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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

Angus & The Mearns

Montrose pupils’ work of art hailed

May 2 2013

Pupils in Montrose Academy’s ceramics club have created a fantastic clay sculpture of the front of their school. The work took 18 months to produce and was recently framed and presented to head teacher Dr John Cavanagh. Principal teacher of expressive arts Peter Allan started the club four years ago with the help of school technician Simon Needham. Mr Needham came up with the idea of creating the sculpture after the subject of a secret stairway to the school dome came up in a discussion during pottery club. The pupils tried to guess where it was in the school and decided the only way to find out its location was to make a three-dimensional model of the school. Although its construction was completed before the summer holidays last year, the work had to undergo a slow drying process to ensure it did not crack. It was fired in November then a suitable glaze was produced with all of the pottery club members had a hand in the glazing work. The clay version, just like the real school, has a 24-carat gold dome. Mr Allan said: “It has not been decided yet where the final piece will go on display, but we hope that it will be able to be appreciated by pupils, staff and visitors to the school for many years to come.” As a reward for producing such a fine piece of work, the pupils involved were sworn to secrecy on the location of the secret stairway and were allowed to have a very rare visit to the inside of the school dome.

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.

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


Dundee man seen with butcher’s knife gets prison term

January 2 2014

A Dundee man has been jailed for three and a half years, after admitting his fourth offence of carrying a knife. Frank Needham, 31, a prisoner at Perth, admitted that on October 24, at Nethergate, he possessed a knife. Depute fiscal Laura Bruce told the court the accused was observed on four city centre CCTV cameras, sitting on a bench with another person. “He was seen to remove a knife from a bag, was seen with the knife in his right hand which he then concealed in his left hand sleeve. He was then seen to enter a bus and spoke with the driver before leaving the bus. When police went to speak with him, he made off and during the pursuit he was seen to throw the knife to the ground.” Ms Bruce said an officer picked up the knife, described as a five-and-a-half-inch, bladed butcher’s knife. Solicitor Mike Short asked Sheriff Davidson to consider getting reports to see why the accused carried knives. However, the sheriff said there was no alternative to the maximum custodial sentence of four years, with a discount of six months for his early plea. He ordered forfeiture of the knife.

UK & World

UK police say “item” found at search site suggests Ben Needham died in accident on Kos

