FA Cup shocks: Enter the giant killers – relive some of the greatest upsets



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Killers who refuse to reveal where they hid victim’s body could still be freed after Helen’s Law | UK News


Murderers who refuse to disclose where they disposed of their victim’s body could still be freed from jail despite new laws designed to deny them parole.

Martin Jones, the chief executive of the Parole Board, has issued the warning as “Helen’s Law” is due to come into force early next year.

Mr Jones has said convicts will be questioned about where they have hidden a body and failure to co-operate will not work in their favour.

However, he added they will still be released if it is decided they are no longer a risk to the public.

Mr Jones said: “This is a really difficult area.

“It’s described as ‘no body, no parole’ – that’s not what this legislation does, at all.

“It requires the Parole Board to take it into account before we make a decision, but it’s very clear that ultimately the Parole Board has to apply the public protection test in relation to whether that person remains a risk to the public.”

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Ian Simms has never revealed where he hid Helen McCourt’s body

Mr Jones acknowledged missing body cases were “heartbreaking” for victims’ families, but said it would not be helpful for the Parole Board to mislead them about Helen’s Law.

He added: “It is vital that we explain that this is something we will take into account very carefully and will add weight to our decision-making.”

Helen’s Law, officially called the Prisoners (Disclosure Of Information About Victims) Bill, is named after murder victim Helen McCourt.

The insurance clerk vanished on her way home from work in 1988.

Ian Simms, Miss McCourt’s murderer, was released from prison earlier this year despite never saying where he hid her body.

Her family spent five years calling for the legislation to help give grieving relatives closure before it finally gained Royal Assent in November after a series of political and constitutional setbacks.

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‘He knows where my daughter’s body is’

When asked whether the law would have changed the Parole Board’s decision to release Simms, Mr Jones said: “My own view is even if this legislation had been in place it would not have changed the Parole Board decision that we made.

“It would not have made a difference if this law had been brought in prior to us making a decision on the case.”

The latest comments could cast doubt on how effective the new rules will be in changing the current system.

Parole Board guidance already says offenders who withhold information may still pose a risk to the public and could therefore face longer in prison.

Courts can also hand down tougher sentences for murderers who deliberately conceal the location of a body.

The law sets out to toughen up existing guidelines, making it a legal requirement for the Parole Board to take into account a killer’s failure to disclose the location of their victim’s remains when considering them for release.

Helen McCourt still
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Marie McCourt has said she wishes Helen’s Law could go further

Marie McCourt, Helen’s McCourt’s mother, said: “I wish the law could have gone further, definitely. It’s upsetting to hear the law may not have helped our case.

“Simms has a violent history. How can they say a man like that, who also won’t reveal information, is safe to be released?

“But they have to make sure Helen’s Law makes it harder and makes it far more difficult than it has been.”

Mr Jones, who has been the boss of the Parole Board since 2015, said killers could also add to a family’s distress by lying about how they have disposed of a body.

Helen’s Law will also apply to paedophiles when it comes into force in 2021.

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Justice said: “Helen’s Law will mean that murderers and paedophiles who refuse to provide details about their victims could spend more time in prison.

“More families will also get the answers and closure they deserve.”



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PC Andrew Harper killers’ sentences unchanged after appeal | UK news


The sentences given to the killers of PC Andrew Harper, who was dragged to his death in August 2019, remain unchanged after challenges at the court of appeal.

Harper, 28, was caught in a strap attached to the back of a car driven by Henry Long, 19, and dragged along a winding country road as Jessie Cole and Albert Bower fled the scene of a quad bike theft in Berkshire on the night of 15 August 2019.

Long admitted manslaughter and was given 16 years, while passengers Cole and Bowers were convicted of manslaughter after a trial at the Old Bailey and were handed 13-year sentences.

Announcing the court of appeal’s decision, Dame Victoria Sharp said the court had dismissed the attorney general’s appeal against Long, Cole and Bowers’ sentences for manslaughter, as well as the trio’s own appeals against their custodial terms.

The court did reduce the sentences imposed on Cole and Bowers for conspiracy to steal, from 38 months detention to an 18-month detention and training order given their ages at the time of the offence.

