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Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...

Road tests

Audi Q2 puts quality over size

March 21 2018

Audi’s Q2 was one of the first premium compact SUVs on the market. It sits below the Q3, Q5 and the gigantic, seven seat Q7 in Audi’s ever growing range. Although it’s about the same size as the Nissan Juke or Volkswagen T-Roc, its price is comparable with the much larger Nissan X-Trail or Volkswagen Tiguan. Even a basic Q2 will set you back more than £21,000 and top whack is £38,000. Then there’s the options list which is extensive to say the least. My 2.0 automatic diesel Quattro S Line model had a base price of £30,745 but tipped the scales at just over £40,000 once a plethora of additions were totted up. Size isn’t everything, however. In recent years there’s been a trend of buyers wanting a car that’s of premium quality but compact enough to zip around town. It may be a step down in size but the Q2 doesn’t feel any less classy than the rest of Audi’s SUV range. The interior looks great and is user friendly in a way that more mainstream manufacturers have never been able to match. The simple rotary dial and shortcut buttons easily trounce touchscreen systems, making it a cinch to skim through the screen’s menus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eQ5p5Z7-Ek&list=PLUEXizskBf1nbeiD_LqfXXsKooLOsItB0 There’s a surprising amount of internal space too. I took three large adults from Dundee to Stirling and no one complained about feeling cramped. As long as you don’t have a tall passenger behind a tall driver you can easily fit four adults. At 405 litres the boot’s big too – that’s 50 litres more than a Nissan Juke can muster. Buyers can pick from 1.0 and 1.4 litre petrol engines or 1.6 and 2.0 litre TDIs. Most Q2s are front wheel drive but Audi’s Quattro system is standard on the 2.0 diesel, as is a seven-speed S Tronic gear box. On the road there’s a clear difference between this and SUVs by manufacturers like Nissan, Seat and Ford. Ride quality, while firm, is tremendously smooth. Refinement is excellent too, with road and tyre noise kept out of the cabin. It sits lower than the Q3 or Q5 and this improves handling, lending the Q2 an almost go-kart feel. On a trip out to Auchterhouse, with plenty of snow still on the ground, I was appreciative of the four-wheel drive as well. The Q2 is expensive – though there are some good finance deals out there – but you get what you pay for. Few cars this small feel as good as the Q2 does. Price: £30,745 0-62mph: 8.1 seconds Top speed: 131mph Economy: 58.9mpg CO2 emissions: 125g/km

UK & World

This student took his Tinder profile to the next level by turning it into a PowerPoint presentation

February 21 2018

Standing out from the crowd on Tinder can be tough, but with the help of Microsoft PowerPoint a British student has managed just that – and gone viral in the process.Sam Dixey, a 21-year-old studying at Leeds University, made a six-part slideshow entitled “Why you should swipe right” – using pictures and bullet points to shrewdly persuade potential dates to match with him on the dating app. The slideshow includes discussion of his social life and likes, such as “petting doggos” and “laser tag”, and “other notable qualities and skills” – such as being “not the worst at sex” and “generous when drunk”.It even has reviews mocked up from sources such as “Donald Trump”, “Leonardo Di Capri Sun” and “The Times Guide to Pancakes 2011”.Sam told the Press Association the six-slide presentation only took about 20 minutes to make and “started off as a joke”.However, since being posted to Twitter by fellow Tinder user Gracie Barrow, Sam’s slideshow has been shared tens of thousands of times across social media.So, it’s got the seal of approval form Gracie, but how has the slideshow fared on Tinder? “I’d have to say it has been pretty successful,” Sam said. “Definitely a clear correlation of matches and dates beforehand to afterwards.“Most of the responses tend to revolve around people saying ‘I couldn’t help swipe right 10/10’ but I’ve had some people go the extra mile and message me on Facebook.“Plus some people have recognised me outside, in the library and on dates.”A resounding success.

