INDEPENDENT 2024-02-02 16:15:17


Student jailed for murdering fiance by running him over in argument after party

A philosophy student who murdered her fiance by drunkenly mowing him down with a car in a lethal “game of chicken” has been jailed for life.

Alice Wood, 23, killed her partner Ryan Watson after an argument erupted between them following a party where Mr Watson was said to have “clicked” with another woman.

A court previously heard Manchester University student Wood “lost her temper” as she drove them home while three times over the limit from a birthday party in Hanley.

At the party, which was for a service user of the brain injury charity where Mr Watson worked, he reportedly “clicked” with a woman, who felt Wood was staring at her.

Other guests of the party said Wood was not “best pleased” with his behaviour and had “appeared cold” while 24-year-old Mr Watson “worked the room”.

Back at their home in Rode Heath, Cheshire, CCTV at around 11.30pm shows Wood reversing the Ford Fiesta towards her partner, nearly hitting him.

She is then seen driving the car backwards and forwards in what one witness described as a “game of chicken” before she hit him head-on, sending him flying onto the bonnet.

After he got back on his feet, she hit him once again, dragging him 158 metres up the road while he was trapped under the car before stopping.

Wood had insisted Mr Watson was killed in a “tragic accident” and claimed her partner “flipped” after the party, accusing her of flirting with other men.

But a jury at Chester Crown Court rejected her claim and found her guilty of murder last month. On Friday,she was jailed for life with a minimum term of 18 years.

Wood had been preparing for final exams in a theology, philosophy and ethics degree at the time and had a scholarship for a part-time research masters at Cambridge.

On the first day of the trial, she had a copy of the book Meditations, a philosophy text by Roman Marcus Aurelius, under her arm as she was led in handcuffs to the court.

Andrew Ford KC, prosecuting, had told the trial Mr Watson was seen on CCTV footage “having a good time, being a gregarious and outgoing party guest”.

Fellow guest Tiffany Ferriday said she and Mr Watson had “clicked” and Wood, who “appeared cold”, was “pretty much left out” of conversation.

Giving evidence, Wood described an argument between the two which continued when they returned to the house they owned in Oak Street. She told the court she went out to her car to leave but Mr Watson followed and he was then hit by her car.

During his opening address, Mr Ford said “she lost her temper” and used the car as a weapon.

In a statement, Mr Watson’s family said it had been “so hard” to repeatedly watch the CCTV footage shown in court of the moment he was killed while trapped under the car.

They said: “The one person Ryan trusted the most is the person who took his life in such a violent way.

“Alice is in prison where she belongs but no sentence is going to be long enough for what she has taken from us and Ryan. He’ll never get to live his life and fulfil his dreams.”

Sentencing her on Friday to life imprisonment, Judge Michael Leeming told the defendant: “Prison may be hard for you, Alice Wood, but you only have yourself to blame for the situation you now find yourself in.”

Chemical attack suspect last seen on Victoria Tube as police uncover ‘significant evidence’

The Metropolitan Police are due to give an update on the manhunt for a fugitive and convicted sex offender suspected of throwing an alkaline substance at a mother and her two children.

Abdul Shokoor Ezedi left two of his victims with potentially life-changing injuries, with Tesco CCTV images showing him with severe burn marks down the right side of his face.

It has emerged that Ezedi was convicted of a sexual offence in 2018, before being granted asylum in the UK in 2021 or 2022 from his native Afghanistan. The 35-year-old had previously been refused asylum on two occasions but was granted leave to remain after converting to Christianity.

In all, 12 people needed hospital treatment after the “targeted” attack in Lessar Avenue, Clapham, south London, on Wednesday evening.

Ezedi who is believed to be known to the mother, is thought to have travelled down from Newcastle on Wednesday, and was last seen in Caledonian Road.

The woman, 31, described as vulnerable, and her three-year-old daughter, were still in hospital alongside her other daughter, eight.

Have you been affected by this? Email barney.davis@independent.co.uk

Hospital and school put on lockdown as armed police called

Armed police are responding to an incident at a hospital in Bath as the public has been warned to stay away.

“We are currently responding to an incident in the vicinity of the Royal United Hospital (RUHBath) in Bath. Officers are at the scene but at this moment in time would advise people to avoid the area as a precaution,” Avon and Somerset Police posted on X.

A picture from the scene shows an unmarked police car parked behind a row of ambulances at the hospital while a police helicopter reportedly circles the site.