October 17 2016

Missing toddler Ben Needham is believed to have died as a result of an accident, police have said. Detectives from the South Yorkshire force formally ended a three-week search of Kos on Sunday afternoon, and at a press conference on the Greek island revealed they had discovered an item thought to have been with the youngster at the time of his disappearance on July 24 1991. The search operation was prompted by information that a digger driver may have been responsible for the Sheffield boy's death, as he was clearing land with an excavator near where Ben was playing on the day he vanished. Speaking at the scene, Detective Inspector Jon Cousins said: "My team and I know that machinery, including a large digger, was used to clear an area of land on 24 July 1991, behind the farmhouse that was being renovated by the Needhams. It is my professional belief that Ben Needham died as a result of an accident near to the farmhouse in Iraklis where he was last seen playing. "The events leading up to and following that incident have been explored by my team of experts to great lengths. The fact that we have not had a direct result during this visit to Kos does not preclude the facts that we know to be true. "An item found on Saturday, which I have shown personally to some of Ben's family, was found in one of the targeted areas at the second site, very close to a dated item from 1991. "It is our initial understanding that this item was in Ben's possession around the time he went missing." Mr Cousins said the recovery of the item added to his belief that material had been removed from the farmhouse on or shortly after the 21-month-old disappeared. Despite this stage of the investigation coming to an end, the officer pledged to continue searching for answers, and paid tribute to Ben's family. He concluded: "We remain committed to the investigation and it will not simply close; myself and Detective Superintendent Matt Fenwick will retain ownership of it and if new information comes to light, we will investigate it thoroughly. "We will not stop in our quest to find further answers for Ben's family." Speaking before the briefing, the toddler's mother, Kerry Needham, told the Daily Mirror she wanted to "tear up" the whole Greek island. She said: "They know he's dead but just can't find him. Police said it's time we ended our 25-year search. They are right but I can't say goodbye knowing he's still on that island somewhere. I feel physically sick. I can't feel any worse than I do. "He didn't leave Kos, he didn't walk away ... Somebody didn't take him, so he's here somewhere. They believe he is there but they can't dig in everyone's gardens or homes that have been built over the years. I want to tear up the whole island to find him. "Someone knows where he is. For God's sake, help me find him. We know he's dead but we need to find him. When someone dies you find a special place." The digger driver, Konstantinos Barkas, also known as Dino, is believed to have died from stomach cancer last year.   Ben Needham: The tragic timeline Here is a timeline of events charting the disappearance of Sheffield toddler Ben Needham on the Greek island of Kos 25 years ago. ♦ July 24 1991: Ben Needham vanishes while playing near the grounds of a farmhouse in the Iraklis region of Kos, which his family are renovating. His mother, Kerry Needham, and grandparents raise the alarm with local police and conduct a full search of the area. ♦ July 26 1991: Eyewitness reports claim a boy matching Ben's description was found at the local airport on the day he disappeared. That boy has never been traced. ♦ September 1991: The Needham family return to England due to illness, but vow to continue the search. ♦ June 2003: The Metropolitan Police issue an image of what Ben might look like at age 12-14 years old. ♦ 2004 An anonymous businessman offers a reward of £500,000 for information leading to Ben's safe return. ♦  October 2010: Another public appeal is made by Ben's mother in the run-up to what would be his 21st birthday. ♦ May 2011: The BBC airs a programme called Missing 2011, which includes a piece on Ben's story and the campaign to find him. ♦ September 2011: Greek police on Kos officially reopen the case and grant the family a face-to-face meeting with the island's prosecutor. ♦ October 2012: South Yorkshire Police in Kos begin digging up mounds around the property where Ben went missing to look for his remains. ♦ December 2013: Ben's mother accuses then-prime minister David Cameron of not giving her case the same backing as he gave the parents of Madeleine McCann. It comes as a dossier is produced containing reports from eight witnesses, none of who know each other, who all saw a boy possibly matching Ben's description with the same Greek family. ♦ December 2014: Lawyers representing Ben's family say they may take legal action to try to force the Government to make a decision about funding a new police investigation. ♦ January 2015: The Home Office agrees to fund a team of British detectives to help search for the toddler. ♦ March/April 2015: Three generations of Ben Needham's family travel to Greece to follow up a "strong" lead that a man living there believes he may be the missing Brit due to having no photographs of himself under the age of two and no knowledge of where he was born. The man is later ruled out. ♦ May 2015: Ben's family make a fresh appeal on Greek television for information regarding the disappearance. ♦ May 2016: The Sun newspaper publishes a report that members of the police operation go on an "eight-hour booze-up" in Kos during the latest stage of the investigation. ♦ September 2016: Ben's family are told to "prepare for the worst" by detectives leading the investigation, amid the belief the 21-month-old was crushed to death by a digger - the driver of which died in 2015. It comes as police arrive in Kos to begin excavation work in the belief the boy's remains may be buried near the farmhouse ♦ October 16 2016: Officers formally end a three-week search of two sites on Kos. Detectives said they had accumulated more than 60 items of interest that would be brought back to the UK for forensic testing. ♦ October 17 2016: South Yorkshire Police announces that it believes Ben died as a result of an accident near to the farmhouse where he disappeared.

UK & World

Missing Ben Needham: South Yorkshire Police team fly to Kos to seek new witnesses

May 9 2016

A team of British police officers is heading for the Greek island of Kos to look for new witnesses in the search for toddler Ben Needham who went missing almost 25 years ago, according to his family. Ben, from Sheffield, was 21 months old when he vanished on July 24 1991 after travelling to the island with his mother and grandparents. Over the years there have been a number of possible sightings and a range of theories about what happened to the youngster, who would now be 26. Earlier this year, South Yorkshire Police announced that they had received extra funding from the Home Office to help in the search. Now, the official campaign to find Ben, headed by his mother, Kerry, confirmed that a team of officers will fly to Kos on Tuesday. In a statement, Help Find Ben Needham said 10 officers were travelling to the island hoping to "find new witnesses as they urge islanders to come forward with any information which might help the case". It said the officers will give a press conference at the farmhouse from where Ben went missing. He had been taken to the site, in Irakles, by his grandmother, Christine Needham, to visit his grandfather, who was helping to renovate the run-down building. Ms Needham said: "We believe someone on Kos does know something - and if they do please come forward. It doesn't matter how insiginificant they think it is - if they have information let the police know." In January last year, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Billings secured £700,000 of special funding from the Home Office to allow South Yorkshire Police to commit further resources to the investigation into Ben's disappearance. This year, a further £450,000 was approved by the Home Secretary. The Home Office backed a South Yorkshire Police operation in 2012 when land was excavated on Kos, near the farmhouse from where Ben went missing. No trace of the little boy was found. In 2014, South Yorkshire Police asked the Home Office for the Special Grant Funding to follow up information the family believed had never been properly investigated. In May last year, Ben's mother, sister and grandmother travelled to Greece with South Yorkshire Police detectives to make a direct appeal on a Greek television show about missing people. Police have investigated a number of new lines of inquiry as a result of the programme and the ongoing investigation into the toddler's disappearance.

