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Summary

  1. News, sport, travel and weather updates across the West of England on Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

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It's going to be a showery night

Watch: Sarah Thornton with the weather forecast

Well that's all from us for today.

We'll be back with more news, sport, travel and weather from 7am tomorrow.

And we'll leave you with the weather forecast - it looks like there'll be some showers in places, but a mixed bag over the next few days.

New pound coins on release in Bath

People in Bath have been among the first in the country to get their hands on the new pound coin. 

The twelve sided coin came into circulation today and the city was one of the few places to receive them on launch day. 

80 thousand were released in Bath and were immediately snapped up by people who wanted to keep them as collectors' items.

Watch: New pound coin released in Bath

DIY SOS house stripped ahead of renovation

Watch: Nick Knowles says the community has come together to help

A quiet corner of South Bristol has been transformed into a massive building site for the latest project from the BBC's DIY SOS.

The team are working around the clock to transform a house in Hartcliffe so Ryan Pollard can return home. 

The 24 year old collapsed after an operation five years ago and has lived in a care home in Gloucester ever since. 

Presenter Nick Knowles says the whole community had come together to help.  

New speed limits on the M32 in Bristol

Watch: Two sets of average speed cameras have been installed for roadworks.

Two sets of average speed cameras are now on the M32 in Bristol. 

One of them is for Highways England, which is working to replace a faulty central reservation barrier at Junction 2. 

The second set is run by Metrobus, to monitor speeds around the new bus lane which is under construction. 

Highways England hopes to introduce a graduated speed limit on the M32, starting at 30mph which will make it among one of the slowest motorways in the country. 

Gloucester Rugby's search for a new head coach

Watch: David Humphreys on the latest on the search for a new head coach for Gloucester Rugby

Gloucester director of rugby David Humphreys says the search for a new head coach is still ongoing, but he's hoping to have a new man in place within the next few days.

It follows the departure of Laurie Fisher earlier this month.

Humphreys also revealed that Andrew Symons has had surgery on his broken ankle, but could still play again this season.

Huge pylon upgrade work takes place

Watch: Work takes place on 500ft pylons either side of the Severn Crossing

One of the UK's tallest electricity pylons has been scaled to replace vital parts last touched almost 50 years ago. 

The pylon - one of two spanning the river Severn - carries cables buzzing with 275,000 volts.

The 500ft towers were built in 1958 and are part of the Aust Severn Power Line which feeds electricity to the South West and Wales.

Upgrade work will see new insulators put on the pylon arms which carry the weight of the power lines over the one-mile crossing.

Claire Blackman: 'a heroine who stood by her man'

The wife of Alexander Blackman has been hailed a "heroine" for her campaign for justice for him

Lord Ashdown, a former Royal Marine and MP for Yeovil, says she stood by her man and he welcomes the decision today for the relief it gives to her and her family.

Alexander Blackman has had  his sentence for killing a Taliban insurgent reduced to seven years .

Five judges at the Court Martial Appeal Court in London passed the sentence after changing his conviction from murder to manslaughter two weeks ago.

As he has already served three years in prison, he could be freed within weeks. He was serving a minimum term of eight years. 

Lord Ashdown speaks after Marine A sentence reduced

Wilderness weekend weddings on offer

Wilderness Centre in the Forest of Dean
BBC

An outdoor education centre for children has been given permission to be a wedding venue at weekends.

The Wilderness Centre in the Forest of Dean offers residential escapes for young people Monday to Friday.

Now it has been given a license to operate 12 weddings per year to help it fund more renovation works.

The centre reopened in 2015 - under private ownership - four years after it was shut by Gloucestershire County Council because of budget cuts.  

Nuclear bunker cannabis farm: accused men in court

Nuclear bunker cannabis farm
Wiltshire Police

Three men have appeared in court charged with slavery and drugs offences after a cannabis farm was discovered in a disused nuclear bunker near Salisbury. 

Martin Fillery, 45, from Bridgwater, Plamen Nguyen, 27, and Ross Winter, 30, both from Bristol, appeared at Salisbury Crown Court today. All three were remanded in custody. 

They are due to stand trial at the same court later this year.

Marine A: Video clips 'pose propaganda risk'

Johnny O'Shea

BBC News Online

Three video clips of an Afghan insurgent being killed by former Royal Marine Alexander Blackman have not been released to the media because of risks they could become propaganda, judges say. 