Extremist found guilty of encouraging terrorism in YouTube campaign

January 24 2018

An extremist behind a YouTube campaign glorifying Islamic State has been found guilty of encouraging terrorism, but cleared over a video featuring Tony Blair in flames.Father-of-four Gary Staples, 50, drummed up support for terrorism in home-made clips posted to the video-sharing platform and Google Plus between May and September 2016, the court heard.Eight videos were created by him, while one was made by the media arm of IS terror group Al Hayat, his trial was told.One clip featured an image of the former prime minister with flames imposed over it, followed by a message reading: “O kuffar, sleep with one eye open.”A picture of a wolf appears alongside the warning to the “kuffar” – or non-believer – in the video, which later features the black flag used by IS.Armed IS fighters and infamous jihadi warlords appeared during the clips – which are all slideshows – accompanied by Nasheeds, a form of tune featuring a male vocal without musical accompaniment.The Nasheed lyrics in the video of Mr Blair translate from Arabic as “death in the path of jihad is Allah’s blessing”, it was heard.Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of Islamic State, and Osama bin Laden are among the extremists glorified in the clips.Ben Lloyd, prosecuting, had told the court: “His purpose in publishing and disseminating each of these videos, the prosecution say, is to encourage members of the public to commit, prepare or instigate acts of terrorism.“Each of the videos contains, the prosecution say, Islamic extremist material.“Much of the material relates to Isis, Isil, Islamic State; there are also images of Osama bin Laden, for example, who, as you will no doubt know, was the leader of al Qaida.”Pictures of radical hate preacher Anjem Choudary were also found on Staples’ Google Plus account, the court was told.The account had 1,180 followers, while his YouTube account had 67 subscribers.Staples, from Crowther Road, South Norwood, south London, was arrested in November 2016 and denied eight counts of encouraging terrorism and one count of sharing terrorist material.Giving evidence, he accepted posting the Blair video but claimed two friends must have been responsible for others.Judge Anuja Dhir QC directed jurors that they must be sure the clips were a direct encouragement for terrorism.The jury acquitted Staples of encouraging terrorism in the Blair video but convicted him of the other charges.He was remanded in custody to be sentenced on February 27.


Dundee drug dealer had stun gun disguised as a mobile phone

July 8 2016

A convicted drug dealer found with a potentially deadly stun gun has been jailed. The prohibited weapon was disguised as a mobile telephone and was found by police officers in the house Rory Mulligan shared with his daughter. He told the court it had come as a surprise to discover that the item was a prohibited weapon as it "did not jump" and instead had to be "in contact with the body" to activate. Mulligan also claimed that the weapon had "never been charged" and had been brought to the house by a friend who had subsequently left it behind. Sheriff Simon Collins QC, however, disdained that explanation, given the 33-year-old's previous conviction for drug dealing. He said: "You have a previous conviction for the supply of a controlled drug and have served a lengthy prison sentence for that. "In that context, I cannot think that this item was innocently within your home. "This device is designed and intended to disable by means of passing a substantial electrical shock through the body. "It has no other purpose. "To think that it would not be prohibited is naive in the extreme. "I am told that you live with your daughter and the fact that this device was disguised as a mobile phone and that it was lying around the house makes this even more worrying." Mulligan, of Findowrie Street in Dundee, admitted being in possession of a prohibited weapon in the city's Arklay Place on February 21, 2014, contrary to the Firearms Act 1968. Sheriff Collins jailed him for 145 days.