Motoring news

Form an orderly Q for Audi SUV

August 10 2016

First there was the Q7. Then the Q5 and Q3. All have been a phenomenal success for Audi. I’d be surprised if that script changes when the Q2 arrives in November. Audi’s baby SUV is available to order now with prices starting at £22,380. Can’t quite stretch to that? Don’t worry, an entry level three-cylinder 1.0 litre version will be available later this year with a cover tag of £20,230. From launch, there are three trim levels available for the Q2 called SE, Sport and S Line. The range-topping Edition #1 model will be available to order from next month priced from £31,170. While the entry-level 113bhp 1.0-litre unit isn’t available right away, engines you can order now include a 113bhp 1.6-litre diesel and 148bhp 1.4-litre petrol unit, both with manual or S tronic automatic transmissions. Also joining the Q2 line-up from September is the 2.0-litre TDI diesel with 148bhp or 187bhp. This unit comes with optional Quattro all-wheel drive. A 2.0 litre petrol with Quattro and S tronic joins the range next year. Standard equipment for the new Audi Q2 includes a multimedia infotainment system with rotary/push-button controls, supported with sat-nav. Audi’s smartphone-friendly interface, 16in alloy wheels, Bluetooth connectivity and heated and electric mirrors are all also standard for the Audi. Along with the optional Audi virtual cockpit and the head-up display, the driver assistance systems for the Audi Q2 also come from the larger Audi models – including the Audi pre sense front with pedestrian recognition that is standard. The system recognises critical situations with other vehicles as well as pedestrians crossing in front of the vehicle, and if necessary it can initiate hard braking – to a standstill at low speeds. Other systems in the line-up include adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go function, traffic jam assist, the lane-departure warning system Audi side assist, the lane-keeping assistant Audi active lane assist, traffic sign recognition and rear cross-traffic assist.

UK & World

Inmates who joined in riot convicted of prison mutiny

February 6 2018

Two inmates who took part in a prison riot sparked by a ban on smoking and short-staffing have been found guilty of prison mutiny.Luke Needham, 30, and Deno Harrison, 23, were convicted at Winchester Crown Court for their part in the disturbance at HMP Erlestoke in Wiltshire on June 11 2016.A third prisoner, Andrew Alford, 41, was acquitted by the jury.Rob Welling, prosecuting, told the trial that tensions rose during the June weekend after prisoners were ordered to remain in their cells for the day because of a shortage of prison staff.He said the situation had been worsened by two officers being required to escort a prisoner to hospital as well as raised tensions from a previous disturbance earlier that week.He explained that the prison was category C, meaning that it houses inmates of various levels of offending but who were not considered likely to attempt to escape.Mr Welling said problems began after a national prison smoking ban was being trialled at the site.He said: “As you can imagine it caused tensions to rise among prisoners as it was, frankly, a very unpopular move.“And like other public bodies, the prison was short-staffed and if they couldn’t safely supervise prisoners they would instruct a lockdown as happened on this occasion.”He added: “Tension was heavy and the atmosphere was very unpleasant and threatening.”He said the “slow process” of delivering meals to the cells by the short-handed staff prompted the unrest during the lockdown on the Saturday morning.Mr Welling said Needham then set fire to his cell and flooded it before kicking open his wooden cell door and helping other prisoners to escape their rooms.He said Needham and Harrison managed to get on to the rooftop and refused to come down until after midnight when a trained negotiator and backup officers had arrived at the prison.He said that after calm was restored on the Sunday a total of 120 prisoners had to be rehoused at prisons around the country and damage costing “many thousands of pounds” had been caused tothe cells as well as to windows and CCTV systems.Mr Welling said Needham refused to comment when questioned by police while Harrison said he had smoked the drug “Spice” and could not remember his actions.Alford had been accused of breaking out of his cell on another wing but he later told police that his “mental health was bad that day”.Needham and Harrison, along with Ben Sharratt, 26, who previously pleaded guilty to the same offence, will be sentenced on March 16.