Review of 2014: England's biggest stories

Review of 2014: England's biggest stories Image copyright Various

As 2014 draws to a close we take a look at some of the most read England stories from the BBC News website over the past 12 months.

It was the year a UKIP councillor blamed the floods on gay marriage, a man had his penis cut off in an attack in Middlesbrough, and a bomb hoax resulted in an RAF jet escorting a passenger plane to Manchester Airport.

The death of cancer fundraiser Stephen Sutton, torrential summer flash flooding, and the teacher who was stabbed to death at her school in Leeds also made the headlines.


Image copyright Unknown
Image caption Councillor David Silvester from Henley-on-Thames had defected from the Tories to UKIP

UKIP councillor blames storms and floods on gay marriage

UKIP councillor David Silvester blamed last winter's storms and heavy floods on the government's decision to legalise gay marriage.

In a letter to his local paper David Silvester said he had warned David Cameron the legislation would result in "disaster".

At the time of the comments UKIP said his views were "not the party's belief" but defended his right to state his opinions.

An inquiry by South Oxfordshire District Council found the comments had not breached its code of conduct.


Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption William Roache returned to Coronation Street over the summer

William Roache cleared of rape and assault

Following a trial, Coronation Street actor William Roache was cleared of rape and indecent assault charges.

Five women had claimed he assaulted them when they were aged 16 or under between 1965 and 1971.

Outside court, the actor, who plays Ken Barlow, said: "In these situations there are no winners... we should be much kinder to ourselves."

Mr Roache returned to the cobbled streets of Weatherfield over the summer.


Image copyright Google
Image caption The man was found "in a distressed state" on the A66 in March

Penis cut off in attack

A man was found by the side of a Middlesbrough road with his penis cut off.

The 40-year-old was discovered on the A66 in the early hours "in a distressed state" with wounds to his groin.

He spent almost a month in the James Cook University Hospital, some of it in an induced coma.

A 22-year-old man arrested on suspicion of assault was later released from police bail without charge.


Image copyright Maguire family
Image caption Ann Maguire taught at Corpus Christi College for 40 years

Teacher stabbed to death at school

Spanish teacher Ann Maguire was stabbed to death in front of pupils inside Corpus Christi Catholic College in Leeds.

A 15-year-old boy was detained by staff following the attack.

She had worked at the school for more than 40 years and had been due to retire.

In November, Will Cornick was given a life sentence after he admitted murdering her.

The judge said the teenager had shown a "chilling lack of remorse" and ordered him to serve at least 20 years, saying he might never be released.


Image copyright Sutton family
Image caption Stephen Sutton raised more than £5m for the Teenage Cancer Trust

Cancer fundraiser Stephen Sutton dies

After raising millions of pounds for charity, the inspirational teenager lost his battle with cancer aged just 19.

He was diagnosed when he was 15 and rather than dwell on his misfortune, drew up a "bucket list" of things he wanted to achieve.

Stephen, from Burntwood in Staffordshire, raised more than £5m for charity after news of his plight spread on social media and following his death.

In November, his mother collected an MBE on her son's behalf.


Image copyright AFP
Image caption Gareth Huntley did not arrive back at the charity project where he was volunteering

Missing Malaysia backpacker: Body found

Gareth Huntley's body was found on Tioman Island on 4 June, eight days after he was believed to have gone on a trek to a waterfall.

The 34-year-old's body was discovered in a pond close to the Juara Turtle project, where he had been living and working as a volunteer.

In June, a post-mortem examination revealed no external injuries.

His death remains a mystery.


Image copyright Mark Pawlak
Image caption Commuters had to wade through water to get to Worthing railway station

Torrential rain and flash flooding cause travel chaos

Homes were flooded and people left stranded in their cars as lightning, hail, heavy rain and flash flooding hit east and south-east England at the end of the month.

More than half the average total rainfall for England in July fell in an hour in some areas, the Met Office said.


Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Nine incoming flights were diverted to other airports

Military jet escorts Qatar Airways plane to airport

An RAF jet escorted a passenger plane to Manchester Airport after the pilot was handed a note about a possible device on board.

A man was arrested on suspicion of making a hoax bomb threat on the Doha to Manchester plane, which had 269 passengers and 13 Qatar Airways crew on board.

The 47-year-old was later sectioned under the Mental Health Act following the incident.


Image copyright Met Police
Image caption Palmira Silva was described as not having "a bad bone in her body"

Palmira Silva 'beheaded' in London garden

The 82-year-old woman was found decapitated in her back garden in north London in September.

Ms Silva had died from stab wounds to the heart and aorta, a post-mortem examination found.

She was described as not having "a bad bone in her body".

Nicholas Salvador, of Gilda Avenue, Enfield, is accused of killing her and charged with assaulting a police officer.

He is expected to appear at the Old Bailey on 27 February.


Image copyright Brenda Leyland
Image caption Brenda Leyland was said to use the handle @sweepyface on Twitter

McCann 'Twitter troll' found dead in hotel

Brenda Leyland, who was accused of targeting internet abuse at the family of Madeleine McCann, was found dead in a hotel in October.

Days before her death she was confronted by a reporter from Sky News over her use of Twitter.

He questioned her about hate-filled messages about the McCanns on the social networking site.

Her inquest, expected to be held in March, will hear evidence from two Sky journalists.


Image caption Eight people were treated for injuries, one man died at the scene and the other in hospital

Knightsbridge balcony collapse

Tomasz Procko, 22, and Karol Szymanski, 29, died after part of a balcony collapsed in London.

The men, who were originally from Poland, had been delivering sofas to the Knightsbridge property.

Eight other people were treated for injuries.

A neighbour, who wanted to remain anonymous, told BBC News: "They were trying to pull a couch up to the first-floor apartment with ropes. Was apparently too heavy. The fence broke off and fell on the workmen below."


Image copyright St Michael's Hospital
Image caption CCTV captured Charlotte Bevan leaving the hospital

Bodies of Charlotte Bevan and missing daughter found

Charlotte Bevan sparked a major police search when she left St Michael's Hospital in Bristol without a coat and wearing hospital slippers, with her four-day-old baby Zaani wrapped only in blankets.

Their bodies were found at the Avon Gorge.

Their inquests, which were opened and adjourned until April, heard the pair were found in a gully having "apparently fallen".

Their funerals were held at Christ Church in Clifton on 19 December.

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