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BRENDAN MASON: Man attacked and killed by ‘friends’

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Leicester, UNITED KINGDOM
VIJAY SHAH via JEN MILLS and Metro

A Leicester man with learning difficulties was lured to his death by two so-called friends who savagely beat him for kicks, U.K. newspaper Metro reports today.

Brendan Mason was taken along to Abbey Park by two men, Joshua Hack (aged 21) and Keith Lowe (aged 22) on the pretext of spending some time together, on July 5th last year. Once they arrived at the park, they began attacking him, hanging him from a tree and then took turns striking him, while the other held Matthews still. They also laughed at and taunted the victim, as well as filming the incident, telling Mason to ‘smile for the camera’.

 

 

The victim then fell unconscious. Hack and Lowe proceeded to strip Mason of his clothes, removed him from the tree and then dumped him in the park’s lake. The park’s grounds workers found him at 7.40 am, bleeding and naked. He was airlifted to Walsgrave Hospital in Coventry, but died from the injuries. Medics there said Mason had a catalogue of 99 injuries on his head and body, including brain damage, five broken ribs and a punctured lung.

Joshua Hack, from Beaumont Leys, Leicester, admitted murder, but his accomplice, who hails from Crown Hills district of the same city, refused to plead guilty and was put on trial last week. Four days into the trial, Keith Lowe changed his plea after police offered up damning new evidence in the form of a video shot on the defendant’s iPhone.

“Officers were able to see the video on the Cloud, showing an unfortunate scene,” prosecutor Miranda Moore QC said.

‘It shows Brendan’s battered and naked body with Lowe landing blows.’

She added: “It was being made for a third party to show them what happened to Brendan.”

Messages from the murderers’ Facebook show at 2.46am Hack said to Lowe: “Just do it dude.”

Lowe replied: “Shall we do it because he’s f** me off with the lies.”

Moore further explained to the court: “They were using their phones to communicate because Brendan doesn’t know what’s about to happen to him.”

Brendan Mason’s death was attributed to ‘unsurvivable’ brain damage, Metro stated.

After the court case, senior investigating officer Detective Chief Inspector Mick Graham said: “Brendan was known to the defendants and considered them as friends, and they lured him to the park with the full intention of hurting him.”

The Mason family released a statement, saying “It is not right how two evil people can do such a horrific thing and leave a massive hole in our lives that will never be filled again.

‘Brendan was a lovely young man and he was so happy. He had numerous learning difficulties and very poor vision.

‘Even though Brendan had numerous learning difficulties and was very easily led by others, he always knew right from wrong.

‘The police have been a big part of our life for the past seven months; they have been amazing, but there will never be closure for us”

The two defendants will be sentenced tomorrow at Leicester Crown Court.

 

SOURCES:
Metro, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/MetroUK/
“Friends hung man with learning difficulties from tree and beat him to death” – Jen Mills, Metro/Associated Newspapers Limited (19 February 2017) http://metro.co.uk/2017/02/19/friends-hung-man-with-learning-difficulties-from-tree-and-beat-him-to-death-6457997/?ito=facebook
IMAGE CREDIT:
“Police Line Do Not Cross” – Pexels (26 July 2016) https://www.pexels.com/photo/police-line-do-not-cross-132752/

HOSNI MUBARAK: Egyptian court dismisses case against controversial ex-president

A court in the Egyptian capital Cairo has dismissed all charges pending against the country’s former president, Hosni Mubarak, the New York Times reports.  Despite observers expecting Mubarak to be sentenced for a lengthy amount of time in prison, there is now the possibility that he may be released since his detention after the 2011 revolution which began the ‘Arab Spring‘, which spread onwards to Tunisia and Syria. That revolution, which saw thousands of protesters converge on Cairo’s Tahrir Square, in the centre of the city, saw widespread human rights violations  by the Mubarak government and local police and the ousting of the president after several decades in power , followed by the establishment of an interim military government.

In previous hearings, specialist human rights lawyers at the court demanded that ex-president Mubarak face stiff penalties and long-term imprisonment for violations against the Egyptian people carried out over his three-decade long tenure. However, today’s (Saturday 29 November 2014) court session saw remaining charges against Mubarak cleared from the record, to tumultuous cheers from supporters observing his trial from a public dock.

