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Summary

  1. Murder arrest after body of man found in flat in Launceston
  2. Suspended sentence for hospital boss fraudster Paula Vasco-Knight
  3. Dead whale moves "couple of hundred metres" up Devon beach by tide
  4. Devon and Cornwall among areas with highest number of bridges "that can't support heavy lorries"
  5. Granddad, 79, died after test ride fall at Cornwall branch of Halfords
  6. More news, sport, travel and weather from 08:00 on Monday

Live Reporting

By Johnny O'Shea

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 Monday with the latest news, sport, travel and weather. 

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

Have a great weekend.

Rag 'n' Bone Man returns to Cornwall

BBC Radio Cornwall

Rag 'n' Bone Man , who came second in the BBC's Sound of 2017, is headlining a music festival in North Cornwall this summer, it's been announced. 

The Live in the Wyldes Festival  begins on 26 May and tickets go on sale next week. The Saturday and Sunday headliners are expected to be announced soon.

Rag 'n' Bone Man
BBC

Born Rory Graham, the singer is one of the biggest artists around at the moment, and his 2017 tour is already sold out. 

His album, Human, has been number one this year, and he recently won the Critics' Choice award at the Brits.

He has previously performed at the Boardmasters Festival in 2015. 

Fly-tippers 'who didn't want to queue at recycling centre' fined £300

BBC Radio Devon

Two people who left piles of rubbish outside a recycling centre in Devon - because they didn't want to queue - have been fined £150 each.

Mid Devon District Council said it managed to track the couple down as a witness took photos of the incident last May at Ashley Recycling Centre, near Bickleigh.

Fly tipped rubbish
Mid Devon District Council

The pair, who have not been named, were interviewed under caution and admitted the offence to avoid going to court, the authority said.

Latest weather: Staying cloudy

David Braine

Weather Forecaster

Overnight it is going to remain mostly cloudy with some hill fog. However, there will also be a few clear spells around at times. Winds will remain light. Minimum temperature: 8C (46F).

Weather
BBC

Saturday will be fairly cloudy, although we will see some brightness occasionally. Most places will remain dry. but there's a chance of some light rain in the west later. Maximum temperature: 13C (55F).

Drone footage shows washed up whale in north Devon

A 10m whale carcass has washed up on a beach in Devon

Exeter fire-damaged leisure centre 'to reopen in stages'

Simon Hall, Home Affairs Correspondent

BBC Spotlight

A leisure centre in Exeter damaged by fire is to reopen in stages, starting later this month, bosses say.

About 120 firefighters dealt with the blaze at the Riverside Leisure Centre last month. Two people were injured and about 50 people evacuated from it. The blaze is believed to have been caused by plastic packaging dropped on a sauna.

Riverside Leisure Centre
BBC

Exeter City Council said the centre's sports hall was to reopen on Saturday 25 March. It added: "We are aiming to open a gym facility, along with the squash courts and dance studio, in early April."

But it is unknown when the pool will reopen at the moment.

Exeter's Simmonds brothers 'push each other'

James Law

BBC Sport Online

Exeter Chiefs forward Sam Simmonds says he and younger brother Joe are "pushing each other" forward at the club.

Back-row Sam, 22, and fly-half Joe, 20, are both in Exeter's starting XV for their Anglo-Welsh Cup semi-final against Harlequins at Sandy Park on Sunday.

Sam and Joe Simmonds. Pic: Getty Images/Rex Features
Getty Images/Rex Features

"It's good to have your brother there beside you to tell you what you need to do," Sam told BBC Spotlight. "Lining up before we run out, we give each other a little look and just say: 'Look what we're doing, it's proud'." 

Schools warning letter areas 'to get £50m more funding'

Sean Coughlan

BBC News, education correspondent

Schools in areas claiming that the Department for Education is being "entirely irresponsible" over finances are receiving funding increases of nearly £50m, the government says.