However, Dame Victoria said: “The effect of our decision is that all three offenders remain convicted of the manslaughter of Harper and the overall length of their custodial sentences remain unaltered.”

An application by Cole and Bowers for leave to appeal against their convictions for Harper’s manslaughter was refused as being “wholly unarguable”.



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Zodiac Killer’s cipher has been solved


More than 50 years after the so-called Zodiac Killer first began terrorizing the streets of Northern California, a code-breaking team is believed to have finally cracked one of the killer’s mysterious coded messages sent to the San Francisco Chronicle in 1969.

Dubbed the “340 cipher,” the message was unraveled by a trio of code breakers — David Oranchak, a software developer in Virginia, Jarl Van Eycke, a Belgian computer programmer, and Sam Blake, an Australian mathematician.

Decoding the cipher revealed the following message. It was sent in all capital letters without punctuation and included the misspelling of paradise:

“I hope you are having lots of fun in trying to catch me

That wasn’t me on the TV show which brings up a point about me

I am not afraid of the gas chamber because it will send me to paradice all the sooner

Because I now have enough slaves to work for me where everyone else has nothing when they reach paradice so they are afraid of death

I am not afraid because I know that my new life will be an easy one in paradice death.”

The TV show the message refers to is “The Jim Dunbar Show,” a Bay Area television talk show. The cipher was sent two weeks after a person claiming to be the Zodiac Killer called into the show.

“It was incredible. It was a big shock, I never really thought we’d find anything because I had grown so used to failure,” Oranchak, who’s been working on solving the killer’s messages since 2006, told CNN.

“When I first started, I used to get excited when I would see some words come through — they were like false positives, phantoms. I had grown used to that. It was a long shot — we didn’t even really know if there was a message,” he said.

The trio took their findings to the FBI a week ago, but didn’t reveal their breakthrough until the FBI’s confirmed cleared by the authorities, they said.

The Zodiac Killer is most known for leaving a trail of five unsolved murders between 1968 and 1969. He was never caught, but he gained notoriety by writing letters to police and local media up until 1974, sometimes in code, boasting of the killings.

Bloody bits of clothing were included with his letters as proof of his actions. He claims he killed as many as 37 people.

The FBI said in a statement that the case remains an ongoing investigation for the bureau’s San Francisco office and its local law enforcement partners.

“Due to the ongoing nature of the investigation, and out of respect for the victims and their families, we will not be providing further comment at this time,” the statement read.

The San Francisco Police Department has also been made aware of the solved cipher, and said the information has been sent to the department’s cold case homicide investigators.

Oranchak detailed the process for cracking the cipher on his website and in a YouTube video, where he used a specifically developed decryption software and a bit of luck to finally make the connection. The team used a unique program to sift through 650,000 variations of the message. In one, a couple of words appeared.

“We got really lucky and found one that had part of the answer, but it wasn’t obvious,” Oranchak said, explaining that they then had to handpick their way through to decipher the rest of the message.

The only disappointing part, Oranchak said, is that the missive contained no personally identifying information.

Oranchak holds out no hope for solving the two remaining ciphers. He described the mission as “almost hopeless,” as both are very short, with thousands of different names and phrases that could fit.





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Notorious Zodiac Killer’s coded message ‘cracked’ after more than 50 years | US News


A team of amateur detectives appear to have cracked one of the notorious Zodiac Killer’s coded messages – more than 50 years after it was sent.

The killer is confirmed to have fatally stabbed or shot five people in Northern California in the 1960s, although it is believed he may have murdered more.

He was dubbed the Zodiac Killer after sending taunting letters and mysterious ciphers to police and local newspapers.

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An artist’s sketch based on a victim’s testimony about the Zodiac Killer

Until now, one of the ciphers – sent to The San Francisco Chronicle in November 1969 – had never been cracked.

But three members of the public, Australian software engineer Sam Blake, American cryptographer David Oranchak and Belgian software engineer Jarl Van, say they have managed to make sense of the coded symbols, letters and numbers.

