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Lieutenant Colonel Rupert Thorneloe foresaw his own death!
His memo to MoD warned helicopter shortage would cost lives... weeks later he was dead.

Damning memo: Lieutenant Colonel Rupert Thorneloe, the most senior casualty of the Afghan Taliban booby traps - another murder of one of the UK's armed forceswar

The most senior soldier to be killed in Afghanistan foreshadowed his own death in a damning memo about the shortage of helicopters.

Lieutenant Colonel Rupert Thorneloe told his superiors that many more British troops would die because they were being forced to make trips by road.

Less than a month later on the 1st of July 2009, he was blown up by a roadside bomb!!

The leaked memo dramatically undermines Gordon Brown's naive claims that helicopter shortages have not caused the deaths of troops fighting the Taliban.

It amounts to a devastating condemnation from beyond the grave of Labour's stewardship of the war in Afghanistan.

Lieutenant Colonel Rupert Thorneloe, 39, commander of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, died with Trooper Joshua Hammond when their convoy set off an improvised explosive device (IED) during a patrol north of the town of Lashkar Gah.

On June 5, he had chillingly predicted the circumstances of his own death in his weekly report to the Ministry of Defence.

Headed 'Battle Group Weekly Update', it reads: 'I have tried to avoid griping about helicopters - we all know we don't have enough, but we obviously cannot carry out our usual army operations without people moving around, so this month we have conducted a great deal of administrative movement by road. This increases the IED threat and our exposure to it.'

Victim of a Taliban booby-trap bomb: Thorneloe with his children Hannah and Sophie :

Taliban booby traps - another murder of one of the UK's armed forces

Colonel Thorneloe goes on to spell out in graphic terms how he had 'virtually no' helicopters of the type which would allow him to move troops by air rather than road. He added: 'The current level of SH (support helicopter) support is therefore unsustainable.'

In a damning assessment of Nato operations, he concluded by saying that the system used to manage helicopter movements in Afghanistan 'is very clearly not fit for purpose'.

Another leaked report by a senior officer in Afghanistan, written on July 10, proves that the problems still persisted.

It reads: 'Aviation has been erratic throughout this week. This has forced Taliban booby traps - another murder of one of the UK's armed forcesus to conduct more road moves than I would like. I understand the strains in the fly programme but any improvement would greatly assist.'

The officer added that he had received just half the helicopters he had requested for operations that week. And he also complained about the 'attrition of Vikings' - armoured vehicles overused because of the helicopter shortage.

Yet just two weeks later, on July 22 the Prime Minister insisted that soldiers had not died because of MoD penny pinching.

He told Parliament: 'In the operations we are having at the moment it is completely wrong to say that the loss of lives has been caused by the absence of helicopters.'

The memos were leaked by a disgusted MoD official to Tory MP Adam Holloway, a former Grenadier Guards officer who regularly visits Afghanistan.

In an email, the official referred to the second memo, telling the MP: 'As you can see, situation: no change, despite Rupert Thorneloe's death. Still no aviation, still unnecessary administrative road moves which are killing people.

'Still claims by the Government that the military have got enough helicopters and all the tools they need. Lies.'

Mr Holloway told the Mail: 'What a heart-wrenching irony it is that Lieutenant Colonel Thorneloe wrote those words. It must have been terrible for him as the commander of 800 men to know that their lives were being put in danger because the Government, in whose name he had taken them to war, would not spend the money to make it safer for them to move across country.'

He added that defence chiefs 'should be ashamed - hopefully now they will at last do the right thing and get our troops off the roads and into the air where they are safer.' Taliban booby traps - another murder of one of the UK's armed forces

Mr Holloway has written a devastating critique of the handling of the war in a pamphlet shortly to be published by the Centre for Policy Studies think tank.

It reveals that despite clear evidence that a shortage of helicopters is killing British troops, defence chiefs are still refusing offers to supply more.

Prediction: Lt-Col Thorneloe told his superiors many more British troops would die because they were being forced to make trips by road.

Only last month, the Ministry of Defence turned down another offer of helicopters which could double Afghanistan flying hours for British troops fighting the Taliban. The Mail has independently confirmed that former RAF pilots offered to supply 25 helicopters within three months to back up the Chinook fleet which is stretched to breaking point.

The deal would have cost the MoD just £7million a month - a relative drop in the ocean - but the offer was rejected because the RAF did not want to share a role with private contractors.

Lieutenant Colonel Thorneloe and his widow Sally had two daughters, Hannah, four, and two-year-old Sophie. At his funeral the mourners included the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, who knew him well.

In a statement yesterday, Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth said: 'My thoughts remain with the family and friends of Lt-Col Rupert Thorneloe, who was a courageous soldier and a fine man. Our brave forces deserve the very best equipment and we remain determined to provide it.

'We know the value of helicopters on operations, and that commanders could do more with more. That is why we have increased the numbers and types, improved engines and almost doubled flying hours. To counter the roadside bomb threat we have also been improving unmanned air surveillance.'