A letter  sent to MPs and parents  from the heads of more than 1,000 schools in England - in Essex, West Sussex, East Sussex and Cornwall - said budgets were at "breaking point". It added that cuts in staff, lessons and services were possible.

The Department for Education said funding changes were "going to end the historic post code lottery in school funding" and West Sussex, Cornwall, East Sussex and Essex "would all see an increase in funding, totalling over £47m".

NHS Fraudsters: Vasco-Knights 'took sorely needed money'

Andrew Segal

Local Live

Thousands of pounds fraudulently taken from the health service by an NHS boss and her husband was "sorely needed", NHS investigators say.

Former Torbay Hospital boss 53-year-old Paula Vasco-Knight was given a suspended jail term after admitting fraud for paying £11,000 to her husband for work he never did. 

Her husband, Stephen Vasco-Knight, 45, was also given a suspended sentence for his part in the swindle. Both had  admitted fraud last month .

Stephen and Paula Vasco-Knight
BBC

Sue Frith, managing director of NHS Protect, which conducted the investigation, said: "Between them, Paula and Stephen Vasco-Knight defrauded over £11,000 of NHS money that was sorely needed for its intended purposes."

Man found guilty of having sex with drugged-up and sick underage girl

Plymouth Herald

A man faces jail after he was convicted of having sex with a 15-year-old girl after plying her so many drugs that she was being sick.

Granddad, 79, died after test ride fall at Halfords

BBC Spotlight

A 79-year-old grandfather died after falling off a new bike he was testing in a Halfords store, an inquest heard. 

Peter Norton
SWNS

Retired shop-keeper Peter Norton, who was not wearing a helmet, suffered a traumatic brain injury in the fall as he checked the bike's gears at the St Austell shop.

A Cornwall coroner concluded his death was an accident but recommended that Halfords had a separate area for testing and asked customers to wear helmets. 

Halfords, which broke no safety rules, said it was reviewing its procedures.  

Argyle need 'away performances' at home

James Law

BBC Sport Online

Plymouth manager Derek Adams has called on his side to put in "away performances" at home, after losing three of their past four at Home Park.

Argyle average two points per game on the road, the best in League Two, despite having the furthest to travel. They go to Mansfield tomorrow afternoon.

Plymouth Argyle. Pic: Empics
Empics

"At times this season, when we have been at home, we have opened up too much, and we've had the onus on us to go and score goals," Adams told BBC Sport. "Sometimes that is not right and we just have to tighten up."  

Council hopes tides will move beached whale

Johnny O'Shea

BBC News Online

The council charged with disposing of a whale carcass that's washed up in North Devon is hoping tidal movements will take care of it.

The 10m fin whale washed onto rocks at Hartland Quay yesterday , and moved several hundred metres onto a beach with the tide overnight.

Torridge District Council said it was putting signs up warning people to keep 10m away from the carcass as it could be a health risk to people and dogs.

Fin whale carcass
Torridge District Council

Richard Haste, Service Manager for Waste and Recycling, said: "While there is no direct risk to the public from this distance, there is a biohazard risk from direct contact with the carcass or any remnants. Dog owners are also being advised to keep their pets on leads." 

The council said it would review the situation on Monday or Tuesday and Coastguards had offered assistance if needed.

Thomas Orchard death: Jury sent home for weekend

Hamish Marshall

BBC Spotlight

Thomas Orchard
BBC

The jury in the trial of three Devon and Cornwall Police staff accused of the manslaughter of a man with mental health problems has been sent home for the weekend after failing to reach verdicts.

Thirty-two-year-old Thomas Orchard died after losing consciousness at Heavitree Road Police station in 2012. Sgt Jan Kingshott, 45, and detention officers Simon Tansley, 39, and Michael Marsden, 56, all deny gross negligence manslaughter. 

At Bristol Crown Court, the jury have been considering verdicts since Tuesday - so far taking more than 17 hours.

