The Telegraph 2024-06-11 09:02:25


Michael Mosley ‘died of heat exhaustion’

Dr Michael Mosley is believed to have died of heat exhaustion after losing consciousness while walking in 40C temperatures, Greek police say…

Judge to consider whether 12-year-old machete killers should be named

Two 12-year-old boys who have become the youngest murderers since James Bulger’s killers could now be named.

A judge will now consider whether to name the boys after a jury unanimously found them guilty of murdering 19-year-old Shawn Seesahai in a park in Wolverhampton.

The teenager, who was originally from Anguilla in the Caribbean, had travelled to the UK to receive treatment for cataracts, and had been discussing Christmas plans with a friend when he was punched, kicked, stamped on and “chopped” with the weapon.

Prosecutors told Nottingham Crown Court that Seesahai was “utterly defenceless”, “offered no violence” and had “done nothing to offend the two boys”, who are believed to be the youngest people to be convicted of a knife crime murder.

Seesahai told his friend to run but fell as he tried to flee himself. The fatal wound to his back was more than 20cm deep and the machete “almost came out” of his chest after going “through his heart”.

The pair are the youngest defendants convicted of murder in Britain since Robert Thompson and Jon Venables, both aged 11, were found guilty in 1993 of killing two-year-old James Bulger. They had been 10 when they committed the murder.

The death of James shocked the nation after the toddler was abducted from a shopping centre in Bootle before his mutilated body was found two days later. Venables and Thompson are the youngest convicted murderers in modern British history and were later given new identities.

Children appearing in youth or crown courts in England – whether as a victim, witness or defendant – generally cannot be identified if they are under 18.

However, anonymity orders can be lifted by judges if they are below this age and have been convicted of serious crimes, as long as it is considered to be in the public interest.

Mrs Justice Amanda Tipples, who presided over the murder trial, has indicated that she will hear representations from the press on whether to name the killers at a later hearing.

Officers investigating Seesahai’s murder said they became aware early on of the age of the defendants, which Det Insp Damian Forrest of West Midlands police described as “deeply shocking”.

He added: “Sadly Shawn’s death is yet another reminder of how carrying weapons can have life-changing consequences for all those involved, and their loved ones, forever.”

One of his killers had posed for a picture with the nearly 17 inch-long (42.5cm) blade used in the killing.

Even after he was arrested the weapons-obsessed schoolboy drew pictures of knives while in custody.

In an interview released after the verdicts, Seesahai’s parents Suresh Seesahai, and mother, Maneshwary, issued a warning to parents that children could be involved in knife crime.

Mr Seesahai said: “I don’t think it’s a good thing that a child is carrying a machete, not even a knife, he’s just a kid.

“Pay attention to your kids, if you see them doing something wrong then tell them. Check their room, sometimes you don’t know what’s in there, so check it as parents.

“This world is a different world, kids are dangerous now. If we don’t pay attention to them this will keep happening.”


Aspiring engineer’s future taken away by remorseless attackers

By Neil Johnston, Senior News Reporter

Shawn Seesahai had only come to the UK for a cataract operation when he became the innocent victim to two of Britain’s youngest ever killers.

After successful eye surgery, the 19-year-old aspiring engineer originally from Anguilla in the Caribbean, had started to think about the future and was discussing plans for Christmas when he was hacked to death by two 12-year-olds in a Wolverhampton park.

His two attackers, who cannot be named because of their age, blamed the murder on each other but jurors unanimously found them both guilty yesterday.

The pair have become the youngest people to be convicted of murder since Jon Venables and Robert Thompson were detained over the torture and murder of James Bulger in 1993, who were found guilty at the age of 11.

Yesterday’s guilty verdict also makes the youths the youngest boys to have committed a knife-related murder in the UK.

Mrs Justice Tipples, the judge, has indicated that she will hear representations from the press on whether to name the killers at a later hearing ahead of sentencing.

During the month-long trial, jurors heard horrific details of how Seesahai was murdered in November 2023 after a chance encounter with his killers in Stowlawn playing fields in East Park, Wolverhampton.

Seesahai, who loved basketball, cricket, and music, lived in Handsworth in Birmingham but had travelled to the neighbouring city for the day with friends and was enjoying a Red Bull energy drink and discussing Christmas plans when he was brutally attacked.

Completely unprovoked, Seesahai only had time to tell friend Derron Harrigan to “run” when he saw one of the youths pull out the 42.5cm machete.

He was shoulder-barged by the smaller of the two defendants, who “often” carried the machete, before being punched, kicked, stamped on and “chopped” at with the weapon.

