Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Chilcott killers sentenced to three years - but could be free in 18 months

TWO young West Somerset men who killed Minehead gardener Tim Chilcott in an unprovoked street attack were today each sentenced to three years in custody.
But Daniel Cain (pictured, right), who was 16 at the time of the killing and is now aged 17 of Porlock, and Sean Wylds (pictured, below), aged 20, of Alcombe, Minehead, are likely to be free again within 18 months.
The pair were drunk when they set upon 36-year-old Mr Chilcott as he walked home through Minehead town centre in the early hours of January 20 this year.
Mr Chilcott was punched to the ground in Blenheim Road and hit his head on the road, suffering a 10-inch fracture of his skull and internal bleeding.
He died 36 hours later in Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton, without regaining consciousness.
Cain and Sean Wylds denied Mr Chilcott’s manslaughter but were found guilty by a jury after a trial in Exeter Crown Court in July.
Judge Graham Cottle - who previously pledged ‘zero tolerance’ for drunken yobs - said in sentencing the pair today: “This was yet another act of senseless unprovoked violence carried out by young men affected by drink.
“A man walking home alone, minding his own business, posing no conceivable threat to anybody is punched to the ground and dies of his injuries.”
Because of his young age, Cain was sentenced to be detained in a young offenders’ institution, while Wylds was sent to prison.
However, Wylds will have dedeucted from his sentence the 121 days already served on remand in jail, while Cain, who had been free on bail for much of the time, will have 31 days served in custody deducted from his sentence.
Both will be liable for early release, and could therefore spend less than 18 months in custody.
Cain’s identity had been protected throughout the trial due to Section 39 of the Children and Young Persons Act, which prevents the press identifying criminals, aged under 18 years.
However, following an application by local newspaper the Somerset County Gazette, Judge Cottle lifted the anonymity.
Cain had no previous convictions, while Wylds had a reprimand and penalty notice for battery in March, 2005, and for public disorder just two months before the deadly attack on Mr Chilcott.
During the trial, the court heard how Cain had drunk 12 pints of strong Stella Artois lager during a drinking binge with Wylds and six friends on the night in question.
He picked up some Argos catalogues from a shop doorway and thought ‘it would be fun’ to throw them at the first person who walked past, which happened to be Mr Chilcott.
Then, Wylds confronted Mr Chilcott and goaded Cain into attacking him.
Cain punched Mr Chilcott resulting in his death.
Judge Cottle said the jury had ‘no difficulty in rejecting the fanciful proposition advanced by each of you that you were acting in self-defence’ in a fight with Mr Chilcott.
He said he had no doubt that social problems highlighted by the case needed to be addressed at different levels.
Judge Cottle said: “All the courts can do is to demonstrate in the sentence passed that the public have had enough of being frightened away from town and city centres by the prospect of witnessing an incident of this sort.”
Mr Chilcott’s mother, Sylvia, said in a victim impact statement: “This was an act of senseless, violent stupidity.
“We hope all those involved will always remember that they destroyed the life of a wonderful young man and have shattered the lives of all who knew him.
“We hope the people involved in taking Tim’s life realise the devastating effect that their actions have had on so many other people’s lives.”
She hoped the case would ‘deter people from taking the same path of those involved in Tim’s death on the night they took him away from us’.
Det Supt Russ Nurcombe, who was involved with the investigation, said: “This tragic and unnecessary act was fuelled by drink and violent behaviour.
“We are satisfied with the verdict today and are pleased with the judge’s comments.”

