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  1. Fake degree-level assignments 'ratified by Plymouth University'
  2. Two-lorry crash causing severe delays on M5
  3. Extra beds for rough sleepers in Exeter
  4. Former navy officer goes on trial for sex assaults
  5. Plans to transform social care services in Cornwall
  6. Some hedgehog rescues may be 'unnecessary'
  7. Updates on Tuesday 14th November

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

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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.

Jailed Devon conman ordered to pay £5.8m

A fraudster who conned American investors out of millions of pounds has been ordered to pay £5.8m or have his sentence extended by seven years.

Joseph Birch lived a lavish lifestyle near Okehampton, and claimed to be a knight, a peer, and a Royal Marine in a series of elaborate schemes.

Joseph Birch
Devon and Cornwall Police

Today he returned to Exeter Crown Court, where he was sentenced to seven and a half years in 2016.

Judge Graham Cottle said he was "breathtakingly dishonest" and the money covered "assets he has not disclosed".

Devon man has his parcel held because of 'terrorist' concern

Hayley Westcott

BBC News Online

A Devon businessman says he has had his clothes delivery held because he has the same name as a terrorist.

Muhammed Sami, from Exeter, ordered £300 worth of items from a website but never received the parcel after a phone call from courier, DHL.

He was told his name was on a sanction list in the United States with others who are involved with "terrorist activities" and "money laundering".

DHL says it has a "legal obligation" to screen shipments.

Muhammed Sami

Ex-navy officer 'used dominant position to make advances'

Hamish Marshall

BBC Spotlight

A prominent Plymouth businessman used his dominant position to make unwanted sexual advances to young men, a court has been told.

Charles Howeson, 67, Stonehouse, is facing 11 historic counts of indecent assault and one of attempted serious sexual offence.

A number of the alleged offences happened in tunnels on Drake's Island in Plymouth Sound, Bristol Crown Court heard.

Charles Howeson

Mr Howeson was an executive director of the Groundwork Trust charity in the 1990s. It was clearing up Drake's Island, in Plymouth Sound, and it has been alleged he got people working for the charity to go into tunnels there where he touched them on the pretext of lifting them up to carry out checks on cables and switches.

When the allegations came to light, the charity did not encourage the accusers to inform police. Instead, it let Mr Howeson retire on health grounds, the court was told.

In all, nine men have made complaints, including one allegation of an indecent assault on board HMS Cleopatra where Mr Howeson was second in command during his time in the Royal Navy.

He denies the charges and the trial continues.

Exeter researchers find climate change strategy 'risky'

Sarah Gosling

BBC News Online

Volcano under cloud
Getty Images

Researchers from The University of Exeter have called climate change reducing geoengineering a "risky strategy", one which could cause catastrophic droughts.

Exeter academics have focused on stratospheric aerosol injection, a geoengineering process that mimics the aftermath of tropical volcanic eruptions, when aerosols (minute particles in the atmosphere) are injected into the atmosphere.

These particles reflect sunlight before it reaches ground level, cooling the earth and reducing cyclone activity.

Volcanic plumes
A band of natural aerosol plumes from tropical volcanoes spread, and enter the stratosphere

The researchers, led by Dr Anthony Jones, have found however that "regional solar geoengineering is a highly risky strategy which could simultaneously benefit one region to the detriment of another".

They believe that halting another potential Hurricane Katrina in the Northern Hemisphere could lead to severe droughts in sub-Saharan Africa.

With geoengineering under serious international consideration, Dr. Jones said: "It is vital that policymakers take solar geoengineering seriously and act swiftly to install effective regulation."

Car 'completely destroyed' by flames after crash

Sarah Gosling

BBC News Online

A car was "completely destroyed" by flames following a crash earlier today in the Whiddon Down area, along with a portion of the embankment on the A3124.

Both passengers had escaped the vehicle before the flames took hold, Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service said.

Fire crews were able to put the fire out, and left the scene in the care of the police.

The road between Exeter Road and Two Post lane is currently closed.

School cash: 'Curriculum cut and class sizes increased'

BBC News Education

Head teachers from Devon and Cornwall have joined others from 24 counties to hand a letter to the chancellor, urging him to scrap cuts to school budgets.