Blackman, 42, from Taunton in Somerset - known as Marine A - has been sentenced to seven years for  diminished responsibility manslaughter following the recent quashing of his murder conviction .

The clips were recorded by another marine on his helmet-mounted camera. Appeal judges said the footage would "significantly endanger" a large number of people.

Alexander Blackman
BBC

The Ministry of Defence argued that, if they were made public, any broadcast would be recorded by terrorist organisations and used as propaganda to radicalise others.

The judges, headed by Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas, agreed, saying: "Releasing it would therefore present a real threat to life, the members of the armed forces and the wider British public, and to British interests overseas."

Murder still unsolved after 30 years

Watch: BBC Points West reported on the murder of Helen Fleet in 1987

Police say answers to an unsolved murder exactly 30 years ago "may lie in the local community". 

The body of 66-year-old Helen Fleet was found in woodland near Weston-super-Mare in 1987. 

No one has ever been charged with her murder. 

This is how the murder was reported on BBC Points West at the time.  

Dog gets stuck in narrow gap

Fire crews have rescued a dog that got itself into a tight spot in Wiltshire.

The dog became trapped in a gap between two buildings in Wood Street in Royal Wootton Bassett.

It's now being looked after by the RSPCA.

Dog being rescued from a small gap between two buildings
RSPCA

Dual carriageway plans announced for 'key route' in Somerset

A358
Google

We've been telling you about an upgrade to a busy road in Somerset.

The government has unveiled plans to build a new bypass around Stoke St Mary and Shoreditch and to make the A358 a dual carriageway as far as the A303.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said the road was a "key route" between the South West and London and provided a "vital link" to Somerset communities. 

The upgraded route is long overdue.

Chris GraylingTransport Secretary

"A dual carriageway will help existing businesses thrive and create opportunities for new companies as well as boosting tourism. 

“The upgraded route is long overdue, but we are now taking action to cut congestion on the A358 to give motorists quicker, safer and more reliable journeys.”

Severe disruption: M48 Gloucestershire westbound

BBC News Travel

M48 Gloucestershire westbound severe disruption, between J1 for A403 and J2 for A466 Wye Valley Link Road.

M48 Gloucestershire - M48 blocked and slow traffic westbound between J1, A403 (Aust) and J2, A466 (Chepstow), because of an incident.

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time

Pair jailed for 'horrific' baby cruelty

Rowan Spodris, 25, and David Andrew Toye, 32
Avon & Somerset Police

A couple who inflicted "horrendous injuries" on a 10-week-old baby have been jailed at Bristol Crown Court. 

Rowan Spodris, 25, and David Andrew Toye, 32, of Lawrence Weston, both admitted a charge of child cruelty after the baby boy was found to have suffered 15 fractures to his body.  

R ead the full story .

Marine A: Alexander Blackman's wife 'overjoyed' at new sentence

Johnny O'Shea

BBC News Online

Claire Blackman, the wife of Alexander Blackman, who's had his sentence for killing a Taliban insurgent reduced to seven years , says she is "overjoyed".

Five judges at the Court Martial Appeal Court in London passed the sentence this morning after changing his conviction from murder to manslaughter two weeks ago.

As he has already served three years in prison, the former Plymouth-based sergeant could be freed within weeks. He was serving a minimum term of eight years. 

Claire Blackman
BBC

Standing outside court with her lawyers and cheering supporters, Mrs Blackman said it was the "moment we have all been fighting hard for".

In their  sentencing remarks , the judges said that although Blackman's responsibility was diminished, he "still retained a substantial responsibility for the deliberate killing".

Severe disruption: M4 Bristol westbound

BBC News Travel

M4 Bristol westbound severe disruption, between J19 for M32 and J20 for M5.

M4 Bristol - One lane closed and slow traffic on M4 westbound between J19, M32 (Bristol) and J20, M5 (Almondsbury Interchange), because of a broken down vehicle.

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time

How old will these students be before they can afford a house?

Watch: These students guessed how old they'd be when they joined the property ladder

How old were you when you bought your first house? Or how old do you think you'll be when you do?

BBC Radio Bristol has been broadcasting from the South Gloucestershire & Stroud College in Filton, looking at how devolution and the new metro mayor may affect the housing market. 

Although some of the students gave pessimistic answers, the financial advice wasn't all doom and gloom.

Rare peregrines found dead

Peregrine falcon
Getty Images

Two peregrine falcons have been found dead in the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire.