The judge, Mrs Justice Cheema Grubb, told the six men and six women that she would still like them to reach unanimous verdicts but they also now had a majority option. She told them to resume their deliberations on Monday and that they weren't under any time pressure. The case continues.

NHS fraudsters: What did Stephen and Paula Vasco-Knight do?

Johnny O'Shea

BBC News Online

A high-flying hospital boss has been sentenced for fraudulently paying her husband £11,000 from her NHS budget. Her husband has also been sentenced for his part. 

Stephen and Paula Vasco Knight
BBC
  • Who are they?

Paula Vasco-Knight is a former nurse from Runcorn, Cheshire, who rose to the role of CEO at South Devon NHS Trust in 2008. In 2014, she was awarded a CBE. The 53-year-old was also the national lead for equalities for NHS England at the time she committed the offences.  

  • What happened?

She used £11,072 of NHS cash to pay her husband Stephen, 46, for work on an equality and diversity publication called Transform which never existed. She later tried to blame Habib Naqvi, a senior manager in the NHS, for commissioning the newsletter but he was cleared of all charges. 

  • What sentence did they get?

Both Mr and Mrs Vasco-Knight pleaded guilty to fraud and escaped prison with suspended sentences given at Exeter Crown Court today. She was given a 16-month suspended sentence and 250 hours of unpaid work. Her husband was given a 10-month sentence and 150 hours of unpaid work.

  • What reaction has there been?

Sue Frith, managing director of NHS Protect, which conducted the investigation, said Vasco-Knight's meteoric career path had been "an inspiration to so many" and her fraud was a "huge disappointment and shock to many".

Pirates' flight leaves for Jersey

James Law

BBC Sport Online

View more on twitter

After fog this morning had put the game in doubt, the Cornish Pirates have left Exeter Airport on their light to Jersey.

The teams play each other tonight in the quarter-finals of the British & Irish Cup.

The cone of sorrow after police dog's vet visit

Weak bridges: Devon has 'lots of bridges, so lots of restrictions'

BBC Radio Devon

Top Ten bridges
BBC

Nearly 250 county council-maintained road bridges in Devon have been deemed not fit to support the heaviest lorries - making it the worst county in the England, according to the RAC .

New Holne Bridge on Dartmoor is on the list. Motorists have hit it more than 46 times in 16 years. 

Devon County Council said it had the largest stock of local road bridges in the UK, so it was no surprise that it also had the largest number with some form of restriction.

Meanwhile, Cornwall is also in the top five of the list, coming in fifth with 127 structures with restrictions.

Woman attacked by man she stopped to help

Johnny O'Shea

BBC News Online

A woman was attacked by a man after stopping her car to help him on a country road near Newquay at night.

Devon and Cornwall Police said the woman was driving alone on the road between St Eval and St Columb Major shortly before 23:00 on Tuesday when she stopped to help a man who appeared to be in distress.

Country road
Google
The country road between St Eval and St Columb Major

The man then injured her in an attack and stole personal items from her and her vehicle. He ran away on foot. 

The suspect was described as a white male, about 5ft 10ins tall, of stocky build, and aged in his mid-20s to early 30s.

Schools' letter: 'We all want adequate funding'

Sean Coughlan

BBC News, education correspondent

A letter sent to MPs and parents from the heads of more than 1,000 schools in England, including many in Cornwall, has accused the Department for Education of being "entirely irresponsible" over school finances.

The letter warns of cuts to schools because of funding shortages, with the heads of almost every school in Essex, West Sussex, East Sussex and Cornwall warning of budgets at "breaking point".

Exam hall
BBC

"School leaders from Penzance to Bognor Regis to Eastbourne and onto Colchester are joining together and are united by a common purpose; we all want adequate funding for every school," the letter says. It calls on local MPs to support their schools' campaigns for better funding. 

The Department for Education said school funding was higher than ever before - more than £40bn for 2016-17, and rising with extra pupil numbers to £42bn next year.

