel Pascual, a 42-year-old strawberry picker from Mexico, who was stalked. Time says she asked to use a pseudonym to protect her family.

The magazine’s editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal told US TV network NBC that this year’s winners had helped to usher in “the fastest-moving social change we’ve seen in decades”.

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Previous winners

Image copyright Time magazine

The Time Person of the Year award first began in 1927 as “Man of the Year”.

It recognises the person who “for better or for worse” has done the most to influence the events of the year.

The first winner was Charles Lindbergh, the first person to fly a plane solo non-stop across the Atlantic.

US President Donald Trump won the award last year, and he was named as runner-up for the title this year.

Image copyright Time magazine
Image caption Pope Francis was Person of the Year in 2013, the year after Barack Obama won

Other past winners have included Mahatma Gandhi, Adolf Hitler, Queen Elizabeth II and Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg.

While the vast majority of people selected have been individuals, it is not the first time a group has been chosen.

In 2014, “Ebola fighters” were recognised, while in 2011 “The Protester” acknowledged the significance of the so-called Arab Spring.

In 2006, the Person of the Year was simply “You”. The magazine’s front page featured a mirror cover design, reflecting the importance of user-generated internet content.

Murdered Suhaib Mohammed ‘collateral damage’ to drug dealers

Suhaib MohammedImage copyright Channel 4
Image caption Suhaib Mohammed died two hours after being shot in the chest

A teenager who was murdered in the UK after moving from Somalia was “just collateral damage” to a drug dealing gang, a senior police officer says.

Suhaib Mohammed, 19, was shot through an open window at a house in Milton Keynes, in September 2016.

Two men were jailed for life in March after being convicted of his murder.

Speaking ahead of a TV documentary about the case, Det Ch Insp Mike Lynch said Mr Mohammed had been “groomed into a life he knew nothing about.”

“This was the tragic case of a 19-year-old brought from Somalia to the UK by his family to make a better life for themselves but, ultimately, he was vulnerable,” he said.

“He was was just collateral damage in the world of organised crime and became wrapped up in something he had no control over.”

Image copyright sbna
Image caption Mohammed Noor (left) and Albert Prempeh should serve a minimum of 30 years, the judge said

Mohamed Noor, 33, and Albert Prempeh, 35, both of Milton Keynes, were sentenced to a minimum of 30 years, following a trial at Luton Crown Court.

Noor, of Radworthy, fired the revolver after Prempeh, from Langland Road, had led him to the house in Osprey Close, Eagleston.

The court heard the pair went to the address to exact revenge on a man known as Hypes, who had robbed Noor earlier and believed to have been involved in a £4,000 bookmaker robbery the previous day.

Prempeh said he had been forced at gunpoint by Noor to go to the house, an accusation Noor denied.

Mr Lynch said: “That was the difficulty of the case – it seemed straightforward.

“But we looked at CCTV and found footage of Prempeh leading Noor to the scene and certainly not under duress”.

The case has been featured in Channel 4 documentary Catching a Killer, to be shown on Thursday, 7 December.

Image copyright Channel 4
Image caption The teenager was shot in the chest through a ground floor window in Osprey Close, Eaglestone

Mr Lynch – who has since retired from policing – said he took part in the programme to show how “emotionally challenging” cases like this are for police staff.

“They have to support families who have lost someone but they have to be impartial and seek the truth, which sometimes causes tension,” he said.

“And there is always a sense of a hollow victory in that no sentence can ever bring someone back”.

Liverpool storm through in Champions League

Liverpool have scored 23 goals in the Champions League this season, the most by an English side in a single group campaign

Philippe Coutinho scored a hat-trick as Liverpool became the fifth English club to qualify for the last 16 of this season’s Champions League with a thumping victory over Spartak Moscow at Anfield.

Jurgen Klopp’s Group E leaders came into the game knowing they needed to avoid defeat to be sure of reaching the knockout stage for the first time since 2008-09 – and Coutinho gave them the lead with a fourth-minute penalty after Mohamed Salah was fouled by Georgi Dzhikiya.

They doubled their advantage after a superb move 11 minutes later, Coutinho tapping home from Roberto Firmino’s pass.

Firmino netted himself to make it 3-0 at half-time, and Sadio Mane’s sublime volley extended the lead.

Coutinho completed his hat-trick with a deflected shot, and Mane added the sixth before Salah completed the rout.

Liverpool’s victory means this is the first time five English teams have qualified for the Champions League last 16 in the same season.

Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham will join the Reds in Monday’s draw at Uefa headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland.

Rampant Reds march on

This is a huge result for Liverpool, who failed to advance from the group stage on their previous two appearances – in 2009-10 and 2014-15.

Klopp’s side were close to qualifying last month, but Guido Pizarro poked home in the third minute of added time as Sevilla came from 3-0 down to snatch a dramatic draw.

There was no second-half collapse this time as the Reds produced another attacking masterclass to ensure they progress in Europe‘s most prestigious club competition.

Spartak had held the Reds to a draw in Moscow but were blown away on Merseyside as Klopp once again unleashed Coutinho, Salah, Firmino and Mane from the start.

