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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...

Fife

“An amazing and emotional experience” — terminal cancer patient sees unborn grandchild

August 28 2016

A Fife doctor has been hailed for going the extra mile after giving a terminal cancer patient the chance to see her unborn grandchild for the first time. Staff at Kirkcaldy’s Victoria Hospital have been praised for allowing Angela Smith, 47, who has Hodgkin’s lymphoma and has been left bed-bound, the opportunity to share in her daughter Shannon’s 25-week scan last week. Shannon, 20, from Cardenden, had her ultrasound scan upstairs in Angela’s ward alongside Angela’s mum Ann, meaning four generations of the same family were present for a moment they’ll never forget. “My mum was absolutely speechless and absolutely amazed – she couldn’t stop smiling,” Shannon said. “She never thought she would get to see the scan and to get this opportunity meant the world to her. “The doctor and all the staff at the hospital have been great.” Dr Graham Tydeman, a consultant obstetrician specialising in foetal medicine for NHS Fife, has touched many thousands of lives over the years and was delighted to help make the scan possible. “It was a really special time,” he said. “It’s a privilege to be able to dip into people’s lives – 10 minutes out of my time, no inconvenience at all and I was more than happy to help.” Shannon, who is due to give birth in early December, said she had been “overwhelmed” by the support of Dr Tydeman and the other staff who had helped her mum be a part of the experience. “I cannot thank the staff enough at Victoria Hospital for letting my mum take part in scan pictures of the wee one when she currently isn't able to,” she said. “What an amazing and emotional experience for both of us that neither of us will forget.”

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

Angus & The Mearns

Dundee woman banned for drink-driving

August 21 2013

A 51-year-old Dundee woman caught drink-driving has been banned for 12 months and fined £300. Mildred Elizabeth Wilson, of the city’s Balerno Street, appeared before Sheriff Lindsay Wood at Arbroath Sheriff Court and represented herself in the dock. She previously admitted driving a vehicle after consuming excess alcohol (95 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood) in South Street, Monifieth, on February 24. The legal limit is 80 milligrammes. Depute fiscal Jill Drummond said Wilson’s vehicle was spotted by police moving across the road. She was travelling in the car with a male and Ms Drummond said Wilson smelled strongly of alcohol. She failed a breath test before a sample of blood was also taken for analysis. Speaking from the dock, Wilson told the sheriff that a man in the pub had given her friend “cheek” and when they left he had been headbutted by the man in the car park. Wilson said she got in the car and “drove in panic to get away”. She apologised for her actions. Imposing the sentence, the sheriff offered a reduction of a third if Wilson completes a drink drive rehabilitation course.

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.

TV & Film

Is the hoax kidnap of Shannon Matthews an appropriate topic for a TV drama?