Terror gang member jailed for brutal Fife beating

December 16 2016

An former terror gang member has been jailed after a masked home invasion attack. Edward Lindsay, 36, was one of a group accused of dragging a man from his house in Anstruther and beating him up in the street. Lindsay, of Mayview Avenue, Anstruther was previously jailed for his role in an Edinburgh drugs ring, purportedly part of the Ulster Volunteer Force. He stood trial with Jeffrey Fry, 53, of Venus Place, Anstruther,, Scott Murray, 40, of St Abbs Crescent, Pittenweem, and Lee Johnston, 28, of George Street, Cellardyke, The court heard Fry had an altercation in a pub with a man called Shane Pender, and told Johnston before the pair summoned Lindsay and Murray to go to Mr Pender's home. Once there the living room window was smashed with a brick before Lindsay, who had covered his face with either a balaclava or a scarf, and Murray started battering the door. Shane Pender's father, Paul Pender, 43, was dragged from the property and he was subjected to a brutal beating. Mr Pender Snr told a jury at Dundee Sheriff Court the sustained attack only stopped when a witness claimed to have seen a meat cleaver in Lindsay's possession and said they were calling the police. A charge that Lindsay was in possession of the knife was found not proven. Mr Pender, a Fife Council caretaker, said: "After that all four all of them jumped over the fence and were trying to apologise to me. It was actually my son they were after, not me. "Shortly after that Lee Johnston came to my door and said he was apologising and wanted to sort it out. The police sirens could be heard in the distance and they just disappeared at that. I was shaken up. "I had injuries to my head, chest, face and back - cuts and bruises mostly. "I had to go on sleeping tablets because I couldn't get to sleep after that and I was off work for a month and a half." Fry had his not guilty plea accepted at the close of the Crown case while Johnston was found not guilty by the jury. After deliberating for just over an hour the jury found Lindsay and Murray guilty of the assault by a majority. Fiscal depute Eilidh Robertson said: "Accused Lindsay had a number of previous High Court convictions including one from 2003 where he received 10 years for convictions including an abduction." Sheriff Simon Collins QC jailed Lindsay for 18 months and Murray, who has a lesser criminal record, for 13 months. A history of brutality Edward Lindsay previously served a 10-year jail term for his part in what was claimed to be an Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) cell operating a drugs ring in Edinburgh. The gang was operated by David McLeave from three Edinburgh tower blocks and set about creating a reputation for themselves as high-ranking members of the UVF. They used paramiltary-style violence including punishment beatings, kidnappings and murder threats to operate their syndicate. Claiming to have the backing of leaders of the Belfast wing of the feared paramilitary organisation, they used intimidation and horrific violence to muscle in on the drugs trade in the west side of the city. Fuelling the rumours by carrying out a series of barbaric paramilitary-style beatings, McLeave led his gang by using everything from his bare fists to metal coshes to target both drug users and dealers. In one of his most terrifying attacks, McLeave held down a victim he had previously drugged before pouring aftershave over his head and lighting it. He then stripped the victim and assaulted him with a cosh and spoon, before lighting the gas from an aerosol can and spraying the burning liquid across his face and body. In 2003, McLeave was jailed for 14 years for assault and drug dealing. His gang, including Lindsay, were jailed for a total of more than 60 years. Lindsay was convicted for his part in an abduction in which the victim was grabbed, hooded, bundled into a car and subjected to severe violence. He was released in 2009 and set up home in the peaceful fishing village of Anstruther, taking up a job as a chef in St Andrews. Sources in Northern Ireland said there was no basis to believe the group were in fact connected to the UVF but were using the name to create fear.

UK & World

Bondage murderer admits Breaking Bad TV show inspired attempt to dispose of body in acid