Schools says they are set to lose £1.7bn as part of the new national funding formula.

Heads in Worth Less campaign

Head teacher for Humphrey Davy School in Penzance, Bill Marshall, was part of the group delivering the letter in London earlier (pictured).

He said: "What we find is that there are schools that are addressing their budgets by cutting back on the curriculum, increasing class sizes, and cutting back on the number of subjects available.

"They’re also not being able to offer those enrichment activities which we know are really important for developing the characters and personalities of our young people."

The government said the new scheme helps underfunded areas.

Village to have blanket speed limit of 20mph

Andrew Segal

BBC Local Live

A Cornish village is to have a blanket speed limit of 20mph after a consultation, a parish council says.

Feock Parish Council said on Facebook that work by Cornwall Council to make all of Devoran 20mph was expect to start in February 2018.

Teignbridge beaches ranked 'excellent'

Sarah Gosling

BBC News Online

Teignbridge has welcomed "excellent" results across its swimming spots following tests of bathing water quality standards.

The tests, carried out by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), measure current water quality and pollution risk forecasts.

Councillor Phil Bullivant of Teignbridge District Council said: "Teignmouth in particular has benefited from significant investment resulting in massive improvements to bathing waters and this is something we are really proud of.

"Back in 2014, it was at risk of being classed as poor and now it's been awarded excellent - the highest, cleanest class, so this is really fantastic news."

Teignmouth Town Beach

However, it was not all good news for the county, as, out of seven beaches in England ranked poor in the latest water quality tests, three of them are in Devon.

Swimmers are being advised not to bathe at Instow Beach, Wildersmouth at Ilfracombe and at Coombe Martin as water quality was found to be below the minimum standard.

Weather: Staying cloudy before clearing on Wednesday

BBC Weather

Remaining rather cloudy overnight with low cloud and hill fog.

There will be further patchy rain or drizzle and where the skies clear, mist and fog will readily form. Minimum temperature: 9C (48F).


A damp, cloudy and foggy start to Wednesday, but the cloud will lift and it will turn drier and brighter.

However, the odd spot of rain remains possible. Maximum temperature: 14C (57F).

Schools 'dealing with real-terms cuts of £1.7bn'

BBC News Education

Head teachers representing more than 5,000 schools across England - from Cornwall to Cumbria, and including Devon - say they are dealing with real-terms cuts of £1.7bn between 2015 and 2020.

A protest letter delivered to the chancellor over "inadequate" funding is warning of schools increasingly having to make "desperate requests to parents for 'voluntary' donations".

Heads are calling for an extra £1.7bn per year for schools.

Without this £1.7bn being restored, heads are warning the chancellor:

  • They will not be able to afford to recruit teachers
  • Class sizes will rise
  • Subjects will have to be withdrawn
  • Sixth forms could close
  • Special needs pupils will not get the support they need

The government has already moved £1.3bn of education funding directly into school budgets, and said that it had taken significant steps towards resolving funding inequalities.

Crews save £1.5m MRI scanner after lorry catches fire on M5

Devon Live

Firefighters saved a £1.5m MRI scanner from being destroyed after a lorry caught fire on the M5 in mid-Devon on Monday evening.

Consultation into future of Devon new town

BBC Radio Devon

A two-month consultation is under way on the future of Cranbrook in east Devon.

The new town, on the outskirts of Exeter, has 1,600 homes and is expected to double in size in the next five years. It's estimated it will be as big as Barnstaple in the next two decades.

East Devon District Council said it wanted to hear the views of people living in the area about how it could grow into a "happy, healthy and successful" town for future generations.


Alleged victims of ex-sailor 'did not want to be touched'

Hamish Marshall

BBC Spotlight

None of the alleged victims of a former Royal Navy officer and prominent Plymouth businessman on trial for historic sexual offences "wanted to be touched", prosecutors have told a court.

Sixty-seven-year-old Charles Howeson, who lives in Stonehouse, has held a number of leading positions in the public and private sector after a 25-year career in the navy.

He faces 12 alleged offences dating from 1985 to 1994 and involving nine different men. They include 11 counts of indecent assault and one other serious sexual offence.