Mr Harrigan told Nottingham Crown Court how they had attempted to flee when the youth “reached for his blade and Shawn shouted ‘run bro’”.

“We started to run but Shawn tripped,” he said. “I was running for my life – I couldn’t stay there and watch.”

As he fled he saw his friend on the floor surrounded by the defendants. The fatal wound to his back was more than 20cm deep and the blade went through his heart and almost came out of his chest.

He was pronounced dead at 9.11pm after police and paramedics were called to the scene.

The court was told that Seesahai was “utterly defenceless” and was  “a man who had done nothing wrong, a man with no weapon”.

During the trial, one of the boys claimed Seesahai had told them to move from the bench they were sitting on.

As the verdict was read yesterday, family members of both Seesahai and the defendants cried and hugged each other in the public gallery.

The West Midlands has become the country’s knife crime capital with official statistics showing that the force had the highest number of offences per head of population in England and Wales in the year to December 2023, ahead of the Metropolitan Police.

Overall figures show that knife crime rose by 7 per cent in England and Wales in the year to December 2023, compared with the previous 12 months.

Knife-enabled homicides stood at 239 last year, broadly unchanged on the 235 recorded in 2022 and also lower than pre-pandemic figures.

However, in the year to March 2023, 82 per cent of teenage homicide victims were killed with a knife, up from 73 per cent in the previous year.

Jurors heard that the youths, one of whom was obsessed with knives, launched the attack with no provocation,

Michelle Heeley KC , prosecuting,  said the weapon had been taken out of one of the boys’ trousers and was made available to be used “despite the fact Shawn Seesahai and his friends had offered no violence, nor done anything to offend [the youths]”.

Although  Mr Harrigan did not see the “vicious attack” that ensued, Ms Heeley said a teenage girl who had been with the 12 year-olds told police that both had been in possession of the machete and one often carried it.

The witness described seeing one boy pick up the machete and hold it in the air.

Ms Heeley added: “She told police she saw [a defendant] using the machete on Seesahai’s legs, and also saw [the other defendant] punching and stamping on his head.

“The prosecution say the two boys were engaged in a joint attack upon a man who had done nothing wrong, a man with no weapon, who was utterly defenceless on the ground.

“We say that these two boys were acting together and meant to kill Seesahai, at the very least they intended to cause really serious harm.”

She added: “As a result of their actions, Shawn Seesahai died at the scene. He had been hit so hard to the skull with the machete that a piece of bone had actually come away.

“He had slash wounds on his leg and most significantly he had an injury from the machete that went through his body all the way from his back, through his ribs and into his heart.”

After refusing to answer police questions in the aftermath of the murder, the boys both gave evidence to jurors, blaming each other for inflicting the fatal blow.

Jurors heard one of the defendants was found to have 11 areas of blood staining on his clothing.

The boy was also seen with blood on his hands in the aftermath of the murder, while his friend had a small blood stain on his right trainer.

As well as failing to summon help for Seesahai, the youths showed no remorse for what they had done in the 24 hours before their arrest, with one cleaning the machete with bleach and hiding it under his bed.

They told the court they both played video games in the hours after the killing, claiming they did not know Seesahai had died until the following day.

Mrs Justice Tipples thanked the jury at the High Court for their “hard work and determination” in what had been a “tragic and distressing case” after their verdicts were delivered on Monday afternoon.

In an interview released after the verdicts, Seesahai’s parents, Suresh and Maneshwary, said they would never be able to get over the loss of their son, who always told them he would “shine” and take care of them.

They questioned how a child so young could have a weapon like a machete with them as they walked the streets.

Suresh Seesahai said: “This world is a different world, kids are dangerous now. If we don’t pay attention to them this will keep happening.”

His wife added: “Twelve-year-old kids should be at home doing school work and then going to bed. I have two children and at 7.30pm they had to go to bed because they have to follow the rules of the house.

“He didn’t deserve what happened, I don’t have much to say about it. I just want justice.”

Mr Seesahai added that they were now hoping for justice when his killers were sentenced in July.

“Justice must be done. I want them to have the right sentence, they don’t have to be locked up for life, I just want it to be fair. We are keeping our fingers crossed that we’ll get the justice we’ve come here for.”

License this content

Reform candidate said UK should have been neutral against Hitler

A candidate for Reform UK claimed the country would be “far better” if it had “taken Hitler up on his offer of neutrality” instead of fighting the Nazis.