Police said the rare and protected birds were found on the Offa's Dyke footpath, near Devil's Pulpit in the Wye Valley.

They're appealing for information from anyone who knows anything about it to get in touch with them.

Devil's Pulpit sign
BBC
The birds were found near the Offa's Dyke footpath
Wye Valley
BBC

Busy Somerset road to be made dual carriageway

A358
Google

Plans have been unveiled to upgrade a busy road in Somerset.

Part of the A358 between the M5 at Taunton and the A303 Southfields roundabout will be made into a dual carriageway.

The project will also see a new Stoke St Mary and Shoreditch bypass built, linking the road with the M5 south of Taunton.

The stretch of road is currently a mixture of dual carriageway and single carriageway, and traffic often gets caught in bottlenecks.

The project has been announced by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, and a public consultation is due to end on 20 May.

DIY SOS: Big Build team in action

Watch: Nick Knowles explains how the DIY SOS renovation is progressing

The BBC DIY SOS team is busy renovating a house in Bristol to enable a disabled man to return home. 

Ryan Pollard, 24, collapsed after an operation five years ago and has lived in a care home in Gloucester ever since. 

Presenter Nick Knowles told us the team had been hard at work at the property so that the family could "get the boy home".

Severe disruption: M4 Berkshire westbound

BBC News Travel

M4 Berkshire westbound severe disruption, between J14 for A338 and J15 for A346 Marlborough Road.

M4 Berkshire - One lane closed on M4 westbound between J14, A338 (Hungerford) and J15, A346 (Swindon East), because of vehicle tyre change. Traffic is coping well.

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time

High rents 'pushing out Lacock locals'

Watch: The main part of the village, which is near Chippenham, is owned by the National Trust.

Lacock in Wiltshire is a honey pot for tourists from all over the world. 

The picturesque village and abbey have been the settings for numerous films and TV programmes.

But families who've lived there for generations say they are being squeezed out by visitors and that rents are too high.

New appeal to community in unsolved dog walker murder

Helen Fleet
Avon & Somerset Police
The body of 66-year-old Helen Fleet was found in woodland near Weston-super-Mare in 1987.

Today marks the 30th anniversary of the unsolved murder of 66-year-old Helen Fleet.

Her body was found in woodland near Weston-super-Mare in 1987.

No one has ever been charged with her murder. But police believe answers "may lie in the local community".

Read more about this story here .

Ebbw Vale fly-half Lewis to join Bath

Josh Lewis
Huw Evans picture agency

Bath sign fly-half Josh Lewis from Welsh Premiership side Ebbw Vale ahead of 2017-18 on an undisclosed-length deal.

"He's shown glimpses of what he can do in Wales and I'm excited to see him fulfil his potential here at Bath.

Todd BlackadderDirector of rugby, Bath RFC

Click here to read more .  

Gloucester prisons tour to begin in the summer

Gloucester prison
BBC

A firm has been given permission to run historical tours around the old Gloucester prison this summer. 

The tours will give the public a chance to find out more about what went on behind the scenes in times gone by - before building work begins to convert the site into housing.

It's very realistic, and its heritage and historically led so we use ex-prison officers to come in and operate the tours. They will take people through and describe the day-to-day of what happened and how it was run.

Joel CampbellJailhouse Tours

Travel: Bristol to Taunton railway line open again

Marine A: Alexander Blackman 'dealt with justly and fairly'

Press Association

The former commanding officer of ex-Royal Marine Alexander Blackman says he is "very pleased" the former sergeant has been "dealt with justly and fairly".

The 42-year-old, from Taunton in Somerset, who had been based in Plymouth, has been sentenced to seven years for  diminished responsibility manslaughter following the recent quashing of his murder conviction .

Blackman shot an injured Taliban fighter in Afghanistan in 2011. He was jailed in 2013.

Oliver Lee, a former colonel, said: "My hope now is that the many lessons from this tragic case will be learned."

Blackman could be freed from prison within weeks, it is understood.

Cotswolds MP backs oral TB vaccine for badgers

The Government's defending the culling of badgers as part of attempts to tackle the problem of tuberculosis in cattle.

Campaigners say the practice - taking place in Gloucestershire, Somerset and Dorset - isn't working. 

Conservative MP for the Cotswolds, Geoffrey Clifton-Brown supports the idea of an oral vaccine for badgers.

The debate was held in the Commons on Monday, after 108,000 people signed an e-petition calling for vaccines and increased cattle movement control measures.

