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Summary

  1. Gang sentenced after they 'set dogs on caged wild animals'
  2. Devon special needs school pupils face £4.5m shortfall
  3. Tributes to glider pilot killed in Dartmoor crash
  4. Council votes to transform aquatics shop to homeless shelter
  5. Arsonists thought to be behind blaze in Penzance toilets, says fire service
  6. Four in 10 bank branches in Devon and Cornwall 'have closed'
  7. Plymouth Argyle meeting with Liverpool would be first in more than 50 years
  8. Stadium for Cornwall: 'We can now crack on' - Pirates director
  9. Truro's City of Lights raises more than £15,000 in donations
  10. More news, sport, travel and weather from 08:00 on Wednesday

Live Reporting

By Andrew Segal

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Our live coverage across the day

Live updates for Devon and Cornwall have finished for the day, but we'll be back at 08:00 on Wednesday with the latest news, sport, travel and weather. 

Don't forget Spotlight on BBC One later. There will also be news through the night on your BBC Local Radio station.

Pirates could swap players with New Zealand side

James Law

BBC Sport Online

Cornish Pirates director Colin Groves says the club could swap players with Super Rugby franchise Waikato Chiefs in the future.

The two teams set up a partnership in September and Dallas Fisher, chairman of the New Zealand-based side, is visiting Cornwall in January.

Cornish Pirates
Brian Tempest

"That is an idea going forwards, probably a couple of years down the track," Groves told BBC Radio Cornwall. "I would describe it more like IP [intellectual property] swap - coaches, and maybe one or two players."  

High needs education budget shortfall: Shortfall cuts to be 'as low as possible'

Simon Hall, Home Affairs Correspondent

BBC Spotlight

County councillors in Devon say they will try and keep spending cuts on education for the most vulnerable children "as low as possible" in a letter which says the county's high needs education budget shortfall is facing a £4.5m shortfall.

Such education provides schooling for children with learning difficulties and serious physical disabilities. It takes up about £57m of an overall £507m education budget this year, according to county council figures.

The letter says: "We acknowledge schools’ legitimate concerns about the potential extra pressure this will place on their own budgets and clearly we will do everything we can to keep the top slice as low as possible."

Latest weather: Staying dry

David Braine

Weather Forecaster

Remaining largely dry and cloudy through this evening and overnight, with just some light rain at first across Devon. Some clear spells may develop, but it should remain frost-free. Minimum temperature: 9C (48F).

Weather
BBC

Some brighter breaks will develop through Wednesday and it should stay dry until the evening as rain arrives from the west. Feeling mild with a strengthening south-westerly breeze. Maximum temperature: 14C (57F).

'New evidence' in Marine A murder conviction appeal

BBC News UK

A former Royal Marine jailed for murdering an insurgent in Afghanistan is having his case heard by the Courts Martial Appeal Court for a second time.

Alexander Blackman - known as Marine A - from Taunton, Somerset, was given a life sentence in 2013 by a court martial over the 2011 incident, which happened when he was serving as a Royal Marine sergeant with Plymouth-based 42 Commando. 

Alexander Blackman. Pic: Service Prosecuting Authority
Service Prosecuting Authority

The Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) has decided to refer the conviction following an 11-month investigation. He had applied to the CRCC after his earlier appeal was dismissed in 2014.

The CCRC said the fresh appeal would look at new evidence relating to his mental state at the time, and the fact an alternative verdict of unlawful act manslaughter was not then available. 

Two men get suspended jail terms for illegal deer hunting and dog cruelty charge

Jonathan Morris

BBC News Online

Two men from Wales who admitted illegal hunting of deer in Devon have been sentenced to suspended jail terms.

They were among 11 men from the south west of England and Wales sentenced at Plymouth Magistrates' Court for a series of offences concerning hunting with dogs.  

Killed deer
RSPCA

Pheon Radford, 22, from Pentre, Ystrad, admitted one charge of killing a deer at night and one of causing unnecessary suffering to a lurcher dog. He received a 10-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months and banned from keeping dogs.

Dean McGrath, 29, from Greenmeadow, Cwmbran, Gwent, was given a six-week jail term, suspended for 12 months, after admitting one charge of killing a deer at night.