February 7 2017

As the grandparents of hoax kidnap girl Shannon Matthews express anger at a BBC docudrama airing on February 7, should some topics be off limits for TV? Michael Alexander reports. It was the missing person inquiry that shocked a nation when it emerged a mother had kidnapped her own daughter and held her captive. For 24 days, in February and March 2008, Karen Matthews was known across the country as the distraught mother from Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, desperate for her missing nine-year-old daughter Shannon to be returned home safe. Today, she remains among the country's infamous characters - a mother who allowed her daughter to be falsely imprisoned at a co-accused’s flat - while hundreds of people searched in vain for Shannon on the Moorside estate. Matthews, and her accomplice Michael Donovan, were jailed in December 2008 after Leeds Crown Court heard that the pair kept Shannon "drugged, subdued and hidden from the public" so they could claim £50,000 in reward money. But almost nine years after the youngster was held captive under a bed less than a mile from her home, is it fair game to make such an unforgivable crime the subject of a BBC docudrama, or should such sensitive subjects involving a still living victim remain off-limits? The grandparents of Shannon Matthews certainly think the concept is out of order. They have strongly criticised the BBC drama, The Moorside, which begins on BBC One tonight (TUES) and depicts how locals attempted to find Shannon, who is now 18. Shannon’s grandmother June Matthews, 73 – who is Karen’s mother – said the traumatic events were not “entertainment” and that it was “sick and disgusting” to make the programme. She said: “Shannon deserves to live her life in peace. What happened to her was a trauma, a tragedy. It is sick and disgusting that it is being turned into a TV show. “It isn’t entertainment, it’s real life. If she sees it, Shannon is old enough now to understand that it is about her. How is that fair? It will upset her.” June’s husband Gordon, 75, said: “I won’t have that programme on in this house.” Docudramas are nothing new, and there’s no denying they are often amongst the most powerful forms of television. Recent examples, made by the same team as The Moorside, include Bafta-winning Appropriate Adult which dramatized the story of serial killers Fred and Rose West, and See No Evil – The Moors Murders, which told the story of Myra Hindley and Ian Brady, who were convicted for abducting, raping and torturing five young victims in the 1960s. It can be argued that what protected these series from sensationalism or prurience is distance of time and perspective. Courier TV critic Paul Whitelaw said it’s understandable why viewers may be concerned about the potential impact of the docudrama. But having watched advanced screenings of both episodes, he believes it can be justified as it goes out of its way to protect Shannon – and, while not justifying what the mother did, it does explore her own “damaged” background. Paul said: “Every time there is a new docudrama, especially when the people featured are still alive, I always approach them with caution and am slightly sceptical. “What gives this one strength, however, is that it’s been made by a highly regarded team of writers and producers – responsible for dramas on Fred West, the Yorkshire Ripper and the Moors Murderers – who do a lot of research and handle it very sensitively. “It never shows the crime itself. You don’t see Shannon. It’s all about the aftermath and how the neighbours dealt with it. “Karen Matthews was pilloried in the press in real life. Yet viewers when they watch this may actually feel some strange sympathy for her when they realise she herself was misguided and stupid but not evil. She was a damaged person. “If the finger should be pointed at anyone, perhaps it should be at the media for the way news coverage demonised the working class.” Writer Neil McKay defended the handling of the subject. He said in an interview yesterday the programme makers hadn’t contacted Matthews – played by Game of Thrones actress Gemma Whelan – because they had concerns about putting her back in the public eye. McKay said: “We don’t tell it from Matthews’ point of view, we don’t defend her or condemn her, we just call it as we saw it. “We don’t make any apology for Karen’s crime. She’s frequently described as evil in the Press, which, to put her in the same category as Rose West and Myra Hindley is just daft. “Whatever Shannon thinks about her mother, and we can’t speculate about that, it’s better that there’s a portrait of Karen that’s more balanced and nuanced.”  A spokesperson for Victim Support Scotland said: “Producers of television dramas have a responsibility to treat individuals with dignity and respect. “Appropriate care and sensitivity needs to be applied to the needs of all individuals concerned. It is important to remember that these dramas are about real people”. Following the disappearance of nine year-old Shannon Matthews from The Moorside Estate in Dewsbury, The Moorside dramatizes how the police and community mounted a frantic search. Despite their efforts, no trace of her can be found and within a few hours the police investigation takes on the scale of a murder enquiry. Emotional public appeals for information from her mother Karen Matthews amount to nothing, and the community, led by Julie Bushby, stand by her and make extraordinary efforts of their own to find Shannon. Despite the support, doubts are beginning to creep in for some regarding Karen’s behaviour. Friend and neighbour Natalie (Sian Brooke) struggles with her conscience as she becomes convinced that Karen knows more than she is revealing. Just as all hope is close to fading, Shannon is found alive. The wild celebrations of Julie and the community are rapidly cut short when they learn that Shannon was being held by a man known to Karen. After release from prison, Karen later moved away from Dewsbury and now lives under a new name. Shannon was also given a new identity and placed with a new family after a spell in care. *Part one of The Moorside airs on BBC One at 9pm on Tuesday February 7.

Angus & The Mearns

Grieving dad backs drive to save lives

March 15 2014

The dad of a tragic Laurencekirk woman has given his backing to a campaign to equip the town with more defibrillators. However, David Wilson believes the lifesaving machines must be publicly accessible or heart attack victims may not get the chance to be saved. Mum-of-two Amy Wilson, 31, collapsed and died at a coffee morning in the town last November when she was just weeks away from giving birth to her son, Harry. It is understood Ms Wilson’s death may have been caused by a rare heart condition and two of her friends have since started Stars in the Sky to raise funds for at least one publicly accessible defibrillator. Mr Wilson told The Courier: “We are told that nothing could have saved the life of my daughter or her baby but my worry is that they never got the chance to be saved. “The Laurencekirk After School Club is a very hard working asset to the community. “I think the Stars in the Sky fundraising idea is a credit to all concerned but they need to know their efforts will be of benefit to any future need.” Mr Wilson said he hopes the publicity generated by his daughter’s plight will, in turn, help raise funds for what will be “a worthy and needed cause.” Although it is not certain a defibrillator would have saved Ms Wilson, her friends and family believe having such kit available 24-hours-a-day could make a difference to someone else. Laurencekirk has eight community first responders, who offer emergency medical support until paramedics arrive. Stewart Wight, team leader of the Laurencekirk First Response Team, said he was backing the charity campaign by the local community. He said the responders all have other work and simply cannot cover every period of each day but added it was unlikely Ms Wilson would have been saved. Mr Wight said the buying and distribution of community defibrillators is to be welcomed by all and is likely to have a major impact on the rapid treatment of cardiac arrests. He added: “I am, however, concerned about the figures suggested in relation to the cost of these machines. “Recent articles have suggested it requires several thousand pounds to acquire and install this equipment. “Having recently installed two defibrillators on a popular north-east golf course for less than £2,000, I would hope any community or organisation thinking of purchasing this equipment will not be put off by the prices that have been publicised. “It is also worth mentioning these machines in isolation can have a limited value without the CPR which accompanies their application, so encouraging community training can be equally as important as community fundraising.”