October 29, 2009 - Mother's anger at Help for Heroes 'snub'
A mother of three claims supermarket staff refused to serve her because she was wearing a wristband to support members of the Armed Forces wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Beth Hoyle said she was turned away from tills at Asda because a checkout operator objected to her Help for Heroes charity band - telling her she was 'supporting the war'.

Mrs Hoyle said a supervisor at the store in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, backed the worker.

Asda, which sells the Help for Heroes wristbands in some of its stores, last night said it was taking the complaint very seriously.

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Human Rights ! ! !
In 2008, the Human Rights Act allowed Italian-born Learco Chindamo, (pictured right), the killer of the headteacher Philip Lawrence, to escape deportation back to Italy.Human rights, Italian Learco Chindamo, killer of innocent Philip Lawrence

The murder of Philip Lawrence was an event that took place on 8 December 1995. Philip Ambrose Lawrence QGM, a headmaster at a London secondary school, was stabbed to death outside the gates of his school by Italian Learco Chindamo, when he went to the aid of a pupil who was being attacked by a gang.

Philip Lawrence (pictured right) and his wife Frances had three daughters and a son.

The man who knifed head teacher Philip Lawrence to death, Learco Chindamo, has been allowed to stay in the UK after winning an appeal against deportation to Italy, where he came from, because of human rights!!

Learco Chindamo, 26, is serving a 'life sentence' for killing Philip Lawrence outside his London school in 1995.

Chindamo's lawyers argued that deporting him to Italy, where he was born, would breach his human rights. Human rights, innocent Philip Lawrence, killed by Italian Learco Chindamo

In August 2007, an Asylum and Immigration Tribunal ruled that Learco Chindamo could not be deported to his home country of Italy on completion of his prison sentence, as doing so would allegedly breach his human rights!!!

Although the Home Office argued that Learco Chindamo presented a "present and serious threat" to society, the human rights tribunal disagreed; they also argued that Learco Chindamo had a right to a "family life" under the terms of the Human Rights Act 1998, the decision was severely criticised by Frances Lawrence, widow of the murdered headteacher Philip Lawrence.

Conservative leader David Cameron argued that the case highlighted the need for a fundamental review of human rights legislation in the United Kingdom, including the abolition of the Human Rights Act 1998 and its replacement with a "British Bill of Rights".

A spokeswoman for the Home Office said: "We believe that foreign prisoners who have committed serious crimes should face automatic deportation from the UK, to their country of origin at the end of their sentence."

It was the second time the UK government had tried to remove Learco Chindamo and send him back to Italy, where he came from.

Mr Lawrence's widow Frances, said she was "totally depressed" by the ruling and Alan Gordon, vice-chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW), said it was a "ludicrous decision" to allow Chindamo to stay.

Mr Gordon of the PFEW said: "The fact that he may be back on the streets of the UK as early as 2010 is in itself disgusting. Life should mean life. "What about the human rights of Philip Lawrence, robbed of his life by a thoughtless knife attack or the human rights of Mr Lawrence's wife and children, deprived of a loving husband and father."

Frances Lawrence said: "I am totally depressed that the Human Rights Act has failed to encompass the rights of my family."  "The notion of human rights falls into disrepute if it's seen that the rights of a convicted murderer somehow are put above the rights of a grieving family whose husband and father have been murdered."

Shadow Home Secretary David Davis added: "It is a stark demonstration of the clumsy incompetence of this Government's human rights legislation that we are unable to send a proven killer back to his own country, especially when that country is in the EU."

Chindamo, who was jailed for life in 1996, was released after just 14 years and then a little later mugged someone in North London.  He was not born in the UK, so surely he should be deported, but, that can't happen, because of human rights!

Human Rights ! ! !
In 2007, the High Court ruled that ministers breached the human rights of nine Afghans who hijacked a plane and ordered it to London in 2000 by refusing to grant them the right to remain in Britain when it would not be safe for them to be returned to Afghanistan.

Human Rights ! ! !
In 2005, a sex attacker Anthony Rice was released from prison after serving just 16 years of a 'life sentence', because officials were worried about breaching his 'human rights'. Within nine months of release from prison, Rice had murdered a mother - Naomi Bryant.
Anthony Rice, who had previous convictions for indecent assault and rape, had strangled Naomi Bryant, 40, and stabbed her to death only days after they had met in the city, where he was living at a charity-run hostel.
Four months before Naomi Bryant's murder, Rice slipped out of his hostel at night and assaulted a woman with a brick in Southampton. (Didn't the authorities see any warning signs then?????)
There were "substantial deficiencies" in supervision by probation and other officials in Hampshire, Chief Inspector of Probation Andrew Bridges said.  "The Parole Board had concluded that he presented only a 'minimal risk'".  Mr Bridges also said "prison and other officials were side-tracked by considering Rice's human rights above their duties to the public".

Human Rights!!
Damien Hanson was let out of jail half-way through a 12 year jail sentence and shortly after, murdered John Monckton at John Moncktons family home, in front of John Moncktons wife and young daughter.

29th of November 2004 - Damien Damien Hanson - Killer of innocent John MoncktonHanson was being 'supervised' by probation officers, when he killed 49 year old John Monckton during a burglary at the family home in Chelsea, West London. 

Damien Hanson, pictured on the right, carried out the murder three months after being let out of jail half way through a 12-year sentence for attempted murder, as this was his human right!!

The Old Bailey was told Hanson had been released from jail for attempted murder and robbery, three months before the attack at the Moncktons' home.

The jury heard that John Monckton fought for his life. He was a "proud and devoted father" who would have stretched every sinew to protect his wife and daughter, 9 year old Isobel.

John Monckton, his wife Homeyra and two daughters are pictured on the right.

He died from multiple stab wounds to his heart and lungs. His daughter Isobel described the horrifying scene from the top of the stairs in a video played to the jury. Homeyra Monckton cried "help Issie" and the schoolgirl ran downstairs where she saw "blood all over the floor" and on the walls.

Clutching her toy rabbit, she described how she saw her father lying on the floor with his eyes closed. "I knew my Daddy was hurt... in the heart... cos there was blood there, and then I started to cry," she said. The murdered John Monckton, with his wife Homeyra and two daughters

Homeyra Monckton was attacked as she made for the stairs in a vain attempt to reach a panic button in a bedroom. She lost four litres of blood and needed life saving surgery. Homeyra was stabbed with such force, that the stabbing broke her ribs and damaged her spine, but despite her injuries she was able to instruct Isobel to call for help as the attackers fled.  She is now, not able to walk at all without the aid of a walking stick.

Richard Horwell, prosecuting, said that having overpowered the Moncktons at the front door, the two men ran off with a pair of earrings, two rings, a watch and a purse. "The cost - one life taken and very nearly a second," he told the jury.  "They left behind John Monckton, dead or effectively dead, and Mrs Monckton with multiple stab wounds to her back. She would have died but for the emergency medical care."

He said Mr Monckton always made a point of being home by 7.30pm so that he could see his daughter before she went to bed. Mrs Monckton, who was in the basement kitchen, reacted first to a ring at the doorbell and spoke to the caller through an intercom. "The caller said he had a parcel for John Monckton" said Mr Horwell."

Mr Monckton said he was not expecting a parcel and was cautious at the front door. He peered through a spy hole and when he opened the door he left a security chain attached. On seeing the killers dressed in a Royal Mail Parcelforce jacket, he removed the chain. "But the moment he had done so, he must have realised the terrible mistake because he tried to close the door again," Mr Horwell said. "His wife joined in to add her strength to what was an unequal contest."

Hanson and his equally 'brave' accomplice, Elliott White, pushed their way in. "They were so close to their prey that they were not going to be defeated. Mr and Mrs Monckton were shouting 'No, No, No' but White and Hanson burst into their home."

Mrs Monckton has described the night, to an Old Bailey Jury, when the two robbers stabbed her husband to death and "destroyed" their lives.

She had to stop for almost a minute to compose herself and wipe tears from her eyes with a tissue, as she recalled the moment when two raiders burst into their home.  Mrs Monckton, 46, told the Old Bailey of the "sheer panic" she felt as the men forced open their front door. She thought she was going to die after being stabbed in the back.

"They destroyed our lives," Mrs Monckton, who now walks with a stick as a result of the attack, told the court.

Hanson, armed with a knife and a firearm, stopped Mrs Monckton climbing the stairs to activate a panic alarm. He struck her and stabbed her in the back before demanding her jewellery. She shouted to her husband: "I am bleeding, I am bleeding."

Hanson then joined White, who was grappling with Mr Monckton by the front door. "This proud and devoted father would have stretched every sinew in his body to protect his wife and daughter," Mr Horwell said. The two attackers left Mr Monckton slumped, dying, by the sitting room door.

Once they had gone, the terrified daughter Isobel emerged to follow instructions from her barely-conscious mother. "What confronted that girl is almost impossible to imagine," Mr Horwell said. "But she is a brave girl and at her mother's request she dialled 999, closed the front door and put on the chain."

Human rights - don't human rights apply to everyone - including the people being killed??  Don't the 'ordinary' law-abiding people of England have a human right to live a safe and happy life?!?  Surely, the community has a right to be protected from dangerous criminals, doesn't it??

Death Penalty in the UK ?  Most people in the UK would prefer the death penalty in the UK to be brought back again, and even though we're supposed to be in a democratically elected society, the bill to bring back death penalties in the UK keeps being turned down!!!  How can that be happening in a democratic society??

We know the arguments for death penalties, whether by hanging, lethal injection, etc, are very strong, especially when the crime is so obviously pre-meditated, for example, like this one!!!  If a couple of vile low-life scum like the two described above, are knocking on a door, as mentioned above, for the killers of John Monckton, equipped with a knife and a gun, they're not exactly popping round to have a cup of tea, are they??

It's time to get real with these scum.  Re-introducing the death penalty in the UK is an excellent solution to get rid of murderers, and if you asked the parents of Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells, who were killed in Soham by the low-life Ian Huntley, perhaps their first response would be to exterminate his life.

Garry Newlove, 47, was beaten to death by thugs outside his Warrington house on the 12th of August 2007. (He was just asking the 3 pieces of scum to stop vandalising his wifes car!) .  Swaggering killers Adam Swellings, 19, Stephen Sorton, 17, and Jordan Cunliffe, 16, showed no remorse when sentenced at Chester Crown Court. Swellings will serve a minimum 17 years, Sorton at least 15 and Cunliffe at least 12.  But widow Helen Newlove, 45, called for the ultimate punishment.  She said: "For many, the death penalty is murder by another name - a chilling relic from an uncivilised past.  "Yes, the thought of bringing it back may be unpalatable. But the horrifying events of the past week have strengthened my conviction that the hangman is the answer.  "It's not about revenge. It's about a just society imposing a fitting punishment for those who have committed a uniquely horrifying crime."

Helen's opinion was mirrored by Richard Taylor, dad of ten-year-old schoolboy Damilola - stabbed to death by Danny and Ricky Preddie in Peckham, South London, in 2000.  The lawless savages, then 18 and 19, were convicted of manslaughter in 2006 and jailed for eight years.  But ex-civil servant Richard Taylor, 59, said: "Is it right that the killers of our beautiful son will be released next year after only serving three years in prison? Of course it isn't!!  "The death penalty has to be brought back because it is the only deterrent available. It won't bring my son back, but how many would commit these awful murders if they knew the gallows or a lethal injection was waiting? Few, I suspect."

Mark Dixie, 37, received a life term for stabbing to death 18-year-old Sally Anne Bowman - and having sex with her corpse!! Her mum Linda Bowman, 45, said: "Men like Dixie are like a dog.  "Once they draw blood they should be put down. I wish this was America and we had the lethal injection."

Strangler Wright, 49, killed five women working as hookers in Ipswich. Kerry Nicol, 38, whose 19-year-old daughter Tania was his first victim, said of his life sentence: "In no way has justice been done. These crimes deserve the ultimate punishment. The public must insist this Government look at returning the death penalty for cases such as this."
Isabella Clennell, the mother of Wright's last victim Paula, 24, said: "I wish we still had the death penalty. This is what he truly deserves." Even Wright's only son said his father should be put to death. Builder Mike Wright was stunned to learn of his dad's crimes. He told The Sun: "My father took those girls' lives. They should take his as well."  Mike, 27 - abandoned at just two years old by his evil dad in Milford Haven, West Wales - added: "They don't have hanging now, but if they did he should hang. What gives him the right to take a person's life?  "I'd like to think he's not guilty - but if he is he should get everything that's coming to him. "As it is, I am glad that he has been put away for ever."

Monster Mark Dixie, Suffolk strangler Steve Wright and the teenage killers of hero dad Garry Newlove have sickened the UK in recent weeks as details emerged of their vile crimes. All received jail sentences. But, as the demand grew for the return of capital punishment in the UK, "Do we really want it back?"  Should Britain bring back the death penalty?

The mood of Britain was summed up by dad-of-four Brian Steede, who said in Brighton, Sussex: "Why should taxpayers pay for the likes of Wright and Dixie to live in prison?  "They took away their victims' human rights and gave up theirs when they committed their hideous crimes. Bring back hanging, I say."

The mother of little James Bulger, killed by ten-year-olds Robert Thompson and Jon Venables in 1993, also backed the return of the rope. Denise Fergus, 38, claimed the rash of recent cases prove the point. She said: "Beasts like them don't deserve to breathe the same air as decent people - they should hang.

"The law must be brought up to date to take account of DNA tests. In cases with no scientific doubt, there's no chance of hanging a wrong man." The mum of Moors murder victim Keith Bennett said all serial killers should receive the death penalty.  Heartbroken Winnie Johnson, 74, lost her 12-year-old in 1964 when evil Ian Brady and Myra Hindley lured him to his death on Saddleworth Moor, Greater Manchester. Winnie said: "Monsters like Brady and now this sick Steve Wright creature do not deserve life, or our pity.  "We should stop thinking about what's best for people who murder our women and children!!!!"

The sister of Ruth Ellis, the last woman hanged in Britain, ALSO said the death penalty should return.  Muriel Jakubait, 86, said killers like Wright and Dixie should be "strung up and killed" rather than spend an easy life in prison. She said: "It would set an example. Serial killers don't deserve to live."

Shadow Home Secretary David Davis said he stood by his views that Britain should bring back the death penalty for serial killers.

He faced a storm of controversy in 2003 for suggesting its return.  But he said: "I would bring back capital punishment for serial murderers. This is not a crime of passion - it's premeditated and cold-blooded."

Former Home Office Minister Anne Widdecombe also wants a return of the death penalty in the UK.  She said: "I believe it acts as a deterrent. It should be available in cases of premeditated murder."

Suffolk Strangler Steve Wright and Sally Anne Bowman's killer Mark Dixie were jailed - but should such monsters forfeit their lives?  How about killers like Ian Huntley, Mark Dixie, Peter Sutcliffe and Adam Swellings? What about these low-lifes like the Soham killer of 2 10 year old girls, Ian Huntley, Megan and Lin Russell's killer Michael Stone, Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe and Adam Swellings, one of doting dad Garry Newlove's three killers? Should they get life - or death?

The metropolitan liberal ruling elite dares to sneer at people like you and me, who are demanding the restoration of the death penalty.

What planet do these fools live on? The ultimate deterrent of the rope or lethal injection would make some of these scum pause for thought.

When someone commits crimes as heinous as those of Steve Wright or Mark Dixie, what's wrong with revenge? Poll after poll shows the UK majority wants the death penalty. But every time it is debated, politicians ignore the wishes of their constituents and vote against it!!

There are two questions to ask. Would the death penalty stop some murders? Yes. And is it a fair penalty for the very worst crimes? Yes again. Back in the 1960s, just one murder was massive news. Now murder is so common it barely makes a paragraph in the newspapers!!

Anyone who thinks crime is under control lives in cloud cuckoo land. Hanging as a capital punishment was abolished in 1965 and now murders are up more than 400 per cent. A large majority of girls have to grow up half-expecting to be abducted and murdered. People who say the lethal injection (for that is what it probably would be) is uncivilised should stand in the Soham churchyard and remember Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman!!

Harold Shipman was jailed for 15 murders. Family GP Harold Shipman is jailed for life for murdering 15 patients, but officials fear he could have caused another 150 deaths.

We can completely understand why Linda Bowman wants the monster who murdered her beautiful daughter to be put down like a rabid dog.  Garry Newlove's family feels the same and so do relatives of the Suffolk Strangler's victims.

Who can blame any of the above for feeling that bringing the death penalty in the UK back would be a good idea?  In their shoes we would feel the same. Those left behind are the ones serving a life sentence, while the twisted killers receive all the attention and all too often serve barely half their sentences.

If anyone has committed an awful crime, such as any of the crimes on this page, then they should suffer, BUT not to just spend a few years in a cosy prison with all the luxuries - what sort of deterrent is that??

Life should mean LIFE - and in tough conditions. Killers and rapists are given far too many privileges and are even treated like minor celebrities in jail. That has to stop right now.

Craig Sweeney abducted a 3 year old girl and sexually assaulted the child, at his hearing, Sweeney admitted kidnap, three charges of sexual assault and dangerous driving. But the court also heard how Sweeney had already been convicted of an indecent assault on a child in 2003 and had carried out his attack on the three-year-old during his early release from a three-year sentence for the crime. After serving half of his sentence, he was released from prison and living in a flat in Newport where he then went on to sexually abuse the three-year-old.

Janice Longman, 35, from Hartlepool, said: "The young these days are not scared of prison. They know they will have access to computers, PlayStations, gyms and whatever.  "If the death penalty was introduced maybe they'd think twice about kicking people to death."

What do YOU think?

Nothing will happen until our rulers are subject to the same risks as the rest of us. Remove the barriers and security around Downing Street and parliament, then force ministers to travel by public transport and then we might see some action!!!

Also, isn't it amazing, that when it comes to soccer hooligans or potential hooligans, the government seem to know who they are, take away their passports, forbid them from travel etc. But when it comes to rapists, murderers etc. they know who they are but don't do enough to protect us. Why the difference?

Why is it, that the Police usually give more help to the aggressors, than the innocents???  The family accused of tormenting Fiona Pilkington and her disabled children have received death threats, it was claimed yesterday, as police patrols were stepped up near their home.

Police officers drove past the Simmons family home at least 11 times and made a 30-minute visit to the home of Dorothy Simmons, the matriarch of the family. In contrast, the police log of the 33 telephone calls that Ms Pilkington made about death threats, children lighting fires on her property and her son being attacked show that she received as few as eight visits, sometimes days after the event.

A record that Ms Pilkington kept of incidents involving the gang, some as young as 10 and who boasted of being above the law, showed that she had given up calling the police in the months before her death.

An inquest jury found on Monday that police and council failings led Ms Pilkington, 38, to kill herself and her severely disabled daughter, Francesca, 18, in 2007. They and her son, Anthony, had been terrorised by the gang for years.

The single mother became so depressed with the repeated failure of the police to respond to her pleas that she doused her car in petrol and set it alight.

Some of the Simmons children, described locally as "street rats", were named for the first time yesterday and accused of having played a leading role in harassment of the Pilkingtons.

Neighbours of the Simmons family have launched a petition to try to get Steve Simmons, his wife Suzanne and their four children evicted from their home in Barwell, Leicestershire.

Hazel Smith, 47, the local Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator, said: "I am going to do my absolute damnedest to have that family removed. I am beyond livid about what has happened. It is a disgrace and not much short of a national shame. The people in power should have been listening to Fiona. What she did was beyond desperation."

