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Man given open-ended prison sentence for robbing phone left in ‘limbo’

‘His hair is falling out in patches and he can’t put on any weight’

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Family handout / Clara White

A man who has been imprisoned for more than a decade for stealing a mobile phone is stuck in ‘heartbreaking’ limbo after the government decided not to review a now abolished law.

Thomas White from Bury was given a minimum sentence of two years when he was convicted of street robbery after stealing a mobile phone from a couple in Manchester city centre. He is one of nearly 3,000 prisoners serving an Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) sentence, which sets a minimum but not a maximum term in prison.

IPP sentences were designed to protect the public from prolific and dangerous offenders, but were scrapped later by the Justice Secretary Ken Clarke, in 2012, because they disproportionately punished those who committed low level offences.

The father-of-one was told to undergo a series of progressive programs which are part of the requirements for release under an IPP, but his family claim many of the prisons he has been transferred to over the past 11 years do not have the necessary courses available.

Family handout

Though IPP sentences were abolished in 2012, many incarcerated people like Thomas are still imprisoned under the now defunct law. Last year, the Justice Select Committee found that IPP sentences were ‘irredeemably flawed’ after a year-long inquiry. It recommended the government re-sentence all IPP prisoners.

However, the government has made the decision not to review open-ended prison sentences. Speaking to ITV News, Clara White, Thomas’ sister has spent years campaigning for his release and said she ‘cried with joy for two days’ after the Justice Select Committee ruling — but says her family’s hopes have now been shattered.

She continued: “I really am totally and completely devastated. I don’t understand how they can dismiss this and although we are shattered, IPP families won’t stop fighting.”

Clara White / handout

Clara says her brother’s mental state and physical health has rapidly declined and she has also suffered PTSD through her fight for her brother. She added: “Thomas spoke to me on the phone last week and you can hear it in his voice, he doesn’t think he will ever be released, and this is going to have a detrimental effect.

“His hair is falling out in patches and he can’t put on any weight, one time my mum went to visit, and she had to ask the guard to point out her son because he was so unrecognisable.

“He has lost all hope, this sentence has had a huge impact on our family and to have his hope taken away like that is heartbreaking.”

Despite the trauma, Clara has said that she will continue to fight her brother’s sentence and has sent his case to Dr. Alice Jill Edwards, a Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Clara White / handout

In response to the findings in the report by the Justice Select Committee, the government accepted or partially accepted some of its recommendations, including a review of the Ministry of Justice and the Prison and Probation Service IPP action plan and improved mental health support for IPP prisoners. However, it rejected the call for an immediate review of all IPP sentences.

Justice Secretary Dominic Raab said: “The government’s long-held view is that this would give rise to an unacceptable risk to public protection and that the IPP action plan, suitably updated, remains the best option by which these offenders can progress towards a safe release.

“As such, the government has no plans to conduct a resentencing exercise.”

In response, Chair of the Justice Select Committee, Sir Bob Neill, said the committee had been ‘not only disappointed but genuinely surprised’ by the rejection of some of its recommendations and feared that IPP Prisoners ‘will remain held in an unsustainable limbo’.

ITV News

He said: “The committee recognised that addressing this issue would not be easy – that’s why we recommended that a small, time-limited committee of experts be set up to advise on the resentencing exercise. We are not only disappointed with this government response but genuinely surprised.

“There is now a growing consensus that a resentencing exercise is the only way to comprehensively address the injustice of IPP sentences and that this can be done without prejudicing public protection.

“Our report said this nettle needed to be grasped by all three branches of the state – government, Parliament and the judiciary. But the government has not listened. The nettle has not been grasped and, as a result, these people will remain held in an unsustainable limbo.”

Number 10 / Flickr

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: “Protecting the public is our number one priority and resentencing all IPP offenders risks undermining this by releasing dangerous prisoners into our communities.

“Our current approach has already reduced the number of unreleased IPP prisoners by three-quarters since 2012 and new laws mean their sentences are reviewed 10 years after release.

“We are also now changing the rules so IPP offenders with five years’ good behaviour in the community will have their continued supervision reviewed automatically.”


Stagecoach hiring over 100 new bus drivers for Bee Network with £31k salaries

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Stagecoach Manchester is hiring over 100 new bus drivers to work from its Oldham depot, following the second phase of the Bee Network launch in March.

You can apply for a range of roles, from positions with no experience required to fully qualified bus drivers.

Successful applicants will receive full training as part of the job, and trainees will get paid to train. Then after only 12 months’ service at Stagecoach, drivers can expect to earn up to £16 per hour, which equates to £31.6K per year, before overtime.

As well as that, drivers that already hold a PCV licence may be eligible to receive a £1,200 joining bonus.


There’s also a host of other benefits available to all Stagecoach employees, like 28 days paid holiday, generous pension and free Stagecoach bus travel for successful applicants and a companion.