No action over Trowbridge 'shoplifter' death

Kieren Church
Family photo

A security guard arrested on suspicion of manslaughter after an alleged shoplifter bled to death will face "no further police action".

Wiltshire Police said a report would be passed to the coroner.

Click here if you'd like to read more.

Timeline: From Taliban shooting to prison release

Sgt Alexander Blackman
PA

Here is a timeline of events in the criminal case of Taunton's Alexander Blackman:

  • March 2011: Sgt Blackman deploys to Helmand province with 42 Commando
  • September 2011: He shoots a wounded insurgent in the chest with his pistol
  • September 2012: Helmet cam video of the incident is found on a Royal Marine's laptop during an investigation by civilian police into another alleged crime. A police investigation begins
  • October 2013: Sgt Blackman and two others go on trial accused of murder. All three plead not guilty
  • November 2013: Sgt Blackman is found guilty of murder. The two other marines are acquitted
  • December 2013: Sgt Blackman is given a life sentence
  • May 2014: He loses a Court of Appeal bid to overturn his life sentence. His minimum term is cut from 10 years to eight
  • December 2015: New evidence is submitted in an attempt to have the conviction sent back to the Court of Appeal
  • December 2016: An appeal is granted
  • February 2017: Five judges begin hearing the appeal to have Sgt Blackman's conviction overturned
  • March 2017: Sgt Blackman has his murder conviction replaced with manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. He is sentenced to seven years and expected to be freed within weeks

Severe disruption: M4 Berkshire westbound

BBC News Travel

M4 Berkshire westbound severe disruption, between J14 for A338 and J15 for A346 Marlborough Road.

M4 Berkshire - One lane closed on M4 westbound between J14, A338 (Hungerford) and J15, A346 (Swindon East), because of a broken down vehicle and recovery work. Traffic is coping well.

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time

Marine A resentencing: 'Was it right for me? Absolutely'

Watch: Former Marine Rob Driscoll said Blackman's actions were right

Rob Driscoll was a sergeant with the Royal Marines. 

He served with Blackman on the 2011 "tour from hell" and believes what Blackman did was illegal but it probably saved the lives of other Royal Marines.

Travel: Rail disruption between Taunton and Bristol

View more on twitter

Emergency crews are dealing with an incident between Bristol Temple Meads and Taunton. 

The disruption is expected to continue until approximately 1:15pm, according to National Rail .

Marine A resentencing: The ruling

Supporters of Blackman
PA

Reducing the conviction to manslaughter earlier this month, the judges at the Court Martial Appeal Court ruled:

  • Blackman had been "an exemplary soldier before his deployment to Afghanistan in March 2011"
  • He had suffered from "quite exceptional stressors" which increasingly impacted on him the longer he was in command
  • It was "clear that a consequence was that he had developed a hatred for the Taliban and a desire for revenge"
  • At the time of the killing "the patrol remained under threat from other insurgents"
  • The stressors and his adjustment disorder had been factors in "substantially" impairing his ability to form a rational judgment

Blackman, from Taunton, had more than 13 years of service and had previously been deployed to Iraq on three occasions and to Afghanistan in 2007.

Travel: Rail lines 'blocked between Bristol and Taunton'

Former Marine to be freed after Taliban killing

Sgt Alexander Blackman
AP

Sgt Alexander Blackman, 42, has been sentenced to seven years but he will be freed in weeks as he has already served more than three years in jail.

The sentencing came after an appeal court ruled his original murder conviction should be reduced to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

The 2011 killing took place after a British patrol base came under fire.

Blackman, from Taunton, was known as Marine A during the original trial process and fully identified after he was found guilty.

BreakingNo further action for security guard after shoplifter death

Shires shopping centre
BBC

A 20-year-old security guard who was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter after an alleged shoplifter died has been released without charge.

Kieren Church, 30, of no fixed abode, bled to death when bottles he was carrying smashed after he had been tackled to the ground.

The incident happened at the Shires shopping centre in Trowbridge.

Marine A sentencing: Claire Blackman 'overjoyed'

Watch: "We are overjoyed," says Claire Blackman

"We are overjoyed at the judges' decision to significantly reduce Al's sentence, such that he can be released imminently," said Blackman's wife Claire outside court.

"This is the moment that we have all been fighting hard for. 

"It is hard to believe that this day is finally here."   

Claire Blackman
PA

Video: Cheers from the Marine A supporters

Watch the reaction outside of court as Marine A's new sentence is announced