Paul Dunkels QC, for the prosecution, told Bristol Crown Court: "This case is about sexual behaviour towards young males, touching ... usually over clothing - sometimes inside.

"It could be described as groping."

Mr Howeson denies the charges. The trial, due to last at least four weeks, continues.

Exeter MP Bradshaw demands Russia enquiry from Theresa May

Sarah Gosling

BBC News Online

Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw is at the forefront of calls for Prime Minister Theresa May to answer questions regarding her recent accusations of Russian meddling in elections.

Mrs May yesterday accused Moscow of carrying out cyber espionage to "sow discord in the West".

Mr Bradshaw has questioned the timing of such a declaration from the prime minster, and has asked for a judge-led enquiry into Moscow's possible influence in the Brexit referendum.

View more on twitter

Speaking to Devon Live, Labour MP Mr Bradshaw said: “This is not about the outcome of the EU Referendum."

"This is about the security and integrity of our democracy and evidence of interference by a foreign power."

Dramatic clouds over Dartmoor

John Danks, BBC Spotlight

View more on twitter

If you have any pictures that you want to share with us, just email them in.

Arson in Paignton public toilets

BBC Radio Devon

A fire in public toilets in Torbay is believed to have been started deliberately, firefighters say.

Crews were called just before 18:00 on Monday to the toilets in Marine Parade, Paignton, and found a small fire involving a pile of rubbish.

The fire service said Torbay Council and police were informed of the incident.

Woman charged over St Ives golf club dinner fight

Johnny O'Shea

BBC News Online

A woman has been charged with assaulting a police officer after a fight broke out at a golf club's annual dinner.

The West Cornwall Golf Club function was being held at the Tregenna Castle Hotel in St Ives, Cornwall.

Police said they were called to the hotel at 23:40 on Friday following reports of a fight having broken out at a private party.

The 22-year-old woman has also been charged with assault by beating, and faces a further two charges of criminal damage and using threatening words or behaviour.

A 27-year-old man was also arrested on suspicion of assault in connection with the fight. He has been released under investigation pending further inquiries.

The hotel and the golf club have been contacted for comment.

Tregenna Castle Hotel. Pic: Google

Cornwall travel: Crash on A39 Atlantic Highway at St Teath

BBC Radio Cornwall

On the A39 Atlantic Highway, traffic is very slow moving due to an accident near the turning for St Teath. It's affecting traffic between Wadebridge and Camelford.

Ex-navy officer sex accusations 'mostly unwanted touching'

Hamish Marshall

BBC Spotlight

Accusations against a former Royal Navy officer and prominent Plymouth businessman on trial for historic sexual offences are mostly of unwanted touching, a court has heard.

Sixty-seven-year-old Charles Howeson, who lives in Stonehouse, has held a number of leading positions in the public and private sector after a 25-year career in the navy.

Charles Howeson

The jury, at Bristol Crown Court, was told the 12 alleged offences dated from 1985 to 1994 and involved nine different men. They include 11 counts of indecent assault and one other serious sexual offence.

They relate to Mr Howeson's time on board HMS Cleopatra, where he was second in command, and in civilian life. The prosecution said the offences were mostly of unwanted touching where Mr Howeson was in a dominant position either by rank or senior position in an organisation.

The court was told he was moved to another ship after two complaints were made in the navy, and he was given a "convenient retirement" from a role with a Plymouth charity.

The trial is due to last at least four weeks. Mr Howeson denies the charges.

BreakingWoman arrested for suspected murder of 71-year-old

Sarah Gosling

BBC News Online

A woman has been arrested on suspicion of murdering a 71-year-old man in Paignton.

Police were called to Hayes Road at about 22:55 on Monday after reports a man had been stabbed multiple times.

Despite medical attention, the man was pronounced dead at the scene.

The 29-year-old woman, of no fixed abode, was arrested on Totnes Road a short time later and remains in custody in Exeter.

The man's next of kin have yet to be informed.

Police are appealing for witnesses.

More winter beds for Exeter homeless if it stays below 0C

Andrew Segal

BBC Local Live

If temperatures dip below 0C (32F) for three consecutive days over winter in the Exeter area, additional beds for the homeless will be made available on top of 15 already announced, the city council says.