Burst water main in Plymouth

Dead whale carcass 'is a biohazard'

Johnny O'Shea

BBC News Online

A dead whale that has washed up at Hartland Quay in North Devon is starting to smell, according to a local man.

Donal Stafford, from the Hartland Quay Hotel, said: "There is a smell if you get close enough, but you can't smell it from up here."

Dead whale
Callum Clarke

The creature was moved several hundred metres from rocks, onto the main beach during the high tide overnight.

Experts have reminded people to keep away from the carcass.

British Divers Marine Life Rescue said: "A decomposing whale is a biohazard as it carries bacteria and viruses.

"We would still maintain that members of the public not approach too closely as it is a risk to humans and dogs alike."

Man trying out a bike in Halfords fell off in the aisle and died, inquest hears

Cornwall Live

A 79-year-old St Austell man died after sustaining a traumatic brain injury when he fell from a bicycle he had returned to Halfords, while riding it down an down an aisle in the store, an inquest has heard .

Watch live basketball tonight as London Lions face Plymouth Raiders

BBC Sport

We have live coverage from the British Basketball League this evening, as London Lions host Plymouth Raiders at the Copper Box Arena.

There’s little to separate the two sides. Both have only won one match in their last five and are level on points,  with Plymouth in fifth place and London in sixth.

You can watch the match from 19:30,  live on the BBC Sport website  and app plus Connected TVs.

BBC Sport
BBC Sport

Farmers seek Brexit assurances

Anna Varle

BBC News Online

Farmers who voted for and against Brexit in the South West are becoming increasingly concerned over the government's failure to give assurances over what's going to happen when the UK leaves Europe.

Cows
BBC

Ninety percent of farmers rely on subsidies from the EU but Defra Minister George Eustice says he won't have a clear idea of what will replace them until the end of next year.

The minister has also refused to rule out cheaper imports such as chlorine-washed chickens from America in post Brexit trade deals.

How many ska musicians can you fit in a radio studio?

BBC Radio Cornwall

Studio 2 at Radio Cornwall has been at maximum capacity this morning, with seven musicians talking to and performing for The David White Show.

Lambrettas
BBC

The Lambrettas left Brighton at 04:00 to get to Truro, before heading to Looe where they are playing at the SkaModPunkSoul Fest.

Wet wipes blamed for 4,500-litre sewage spill into Devon stream

Devon Live

A 4,500litre sewage spill which polluted a Devon village stream has been blamed on the use of wet wipes.

Jersey-Pirates match officials 'flying from Southampton'

View more on twitter

Match officials were looking at taking some seats allocated for Cornish Pirates team members flying from Exeter as the officials are essential if the match is to be played.

Parents and MPs sent warning on school cuts

Sean Coughlan

BBC News, education correspondent

The parents of about 500,000 pupils in England, including in Cornwall, have been sent a letter warning of cuts to schools because of funding shortages .

School exam
PA

The heads of almost every school in Essex, West Sussex, East Sussex and Cornwall have written a joint letter, warning of budgets at "breaking point".

They said it would mean staff cuts, bigger class sizes and fewer support services, such as for mental health.

The Department for Education said school spending was at record levels.

Suspended sentences for hospital fraudsters Paula and Stephen Vasco-Knight

Johnny O'Shea

BBC News Online

The former boss of Torbay Hospital has escaped prison after admitting fraudulently paying her husband from her NHS budget.

At Exeter Crown Court, Paula Vasco-Knight, 53, was given a 16-month suspended sentence and 250 hours of unpaid work.

Paula Vasco-Knight
BBC

Her husband, Stephen Vasco-Knight, 45, was given a 10-month suspended sentence and 150 hours unpaid work.  

Both had pleaded guilty to fraud last month  after Mrs Vasco-Knight paid £11,000 to her husband for work he never did.

Health centre meeting 'passionate'

Tamsin Melville

Political Reporter, BBC Radio Cornwall

There were passionate calls from patients and doctors for a treatment centre to remain open at a packed public meeting in Bodmin last night. 