Latest headlines in Devon and Cornwall

Andrew Segal

Local Live

  • The ringleader of a gang of 11 men which carried out attacks on wild animals is jailed for 20 weeks after gang members admitted or were found guilty of 27 offences
  • The murder conviction of Alexander Blackman - known as Marine A, from Plymouth-based 42 Commando - over the death of an Afghan insurgent is referred for appeal
  • A "brazen" armed robber is hunted by police after a 10in knife is used in a raid on a shop in Exeter
  • Falmouth Cornwall Councillor Hanna Toms who admitted benefit fraud says she "never in a million years" expected to be in that position
  • Chapelton railway station in north Devon is the ninth quietest in Britain, the rail regulator says

Devon train station 'ninth quietest in Britain'

Andrew Segal

Local Live

A railway station in north Devon is the ninth quietest in Britain, according to the rail regulator. 

Chapelton Railway Station. Pic: Google
Google

Chapelton, between Bishop's Tawton and Umberleigh, had only 100 entries and exits in the year 2015/16, the Office of Rail and Road said. 

In comparison, Britain's busiest was London Waterloo, with 99.1m.

Hanna Toms: Benefits fraud councillor 'never expected to be in that position'

BBC Radio Cornwall

A Cornwall Councillor who admitted benefit fraud says she "never in a million years" expected to be in that position.

Hanna Toms
BBC

Hanna Toms, 40, did not tell the authority about a rise in income between 2008 and 2014 that affected benefits calculations. She said she thought HM Revenue & Customs would tell Cornwall Council about changes in her circumstances. It didn't.

She was sentenced to 40 hours of unpaid community work at Truro Magistrates' Court after pleading guilty on Monday to two counts over overpayments of more than £10,000. 

The Falmouth Penwerris councillor, who is not standing in next year's election, said: "Honesty is one of the most important things to me." She added she believed guidelines for such situations had been changed "presumably because so many people have got themselves into this situation that I got myself into".

Four men get suspended jail terms for killing deer

Jonathan Morris

BBC News Online

Four men involved with the illegal hunting of deer in Devon have all been sentenced to suspended jail terms.

They were among 11 men from the south west of England and Wales sentenced at Plymouth Magistrates' Court for a series of offences concerning hunting with dogs. 

Thirty-seven-year-old Daniel Ravenscroft, of Grange Road, Buckfast, Devon, was given a six-week term, suspended for 12 months, after being found guilty of a charge of killing a deer at night.

Three other men admitted similar offences. They are:

  • Oliver Blatch, 27, from Sturminster Newton, Dorset, given an eight-week sentence, suspended for 12 months, after admitting two counts of killing a deer at night
  • Kenneth Danes, 29, from Culmhead, Taunton, Somerset, sentenced to eight weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months, after admitting one charge of killing a deer at night
  • Brian Forrest, 40, from Kingston St Mary, Taunton, Somerset, given a six-week sentence, suspended for 12 months, after admitting one charge of killing a deer at night

The sentencing continues.

Water main bursts in Exeter

BreakingMarine A's Afghanistan insurgent murder case referred for appeal

Andrew Segal

Local Live

Alexander Blackman
PA

The murder conviction of Alexander Blackman - known as Marine A - over the death of an insurgent in Afghanistan has been referred for appeal.

Blackman, from Taunton, Somerset, was given a life sentence in 2013 by a court martial over the 2011 incident, which happened when he was serving as a Royal Marine sergeant with Plymouth-based 42 Commando. It took place after a patrol base in Helmand province came under fire from two insurgents.

The Criminal Cases Review Commission said the case had been referred to the Courts Martial Appeal Court.

Gardener jailed for killing deer and dog welfare offences

Jonathan Morris

BBC News Online

A landscape gardener from Wales has been jailed for six weeks for killing a deer, possessing a fighting dog, and not providing five other dogs with a suitable environment.

Gethyn Durham, 27, from from Pontnewydd, Torfaen, who admitted the offences at Plymouth Magistrates' Court, was also disqualified from keeping dogs for five years.

He is among 11 men from the south west of England and Wales that are being sentenced at Plymouth Magistrates Court for a series of offences concerning hunting with dogs in Devon. The sentencing continues.

'Brazen' knifepoint robber hunted after shop raid

Andrew Segal

Local Live

A "brazen" armed robber is being hunted by police in Exeter after a 10in knife was used in a raid on a shop, police say.

Officers said three staff were threatened when the suspect robbed the Spar shop on Magdalen Road at about 21:20 on Monday, taking cash from the till. He then ran off in the direction of the Mount Radford pub.