The quartet had scored 12 of their team’s 16 goals in five previous group games – and they were once again in ruthless mood.

Spartak were 3-0 down inside 18 minutes.

Dzhikiya clumsily hauled down Salah to allow Coutinho to score before the Brazilian made it 2-0 after finishing a delicious move started by Mane and involving Salah and Firmino.

Firmino made it six goals in as many group games before the goal of the night by Mane – an exquisite volley from James Milner’s inch-perfect cross.

Coutinho’s hat-trick goal came from a deflected shot off Salvatore Bocchetti before substitute Daniel Sturridge teed up Mane for the sixth and Salah pounced from close range for the seventh.

Having beaten Brighton 5-1 in the Premier League on Saturday, Liverpool have now scored 12 goals in two games.

Who can Liverpool face in the last 16?

Liverpool emerge from the group unbeaten but despite finishing top and being seeded they could still face a European heavyweight in the next round.

Among the unseeded teams the Reds could face are holders Real Madrid, five-time winners Bayern Munich and Italian champions Juventus.

They cannot face a team from the same country so will avoid Chelsea, and also cannot be drawn against Sevilla, who advance Group E as runners-up following a 1-1 draw with Maribor.

The other teams they could be paired with are Swiss club Basel, Ukraine’s Shakhtar Donetsk and Porto.

More to follow.

York’s real life Diagon Alley popular with Potter fans

York’s historic Shambles is proving popular with Harry Potter fans from around the world.

The street is said to be an inspiration for the fictional Diagon Alley, the magical merchant market from the wizarding world of Harry Potter.

The two Harry Potter-themed shops on the cobblestoned street attract thousands of visitors, with a third outlet set to open.

Hannah Wallace, from The Shop That Must Not Be Named, said: “We get asked a lot whether the films were shot on this street because it’s so similar.”

Bird pulled from brink of extinction facing poisoning threat

Red kite in flightImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption The red kite (Milvus milvus) is declining throughout Europe

The red kite has become more common in the UK in the past 30 years, thanks to conservation schemes.

But, while numbers of the birds of prey are on the rise, scientists say human factors threaten to derail progress.

Post-mortem tests on wild red kites found many had been poisoned by lead shot, rat poison or pesticides.

The study, published in the European Journal of Wildlife Research, suggests poisoning of red kites may be slowing their rate of recovery in England.

Dr Jenny Jaffe of the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), who worked on the study, said birds of prey, and especially scavengers, would eat animals that contained lead shot, leading to lead poisoning.

”That can be changed by changing the shot gun cartridges to non lead, which a lot of countries do,” she told BBC News. ”And, there is some legislation already in the UK, but it is very limited.”

Another threat – pesticide poisoning – was ”mostly deliberate”, she said, caused by baiting of bird or rabbit carcasses.

”You’ll find red kites that are in good body condition that have died very suddenly and where toxicology shows that they have high levels of pesticides,” said Dr Jaffe.

”It might not per se be focussed on red kites specifically, but the people who put out these poisons are focussed on killing predators of their, for example, game birds or livestock.”

Brink of extinction

In the study, scientists carried out detailed post mortems and toxicological analysis on 110 red kites found dead between 1989 and 2007, when the birds were being re-introduced at four sites in England.

Of these, 32 had been poisoned from rodenticides, other pesticides and lead.

However, the researchers say there are simple ways to prevent poisoning, including:

  • Best practice in controlling rodents
  • Tackling the illegal use of pesticides
  • The use of non-toxic alternatives to lead ammunition.
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The red kite feeds mainly on carrion and small mammals or birds

RSPB head of nature policy Jeff Knott described the research as ”a worrying development”.

He said the bird has been at the heart of one of the UK‘s greatest conservation success stories, going from the brink of extinction to a common sight in many parts of the UK, in the past 30 years.

”Poisons shouldn’t always be the first port of call, as there are other methods of rodent control, such as traps, that are effective and reduce the risk to other species,” he explained.

”It is therefore vital that government continues to fund monitoring schemes to keep a close eye on the impacts that poison is having on other wildlife.”

The red kite was saved from extinction in England and Scotland by schemes to re-introduce the bird into the wild.

The UK population has increased in recent decades, and is estimated to number upwards of 3,000 breeding pairs.

The IUCN lists the red kite is listed as Near Threatened in Europe, where it is experiencing a population decline, owing mostly to poisoning from pesticides and persecution, and changes in land-use.

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Doorstep murder

Image caption Alistair Wilson was 30 years old when he was shot on the doorstep of his family home in Nairn

Alistair Wilson was gunned down on the doorstep of his home in the quiet Highland town of Nairn as he prepared his two young children for bed 13 years ago.

The unsolved murder of the 30-year-old business banking manager has become one of the most baffling cases of recent times but the detective in charge of a new investigation said it should be remembered it also shattered lives.