Ian Gribbin, who is aiming to oust the Conservatives in Bexhill and Battle in East Sussex, also reportedly wrote online that women were the “sponging gender” and should be “deprived of health care”.

The BBC reported that in posts allegedly made in 2022 on the UnHerd magazine website, Mr Gribbin said Sir Winston Churchill, the wartime prime minister, was “abysmal” and praised Vladimir Putin.

Mr Gribbin declined to comment when approached by the BBC but a Reform spokesman said the alleged comments were not “endorsements” but “written with an eye to inconvenient perspectives and truths”, while his remarks about women were “tongue in cheek”.

In July 2022, Mr Gribbin reportedly posted on the UnHerd website: “Britain would be in a far better state today had we taken Hitler up on his offer of neutrality … but oh no Britain’s warped mindset values weird notions of international morality rather than looking after its own people.”

The same month he reportedly wrote: “In Britain specifically we need to exorcise the cult of Churchill and recognise that in both policy and military strategy, he was abysmal.”

Reform UK is hoping to take votes from the Conservatives and has seen a boost in the polls since Nigel Farage became leader last week.

The party is standing more than 600 candidates across the country but one of its contenders has already withdrawn from the race to back the Conservatives instead. The candidate axed to make way for Mr Farage is now standing against him as an independent.

The latest revelations will raise fresh questions about the suitability of some of Reform’s candidates and the party’s vetting process.

The BBC reported that Mr Gribbin is also said to have allegedly criticised women, writing on UnHerd’s message board: “Do you think you could actually work and pay for it all too like good citizens?

“Men pay 80 per cent of tax – women spend 80 per cent of tax revenue. On aggregate, as a group, you only take from society.

“Less complaining please from the ‘sponging gender’.”

He added that women were “subsidised by men to merely breathe” and in January 2022 he also posted: “Men pay 80% of tax. Women take out 80% of expenditures.

“Square that inequality first by depriving women of healthcare until their life expectancies are the same as men, fair’s fair.”

Two months earlier, in December 2021, he reportedly wrote female soldiers “almost made me wretch (sic)” and were a “total liability”. 

In the run-up to the invasion of Ukraine, he praised Putin, writing in January 2022 that he had “shown a maturity of which we can only dream of”.

He “understands the bonds that create more stable societies; the hypocrisy of the West is preposterous as we stare in the face daily the enormous economic equalities created by our deluded neo-liberal ideas”, he wrote.

In February, Mr Gribbin also allegedly wrote “if only the West had politicians of his class”.

Bexhill and Battle has been held by Huw Merriman, a transport minister, since 2015 but he is standing down at the election. At the last election, Mr Merriman secured a majority of more than 26,000.

A Reform UK spokesman said: “Through offence archaeology, the BBC has found that Mr Gribbin has made a series of comments about a number of subjects.

“They were written with an eye to inconvenient perspectives and truths. That doesn’t make them endorsements, just arguing points in long-distance debates.

“His historical perspective of what the UK could have done in the 30s was shared by the vast majority of the British establishment including the BBC of its day, and is probably true.

“Again no endorsement, just pointing out conveniently forgotten truths.

“As for the feminism point, his tongue is so firmly in his cheek one should be able to spot it from 100 yards.”

License this content

Martin Amis who ‘wrote with a delight in human difference’ is remembered

There’s an old Kingsley Amis ditty:

Death has this much to be said for it:

You don’t have to get out of bed for it.

Wherever you happen to be

They bring it to you – free.

It came to mind on Monday afternoon, at St Martin-in-the-Fields. In the neoclassical church where the late Kingsley was celebrated 28 years ago, a service presided over by his second son, this week it was the turn of that son himself. Like Kingsley’s verse, Martin Amis’s memorial service refused, almost to the last, to be ponderous or grim. More often, it was hilarious…

Prince Louis advises England team to eat double portions ahead of Euros

Prince Louis has urged the England team to eat “twice the amount” they usually eat to best prepare for the Euros…

Combined flu and Covid jab produces ‘higher immune response’ than separate injections

A combined flu and Covid vaccine from Moderna has been found to provoke a higher immune response than separate single jabs.

The results raise hopes the new vaccine could be approved by regulators for the 2025 or 2026 flu season, with the possibility of being rolled out on the NHS.

At the moment, Moderna’s Spikevax vaccine for Covid-19 is used in the NHS booster programmes, alongside Pfizer/BioNTech’s Comirnaty.

A newer version of Spikevax has been created and tested by Moderna, which includes a dose of the flu vaccine.