According to the amateur team, the 340-character cipher reads: “I HOPE YOU ARE HAVING LOTS OF FUN IN TRYING TO CATCH ME THAT WASNT ME ON THE TV SHOW WHICH BRINGS UP A POINT ABOUT ME I AM NOT AFRAID OF THE GAS CHAMBER BECAUSE IT WILL SEND ME TO PARADICE.”

It continues: “ALL THE SOONER BECAUSE I NOW HAVE ENOUGH SLAVES TO WORK FOR ME WHERE EVERYONE ELSE HAS NOTHING WHEN THEY REACH PARADICE SO THEY ARE AFRAID OF DEATH I AM NOT AFRAID BECAUSE I KNOW THAT MY NEW LIFE IS LIFE WILL BE AN EASY ONE IN PARADICE DEATH.”

Investigators had hoped the cipher would reveal the killer’s name, but the message does not mention this.

The FBI’s San Francisco arm said in a statement its own Cryptanalysis and Racketeering Records Unit (CRRU) had acknowledged and confirmed the work.

One of the ciphers sent to The San Francisco Chronicle
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One of the ciphers sent to The San Francisco Chronicle
A police captain inspects the door of a car belonging to a Zodiac Killer victim in 1969
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A police captain inspects the door of a car belonging to a Zodiac Killer victim in 1969

“Over the past 51 years CRRU has reviewed numerous proposed solutions from the public – none of which had merit,” it said.

“The cipher was recently solved by a team of three private citizens.”

Mr Oranchak, who lives in Virginia, told The Chronicle that the find was “exciting”.

“We’ve been sitting on the solution since last Saturday,” he said. “When I first started looking at the Zodiac ciphers all those years ago, I thought, ‘Oh, I can just write a computer program and solve it,’ but it’s been kicking my a** all this time. Until now.”

It is the second time a cipher from the Zodiac Killer has been cracked.

Schoolteacher Donald Harden broke another of the Zodiac's codes
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Schoolteacher Donald Harden broke another of the Zodiac’s codes

The first, also sent to The Chronicle, was solved by a schoolteacher and his wife – but it said little other than: “I like killing because it is so much fun.”

The killer has never been caught, despite gaining notoriety, and the case is still active.



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Bourke St killer’s wife won’t tell police what he said in last call


The senior officer said the couple sought marriage counselling from a known controversial preacher about 18 months before the attack and Shire Ali appeared to have recently moved back in with his wife at Meadow Heights.

But investigators later found that when Ms Eren was messaging apparent plans for an upcoming cabin holiday with her husband, she was also searching online for how to end a relationship and “real estate searches”.

A general view of the scene on Bourke Street where Shire Ali carried out his deadly rampage.Credit:Stuart Gaut

She has since refused to answer questions from investigators including what she knew of her husband’s plans or if she’d in any way encouraged the attack, what she knew about his behaviour and activities in the lead-up or whether any other threats remained within the community, the officer said.

The inquest heard the phone Ms Eren used to speak to Shire Ali that day had also never been located.

“We’ve never had any co-operation from her in relation to that phone. I do believe it was deliberately disposed of,” JCTT Officer B said.

“We’ve never got to the bottom of what that’s about or what they spoke about. The explanation for his actions resulting in his own death remain unclear.

“We believe [though] that Shire Ali had left their home … they shared in Meadow Heights and I suspect that she may have been home at the time.”

Shire Ali’s wife is due to give evidence before the coroner later this week, along with her brother.

Three weeks after her husband’s death she posted online: “I should’ve been a better wife only now I can see you were truly struggling while I was being a brat”.

When asked to explain what counter-terrorism officers had been able to reconstruct regarding Shire Ali’s actions in the lead-up to the attack, JCTT Officer B said they believed his premeditation – including the purchase of gas cylinders from Bunnings – had been interwoven with his daily life.

Hassan Khalif Shire Ali lunged at police with a knife before he was shot in the chest during the attack.

Hassan Khalif Shire Ali lunged at police with a knife before he was shot in the chest during the attack.

“It’s one of those things that goes round and round my head as well. I don’t think anyone can ever explain, in terms of actions, the moment before something occurs,” JCCT Officer B said.