UK & World

Paedophile has sentence increased

August 13 2013

A paedophile who walked free from court after his 13-year-old victim was branded “predatory” by a prosecutor has had his sentence increased due to a technicality. Neil Wilson was handed an eight-month suspended sentence after admitting engaging in sexual activity with the girl, as well as separate counts of making indecent images, at Snaresbrook Crown Court in east London last week. News that prosecutor Robert Colover had labelled the young victim “predatory” and “sexually experienced” caused outrage and led to his suspension from prosecuting sexual offence cases pending a review by the Crown Prosecution Service. Judge Nigel Peters QC is also being investigated by the Office for Judicial Complaints for remarking that his sentence took into account how the girl looked and behaved. Judge Peters altered Wilson’s sentence yesterday, at a brief hearing at Snaresbrook Crown Court, after admitting it needed correction. The judge altered Wilson’s total sentence to 12 months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, but kept the sentence for sexual activity with a child the same, at eight months suspended for two years. He said he was revoking a community order and imposing additional suspended jail terms for two counts involving indecent photographs, and another indictment involving five counts of possessing extreme pornographic images.

UK & World

Court to review paedophile sentence

August 27 2013

A paedophile who was allowed to walk free after his 13-year-old victim was branded "predatory" is to have his sentence reviewed by the Court of Appeal. Neil Wilson, 41, was handed a 12-month jail sentence suspended for two years after he admitted engaging in sexual activity with the child, as well as offences of making indecent images of a child and offences of possession of an extreme pornographic image. A row broke out shortly after the case was heard when it emerged that prosecuting barrister Robert Colover had labelled the young girl "predatory" and "sexually experienced". The Attorney General, Dominic Grieve QC, has decided to refer Wilson's sentence to the Court of Appeal, where three judges will decide whether or not it is unduly lenient and whether they should increase it. A statement from the Attorney General’s Office said: “Having carefullyreviewed this case, the Attorney General, Dominic Grieve QC MP, has decided torefer the sentence of Neil Wilson to the Court of Appeal for review. “The case will in due course be heard by three Court of Appeal judges who will decide whether or not the sentence is unduly lenient and whether they should increase it.” In addition to Mr Colover’s comments, Judge Nigel Peters QC said he accounted for the way the Wilson’s victim looked and behaved when he sentenced her attacker. Mr Colover has been suspended from prosecuting sexual offence cases pending a review by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), while Judge Peters’ comments are to be investigated by the Office for Judicial Complaints. As well as receiving a number of complaints, the CPS was confronted by a petition, which now has more than 50,000 signatures, demanding Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer investigate the language used by Mr Colover.

Motoring news

Join the queue for littlest Audi Q

November 9 2016

Audi’s relentless release of new models continues with the launch of its smallest SUV. The Q2 goes on sale in the UK next week with prices starting at £22,380. There’s an extensive selection of petrol and diesel power trains as well as the option of front or Quattro four-wheel drive. More models will be added to the range later on, including powerful SQ2 and RSQ2 versions. Aimed squarely at a younger audience, the Q2 has bolder, sharper lines and a different shape to Audi’s bigger SUVs, the Q3, Q5 and Q7. Although it’s clearly meant more for buzzing around cities than growling across farmland, cladding and skid plates lend it an aura of ruggedness. Audi is also offering a range of vibrant colours to deepen the Q2’s appeal to youthful buyers. The interior is as plush as you’d expect from Audi, justifying its price hike over similarly sized SUVs like the Nissan Juke and Honda HR-V. The materials are high quality – softtouch plastics, leather on higher spec cars and brushed aluminium trim elements all blended into a smart-looking package. As standard, drivers get a seven-inch infotainment screen on top of the dashboard. It’s operated through Audi’s rotary dial system that’s far more intuitive and easier to use when on the move than rivals’ touchscreen systems. Among the many options is Audi’s excellent Virtual Cockpit - a 12.3in screen that replaces the manual instruments behind the steering wheel. Overall, the Q2 is 4.7in shorter than the A3 hatchback, but Audi says there’s enough leg and headroom for two adult passengers in the back. Boot space comes in at 405 litres – 50 more than you’ll find in the A3 hatchback and rival Nissan Juke, although it trails the Mini Countryman by the same amount. To begin with, the only diesel option is a 1.6 litre with 114bhp, although a more powerful 184bhp 2.0 litre unit will be added to the range soon. Similarly, the petrol engine range is limited for now but will be expanded by the end of the year. The 1.4 litre, 148bhp unit offered now will be joined by 1.0 litre, 114bhp three cylinder turbo and 2.0 litre, 187bhp options – the latter coming with an S-Tronic automatic gearbox. When it arrives the 1.0 litre petrol version will be the cheapest model in the range with a price tag of £20,230. Courier Motoring has yet to get its hands on the car but early reviews have been very positive and Audi looks to have yet another winner on its hands. jmckeown@thecourier.co.uk

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