This is the first time final phase three data for a combined vaccine has been published by any company.

The findings show that the vaccine met its goals and led to higher immune responses against flu and Covid than other single vaccines currently in use, including the current Spikevax.

Stephane Bancel, the chief executive of Moderna, said: “Combination vaccines have the potential to reduce the burden of respiratory viruses on health systems and pharmacies, as well as offer people more convenient vaccination options that could improve compliance and provide stronger protection from seasonal illnesses.

“Moderna is the only company with a positive phase 3 flu and Covid combination vaccine.

“Building on the momentum of positive phase 3 data across our respiratory portfolio, we continue to address significant unmet medical needs and advance public health.”

The mRNA-1083 jab matched or bettered current flu jabs at making the body produce antibodies.

The randomised controlled trial involved 8,000 volunteers, all aged over 50 and half over 64.

Moderna said it had focused on older people as they remained the focus of booster Covid vaccines, but planned to offer the new jab to younger people as well.

Competitors Pfizer and BioNTech are testing a similar two-in-one mRNA vaccine against flu and Covid.

License this content

Oxford University admits fewer state school pupils for third year in a row

State school admissions to the University of Oxford have fallen for the third year in a row.

The university’s latest admissions data show that 67.6 per cent of British students who joined in 2023 were state-educated – down slightly from 68.1 per cent the previous year.

It means the success rate for state-educated pupils taking up a place at Oxford has also continued to sink, according to Telegraph analysis of admissions statistics.

Just 16.4 per cent of the record 10,150 pupils who applied to Oxford from a state school went on to enrol at the university this year – a figure that has declined every year since 2020, when it stood at 20.6 per cent.

At the same time, the proportion of privately educated pupils admitted to the university at undergraduate level continues to rise.

Almost a third – 32.4 per cent – of British students admitted to Oxford this year came from private schools, up from 31.9 per cent last year. It marks the fourth consecutive year the figure has increased.

Teaching unions said the figures were “disappointing”, with admissions still far “short of reflecting wider society”.

Julie McCulloch, director of policy at the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “For example, 67.6 per cent of Oxford admissions were to state school pupils, whereas about 93 per cent of all pupils go to state schools in England.

“If we want a more equitable society, we have to do more to achieve that objective.”

Oxford also admitted to The Telegraph that it had failed to meet its target of recruiting a quarter of all admissions from the most deprived backgrounds by 2023.

Although there was no mention of missing its goal in the university’s latest official statistics, Oxford said 21.2 per cent of new undergraduates came from the least advantaged backgrounds this academic year.

‘Fair chance of a place at Oxford’

Prof Louise Richardson, Oxford’s former vice-chancellor, set a four-year target in 2019 for 25 per cent of admissions to be from the most disadvantaged backgrounds by 2023.

The target was set internally and was created before the Covid-19 pandemic.

Prof Richardson said at the time that it would usher in a “sea change” for admissions to the university that would ensure “every academically exceptional student in the country knows that they have a fair chance of a place at Oxford”.

Lee Elliot Major, professor of social mobility at the University of Exeter, said: “In the wake of the pandemic, the future prospects for social mobility appear increasingly bleak – and one of the clearest signals is the declining socio-economic diversity of admissions into our most selective and prestigious universities, where so much progress has been made in recent years.

“This is so important as many of our future elites graduate from these universities.

“Drives to attract university students from under-resourced backgrounds will face unprecedented challenges in the coming years amid widening divides in school results, escalating levels of child poverty and a demographic boom that will make competition for degree places fiercer than ever before.”

It comes after the University of Cambridge recorded a similar decline in state school admissions this year.

Data published by the university on Friday last week showed the proportion of state-educated pupils taking up places on undergraduate degrees dipped slightly to 72.6 per cent in 2023, marking the first drop in a decade.

Cambridge announced earlier this year that it would scrap its state school target for undergraduate admissions from next year and instead consider a broader range of factors when selecting students.

It followed accusations that the university was discriminating against pupils from private schools amid a decline in offer rates at leading independent institutions.

An Oxford spokesman said the university had made “very positive progress” in efforts to recruit from deprived backgrounds in recent years.

Prof Irene Tracey, who took over as vice-chancellor last year, said Oxford remained committed to ensuring “our student body reflects the diversity of the UK and embraces students attending all types of schools”.

A university spokesman added: “The past few years have been challenging, with students, particularly those from socio-economically disadvantaged groups, continuing to feel the impact of Covid-19 and the cost of living crisis. We continue to build on and expand our access and outreach activities.”

License this content

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *