Newspaper headlines: Becky verdict, HRT guidance, Cameron row and 'offshore' town

The verdict in the Becky Watts killing trial is the dominant story in Thursday's papers.

Her stepbrother Nathan Matthews was found guilty of the murder of the 16-year-old from Bristol, while his girlfriend Shauna Hoare was convicted of manslaughter.

The Times says the "depraved relationship" of Matthews and Hoare will ensure they join the ranks of murderers such as Fred and Rose West and Ian Brady and Myra Hindley.

Matthews and Hoare revelled in their "unnatural sexual interest in petite teenage girls", it states.

The Telegraph says it is a case that will reignite calls for tougher internet controls - Matthews committed the murder after watching violent pornography.

The case has echoes of a series of internet-inspired attacks by child killers including Mark Bridger, who murdered five-year-old April Jones, and Stuart Hazell who killed 12-year-old Tia Sharp, it continues.

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Media captionFinancial commentator Louise Cooper and Daily Express deputy editor Michael Booker join the BBC News Channel to review Thursday's front pages.

"Like the notorious Wests," remarks the Star, "the warped pair had a unnatural lust for teen girls."

The Guardian describes the scene from the court: "There were gasps and cries of 'yes' from the public gallery as Matthews and Hoare were convicted of killing Becky before dismembering her body and hiding the remains in a garden shed."

In an analysis piece, the paper says Matthews' conviction will focus attention once more on the threat posed to women and children by the viewing of violent pornography and sexual abuse online.

The Mail reports: "Becky's family cheered, wept and punched the air as the pair were convicted after a harrowing five-week trial at Bristol Crown Court."

The Independent says Becky was murdered after a botched kidnap attempt motivated by a sadistic sexual fantasy.

The Sun recounts how Becky's father Darren Galsworthy initially blamed his wife Anjie for bringing his daughter's murderer into the world. But, the Sun says, he has vowed to stand by her.

The Mirror tells how Matthews showed no emotion as the verdict was read out, while Hoare wiped away tears as she was cleared of murder but found guilty of manslaughter.

'Rekindle the fire'

Another story that gets plenty of coverage is news that health watchdog the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has recommended that the number of women having hormone replacement therapy (HRT) could double.

The paper notes the figures were hit by a major study a decade ago linking HRT to an increased risk of breast cancer.

The Telegraph says: "Today, NICE says GPs should give women more information about the possible risks and benefits of treatment - not just expect them to 'grit their teeth and get on with it'.

"The watchdog suggested that at least twice as many should be talking to their GP about the potential benefits of HRT, and that help should be offered to any woman struggling with symptoms.

"The advice is the first guidance from the watchdog on treatment and diagnosis of the menopause."

Telegraph columnist Allison Pearson takes the view that every woman should take HRT in their lifetime.

"The new guidance from NICE finally proves what those readers who wrote to me knew all along: HRT is a fantastic aid to keeping mentally sharp and physically vital.

"NICE says it could benefit another million women: everyone going through the menopause should take it, in my view. Doctors who denied their patients HRT had better get with the programme, and sharpish.

"At the start of the 21st Century, women are not prepared to go gentle into that good night: instead of raging at the dying of the light, we can take HRT, which will rekindle the fire. And, once again, feel gloriously like ourselves."

The Times says NICE said many women were "suffering in silence" because cancer fears had scared doctors away from prescribing HRT.

"Nice accepts that HRT raises a woman's chances of cancer, but says that the risk is small and doctors need to be more confident about offering the treatment," the Times states.

The Guardian notes that the menopausal experiences of celebrities such as Patsy Kensit, Jane Seymour and Angelina Jolie have raised awareness of HRT - but cancer experts say women need to be aware of the risks.

Dr Imogen Shaw, who helped to develop the guidance, tells the Independent: "There are some risks associated with taking HRT but probably no more than a lot of the other things that people take like statins and aspirin.

"If you wake up in the morning with backache you'll reach for the ibuprofen and you won't think this is going to give me a stomach bleed.

"What we're trying to do with the guideline is to push the benefits... and put the risks into context."

Eye-catching headlines

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  • The original Gotham puts out a call for the caped crusader: Calling the caped crusader, Batman: Gotham needs you. The Nottinghamshire village has has put out an urgent call for help buying its defunct Royal British Legion clubhouse for the village, so it can be turned into a shop, community cafe and "visitor hub" Independent
  • Our dirty secret: hiring a cleaner: Two thirds of Britons who hire a cleaner keep it secret from friends and neighbours, a survey has found Mail
  • Marmite puts drivers in a jam: Human sewage, 20 tonnes of Marmite and 6,000 live chickens have been listed among strange road spills Mirror

'Interference' claim

The Independent revels in the row between David Cameron and his local Oxfordshire County Council over the Conservative-run authority's cuts to services.

The paper says the prime minister was accused of "hypocrisy" and "political interference" - and there were even suggestions from Labour that Mr Cameron may have broken the Ministerial Code by offering councillors talks at Downing Street.

"Supporters are gathering behind the council's Conservative leader, who has accused the prime minister of not appreciating the financial pressures faced by local authorities as they struggle to provide essential services," reports the Independent.

"The row blew up after the county prepared emergency plans to trim a further £50m from its budget, leaving children's centres, elderly day centres, rural bus services and mobile libraries under threat."

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Image caption David Cameron is the MP for Witney in Oxfordshire

Downing Street, says the Independent, dismissed suggestions that Mr Cameron's own county was receiving preferential treatment.

The Times says Mr Cameron was accused by council leader Ian Hudspeth of drawing up an inaccurate analysis of cuts to local services, misunderstanding its level of efficiency savings and underestimating its attempts to slash back-room spending.

The Telegraph says Labour joked that Mr Cameron was "another Tory MP joining our campaign against George Osborne's cuts".

The Guardian reports that shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Ashworth has written to civil service chief Sir Jeremy Heywood asking for advice on the propriety of Mr Cameron offering extra help for Oxfordshire.

"He also points out that the letter appears to have been written by the prime minister in his role as an Oxfordshire MP, even though the Ministerial Code says he must keep separate his government and constituency role," says the Guardian.

Taxing time

Finally, the Times reports on the small Welsh town which is going "offshore" to avoid tax and copy the tactics of large multinational companies.

The paper says the independent retailers of Crickhowell, in the Brecon Beacons National Park, are making the move in an attempt to force the government to close the legal loopholes allowing tax avoidance.

They have been advised by tax experts and followed by a BBC film crew for the project.

In an editorial, the Times concludes: "This manoeuvre might appear to be little more than a jolly wheeze, albeit admittedly a rather splendid one.

"And yet this protest in the principality gives rise to a perfectly serious question: if wriggling through assorted legal loopholes in order to minimise tax liability is good enough for Google and Facebook, Starbucks and Amazon, this footballer and that rock star, why is it not good enough for the people of Crickhowell?

"If a coffee shop in Wales pays more in corporation tax than does one of the most famous and lucrative brands on the planet, and that shop therefore adopts similar accounting strategies, most reasonable people would be forgiven for wishing the enterprising owners the best of luck.

"Google et al may wonder what they have unleashed."

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