“I go back to a suicide bomber in London who bough a chocolate bar minutes before he blew himself up. He was given too much change and went back to return the excess money. Some things you can’t explain.”

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JCTT Officer B also revealed for the first time what made police declare the attack an act of terrorism.

The witness said the “mixed mode” of using gas bottles to ignite a vehicle and having other weapons, such as knives, had been detailed in a known terrorism instruction manual earlier found in the possession of Shire Ali’s younger brother Ali Khalif Shire Ali, who is currently serving time in prison for planning a separate terror attack in Melbourne in 2017.

Bouke Street witness statements also revealed Shire Ali had muttered the phrase “Allahu Akbar” during his attack, an Arabic phrase meaning God is great, JCTT Officer B said, which has been used during terror attacks across the world.

The experienced counter terrorism officer told the coroner that despite ISIS initially claiming responsibility for the attack online, JCTT had never found any direct contact had been made between Islamic State and Shire Ali.

Instead, JCCT Officer B said, they were of the firm belief the attack was IS inspired by a man who’d adopted an extreme interpretation of Islam.

The inquest continues.

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California OK’d aid in name of Scott Peterson, other killers


SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California’s system for paying unemployment benefits is so dysfunctional that the state approved more than $140 million for at least 35,000 prisoners, local and federal prosecutors said Tuesday, detailing a scheme that resulted in payouts in the names of well-known convicted murderers like Scott Peterson and Cary Stayner.

From March to August, California has put $140 million on debit cards and mailed them to addresses associated with the inmates, according to Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert. At least 158 claims were approved for 133 death-row inmates, resulting in more than $420,000 in benefits.

“It involves rapists and child molesters, human traffickers and other violent criminals in our state prisons,” Schubert said.

The list includes Peterson, who was sentenced to death after being convicted of killing his pregnant wife following a trial that riveted the nation. The California Supreme Court recently overturned Peterson’s death sentence and has ordered a lower court to review his murder conviction.

Schubert confirmed there was a claim made in the name of Scott Peterson, but declined to provide further details.

Peterson’s attorney, Pat Harris, said while Peterson’s name surfaced during the investigation, there is no evidence Peterson received unemployment aid from the state.

“This investigation, when it’s completed, will show that he had not a thing to do with any kind of scheme to get fraudulent benefits,” Harris said.

Schubert listed a number of inmates there who had claims filed in their names, including Stayner, convicted of killing four people in Yosemite National Park in 1999; Susan Eubanks, a San Diego woman convicted of shooting her four sons to death in 1997; Isauro Aguirre, who was sentenced to death for the 2013 murder of 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez in Los Angeles; and Wesley Shermantine, part of the duo dubbed the “Speed Freak Killers” for their meth-induced killing rampage in the 1980s and ’90s.

Prosecutors said they learned of the scheme from listening in on recorded prison phone calls, where inmates would talk about how easy it was for everyone to get paid. They said the scheme always involved someone on the outside — usually friends or family members of the inmates, who would then receive the benefits.

In Kern County, home to five state prisons, one address was used to receive benefits for 16 inmates.

“In my nearly four decades as a prosecutor in this state, I have never seen fraud of this magnitude,” Kern County District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer said.

In some cases, inmates used their real names. In others, they used fake names and even fake Social Security numbers. In one instance, an inmate used the name: “poopy britches,” Schubert said.

“Quite frankly, the inmates are mocking us,” Schubert said.

So far, 22 people have been charged in San Mateo County, including six people who were not in prison. Prosecutors said dozens of other investigations across the state are continuing.

Prosecutors blamed the Employment Development Department, which has been overwhelmed by more than 16.4 million benefit claims since the pandemic began in March, resulting in a backlog that at one time totaled more than 1.6 million people.

But prosecutors said in its haste to approve benefits, the department did not check unemployment claims against a list of prisoners, as many other states do. San Mateo District Attorney Stephen Wagstaffe said that when he notified the department about inmates fraudulently receiving benefits, they told him they could not cut off the payments until they were formally charged with a crime.

The problem was so bad that on Monday, nine county district attorneys sent a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom asking for him to intervene.