The former leader, now aged 86, had arrived at the court in a stretcher from a nearby military hospital where he has been detained since suffering a spell of ill health after the revolution. As the presiding chief judge, Mahmoud Kamel al-Rashidi, read out the verdict to the court, Mubarak listened with a stony-faced expression, according to the New York Times. He then smiled briefly, before his two sons, Alaa and Gamal, hugged and kissed him in celebration. The two sons were also facing charges, but were acquitted at the same time by Judge al-Rashidi. Alaa and Gamal Mubarak were both being held for corruption charges relating to embezzlement of public funds along with their father.

Judge al-Rashidi refused to elaborate on his reason for acquitting the three Mubaraks, and instead advised observers to read a 240-page summary which he had prepared from the 1,340-page explanatory report written on the case on Egypt’s one-time autocratic strongman.

The charges al-Rashidi dismissed are among some of the most serious levelled against Hosni Mubarak. One concerned the former president’s involvement in the killing of hundreds of protesters who brought Cairo to a standstill during the protests that brought Mubarak down. The New York Times reported that the protesters had been peaceful and were not armed. Another charge concerned a corruption case where Mubarak and his sons were accused of selling natural gas to neighbouring Israel at below-market prices. Other allegations also dismissed were that Mubarak and sons awarded themselves with holiday homes and monetary kickbacks illegitimately.

In May this year, Hosni Mubarak was sentenced to three years in prison in a separate corruption case, involving lavish and government-funded improvements to his and his sons’ personal homes, which had not been approved by the treasury. However, as the former president has already served this time in detention-based custody, he may in fact be freed if the court determines that he has indeed served the requisite time in jail.

After passing the acquittal of the remaining charges, Judge al-Rashidi said his final verdict on the long drawn-out Mubarak case, which has equally gripped and divided the Egyptian nation was “…nothing to do with politics“,  the New York Times wrote. Many citizens who have been following the case say it is a sign that the country has moved beyond the times since the agitations of three years ago. The country’s current president, military general Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who in 2013 led an army takeover of Egypt, removing the Muslim Brotherhood government under another former and controversial leader, Mohammed Morsi, has already cemented himself as Egypt’s toughest leader and has ingratiated himself with several of Mubarak’s former advisors and minsterial kingpins. However there is no suggestion from the New York Times report that el-Sisi had anything to do with the dismissal of his predecessor today.

The tide has increasingly turned against the leaders of the 2011 revolution in recent months. Egypt’s state-run media outlets along with pro-government newspapers have denounced the revolutionaries as a dangerous “fifth column” that is out to destabilise Egypt, while the Islamists under Morsi’s cabinet have also been denounced and had punitive measures enacted against them. Earlier this year, thousands of supporters allied with Muslim Brotherhood were originally sentenced to death by the military government, although some may have had their sentences commuted or executions stayed.

Legal experts studying Mubarak’s trial have questioned the legitimacy of the court proceedings, citing that they were flawed from the start. They claim that the trial had been rushed into the courthouse without any legal checks due to public pressure to punish Hosni Mubarak for his crimes along with feelings of revenge among both ordinary Egyptians and the new politicians holding the reins.

The murder charges where police were directed to gun down protesters encamped in Tahrir Square would have been difficult to prove conclusively, the legal experts reported, as the Egyptian military is notoriously complex, with many layers of structure and chains of command. The country’s police are also given much leeway in self-defence, which means proving their guilt will be problematic given that inspectors could cite that their officers were under threat from protesters. Legal analysis of the corruption charges on the abuse of public money by the Mubarak family determined that they too were built on shaky ground as they had been hastily thrown together. No thorough review was made of the numerous other corruption allegations levelled against Mubarak in his 30 year reign.

Mubarak had in fact earlier been found guilty of the exact same charges he was acquitted from today, and the judge presiding over that earlier trial had sentenced the ex-president to life in prison. An appellate court threw out that verdict after the judge from the earlier trial admitted that there was a ‘lack of evidence’ to firmly establish Mubarak’s conviction. Several corruptions charges against junior members of Mubarak’s inner circle were also terminated by the previous judge, due to ‘technical grounds’.

The New York Times report does not disclose the ex-president’s and his son’s current whereabouts or what legal steps the Egyptian court system may take next. No comment has been reported yet from opponents of Mubarak or of the reaction of the Egyptian media following the dismissal.

SOURCES:
Vijay Shah { विजय }, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/VShah1984
Andrew S. Ginsburg, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/GinsburgJobs
“Egyptian Court Dismisses Criminal Charges Against Mubarak” – David D. Kirkpatrick & Merna Thomas, The New York Times – World/The New York Times Company (29 November 2014) http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/30/world/hosni-mubarak-charges-dismissed-by-egyptian-court.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0
IMAGE CREDITS:
Getty Images via Zemanta.