November 14 2016

A Breaking Bad fan who strangled a police officer during a bondage sex session and tried to dispose of the body in an acid bath has been convicted of murder. Stefano Brizzi, 50, admitted he was inspired by his favourite TV series as he tried to get away with killing 59-year-old Pc Gordon Semple by dissolving his flesh. Following an Old Bailey trial, the former Morgan Stanley IT developer was found guilty of murder by a majority of 10 to two after the jury had deliberated for more than 30 hours. Brizzi, who gave no reaction as the jury delivered its verdict, will be sentenced on Friday, December 9. The court heard how the defendant met his victim on gay dating app Grindr and arranged a "hot dirty sleazy session" at his flat near London's Tate Modern gallery on April 1. According to Brizzi, Pc Semple died when a dog leash he had been wearing as part of a sex game slipped. But a pathologist concluded that while strangulation was a possible cause of death, it would have taken minutes rather than moments, as the defendant had claimed. In the days after the killing, crystal meth addict Brizzi was caught on CCTV buying buckets, a perforated metal sheet and cleaning products from a DIY store. He then set about dismembering the body and stripping the flesh. Meanwhile, Pc Semple's long-term partner Gary Meeks raised the alarm and reported him missing when he failed to return to their home in Dartford, in Kent. Neighbours complained about the stench coming from Brizzi's flat and eventually called police who came across the grisly sight of "globules" of flesh floating in the bath, bags containing bones and a part of Pc Semple's head, and pools of human fat in the oven. Brizzi, who was wearing pink underpants and sunglasses, was arrested as officers realised the enormity of what they had found. The court heard there was evidence in the kitchen that Brizzi had chopped up the Inverness-born officer with a variety of utensils and may have even used chopsticks to eat morsels of cooked meat. Following his arrest, Brizzi admitted killing and trying to dissolve the body of a policeman because "Satan told me to". During the killing, he said he had turned away a man on his doorstep who had arrived for a sex party organised on Grindr. Brizzi said: "I was right in the middle of strangling Gordon and I said to him 'Look, this is not the right time now, people are falling ill and it's a mess'." The Italian also told police that he had "chucked" some of Pc Semple's body into the Thames and thrown away his police badge and belongings. A human foot was later found by a member of Thames Mudlark Club near Bermondsey Wall. The court heard that Brizzi was addicted to crystal meth, which had cost him his job at financial giant Morgan Stanley. He had gone to Crystal Meth Anonymous meetings, but upset people by wearing a Breaking Bad T-shirt as the show "glorified" the drug. He told the group he believed in the Devil and liked satanic rituals and he bragged of his bondage sex encounters. In his home, police found a mask and dog leash with Pc Semple's DNA on it as well as a copy of the Satanic Bible. Giving evidence, Brizzi, who has HIV, told jurors of the difficulties of being a gay man brought up in a religious Italian family. The youngest of three siblings, his Tuscan father was a civil servant and his uncle was a Catholic priest. He told jurors that Pc Semple died in a "state of erotic bliss". his lawyer, Sallie Bennett-Jenkins QC, insisted he was no "monster" and could not have eaten Pc Semple's flesh as it was covered in chemicals. Throughout his evidence, Brizzi wept and cried out "I'm sorry" as he was confronted with what he had done. He had earlier admitted a charge of obstructing a coroner by disposing of the body. Pc Semple's brain and other internal organs have never been found.


Jail for Dundee drug-dealing pair caught in police sting

December 6 2013

Police caught two drug dealers red-handed during a successful surveillance operation in Dundee. They found Stephen Wilson and John McMahon in possession of £49,000 worth of heroin and nearly £5,000 in cash. The High Court at Livingston heard that Wilson, 41, pled guilty in June this year and McMahon, 25, of Carluke, North Lanarkshire, was found guilty after trial last month. Both were convicted of being concerned in the supply of the Class A drug in Dundee on June 12 this year. Wilson, who admitted previous convictions for drug offences, was jailed for 54 months and McMahon, who had a record for violence, was sentenced to four years in prison. The court was told that the pair were snared as part of a three-month police surveillance operation on Wilson. Officers watched him leave his home in Kinghorne Court, carrying a white JD Sports bag and take a taxi to the rear of the Ice Arena, where he made calls on his mobile phone, before a silver Peugeot 207 driven by McMahon entered the car park. Wilson got into the car and, as the vehicle drove off, two other officers saw Wilson bending down and reaching under the passenger seat. Police stopped the car and found the bag containing £4,990 in the open front glove box and a brown taped package under the front passenger seat. When analysed the package was found to contain 490 grams of compressed brown powder which contained 14% diamorphine (heroin) by weight. Ronnie Renucci, defending, revealed that Wilson had a previous conviction for dealing in heroin. He said: “He’d been told that because there was a loss involved in that he still owed money. “He managed to avoid involvement for some time but eventually those with whom he’d become involved before began to put pressure on him, saying he still owed them money for losses. “It was suggested to him he was to deliver a package containing drugs and money to an address in Dundee. “He accepts that although he felt under some pressure, ultimately it was his choice to become involved and he foolishly agreed to do this.” Jack Brown, defending McMahon, said his client still maintained his innocence but accepted the majority verdict of the jury. Temporary judge John Beckett said: “This was a substantial consignment of a drug which is notorious for the harm and misery it causes.”