Last week, services commissioner NHS Kernow announced Bodmin Treatment Centre was closing on 31 March after it had been unable to agree on renewing a contract with provider Ramsay Healthcare.

Bodmin treatment centre
BBC

In 2016, more than 4,000 people were treated there for conditions such as hernias and cataracts, and about 12,000 patients were seen in total. 

There are now hopes of a meeting with NHS Kernow to discuss the next steps.

Thomas Orchard death: Majority verdicts 'will be accepted' in police staff manslaughter trial

Hamish Marshall

BBC Spotlight

A jury in the trial of three Devon and Cornwall Police staff accused of the manslaughter of a man with mental health problems has been given the option to return majority verdicts.

At Bristol Crown Court, the judge, Mrs Justice Cheema Grubb, told the jury she would accept a verdict on which at least 10 of them were agreed.

Thomas Orchard
Family handout

Thirty-two-year-old Thomas Orchard died after losing consciousness at Heavitree Road Police station in 2012.

Sgt Jan Kingshott, 45, and detention officers Simon Tansley, 39, and Michael Marsden, 56, all deny gross negligence manslaughter. 

The jury has been considering verdicts since Tuesday afternoon. The case continues.

'What do you mean we've to work and can't go to Crufts?!'

High tide times for the region

Holly Green

BBC Weather

If you're planning a trip to the coast or seaside, here are the next high water times around Devon and Cornwall.

Tides
BBC

We'll have the latest forecast on BBC Spotlight at 13:30 .

Referees may take Pirates' plane seats

BBC Radio Cornwall

Poor weather has put this evening's British and Irish Cup quarter final between Jersey and the Cornish Pirates in doubt as earlier flights had to be cancelled.

The Pirates are currently at Exeter Airport and hoping to board a plane this afternoon. 

However, the match officials may have to take some of their allocated seats if nobody else drops out.

This could mean that some of the extra players used to take water onto the pitch are left behind, as the officials are essential if the match is to be played.

BBC Radio Cornwall's rugby commentator John Martin is also struggling to get to the island but said: "If a member of the public drops out, I'm top of the list".

Council officers visiting whale site

Johnny O'Shea

BBC News Online

Officers from Torridge District Council are visiting the site of a dead whale carcass today.

The council has responsibility for removing the creature, which has moved with the overnight tide onto the main Hartland Quay beach, nearby residents and businesses say.

Dead whale
Callum Clarke

Experts are advising people to keep away from the fin whale, saying it could pose a health risk to people and dogs.

Major armed police operation in Newquay to hunt for escaped prisoner

Cornwall Live

Armed officers launched a full-scale operation and cordoned off an area of central Newquay to hunt for an escaped prisoner, it has finally emerged .

Woman, 34, dies in crash

BBC Radio Devon

A 34-year-old woman from Tavistock has died in a car crash.

Emergency services were called to the B3362 at Milton Abbot, between Tavistock and Launceston, at about 1840 on Thursday, police said . The woman was trapped in her car. 

Milton Abbot. Pic: Google
Google

A man in his 30s, from Yelverton, was taken to Derriford Hospital in Plymouth with minor injuries, officers said.

The road was closed for nine hours. Police appealed for witnesses to the crash, which involved a blue Peugeot 206 and a black Audi A4.

Launceston murder arrest man in custody in Plymouth

Andrew Segal

Local Live

A man arrested on suspicion of murder after a body was found in a flat in Cornwall is in custody in Plymouth, police say

Town Mills Close. Pic: Google
Google

Police and an ambulance were called to Town Mills Close in Launceston at about 13:10 on Thursday after reports a man had died. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Devon and Cornwall Police said: "Detectives from the Major Crime Investigation Team have launched an investigation to establish the circumstances of the man's death." 

Neither man has been named by officers.

Kind of armed and not so dangerous

Armed police responded to reports of guns being carried in cars in Plymouth, but the job didn't turn out as they expected...

Ever seen a water pistol like this? 

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