The authority said the initial 15 emergency beds would be provided at Gabriel House, in the city centre, from 1 December until the end of March.

It added that other beds, if required, would be provided under its severe weather protocol, and it would "work with its partners to ensure that there are additional bed spaces".

Homelessness. Pic: Getty Images
Getty Images

Totnes MP elected head of government inquiries committee

BBC Radio Devon

The Conservative MP for Totnes, Dr Sarah Wollaston, has been elected the chairwoman of the House of Commons Liaison Committee.

Its role is to inquire into the government's work on key issues.

The committee hears evidence from the prime minister three times a year - its first hearing is just before Christmas.

Dr Sarah Wollaston said she hoped to use her time leading the committee "to strengthen the role of select committees and the valuable role the play on behalf of the public".

She added: "Brexit is likely to dominate the government's agenda in this Parliament, but there are very many crucial issues of domestic policy which must not be sidelined."

Hospital League of Friends 'anxious' about its future

BBC Spotlight

Crediton Hospital's League of Friends says it's very anxious about its future now that some community beds in the town and other nearby community hospitals have gone.

More than 70 beds in Honiton, Okehampton, Seaton (pictured) and Whipton were closed earlier this year.

The group has called for assurances that outpatient services will continue and that patients will be properly supported at home following an illness.

The Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust runs outpatient services in Crediton. It said it was looking forward to engaging with Crediton's community in the coming months.

Crediton Hospital. Pic: Google

High tide times for the region

Alex Osborne

BBC Weather

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


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

'Staggering' figures reveal Cornwall tractor crash numbers

Cornwall Live

New figures have revealed that in Cornwall, tractors have been involved in 54 collisions in just the past three years.

The incidents - three of which were fatal - were recorded between October 1, 2015, and September 30, 2017.

Weather: Mostly cloudy with scattered showers or drizzle

Kevin Thomas

BBC Weather Forecaster

It'll continue a mostly cloudy day, with just a few scattered outbreaks of light rain or drizzle possible towards the north coast.

Otherwise it'll be mostly dry with some brighter periods developing and perhaps some sunny intervals to the east of high ground. Light or moderate west or southwesterly winds will be fresher towards the north coast.

Maximum temperature: 12C (54F)


Tonight it will continue mostly cloudy, with some patchy light rain or drizzle in places.

Cloud will also lower to cover high ground and where the sky does clear for any length of time then fog patches will also develop at lower levels. Winds will be mainly from the southwest and light or moderate.

Minimum temperature: 8C (46F).

Man treated for 'serious head injury' after crash

Sarah Gosling

BBC News Online

A man has been airlifted to hospital with a serious head injury after a crash near Tavistock.

Police said the 35-year-old driver and sole occupant appears to have driven the car into a telegraph pole on the B3362 near Dunterton, Milton Abbot at about 20:15 on Monday.

He was airlifted to Derriford Hospital for treatment.

No other vehicles are thought to have been involved.

Police are appealing for any witnesses or for information from anyone who saw the blue Audi driving beforehand.

Ex-navy officer on trial for alleged historical sex offences

Hamish Marshall

BBC Spotlight

A former Royal Navy officer and prominent Plymouth businessman has gone on trial accused of a string of historic serious sexual offences.

Sixty-seven-year-old Charles Howeson, who lives in Stonehouse, has held a number of leading positions in the public and private sector after a 25-year career in the navy.

The jury was told the 12 alleged offences dated from 1985 to 1994, including time on board HMS Cleopatra, at an address in Plymouth and while Mr Howeson worked for the Groundwork Trust.

They include 11 counts of indecent assault and one other serious sexual offence.

The trial, at Bristol Crown Court, is due to last at least four weeks. Mr Howeson denies the charges.

Charles Howeson

Firearms amnesty already guns for success after first day

View more on twitter

The two-week amnesty began on Monday.

In Devon and Cornwall, police stations in Plymouth, Exeter, Barnstaple, Bodmin and Truro are among those across the region taking part in the national initiative.

Fireworks championships 'set to be in Plymouth until 2029'

BBC Spotlight

The British Firework Championships looks set to remain in Plymouth for a further 12 years - until 2029, the city council says.