Witnesses told Somerset Live that no one was being allowed in or out, with patients “stuck on wards”.

The force added that there are no reported injuries at this time.

It said: “Our advice to avoid the area at the moment is precautionary. We’d like to reassure the public that all emergency services have well-rehearsed plans for dealing with incidents.”

The Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Trust and Avon and Somerset Police have been approached for a further comment.

More to follow on this breaking news…

Rishi Sunak’s small boats suffer blow Home Office Turkey unsafe

Rishi Sunak’s pledge to halt boats carrying migrants across the English Channel is under threat once again as the Home Office has declared Turkey an unsafe country.

The decision puts the prime minister’s hope of striking a returns deal with Ankara in jeopardy, as officials say Turkey is “over-zealous” in its anti-terrorism laws and has unfair trials. There are also allegations of torture in the judicial system.

Three thousand Turkish nationals arrived by small boat to the UK last year, the third largest nationality and more than double the number from the previous year.

The proposed deal would have mirrored the accord with Albania, which Downing Street says has seen the number of people arriving by small boats falling by 90 per cent since the returns deal was signed.

But now the plans face a major setback as an internal Home Office review described Turkey as “a state that does not meet the criteria of being ‘generally safe’” and raises concerns about appeals to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), which could scupper the plan.

The audit may gift Sunak’s right-leaning colleagues yet more ammunition to push for the UK to leave the ECHR and bolster provisions within the Rwanda bill to ignore the court-orders that override UK government policy.

The Times is now reporting that officials are considering whether another treaty – similar to the Rwandan one – could be worked up to ensure that political opponents would not be persecuted upon return.

Some officials also suggest that returns to Turkey could be considered on a case by case basis to protect those most at risk.

Turkey has long been considered an important state in the wider immigration landscape as a gateway between the war-torn Middle East and the rest of Europe.

It has also become the main hub for manufacturing dinghies which are used by people-smugglers to transport migrants over the channel.

Back in August 2022 the UK and Turkey signed an intelligence sharing agreement that would strengthen collaboration and enforcement between the states in dealing with the migrant crisis.

The government established a new centre of excellence, to be established by the Turkish National Police, which would help the two countries share intelligence so staff could act more quickly on information.

But some government figures wished to take the deal further by striking a returns agreement whereupon those who come to the UK via Turkey could be sent back.

New Home Office figures published on Thursday revealed 1,335 migrants crossed the Channel in small boats in January, a 13 per cent increase compared with the same month last year.

Temperatures to plummet as charts show return of snow

A blast of cold air from the north is expected to bring snow back to the UK next week as temperatures are expected to plummet.

Experts warned that snow will fall in Scotland and even potentially down south as cold air dubbed the “Troll from Trondheim” makes its way over the country from Norway.

According to WXCharts, an interactive weather map provider using Met Office data, the UK will be coldest on 11 February, with certain areas of Scotland and Wales seeing minimum temperatures dropping to -10C, along with widespread snow cover with 2cm of snow falling per hour at its peak.

Jim Dale, Senior Meteorological Consultant at British Weather Services told The Independent: “We haven’t got to end of winter yet and next week will be colder. There will be snow in Scotland and the north and potentially in the south.”

In its long-range forecast, the Met Office has also said there will be some hill snow over the weekend and that “there is a chance colder conditions could start to feature” in the second week of February.

Unmissable New York State experiences

Hunt’s climbdown on tax cuts is unwelcome and precarious for his party

One of the most irritating of soundbites, usually deployed when a politician finds themself in a tight spot and would rather not acknowledge the fact, is: “I’m not going to give a running commentary on X.” It’s been used often enough by the chancellor of the Exchequer, but in recent months Jeremy Hunt has been engaged in such a non-stop gabbling narrative about his fiscal plans you’d think he was doing it for charity. He has left his audience increasingly confused.

In effect, it echoes the persistent disarray in the Labour Party about the funding for its putative £28bn green deal, once central to its plan to boost growth, decarbonise the economy and cut fuel bills. Contrary to the rhetoric emanating from both main parties about their supposedly crystal clear plans and mission statements, the fact is that the electorate is faced with an unusually opaque choice less than a year before polling day.

Even where there is some semblance of precision about figures, such as the Conservatives’ plans for public spending, it turns out that, as the IMF says, the numbers are utterly unrealistic – which means that the entire fiscal plan is also for the birds. It is not reassuring, in that context, that Labour seems to be edging towards adopting the Treasury’s current spending projections.