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  1. A woman has been charged with murder in connection with the death of a woman in Letchworth
  2. Milton Hospital has been named as one of the worst in the country for bed blocking
  3. More news, sport, weather and travel updates from 08:00 on Friday

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Murder, tributes and theories in Beds, Herts and Bucks

Jane Killick

BBC Three Counties Radio

It's been a busy news day across the three counties:

  • The husband of a murdered Luton woman Saima Khan paid tribute to her as a loving mother, devoted wife and beloved daughter
  • Police are considering the possibility a person was hit by a train in Sharnbrook in Bedfordshire before their severed head ended up in a quarry in Cambridgeshire

To see more on these stories and others scroll down this page.

Award for Leighton Buzzard children's illustrator

The Student Illustrator of the Year is Kate Milner from Leighton Buzzard.

Cover of My Name is Not Refugee, showing a boy asleep on the shoulders of a sketched adult, and Kate Milner (left) receives her award from Rafi Romaya, Art Director at Canongate
Barrington Stoke / V&A

She received a cheque for £3,000 for her work on My Name is Not Refugee, a picture book about a boy's experience of setting off on a long journey to another country.

Her illustrations will be on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London until 21 August.

Weather: chilly tonight, sunny spells tomorrow

Alex Dolan

BBC Look East weather

This evening will be a dry and bright, with lows of 6C (44F).

Tomorrow will be a dry day with sunny spells. Highs of 19C (66F).

Sunny spells over Beds, Herts and Bucks tomorrow with a high of 18 celcius

Watford allotments to be built on after long-running row

Lee Agnew

BBC Three Counties Radio

Allotment holders in Watford have lost a long running battle to stop their plots being built on.

The Secretary of State for Communities has ruled land at Farm Terrace can be developed.

Watford allotments seen through the boundary fence

The land is earmarked for housing and an extension of Watford Hospital.

Children's camp owner won't take the stand

The co-owner of LL Camps in Bushey has declined to give evidence at his trial, which has heard he failed to act when images of naked young children were found on the phone of his business partner, Ben Lewis.

Staff told the court Lewis was allowed to keep working at the American-style summer camp for children - although not directly with youngsters - after Mr Landsman was told about the images, but Mr Landsman's barrister said he had agreed to report Lewis the night before his arrest.

Tal Landsman
south beds news agency

Tal Landsman (pictured), 26, from Stevenage denies cruelty to a child.

Ben Lewis, also 26, from Borehamwood has pleaded guilty to possessing, downloading and taking indecent images.  

Woman airlifted after A1 crash

Jane Killick

BBC Three Counties Radio

A woman is in a serious condition in hospital after a motorbike with a pillion passenger came off the A1 at Sandy.

She was airlifted to Addenbrooke's after the crash on Tuesday night at 20:30, closing the road up to the Black Cat roundabout.

A man was treated at Bedford Hospital for minor injuries.

Rising Herts tennis star's continued success at the French Open

BBC Sport

Aliaz Bedene, who trains at the Gosling Tennis Centre in Welwyn, is through to the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time in is career. 

The British number two beat Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta in five sets at the French Open.

Aliaz Bedene
Getty Images

He'll now play world number one Novak Djokovic.  

Milton Keynes Hospital among worst for bed blocking

For every 100 beds in Milton Keynes hospital, more than eight-and-a-half days are lost through bed-blocking.

Man lying in hospital bed

Delays in discharging patients who are medically well, but can't leave hospital for some other reason - most commonly because they are waiting for a nursing home or home care - vary widely, according to the National Audit Office.

Shots fired through windows in Aylesbury

Jane Killick

BBC Three Counties Radio

Thames Valley Police say bullets were fired through windows of a house and a car in Mill Way in Aylesbury last night. 

People living in the house found what looks like bullet holes in a downstairs window and a car windscreen. 

Police are trying to establish a motive, but think it could be a case of mistaken identity.

Top spot for Milton Keynes Red Bull in second practice

BBC Sport

Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo came first in second practice ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix, with Hertfordshire's Lewis Hamilton second.