Ross Simmons, 20, the eldest son, claimed the family had received death threats. "We have had threatening phone calls, people threatening to kill my uncle. We don't know who they are. My brother (Alex, 16) is innocent. This is terrible. This is harassment."

It emerged last night that in the past six weeks alone, at least two of the Simmons children had come to the attention of the police and Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council's community safety unit over accusations of a range of thuggish behaviour.

It is understood, however, that the children have refused to sign an acceptable behaviour contract, something the inquest heard that the family also declined to do when their children were identified as being part of the gang attacking the Pilkingtons.

The allegations of yet more antisocial behaviour by the family follow a period of relative calm after the council obtained a power of arrest over the father if the children caused trouble. The parents even made a pledge to a county court judge to ensure that their children behaved.

Both those court orders have lapsed since April. The council and police are currently investigating the reports of renewed thuggery and considering what action, if any, to take.

David Peace, a Barwell parish councillor, who was born and raised in the same road as the Simmons, moved out in 1982, said: "When I lived there it was much quieter, all local families working in the boot and shoe industry, even though it was 100 per cent social housing then.

"Now lots of outsiders get put there. It is on the fringe of town, as you know if you've been there. You might say it is a policy of out of sight, out of mind."

Carol Sainsbury, 46, a full-time carer who still lives in Bardon Road, said that despite the recent increased patrols, there continued to be problems. "The youths are still out and about," she said. "I did see some policemen out here on Thursday and Friday night when there were about ten youths outside causing problems. I told them there was a police riot van down the road and they just thought it was hilarious".

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The IRA lynch mob murders

It happened on Wednesday, March 19, 1988, when two British soldiers in plain clothes - Corporal David Howes and Corporal Derek Wood both of the Royals Corps of Signals - mistakenly blundered into the funeral cortege of an IRA man who had been killed in a loyalist attack on another paramilitary funeral.

Initially mistaken for loyalist terrorists and trapped in their car, they were dragged out in front of the world’s press and viciously beaten in nearby Casement Park. Minutes later they were executed as suspected SAS members!

Brutality: Catholic priest Father Alec Reid administers the last rights to Corporal David Howes, one of two British soldiers brutally beaten and murdered in Belfast in 1988. Killers of Corporal David Wood and Corporal Derek Howes

(Pictured on the right, Father Reid tried to save the two soldiers).

A Roman Catholic priest kneels in a car park as he administers the last rites over the bloodied and almost naked body of a British soldier. It is an iconic image, a horror frozen in time.

Father Alec Reid’s hands are clutched in prayer or anguish, his left cheek smeared with blood because he’d tried to give the man the kiss of life.

Minutes earlier the NCO had been seized by a frenzied mob, tortured and executed. A few yards away, out of frame, lies the corpse of a colleague, similarly abused and then slaughtered.

No one who saw the harrowing photographs or film footage of the deaths of Corporals Derek Wood and David Howes in Belfast - can ever erase that awful memory.

The murders of Wood and Howes were the culmination of a fortnight of mayhem during which blood had fed blood.

At its end, eight people were dead and 60 injured. One massacre was averted by a triple killing, but the result was another atrocity. That in turn led to the double lynching of the British corporals - an act of such barbarity that the wider world awoke to the true horror of the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland.

At the centre of the maelstrom on the day they died was an extraordinary figure; the local missionary priest, Father Reid, who was in fact privy to so much secret, high-level peace negotiation that the head of the IRA’s Belfast brigade nicknamed him ‘Behind the Scenes’.

And the two soldiers who died were not the ordinary signallers the Army later described to the world.

Why had their car blundered into an IRA funeral? What was their true role in the province? And why, with the world watching, couldn’t they have been saved?

The authorities have never given satisfactory official explanations. This coming week, a quarter of a century after the events, we can go some way towards giving authoritative answers.

I have spoken to former Army special operations officers who were on duty in Ulster that day. One was in the Army’s West Belfast control room and watched live feed of the unfolding murders - ‘the stuff of nightmares’ - beamed from the camera of an Air Corps surveillance helicopter overhead.

He knew the two men’s true jobs and spoke of the ‘horror and anger’, and feelings of frustration as the outrage unfolded.

Another was an RAF special operations pilot who claims a communications breakdown contributed to the soldiers’ deaths.

This week Father Reid also spoke for the first time, to the BBC, about his courageous attempts to save two lives. Their combined testimonies build a compelling new account of a day that shocked the world.

In May, 1987, the SAS ambushed an IRA attempt to blow up the police station at Loughall in Northern Ireland, killing eight terrorists. On Remembrance Day that year in Enniskillen, an IRA bomb killed 11 and wounded dozens, in what proved to be a PR disaster for the organisation.

Pressure increased on all sides for a way out of the violence, and warring factions began to emerge in the republican movement.

One man ideally placed to play a role was Father Reid, a priest based at the Clonard monastery in West Belfast, with which the family of Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams had close links.