“This isn’t a fascinating crime, it’s devastating – devastating for Veronica, who has lost her husband and for the two young boys, who were four and two, who grew up without a father,” says Det Supt Gary Cunningham.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionGun and envelope clues to murder of Alistair Wilson

Mr Wilson was shot at his home on a Sunday evening at the end of November 2004.

He had spent that weekend with his wife Veronica, his children and family friends.

When the doorbell rang he was reading their boys a bedtime story.

Veronica answered the door to a clean shaven man aged 35-40, who was described as stocky and was wearing a baseball hat and a dark blouson jacket. He asked to speak to Alistair Wilson.

Veronica went up to the boys’ room and told her husband. He expressed surprise that someone had come to the door at 7pm on a Sunday but went downstairs, leaving Veronica to take over the bedtime reading.

Alistair Wilson with one of his sonsImage copyright PA
Image caption Veronica described her husband of six years as a hands-on father

After a short discussion with the man, Alistair came back up to the room carrying a small blue envelope which the BBC has now learned was empty. The name ‘Paul’ was written on the front of the envelope.

Veronica told the BBC: “He was just a bit bewildered as to what the gentleman had said, because the envelope wasn’t addressed to him.

“He was bewildered by the name, that it was not addressed to himself, and there was nothing in the envelope.

“And I said ‘no, he definitely asked for you by name’.”

An envelope matching the one handed to Alistair Wilson before he was killed
Image caption An envelope matching the one handed to Alistair Wilson before he was killed

Veronica said there was no sense of danger at that point. Alistair had closed the front door.

She said: “It wasn’t threatening. It was just very unusual. But there was no fear, otherwise I wouldn’t have let him go back downstairs. He didn’t need to, he was in the house now.”

His wife told him they should get the boys down for the night and then try to figure it out.

“He just said he’d go back downstairs and see if the gentleman was still there,” she recalled.

Minutes later, he had been shot.

Veronica said she heard three bangs, which she described as the sound of wooden pallets being dropped.

Forensics officers at the Wilson family home
Image caption The killer waited outside the front door while Alistair went back upstairs to speak to his wife

She ran to the front door to find her husband slumped and covered in blood. She saw the killer leave the scene and there was no sign of the envelope that had been handed to him.

While on the phone to the ambulance service, Veronica ran to a pub across the road and screamed for help.

There were more than a dozen people on the doorstep that night, trying to help save Alistair’s life.

Despite their best efforts, he died shortly afterwards in hospital.

Ten days later, the murder weapon was found down a drain streets away from the Wilson family home.

Murder weaponImage copyright Police scotland
Image caption The Haenal Schmeisser used to kill the banker is uncommon in the UK

It was a Haenal Schmeisser, a 1920s German handgun known as a pocket pistol because of its small size.

Forensic analysis identified it as the murder weapon but tests on the gun failed to extract any usable DNA.

Police have now revealed that another Haenal Schmeisser, an exact replica of the murder weapon, was handed in to them last year following a house clearance in Nairn.

The gun is rarely found in the UK – there have only been 13 of these guns recovered here since 2008.

The three guns that have been found in Nairn; the murder weapon (left), the other Haenal (bottom right) and the Melior (top right)
Image caption Three guns have been found in Nairn; the murder weapon (left), an identical gun (bottom right) and the Melior

“Obviously two of them were in Nairn, which would appear quite significant,” said Det Con Ged Quinn, who has been examining the background of the weapons.

The police investigation has been vast since that November night 13 years ago.

More than 60 officers were working on it at its height, and they spoke to thousands of people and collected hundreds of DNA samples.

Various theories have emerged about the possible motive, some speculated the murder was linked to Alistair’s job with the Bank of Scotland, which he was about to leave, others suspected mistaken identity.

Veronica says mistaken identity is “the only thing that makes sense to me”.

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Media caption‘A who and a why would let us move on’

“I believe I did know Alistair and that evening, he did have the choice not to go back down,” she said. “So I believe that he didn’t know.

“If he’d survived, he still couldn’t have told us any more. So the only thing that makes any sense to me was that it was the wrong Alistair Wilson.”

She added: “We didn’t have any sort of lifestyle that there was ever any threat.

“I couldn’t even imagine why people are actually killed. You know, you see things, other people and you just presume there’s something dark or sinister in their life.

“But I knew Alistair inside out and there was nothing there.”

The case is now being reinvestigated by a specialist team based in Edinburgh, 160 miles away from the scene of the crime.

Detective Superintendent Gary Cunningham
Image caption Det Supt Gary Cunningham is leading the investigation for Police Scotland

They have been going over every bit of evidence, every lead that’s been gathered over the past 13 years.

“It’s pointless missing one aspect which could actually give us the answer,” Det Supt Cunningham said.

“We do not know who’s carried out this crime. We don’t have a motive yet.

“We have to look at personal, we have to look at professional, we have to look at associations, we have to look at possible mistaken identity.

“All we can do is try our best to follow every single lead that’s given, and the public can help with that.”

The Alistair Wilson enquiry line phone number is 0131 311 5916.

You can hear more on this story on BBC Radio Scotland on Saturday 2 December at 09.30, and afterwards on a podcast called The Doorstep Murder.