The two-day event, which celebrated its 21st anniversary in August, has been held on Plymouth Hoe ever since it began in 1997.

It attracts more than 100,000 visitors from all over the country, generating about £4m of income for the local economy.

The decision to approve the contract has been published, but could still be the subject to call-in for scrutiny, the council said.


Travel: Problems in north Devon and all M5 lanes reopen

BBC Radio Devon

  • In north Devon, the A39 is partially blocked by an accident at Bucks Cross and there's very slow traffic
  • In Bideford, Long Bridge is closed in both directions due to an accident
  • On the M5 near Exeter, all lanes now re-opened northbound between Junctions 31 and 30 following an earlier collision between two lorries. However, long queues of traffic remain, currently back to Kennford

Care pay proposals 'significantly more than at the moment'

BBC Radio Cornwall

Pay and conditions for home care workers could be given a shake-up in Cornwall in a bid to tackle what's being called a crisis in the system.

Council cabinet members will vote tomorrow on measures to try to recruit more people into care roles by offering more money.

It's hoped that by increasing the pay by about £1 an hour, more people will be attracted to the profession, allowing more people to be cared for at home - freeing up hospital beds in the county and reducing the amount of so-called bed-blocking.

David Smith, from Cornwall Partners in Care, said: "There is a proposal to pay care-at-home staff a foundation living wage, which will be £8.84 [an hour], with an annual review thereafter.

"This is obviously significantly more than they're being paid at the moment."

Extra beds for Exeter rough sleepers through winter

Andrew Segal

BBC Local Live

Homeless person. Pic: Getty Images
Getty Images

Fifteen extra bed spaces are being made available for rough sleepers in the Exeter area over winter, the city council says.

The authority said the emergency beds would be provided at Gabriel House, in the city centre, from 1 December until the end of March.

The work would help bring "rough sleepers inside during the harshest winter weather", it added.

The Bournemouth Churches Housing Association (BCHA), which runs Gabriel House, will run the service.

The council provided 40 such beds in a temporary shelter last year in an empty shop in Market Street. It said it could not find a similar-sized shelter unit for this winter, but added that the 2016 shelter "was never at full capacity".

Heads complain of having to ask parents for school funds

Sean Coughlan

BBC News, education correspondent


Head teachers representing more than 5,000 schools across England - from Cornwall to Cumbria, and including Devon - are supporting a protest letter to the chancellor over "inadequate" funding.

The letter, being delivered to Downing Street, warns of schools increasingly having to make "desperate requests to parents for 'voluntary' donations".

Heads are calling for an extra £1.7bn per year for schools.

The government has already moved £1.3bn of education funding directly into school budgets.

A protest, ahead of next week's Budget, has been organised by regional groups of head teachers representing schools with 3.5 million pupils in 25 local authorities.

M5 lorries crash: 'Make extra time for journey' plea

Two arrested over fight at Tregenna Castle Hotel

Ryan Morrison

BBC News Online

Two arrested over fight at Tregenna Castle Hotel

A woman has been charged with assault by beating, criminal damage and assaulting a police officer during a fight at a private party at Tregenna Castle Hotel.

The incident happened at about 23:40 on Friday at the hotel in St Ives.

Police said a woman from Hayle will appear before Truro Magistrates Court on 27 November.

Another man, aged 27, was arrested on suspicion of assault and has been released while officers continue to investigate.

Devon travel: Two-lorry crash on M5 Exeter

BBC Radio Devon

On the M5, two lanes are blocked northbound between Junction 31 - the A30 Exminster - and Junction 30 for Exeter Services due to a collision involving two lorries.

There are long queues of traffic building Exeter-bound.

Hedgehog 'rescues' can be unnecessary, says charity

Johnny O'Shea

BBC News Online

Hedgehog 'rescues' can be unnecessary says charity

Why a hedgehog might not need rescuing.

Too many baby hedgehogs are being unnecessarily picked up and "rescued", a charity says.

Travel: Signal problems hit rail services

Andrew Segal

BBC Local Live

Delays of up to 45 minutes are being experienced on GWR and Cross Country rail services between Exeter St David's and Newton Abbot due to a signalling problem on the London Paddington to Penzance line.

Tickets are being accepted on local bus services.