SPLASH AND DASH: A drive-by drenching

You have got your suit dry-cleaned and freshly pressed, your crisp white shirt is the bee’s knees and your Marks & Sparks tie is the right shade of blue. You know you will get that interview. The weather’s not so enthusiastic though. It is raining quite heavily, but not enough to dampen your get-up-and-go spirit. You step out the front door, umbrella in hand. You turn into the main road, trying your best to dodge the assorted puddles rapidly forming on the pavement as you walk down towards the rail station.

As you blissfully daydream of becoming the hottest sales executive at Jerry’s Printers Ltd ever, you fail to notice the massive lake of rainwater lying in wait just beyond the kerb. You also fail to notice the green van being driven at speed, careering towards the giant puddle. VROOOOMMMMSPLLLLAAAASHHHH!!. A wall of dirty water that a surfer would sweat over rises suddenly from the van’s tyres and soaks you from head-to-toe. Your white shirt is now halfway between brown and grey. Your suit weighs a lot more than it used to. Your trousers sag. Panic ensues. There’s no way you can show up for the 9:45 like this. You call up ahead to cancel. Your mobile, having born the brunt of the dripping onslaught, does not switch on….Goodbye company car and gold-plated pension.

As any unfortunate pedestrian caught between tarmac and a wet place will tell you, being soaked in puddle juice by white-van man or the No. 69 bus from Leyton is no joke. It’s cold, miserable, and frankly a little scary, not to mention embarrassing. It has long been a scourge of cold wintery days, where inconsiderate or oblivious drivers almost get a sick psychotic pleasure out of doing a drive-by drenching on some poor sods at the bus stop. This article’s author has had his fair share of near misses. The soaked clothing, the shower of expletives, the raised fist defiantly shaken at the knob who had just turned him into a drowned sewer rat. Those memories will be forever etched in his Half-Eaten Mind until the last breath.

Drivers who soak-and-run don’t always escape scot-free. In 2009, a Plymouth, Devon motorist who deliberately targeted a group of school children for a early morning shower was dragged to court. The 29-year-old, who even filmed the hydro-carnage from a camera on her dashboard, was cited for careless driving.

Devon schoolkid soaking (see the video here, courtesy Sky News)

A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall Police told Sky News Online: “Deliberately splashing people by driving through a big puddle could mean that the motorist was driving without reasonable consideration for other road users.

“There is also the real danger that by driving through standing water this could cause the driver of the vehicle to lose control and could result in a road traffic collision.

“People involved in this practice could find themselves prosecuted and points put on their licence.”

Driving through a puddle to splash bystanders is an offence of “careless, and inconsiderate, driving” under the Road Traffic Act section 3 and carries a fine of up to £2,500. (Sky News Online – 14/10/2009)

A man in nearby Yeovil was fined £150 and awarded three penalty points on his licence after running through a puddle and splashing some nearby road workers, who subsequently reported him.

So how do those puddles get there to cause that kind of nuisance in the first place. In most developed countries, roads are essentially strips of asphalt/tarmac which are designed to be waterproof to prevent the road surface from deteriorating. As most road surfaces are curved concavely to enable moisture runoff, the rain as it lands is sent by gravity to accumulate between the road itself and the kerb. Likelihoods of puddles increase if the drains that take away the excess water are blocked. It would be easy to suggest lining every pedestrianised road, street and lane in the UK or anywhere else with some kind of super-absorbent sponge. Unlikely, though, as it would be a frightful expense for councils to cover.

Interestingly enough, Britain’s oldest puddle still in service is in the Oxfordshire town of Wallingford. Since April of 1976, this hardy specimen sits at the junction of Fir Tree Avenue and Wantage Road. Thanks to county border disputes, political apathy and a poorly-maintained highway, the puddle’s longevity has entered it into local folklore. The residents of  Wallingford, who once pleaded with local politicians to have it removed, now consider it a peculiar tourist attraction and it is even now the starting point for a local pub crawl, the Wally Run. There is no tradition however of any Ford Fiestas or Nissan Jukes using the Wally puddle for a slip-and-slide. Or a re-enactment of “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift”…

Unfortunately for any foot-based road user, massive puddles are a fact of life. When it rains and pours down buckets , they will come. And there will always be unhinged thrill-seekers on four wheels. Some advice from the Half-Eaten Mind: keep an eye out for the big ‘uns, keep the other eye on oncoming traffic and walk as close to the shopfronts as you can!.

Not a pleasant way to wake up in the morning. (c) Metro.co.uk Images