Rob Jones, Managing Director at Stagecoach Manchester said: “Expanding our offering in Oldham means we’ll be investing more in the economy and supporting our local community, as well as strengthening our workforce.

“Whether you’re looking for a career change or you’re a fully qualified, experienced bus driver, there’s a role for everyone here in Oldham.

“We’re looking for personable and dedicated drivers who are ready to help us build on the success of the Bee Network and connect the people of Oldham and Greater Manchester with the places and people that are important to them.”


Phil Cornwall, bus driver at Stagecoach Manchester, said: “I’ve been a driver at Stagecoach for 25 years and I couldn’t recommend it more.

“From the perks to the people to the passengers, it really is a great place to work.”

To apply, head to the Stagecoach website HERE.

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Two men charged with murder after torso discovered in Salford nature reserve


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Greater Manchester Police

Two men have now been charged with murder, following the discovery of a human torso in Kersal Dale.

As well as that, more suspected human remains were also discovered this morning, Monday April 29th, in an alleyway close to the railway lines off Worsley Road, Eccles.

This follows earlier discoveries of human remains over the past three weeks, at Kersal Dale, Blackleach Reservoir and Colliery Wood, all in Salford.

Greater Manchester Police

Michal Jaroslaw Polchowski (25/04/1956) and Marcin Majerkiewicz (10/04/1982) both of Worsley Road, Eccles, have been charged with murder.

They are set to appear at Tameside Magistrates Court this afternoon.

While formal identification is still ongoing, the remains found at Kersal Dale are believed to be of a local man in his 60s. The remains found at the other three locations are still to be tested, but police are confident they belong to the same victim.

ACC Sarah Jackson said: “We have had large numbers of officers, staff and specialists working diligently on this investigation over the last three weeks. It has been very much a large, collective effort, with the victim and family at the heart of it from the outset.

“We have specially trained officers deployed to support the family as they come to terms with this tragic news. They are aware of this morning’s further discovery and will continue to be kept up to date with how we are progressing.

“Despite the charges brought today, our work is far from over.

“The scenes we already have established in Bury and Salford will remain in place for much of this week whilst our searches and enquiries continue. Local officers will continue to patrol the impacted areas to provide reassurance.

“We will continue following every line of enquiry to recover and reunite the victim with his family, bringing a dignified end to this terrible scenario.

“I’d like to thank the communities of Salford and beyond for their cooperation throughout this investigation. I know this incident has come as a shock, and the support we’ve had from those in the area is very much appreciated.”

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More human remains discovered in Greater Manchester as police identify victim

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N Chadwick / Geograph

Detectives investigating the discovery of a torso in Kersal Dale have found more human remains around Greater Manchester.

GMP released a statement on the weekend, revealing they had opened four scenes for extensive searches – one of them at a warehouse in Bury, and three in Salford.

Searches took place at Blackleach reservoir, where human remains were found, and a dog walker found a package containing human remains at Colliery Wood.

Officers believe they have now identified the man, who they believe to be a man in his 60s that lived in Salford, and his family have been informed.

Two suspects have already been arrested in connection with the murder probe, with officers saying they are thought to have lived with the victim.

Greater Manchester Police / Facebook

Detective Superintendent Lewis Hughes, Senior Investigating Officer for this investigation, said in a statement at Blackleach reservoir yesterday, Sunday April 28th: “We have continued to make significant progress in our investigation into human remains being found in Kersal earlier this month.

“From day one, our priority has been to identify the man and his family so that we can give them the support and the answers that they need.

“Thanks to meticulous forensic work, we are now confident we have identified the man. Formal identification hasn’t yet taken place, but we believe he is a man in his 60s and lived in Salford.

“Specially-trained family liaison officers have met with his family this afternoon to give them the devastating news, and we will do all that we can to support them at this awful time.

“We believe he is known to the two suspects we have in custody. They have remained in custody for questioning over the weekend, as we work to establish how the victim met this tragic outcome.”

He continued: “We have painstakingly worked to follow up every line of inquiry in this investigation. Over the last couple of days, we have acted on information and had four scenes in place for extensive searches – one of them is at a warehouse in Bury, and three of them are in Salford, including here at Blackleach reservoir.

“Today, we have found some human remains at the reservoir here, and last night a dog walker found a package containing human remains at Colliery Wood. Forensic tests will continue to establish whose remains these are, but we are very confident that this is also the victim in our investigation.

“We have also been searching a house in Winton where we believe the victim and the two suspects lived. We have found evidence that the victim is likely to have died there – most likely in late March.

“While this is significant progress, we know there is still some way to go to complete this investigation. I also recognise details of this case will have been distressing for the people of Salford and beyond – including the officers that are diligently working on this investigation, and most importantly the man’s heartbroken family.

“Local officers will continue to patrol the affected areas, and we will provide updates when we have more information.”

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