Daniel Ricciardo's Red Bull speeds round the track
Getty Images

This afternoon's weather: Warm with the chance of a shower

BBC Weather

This afternoon is looking fine, as this picture of Millbrook from BBC Weather Watcher 'Dog Walker 23' shows.

It will continue to be warm, with some sunshine and just the chance of an isolated shower.

Maximum temperature: 18C (64F).

Weather Watchers/Dog Walker 23

Hertfordshire prison escape bid foiled

A prisoner tried to escape from The Mount jail in Bovingdon near Hemel Hempstead this morning.

The Mount Prison

The alarm was raised at 09:30 when the 36-year-old went on the road.

A police helicopter was called in to help with the search and the man was re-captured at 10:41.

Could severed head be the result of a person hit by a train?

Jane Killick

BBC Three Counties Radio

Police searching the railway line in Sharnbrook in Bedfordshire say one theory is the person whose severed head ended up in Cambridgeshire might have been hit by a train.

But they insist they are keeping an open mind and haven't decided if the death is murder, accident or suicide.

police car parked by digger on construction site
south beds news agency

It's thought the head ended up at a skip in a quarry in Cambridgeshire after being brought from a construction site beneath a railway viaduct in Sharnbrook.

Police are awaiting on the results of DNA tests, as a post-mortem examination failed to establish the cause of death or the sex of the deceased.

Murder arrest made over death of woman in Letchworth

Katy Lewis

BBC Local Live

A woman has been arrested on suspicion of the murder of another woman in Hertfordshire.

Ivel Court, Letchworth
South Beds News Agency

The body of a woman, in her 20s, was found at an address in Ivel Court, Letchworth on 24 May. A 52-year-old woman, from Hitchin, has been detained and is in police custody.

Det Insp Fraser Wylie from the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit said: "The wider community may be concerned by what has happened but I would like to reassure people we are fully investigating the circumstances."

Luton murder: Saima Khan was a 'loving mother, devoted wife and beloved daughter'

The husband of Saima Khan, who was murdered at her home in Overstone Road, Luton on Monday night, has paid tribute to "a loving mother to four beautiful children, a devoted wife, a beloved daughter and the most caring of sisters".

Scene at Overstone Road, Luton
South Beds News Agency

Hafeez Rehman said: "This was a junction in our lives where we intended to watch our children grow, to love them and spend quality time as a family and make memories. We have been left with a gap in our lives and we can only pray that she is resting in peace."

Asking for privacy for the family, he added: "At this moment in time we would request that our privacy is respected by everyone and the media."

BreakingArrest after Letchworth suspicious death

A woman's been arrested after the sudden death of a woman in Letchworth on Tuesday evening.

BreakingLuton murder victim confirmed as Saima Khan

Bedfordshire Police have named a woman killed at a house in Luton on Monday night as Saima Khan, 34, of Overstone Road.

Det Ch Insp Adam Gallop said police are "keeping an open mind" as to what led to her death.

Police cordon off Overstone Road in Luton after Monday night's murder
South Beds News Agency

No payout for killer kept in solitary confinement

Simon Oxley

BBC Three Counties Radio

A serial killer from Hertfordshire has lost her High Court claim that she is entitled to damages for human rights violations after being placed in solitary confinement in jail.

Joanna Dennehy, who grew up in Harpenden, was given a whole-life sentence at her Old Bailey trial for murdering three men and stabbing two more.

Joanna Dennehy
Cambridgeshire Police

HS2: 'Overpriced and will fail'

A group of independent transport experts is describing the proposed new high-speed rail link, HS2, as "an over-priced project that will fail in many of its objectives".

The academics say they support the project - which passes through Buckinghamshire - in principle, but claim it could be completed much more cheaply, and with lower carbon emissions.

In this conceptual image, an HS2 train travels on the Birmingham and Fazeley viaduct

'Please stop rumours over woman's death,' says Bedfordshire PCC

Luton News

Following the death of a woman at a house in Overstone Road in Luton on Monday night, the police and crime commissioner for Bedfordshire, Kathryn Holloway, has added her voice to calls to end speculation about what happened.