Robbery suspect. Pic: Devon and Cornwall Police
Devon and Cornwall Police

No-one was injured but it was "quite a shocking experience for staff", police said.

The man was described as white, about 30-years-old, of slim build, and between 5ft 8ins to 5ft 10ins tall. He wore a camouflaged hooded jacket, black trousers, black gloves and a black scarf.

Teenagers in poshest villages 'skipping school to take legal highs'

Plymouth Herald

Police have launched a major operation to crackdown on teenage use of "legal highs" in the South Hams.

NHS supporters fear cuts to services and possible charges

BBC Radio Cornwall

Campaigners against cuts to NHS services in Cornwall say they fear major changes which could be put forward by local health bosses.

Protest
BBC

A protest is being held outside an NHS Kernow meeting in St Cleer which is discussing how to save £264m. Plans to tackle deficits include the possibility of selling off some community hospitals. 

Campaigner Ruth Wilson, also chairwoman of the South East Cornwall Labour Party, said: "I think they'll cut beds, I think they'll close hospitals. I also think it will be harder to see a GP as your first point of contact, and there’s the real risk of the introduction of charging."

Health bosses said no decision had been made yet.

BreakingFarmhand gets suspended sentence for killing deer

Jonathan Morris

BBC News Online

A farmhand from Wales has been given a nine-week jail term, suspended for 12 months, after admitting three charges of killing a deer at night.

Twenty-three-year-old Joseph O'Connor, from Rhydyfro, Pontardawe, was also ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid community work and ordered to pay £800 costs.

He is among 11 men from the South West of England and Wales that are being sentenced at Plymouth Magistrates' Court for a series of offences concerning hunting with dogs in Devon. The sentencing continues.

Claims 200 needles were found in St Austell park denied by council

Cornwall Live

Claims that 200 needles were found in a children's park in St Austell have been denied by St Austell Town Council and Cornwall Council.

BreakingMan jailed for killing deer and causing dog suffering

Jonathan Morris

BBC News Online

A machine operator from Wales found guilty of killing a deer at night has been jailed for eight weeks.

Philip Cross, 36, of Tonypandy, Rhondda, was found guilty of one charge of killing a deer at night and one of causing unnecessary suffering to a dog, a black and white lurcher, by failing to get it treated for a fractured leg.

At the sentencing at Plymouth Magistrates' Court, he was also disqualified from keeping dogs for five years and ordered to pay £4,000 costs.

He is one of 11 men from the South West of England and Wales that are being sentenced for a series of offences concerning hunting with dogs in Devon. The sentencing continues.

Former inmate denies assault of prison officer in Exeter Prison

Exeter Express & Echo

A prison officer was left with "tearing" to the mouth after an alleged assaulted in HMP Exeter, a court heard.

Stadium for Cornwall: Judicial review dismissal 'like early Christmas present'

BBC Sport

Cornish Pirates director Colin Groves has estimated that work on the Stadium for Cornwall will start "in the middle of 2017".

A judicial review into the project's funding has been dismissed, allowing the Championship side to press ahead.

"It's like an early Christmas present," Groves told BBC Radio Cornwall. "The good news means that we can now crack on at the beginning of next year with getting the refinancing [of the club] organised."

The Pirates have been attempting to make progress with their proposed 6,000-capacity ground for several years, but it has been complicated by Cornish football side Truro City also wanting to build a new stadium.

Homeless shelter fears 'can be addressed and resolved'

BBC Radio Devon

An Exeter councillor says a proposed homeless shelter is much needed in the area after the city council voted unanimously last night to approve converting an old shop into such a facility.

Homeless shelter
BBC

Some businesses in the West Quarter of the city said they were worried the Market Street shelter could bring trouble at a busy time of year and put off customers. 

City councillor Paul Bull said: "If there are instances or fears from local businesses, residents or communities, [homeless outreach group] Julian House have offered a hotline so those fears and concerns can be addressed and resolved."

The Choir: Exeter's Semi-Toned in final of Gareth Malone competition

BBC Two

The University of Exeter's a cappella group, Semi-Toned, is in the final of Gareth Malone's TV search for the nation's most talented and entertaining amateur choir.

Semi-Toned and Gareth Malone
BBC

The all-male group is one of just three choirs to make it through to the final of The Choir: Gareth's Best in Britain. The group was selected in a tense semi-final which saw the four regional heat winners work with industry experts. 

You can see how they get on from 21:00 on BBC Two.