Tourist association and council work together to save Exmoor Food Festival

THE future of the Exmoor Food Festival has been secured thanks to an alliance between the Exmoor Tourist Association and West Somerset Council.
The food festival was started in 2002 with support from the South West Regional Development Agency and aimed to help local businesses suffering as a result of the economic crisis caused by foot and mouth disease.
Somerset Food Links then took it on for five years and turned it into a hugely successfully event which attracted thousands of visitors to the area outside of the traditional tourism season.
Tourist association chairman Antony Brunt said: “When we heard they were looking for local people to develop it further, we were delighted to be in a position to help.
“It is an event which, in partnership with the council, we would like to develop in future years to increase visitor numbers.”
District council’s Exmoor Events manager Jill Homewood has worked with Food Links over the past few years and will ensure a smooth transition to the new organisers.
This year’s festival will run from October 4 to 12 and is timed to help local accommodation providers, food producers, and restaurants reap the benefits of a longer tourism season.
Firm festival favourites such as the Porlock Food Fayre, Lyn Food Fest, Breakfast at the Heart of Exmoor, Styles Ice Cream open day and Exmoor Dinners at Ranscombe Farm Restaurant are all back on the menu this year.
New events will include Wild Food at Wimbleball, Porlock Tea Party, Moroccan evening in the Creamery, Minehead, Alta Lyn Alpaca open day, jazz and local food evening at North Walk House, Lynton, and gourmet dinners with top tips from the chef at the Yarn Market Hotel, in Dunster.
Council economic development and tourism portfolio holder Councillor Michael Downes said: “We are delighted that the Exmoor Tourist Association is helping to take on the running and development of this festival, which is a favourite with local and visiting food fans.
“Attracting out-of-season visitors to Exmoor brings economic benefits not just to the businesses directly involved, but to the economy as a whole.”
Programmes for the Exmoor Food Festival, which runs from October 4 to 12, are available at Tourist Information Centres, and more information can be obtained by logging onto or or by telephoning 01643 821425.
  • Our photographs show Exmoor Food Festival veterans (TOP) Keith Wicks, of the Whortleberry Tea Rooms, Porlock, and (BELOW) Derek de Maid, of Brendon Hill Crafts, which started on the Brendon Hills before relocating close to Barnstaple. Photos submitted.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Schools to receive food safety whodunnit computer games

WAS it Mucky Maureen with the mouse droppings or Grimy Gran’s grubby hands which led to the stomach-churning events in town?
That is what pupils of junior schools in West Somerset, Taunton Deane, and Sedgemoor will be challenged to discover when they take delivery of FoodO - a fun and interactive way to learn about food safety.
The game was thought up by environmental health boffins at Taunton Deane Borough Council.
It is part of a computer-based teaching pack which is going out to all junior schools in Somerset to support curriculum work with seven to 11-year-olds.
FoodO is based on the evergreen board game Cluedo but the lead piping and revolver have been replaced with some real nasties such as dirty utensils or contaminated meat that can lead to food poisoning.
Colonel Mustard, Miss Scarlet, and Professor Plum have given way to characters such as Slimy Simon, Mucky Maureen, Snotty Sarah, and other dubious personalities with less-than hygienic habits.
The aim of the game is for players to find out how and where a case of food poisoning happened - and who was responsible.
The action moves from supermarket to corner shop or butcher to snack van.
Children must find out the cause and the culprit.
From the ‘germ’ of the idea, FoodO was developed with funding from the Food Standards Agency, while the Healthy Schools team at Somerset County Council has helped with piloting, advertising, and distributing the resource.
The board game version, which was given to all Taunton Deane primary schools three years ago, has now been developed still further into a PC-based version.
Youngsters are given plenty of clues before tackling the FoodO challenge as the resource pack includes a narrated slideshow telling the pupils how food poisoning is caused and how it can be prevented, and a quiz to make sure they have absorbed the information.
Thanks to high-tech wizardry, the whole package - including information and teaching aids - is contained on one PC memory stick.
Councillor Mel Mullins, the Deane council’s executive councillor for environmental services, said: “The original board game we launched three years ago was popular with the children and successful in getting the food safety message across, and the PC version is a natural progression of this.
“I am delighted that we have been able to secure funding and help to take the message further afield in an exciting and innovative way.”
The game will be sent out to the schools shortly after they return from the summer holidays.