Natalia Doherty death: Charges put to two men

Jane Killick

BBC Three Counties Radio

Two men have appeared at Luton Magistrates' Court charged in connection with the death of Natalia Doherty, whose remains were found in a garden in Luton last December.

Joseph Doherty, 72, from Port Glasgow, and Daniel Doherty, 67, from Icknield Way in Luton, were bailed on charges of preventing a lawful burial, obstructing a coroner in the execution of his duty and perverting the course of justice.

Natalia Doherty and Gerald Doherty
Bedfordshire Police

It's believed 50-year-old Natalia Doherty disappeared after going to stay with her now-deceased husband, Gerald (both pictured), in Luton in 2003.

Cody Cropper

Cody Cropper will leave MK Dons at the end of his deal after the club decide against exercising the option in his contract.

Read more

Rape victims have to 'gather own evidence'

Nicola Haseler

BBC Three Counties

Rape victims are having to gather their own evidence against their perpetrators just to get cases to court, according to a leading rape charity.

Women Against Rape claim the CPS often drop cases when they think the jury will not believe the victim.

The issue is set to be highlighted in an up and coming episode of Channel 4's 24 hours in Police Custody, which was filmed at Bedfordshire Police headquarters.

Watch: Balance Unity - aka Taylor from Hemel - gets to talent final

Katy Lewis

BBC Local Live

Here's the routine that got Hemel Hempstead's Balance Unity to Saturday night's live final of ITV's Britain's Got Talent.

The 17-year-old combined streetdance moves with comedy to win the judges vote after he came in the top three of last night's semi-final.

In the short film shown before his performance, he said there was "not really a lot going on" in Hemel so he just "dances his days away".

"I like to be silly, I love putting that in my dance, because it's me," he said. 

View more on youtube

New conditions for Luton town centre McDonalds

Katy Lewis

BBC Local Live

Door staff only letting two people in at a time. A limit on the number of people let inside. No remaining inside after you've been served.

Conditions for some kind of secure facility? No, new rules for Luton town centre's McDonald's.

Macdonalds, George Street, Luton

The eatery has been told it can stay open late despite a spate of violence, but a maximum of 30 people will be allowed inside the George Street restaurant on Friday and Saturday evenings.

Bedfordshire Police wanted the fast food outlet to lose its licence to open between 22:30 and 05:00, but a Luton Borough Council review said McDonalds had agreed to new conditions.

At least two door staff will be on duty using a click in, click out system to restrict the number of customers inside and the restaurant will be take-away only. The restrictions will also include Sunday nights prior to Bank Holiday Mondays.

Football: Latest comings and goings in the three counties

Katy Lewis

BBC Local Live

While the rest of the country watches the city of Manchester and whether Jose Mourinho's image rights will further delay his appointment as Manchester United manager, there have been a few developments on the local football merry-go-round.

Luton Town have signed defender Alan Sheehan from Bradford City on a two-year deal after a successful loan spell in the final third of the season.

Alan Sheehan
Getty Images

MK Dons second choice goalkeeper Cody Cropper is leaving the club in June at the end of his deal after the club decided against exercising the option in his contract.

And Wycombe striker Aaron Amadi-Holloway is joining Fleetwood after turning down a new contract at Adams Park.

Natalia Doherty murder: Two in court

Lee Agnew

BBC Three Counties Radio

Thirteen years since Natalia Doherty disappeared, two men are set to appear in court charged in connection with her death.

Natalia Doherty
Bedfordshire Police

It's thought she'd come to Luton to stay with her ex-husband, who has since died. Her remains were found buried in a garden in Icknield Way in December.

Joseph Doherty, 72, from Port Glasgow in Scotland, and Daniel Doherty, 67, from Icknield Way in Luton, are accused of preventing a lawful burial, obstructing a coroner in the execution of his duty and perverting the course of justice.

Stevenage: Chris Day to stay as player-coach

BBC Sport

Goalkeeper Chris Day is staying at Stevenage - he's signed a new player-goalkeeper coach contract.