UK & World

Killer Mark Woolley on the run after being released from prison on licence

February 9 2018

A convicted killer who ran a woman over after she tried to stop him stealing her handbag has gone on the run after being released from prison on licence.Mark Woolley was jailed for life in 2001 for the killing of costume designer Elizabeth Sherlock.The 52-year-old has not been seen since a probation meeting on January 31, Scotland Yard said.The former heroin addict – who was convicted at the Old Bailey of killing Mrs Sherlock after she chased his then girlfriend Jackie Moorehouse, who had pinched her bag – was released from HMP Ranby in Nottinghamshire in November.A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: “He was last seen on January 31 at a probation meeting in Hackney and breached his conditions on February 1.“Woolley is described as a white man, 5ft 4ins in height, of slim build with greying hair.“He has various tattoos and scars on his forehead, jaw and left ear.”Mrs Sherlock chased Moorehouse after her bag – containing just £20 in cash, a mobile phone and bank cards – was snatched as she waited with her husband at Euston station on Easter Sunday to catch a train to Wigan for her father’s birthday.After Moorehouse got into Woolley’s Ford Fiesta, Mrs Sherlock jumped on the car and – as it sped off – hung on to the wiper blades, pleading for her life. But the car did not stop.The designer was thrown into the air in front of the car and tumbled like a rag doll as the car went over her. Woolley smiled as they sped off.After abandoning the vehicle, Mrs Sherlock was left dying on the roadside, her husband a few feet away.Both Woolley and Moorehouse had scores of previous convictions, mainly for drug-related dishonesty, and stole to fuel their heroin habit.The couple, from north London, had both denied murder.Moorehouse, then 24, was cleared of the murder and manslaughter of Mrs Sherlock but jailed for three years after she admitted snatching the 42-year-old designer’s bag.

UK & World

Authorities warn damage caused by drug-driving is likely to be worse than official figures suggest

October 4 2011

Over 300 people in Tayside and Fife have been caught driving under the influence of drugs over the last five years. Figures released to The Courier under freedom of information legislation revealed that 172 people in Fife have been charged for driving while unfit through drugs or drink since 2006. In Tayside, 238 people were charged for the same offence which is not the same as being unfit to drive because of excess alcohol while a further 24 people were charged with being in charge of a vehicle while unfit over the same five-year period. People who are suspected of driving while drunk but who do not provide a blood sample can also be charged with the offence. Motorists who are suspected of driving under the influence of drugs are subjected to a series of roadside tests to evaluate their coordination. If the driver is believed to be guilty they are then asked to report to a police station for a medical examination and may be required to give a blood sample. However, the law does not just apply to illegal substances such as cannabis or ecstasy. Many prescription drugs can impair reactions and anyone caught driving under their influence will face the same penalties as those who have been using recreational substances. Kevin Clinton, head of road safety with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, said drug-driving was judged responsible for the deaths of 42 people on Britain's roads last year but actual figures could be much higher. He said: ''In 2010, provisional figures show that 250 people were killed as a result of a drink-driving crash. 'Impairment through illicit or medicinal drugs' was listed as a contributory factor in 42 fatalities and 208 serious injuries in 2010. ''However, this is likely to be an underestimate as it is still very difficult to test for drugs at the time of the accident. ''RoSPA has long called for the drink-drive limit to be lowered and for it to be easier for the police to catch those driving above the legal alcohol limit or under the influence of drugs, and we hope that new testing equipment and improved procedures will go a long way towards this. ''The vast majority of people now see drink-driving as the anti-social and dangerous practice that it is and we need to keep reinforcing this message. However, we must raise awareness of the dangers of drug-driving too, including prescription drugs. ''It should be emphasised that legitimate medicines can impair judgment in much the same way as alcohol or illegal drugs, and people should always check the information that comes with medication or ask their GP.'' Earlier this year the Department of Transport published a report that said more must be done to raise awareness of the dangers of drug-driving. It found that many users of illegal drugs deny their driving is impaired and discount the changes of getting caught. It also found that drug-driving is ''commonplace'' among some groups. The penalties for driving under the influence of drugs are the same as for drink-driving. Offenders face a minimum 12-month driving ban, a criminal record and can be fined up to £5,000. There will be a specific record on the driving licence for 11 years that details a conviction for drug-driving. If the driver is convicted of causing death by dangerous driving, they will receive a prison sentence of up to 14 years.