Reid knew that IRA operations had to be reined in if real progress was to be made towards peace.

But there were hardliners who wanted to pull off a ‘spectacular’ as the 20th anniversary of the beginning of ‘the Troubles’ approached.

The softest of soft military targets was chosen. A bomb would be exploded next to an Army band as it played during the weekly changing of the guard at the British governor’s residence on Gibraltar.

The plan was compromised. On March 6, 1988, the three members of the IRA active service unit chosen to perform the attack - Danny McCann, Seán Savage and Mairéad Farrell - were intercepted on the Rock and shot dead by members of the SAS.

No matter that the intention was mass murder, nor that Spanish police soon found the intended bomb-making material, including 64kg of Semtex, in a car across the border in Marbella; there was outrage in republican circles that the three IRA bombers were unarmed when killed. Tensions mounted in Belfast as the bodies were brought home. Father Reid knew all three - Savage had been an altar boy at Clonard - and met the coffins in Dublin.

The funerals were held at the Milltown Cemetery, off the Falls Road, on March 16. Because of the powder keg circumstances, security forces agreed to suspend their usual policy of heavy and close policing of terrorist burials. The stage was set for Michael Stone - a member of a loyalist paramilitary group - to take ‘revenge’ for the Enniskillen bombing.

Using two pistols and several hand grenades, Stone killed three people in the cemetery - including an IRA man called Kevin Brady - and wounded around 60 before being chased and caught by mourners.

He was only saved from lynching by police intervention. Fear and hatred soared in republican West Belfast, and reached a peak two days later when Kevin Brady’s funeral took place.

Corporal Derek Wood was 24 and came from Surrey. Corporal David Howes was a year younger and from Hackney in East London.

Their parent unit was the Royal Corps of Signals. Indeed, after their murders on March 19 - at Brady’s funeral - the Army said they had merely been engaged in ‘routine maintenance’ work on a transmitter.

They had been dressed in civilian clothes and were travelling back to base in an unmarked silver VW Passat saloon. Both were armed with standard issue Browning 9mm pistols for self-protection.

But that was not the whole picture. It was at best a semi-fiction, which was maintained even to the men’s families.

‘At the time the (undercover army surveillance) structure over there included two specific units,’ a senior army officer who was engaged in Ulster intelligence operations told me this week.

‘There was the main surveillance unit known variously as 14 Int, or The Unit or The Watchers. And there was a support unit called 12 Int, from which the two corporals came.

‘12 Int used to go under the cover name of the Northern Ireland Couriers. On that day there was a handover. One of the corporals had just arrived in the province, and the other was about to leave.

‘The new arrival was being shown the routes and places to pick up and drop off equipment and documents for 14 Int.
Loyalist Michael Stone attacked people attending a funeral of IRA members at Milltown Cemetery, off the Falls Road, in a 'revenge attack'

Loyalist Michael Stone attacked people attending a funeral of IRA members at Milltown Cemetery, off the Falls Road, in a 'revenge attack'

‘I believe they were coming back from (the base at) RAF Aldergrove when it went wrong.’

The officer recalled that because of the republican funeral, an ‘out of bounds area’ had been issued for everybody, but that - fatally - the corporals strayed into ‘the box’.

‘The reason why they cut the corner (into the funeral) was never clear to me or anyone else. Whether it was bravado or just a wrong turn, a mistake, I don’t know.’

The consequences were swift, terrible and very public.

Contemporary TV and photographic footage from the large media presence shows the funeral cortege advancing slowly along Andersonstown Road towards Milltown Cemetery, headed by a number of the black taxis favoured by the IRA.

It was at this moment that the corporals’ car, with Wood at the wheel, came towards it at speed from the opposite direction. Its driver clearly panicked - Army sources believed the men knew they had been identified by IRA ‘dickers’, or spotters - the car mounted the pavement, scattering mourners, and turned into a blocked side street.

Film footage then shows it reversing across a junction before becoming boxed in by the black taxis in the cortege. Male mourners quickly surround the VW and attempt to get at the men inside. A warning shot can be heard, fired in the air by Wood.

The crowd briefly scatters before surging forward again. The men are now hopelessly trapped. One of the crowd smashes the front passenger window with something in his hand. He and others begin to try to haul Corporal Howes out.

The mood is febrile. Wood, clearly holding a handgun, half climbs out of his own window but is grabbed from behind by several men and pulled down and out of sight. Improvised weapons appear. A man is on the VW’s roof smashing the windscreen with a wheel brace.

Father Reid was at the scene, and this week he explained his part in the tragedy. ‘Everyone thought immediately that this was another loyalist attack,’ he said. He followed the mob as it carried the two corporals to nearby Roger Casement Park.

‘They put the two of them face down on the ground and I got down between them . . . I had my arm around this one and I was holding the other by the shoulder,’ recalled the priest.

‘They were so disciplined, they just lay there totally still and I decided then to myself that these must be soldiers.

‘There was a helicopter circling overhead and I don’t know why they didn’t do something, why they didn’t radio to the police or the soldiers to come up.