Striker Chamberlain leaves Torquay

James Law

BBC Sport Online

Striker Jamie Chamberlain has left Torquay United to join Weston-super-Mare.

He joined the Gulls on non-contract terms in August, following a successful trial at Plainmoor, but made only five substitute appearances in the National League.

Torquay
Getty Images

"Unfortunately because they are in the National League South, he isn’t able to register for them and us, which has worked for both parties before," said Torquay player-boss Kevin Nicholson. "He will still train with us whenever he can and of course we will monitor his progress."  

Bank closures: A breakdown of the numbers

Sophie Pierce

BBC Radio Devon

About 40% of bank branches in Devon and Cornwall have closed in recent years.

Devon has seen 79 bank branches lost over the last decade. Ashburton, Colyton and Hatherleigh now have no bank; and South Brent, Modbury and Salcombe are due to lose their last ones next year.

Lostwithiel bank
BBC

In Cornwall, 39 banks have either closed or been earmarked for closure in the last decade. As well as losing its bank, Lostwithiel (pictured) is also facing losing its Post Office - which can deal with some bank transactions - as well.

The British Banking Association said a "consumer-led digital revolution" had changed "the way we do our day-to-day banking, and this is affecting the viability of some bank branches". It added that the decision to close a branch "is never taken lightly". 

Traffic problems in Devon

BBC Travel

  • In Devon, there are reports of an incident on The Parade in Chudleigh, around Lawn Drive, near the police station
  • In Plymouth, there are reports of an collision on the A38 Parkway Exeter-bound at St Budeaux. There are reports of a car on its side
  • In Exeter, Park Road is partially blocked by an incident near Jubilee Road, close to the vets

Hospital asked for 'little bit of compassion' over injured man move

Jenny Walrond

Health Correspondent, BBC Spotlight

A woman has called for a "little bit of compassion" from a Devon hospital which says it cannot take in her seriously injured husband temporarily after a planned move from Surrey.

Philippa Steward
BBC

Malcolm Steward has been in hospital in Guildford since July 2015. He and his wife, Philippa (pictured), were in the process of moving to Torquay when he was in a car accident. He has a nursing home place prepared in the district but Torbay Hospital said it would not have room to accommodate him in intensive care to recover from the journey.

Mrs Steward said she feared he might die before she's reunited with him. She said: "I just wish they could find a little bit of compassion in their hearts for somebody that needs to be moved. It's just not right, and I don't know why they're doing it."

Torbay Hospital said it could not accommodate Mr Steward until a bigger unit was built next year.

Latest headlines in Devon and Cornwall

Andrew Segal

Local Live

  • A football coach from Devon is jailed for 18 months after abducting and sexually assaulting a teenager
  • Eleven men from the South West and Wales are being sentenced for a series of offences concerning hunting with dogs in Devon
  • Education for the most vulnerable children in Devon is facing a £4.5m shortfall, the BBC has learned
  • A woman living in Devon says she fears her husband will die before she's reunited with him due to problems moving him to Torquay from Surrey
  • Campaigners against cuts in Cornwall's NHS services protest outside a meeting of health bosses
  • A red fez hat worn by legendary comedian and Exeter-raised magician Tommy Cooper - is to go on display following an appeal by a London museum

New spotlight vandalism in Bodmin after Christmas Tree lights damaged

Cornwall Live

Vandals have smashed street lights in Bodmin days after a "Grinch" cut the Christmas tree lights last week.

BreakingMan who admitted killing deer at night sentenced

Jonathan Morris

BBC News Online

A man who admitted killing a deer at night and taking another animal without the consent of the owner has been sentenced.

Ryan Robinson, 20, of Foundry Court, Chudleigh, was given a 12 month community order, ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work and to pay £85 costs.

Eleven men from the South West of England and Wales are being sentenced at Plymouth Magistrates' Court for a series of offences concerning hunting with dogs in Devon. The sentencing continues.

'You went to the pub and bragged about it'

Jonathan Morris

BBC News Online

While sentencing Coombes for animal welfare offences, District Judge Diana Baker said she would be surprised if anyone in the courtroom had felt "comfortable" with hearing the "squeals of the badger and the screaming of the fox and seeing deer with their throats cut open. 

"You are the ringleader of organised animal hunting and killing and you had no regard for the welfare of these animals" referring to photos of a dog with its mouth and neck ripped open by a badger. 

"You went to the pub and bragged about it,"she said.