Chris Day
Getty Images

The 40-year-old has made 334 appearances for Boro since joining them in 2008 from Millwall.

Day has won promotion twice with Boro, the first coming in 2010 when they reached the Football League and again the following year through the League Two play-offs.

Travel: Accident on the A413

BBC Travel

The A413 Amersham Road in Chalfont St Giles is blocked at the Mill Lane junction due to an accident involving a car and a motorbike.

A traffic light failure is causing slow traffic on the A5 in Markyate at the B4540 Luton Road junction.

Get the latest updates on BBC Travel

Hemel Hempstead dancer gets through to talent final

Katy Lewis

BBC Local Live

There was good news for a Hemel Hempstead dancer last night as he got through to Saturday's final of ITV's Britain's Got Talent programme.

Balance Unity
Syco/Thames TV/PA Wire

Balance Unity - whose real name is Taylor Goodridge - came in the top three in last night's live semi-final and was chosen by the judges ahead of Tumar KR, a dance group from Kyrgyzstan.

The 17-year-old had performed a routine with backing dancers which combined streetdance moves with a little comedy.

Judge David Walliams said: "I'm not sure you needed everyone else on the stage because you're such a star on your own."

Today's weather: Grey start, brighter later

Elizabeth Rizzini

BBC Look East weather

Today we'll start to see some of the cloud breaking up and the day should gradually brighten, leaving sunny periods and patchy cloud with an isolated shower possible.

It will also feel warmer with a maximum temperature of 18C (64F).

Get the detailed forecast for where you live at BBC Weather.  

Letchworth sudden death: Pictures from the scene

Ivel Court, Letchworth
South Beds News Agency
Ivel Court, Letchworth
South Beds News Agency
Ivel Court, Letchworth
South Beds News Agency

Letchworth sudden death: Investigations continue

Katy Lewis

BBC Local Live

Hertfordshire Police have told me that investigations are continuing into the sudden death of a woman in Letchworth on Tuesday evening.

Police at Ivel Court, Letchworth
South Beds News Agency

The woman, who is in her 20s - not her 30s, as police originally stated - was found at an address in Ivel Court on the Jackson estate at about 20:15.

As soon as we get an update we'll let you know.

Natalie Hemming: Further tests being carried out

Katy Lewis

BBC Local Live

Yesterday, Thames Valley Police confirmed that a body found in woodland in Hertfordshire on Sunday morning was that of 31-year-old mother-of-three Natalie Hemming from Newton Leys.

Natalie Hemming
South Beds News Agency

The force has said a post-mortem examination had not determined the cause of death and further forensic tests were being carried out.

Ms Hemming's partner, 42-year-old Paul Hemming, has been charged with her murder.

Luton murder: Pictures from the scene

Katy Lewis

BBC Local Live

Murder scene in Overstone Road, Luton
South Beds News Agency
Murder scene in Overstone Road, Luton
South Beds News Agency
Murder scene in Overstone Road, Luton
South Beds News Agency
Murder scene in Overstone Road, Luton
South Beds News Agency

Cars searched in Luton murder inquiry

Katy Lewis

BBC Local Live

Police have been searching cars outside the Luton home of a woman who was murdered on Monday night.

Overstone Road car searches
South Beds News Agency

The 34-year-old, named locally as Saima Khan, is believed to have been found with stab wounds at Overstone Road. She died at the scene.

Police have not yet confirmed the identity of the woman or commented on reports the mother-of-four may have disturbed a burglar although Det Ch Insp Adam Gallop from the Major Crime Unit has criticised speculation about the case on social media, describing it as "hurtful" to the family.

Searches continue at Luton murder scene

Katy Lewis

BBC Local Live

Good morning and welcome to today's live page for the three counties.

This week's news has been dominated by the murder of a woman in Overstone Road, Luton and the discovery of missing mum Natalie Hemming's body in Hertfordshire.

Today we'll bring you news of any developments on those stories, together with all the latest news, sport, weather and travel for the area.