‘I remember saying to myself: “This shouldn’t be happening in a civilised society”. I kept asking for an ambulance and next thing someone came in, picked me up and said “Get up or I’ll f*****g well shoot you as well.” And then he said “Take him away”, and two of them came and kind of manoeuvred me out.’

While still in the park, the soldiers were mercilessly beaten, stripped to their underwear and searched. It was then perhaps their fate was sealed irrevocably. One of them was carrying a pass which bore the name ‘Herford’.

This was a place in West Germany where the British Army had a divisional HQ. But in West Belfast it was mistaken for ‘Hereford’, the HQ of the hated SAS, which had so recently killed the IRA team on Gibraltar.

‘I came back (to the park),’ said Father Reid. ‘I knew the men were going to be shot. It was a terrible, tense atmosphere.

‘I remember saying to myself: “I’m going to try to stop them”. And the next thing I realise they had put them over a low wall.’

The pair were put in a black taxi, which drove off at speed, one of the IRA men waving a fist in triumph.

The priest then heard shots further up the road. He followed the reports and walked up to an area of waste ground off Penny Lane, 200 yards away.

‘There was no one else there, just the two bodies. And I went up to the one nearest me and he seemed still to be breathing. So I started to try to give him the kiss of life.

‘After a while a man came in behind me and said “Look Father, that man is dead”. I anointed him and went over to anoint the man three yards away, lying on his face.

‘Two women came over and covered him with a coat and said he was somebody’s son. I felt I had done my best to save them. I was very shocked. I had failed. It was a tragedy.’

Wood had been shot six times and stabbed four times, as well as suffering multiple lesser wounds. From start to finish, their ordeal had lasted no more than 20 minutes.

Later that day the IRA issued a triumphalist statement: ‘The Belfast Brigade IRA claims responsibility for the execution in Andersonstown this afternoon of two SAS members, who launched an attack on the funeral cortege of our comrade volunteer Kevin Brady.’ As with so many statements about the affair, it simply wasn’t true.

Could the corporals have saved themselves once they were hemmed in? To their credit, they did not try to shoot their way out against apparently unarmed opponents around the car. But the former army intelligence officer who saw their deaths thinks it unlikely they could have.

‘The fact that they had only two pistols showed they were not part of the specialist “watcher unit”, he said. ‘They were under-armed. At most they would have been carrying one magazine and possibly a spare.

‘This is not OK Corral weaponry. Between them they would have had a maximum of 48 rounds. They were surrounded by hundreds of people, got boxed in and overwhelmed. The second factor is that they were not (SAS) and did not have training to extricate themselves.

‘Sitting in the car really wasn’t an option really. Their best hope was to kick their way into a nearby building like a shop that had restricted approaches, and wait for the cavalry to arrive.

‘With IRA members in the crowd, armed with automatic rifles, it was always going to be very one-sided.’

Why didn’t the security forces rescue them? A former RAF special operations pilot said there was a communications breakdown between the Army helicopter overhead and a nearby Royal Ulster Constabulary rapid reaction unit.

But the Army officer disagrees: ‘The Gazelle helicopter had constant communications to the West Belfast army battalion’s HQ at North Howard Street Mill, and to 39 Brigade HQ in Lisburn, both of which would have had RUC liaison officers present.

‘It shouldn’t have been a problem. I was not on their (radio) network but I am pretty sure the corporals got an alert out early (on their personal radio). I have also heard stories of reticence to react on the part of the security forces.

‘But it was simply down to the speed of republican reaction and the number of people in the street: they were very angry and some of them very heavily armed.

‘Physically there was not a way (for British soldiers) to get through without it turning into a major armed incident. We were all very, very angry that night. Frustrated at not being able to reach them and save those blokes’ lives.’

A year later, two IRA men, Alex Murphy and Harry Maguire, were found guilty of the murder of the corporals. They were jailed for life in 1989, with a recommendation of a minimum 25 years. But as part of the Good Friday agreement they were among scores of murderers who were freed in 1998!!!

Corporal Wood’s father, also called Derek, who is now dead, was moved to say in 1998: ‘I have no shred of comfort in thinking that the death of those two lads helped the peace process. Derek died for nothing and I cannot forgive and forget.’

He added: ‘Information given to us by the Army about what the soldiers were doing just didn’t ring true. The Army has never let us meet anyone from Derek’s unit.’

This week, I tracked down Corporal Howes’s father Robert, who is now living in the Far East.

As to the precise nature of the work the soldiers were engaged in, he said: ‘We hope that one day the military will tell the truth about why the lads were there. This was not young man’s bravado.’

And of those who butchered his son, he added: ‘I try not to think about the terms of the peace process which released those responsible from prison, because it still makes me very angry.’

It is a sentiment echoed by the army officer who watched the murders unfolding: ‘I was bitter about the release of their killers, and I think a lot of us were.

‘They were dreadful people. I suppose it was the price for peace, but it was a huge price to pay.’
 

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