"The wailing of the fox was pitiful. You were videoing it and you were clearly excited by what was happening and encouraging the dogs to kill."

Coombes was also ordered to pay £3,000 costs. The sentencing of 10 other men continues.

Dogs
RSPCA

BreakingMan jailed for animal welfare offences

Jonathan Morris

BBC News Online

Graham Coombes has been jailed for 20 weeks and disqualified for life from owning dogs.

He is one of 11 men from the South West of England and Wales being sentenced at Plymouth Magistrates' Court for a series of offences concerning hunting with dogs in Devon.

Gang 'set dogs on caged wild animals'

Jonathan Morris

BBC News Online

The RSPCA found 20 animal skulls on a heap of animal remains at the home of a man described as a gang leader, Plymouth Magistrates Court has heard.

Jeremy Cave, prosecuting, said a number of dogs - terriers and lurchers - were "bred and trained for aggression" by Graham Coombes, 41, at his Devon home.

On a video played to the court Coombes is heard saying "good lad" as a lurcher attacks a deer.

Coombes and 10 other men have admitted or been found guilty of a total of 27 offences including 22 of unlawful killing of wildlife, mainly deer.

Mr Cave said: "The aim was to kill as much wildlife as possible to celebrate the prowess of the dogs."

The case continues.

Rail disruption in south Devon

Football coach jailed for teenager sex attack

Chris Quevatre

BBC News Online

A football coach has been sentenced to 18 months in prison after abducting a woman and sexually assaulting her.

Felix Reilly, 30, of Maunders Place, Otterton, Devon, was caught on CCTV following a woman, 19, in his car before grabbing her off the street.

Felix Reilly
Exeter Crown Court

The woman managed to free herself from the vehicle on her third attempt, but was groped during the abduction.

Police praised the courage of the victim in speaking about the ordeal, which lasted for several minutes.

Court shown video of wild animal mauled to death

Jonathan Morris

BBC News Online

A cage fight in which a dog is let loose on a fox and mauls it to death has been shown to stunned courtroom.

The mobile phone footage shown to a hushed Plymouth Magistrates Court showed a terrier mauling and killing the terrified wild animal in 2014.

The court heard the vixen had been trapped in the cage by Graham Coombes, 41, at his Devon home.

He led a gang of 11 who have admitted or been found guilty of a series of animal cruelty charges said Jeremy Cave, prosecuting, for the RSPCA.

Several of the gang appeared unable to look at the video and covered their faces with their hands as it was shown.

The case continues.

Latest weather: Remaining cloudy

Kevin Thomas

BBC Weather Forecaster

It'll be rather dull and cloudy, with low cloud affecting many areas and giving patches of hill fog.

Although areas towards the north coast may brighten up at times, elsewhere it will remain rather murky, but apart from a few spots of drizzle in places, it'll be mostly dry.

Winds will be mainly light or moderate from the south or southeast. Maximum temperature: 12C (54F).

Weather
BBC

It'll be mostly dry, although low cloud will continue to affect hills and parts of the coast.

However, some clearer spells are likely to develop towards the north coast. Southerly winds will be mainly light or moderate. Minimum temperature: 10C (50F).

Eleven men being sentenced over hunting and animals welfare offences

David George

BBC Spotlight

Eleven men from the South West of England and Wales are being sentenced at Plymouth Magistrates' Court for a series of offences concerning hunting with dogs in Devon.

Two of the men were found guilty at a trial brought by the RSPCA, the other nine have pleaded guilty. The charges relate to the hunting of wild animals and the welfare of dogs, some of which were killed during hunting.

District Judge Diana Baker has warned the men she had the powers to forfeit their dogs, guns and vehicles. The hearing continues.

High needs education budget shortfall: Analysis

Simon Hall, Home Affairs Correspondent

BBC Spotlight

Education for the most vulnerable children in Devon is facing a £4.5m shortfall, the BBC has learned from a letter to county councillors.

Child drawing
BBC

High needs education provides schooling for children who have learning difficulties and serious physical disabilities. It takes up about £57m of an overall £507m education budget this year, according to county council figures.

There's been concern from both teachers and parents at an overspend in the high needs budget which has caused the shortfall, and at a threat to mainstream schools of having budgets cut to make up the overspend.

Devon County Council has long complained it doesn't get fair funding in education from the government. The letter says: "Our schools are funded at £270 per pupil less than the national average. This underfunding has a continuing impact on every area of education in Devon."

Rail disruption expected in south Devon