“We face a manifest problem that requires action, not talk,” said McGregor Scott, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California.

Employment Development Department spokeswoman Loree Levy said the agency has been working with the Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General on cross-checking claims with inmates, saying they are “pursuing how to integrate such cross-matches moving forward as part of enhanced prevention efforts during this unprecedented time of pandemic-related unemployment fraud across the country.”

In an email to the AP, Newsom called the fraud “absolutely unacceptable.” He said he first learned of the fraud earlier this year, which prompted him to order the department to “review its practices and take immediate actions to prevent fraud and to hold people accountable.”

Newsom said he has ordered the Office of Emergency Services to set up a task force to assist prosecutors with their investigation.

“While we have made improvements, we need to do more,” Newsom said.

———

This story has been corrected to show that convicted killer Wesley Shermantine’s last name was misspelled.



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Accused toolbox killers kept victims tied up for hours, witness tells court at double murder trial


A Supreme Court jury in Brisbane has heard gruesome evidence about the final hours of two people whose bodies were found locked in a toolbox and submerged in a dam south of Brisbane.

Iuliana Triscaru, 31, and Cory Breton, 28, were reported missing in late January 2016 and their bodies located 18 days after they were reported missing.

Waylon Walker, Stou Daniels and Davy Taiao pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder on the first day of their Supreme Court trial.

Trent Thrupp pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder but guilty to the lesser charges of manslaughter — but the crown did not accept his plea.

Mr Daniels, Mr Taiao and Mr Thrupp also pleaded not guilty to two counts of torture.

In evidence today, a childhood friend of Mr Breton’s, Lelan Harrington, told the court he was at the Kingston unit where it was alleged the pair were tied up and tortured.

Mr Harrington told the court Mr Breton and Ms Triscaru spent hours on a couch tied up with duct tape and zip ties, before being forced into a toolbox.

He said at one stage he saw Ms Triscaru trying to escape, but she was stopped when Mr Harrington said he raised the alarm.

“As I got to bottom of the stairs I saw Trent [Thrupp] standing over her [Iuliana Triscaru] [and] blood was coming from her mouth,” Mr Harrington told the court.

“She’s crying and trying to struggle and they rolled her onto her stomach.

“D-lock [Davy Taiao] came over with zip tie and put it around her neck.”

Lelan Harrington told the court he was at the Kingston unit where it was alleged the pair were tied up and tortured.(Supplied: QPS)

Mr Harrington told the court Ms Triscaru continued to struggle as one of the men tried to close the lid of the toolbox

“He starts slashing at her arms [with a knife] — I could hear banging on the toolbox,” he told the hearing.

Mr Harrington told the court he continued to hear kicking and screaming as the toolbox was put on the back of a ute parked in the garage.

“They almost dropped it … I tried to lift it and it was way too heavy for me,” he said.

Mr Harrington told the court two men drove the ute to a dam where it was submerged.

‘Begging for their lives’

He said he later asked Mr Thrupp about the pair’s final moments.

“He told me they were begging for their lives and that he shot them both in the head,” Mr Harrington told the court.

“He said the toolbox kept floating, so they used tyres and stones.”

Mr Harrington said Mr Thrupp also told him: “I don’t know why we had to do that to her [Ms Triscaru]. I broke the one rule my mother gave me and that was to never hurt a woman.”

Mr Harrington told the court he burnt the ute and then went into hiding at his uncle’s place.

He said he was tracked down by police while visiting his sister at Browns Plains.

“I just told them everything,” he said.

Mr Harrington said he was charged with deprivation of liberty and assault occasioning bodily harm, but served no time in prison.

In his opening address, crown prosecutor David Meredith said Ms Triscaru and Mr Breton died from either asphyxiation or drowning.

Mr Harrington will be cross-examined by the defence later today.

The trial is expected to run for four weeks.

Two policemen watch as a yellow crane truck lifts a metal box in grassland.
The bodies of Iuliana Triscaru and Cory Breton were found in the toolbox on February 11, 2016.(AAP: Dan Peled)



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Two of PC Harper’s killers launch appeals against their convictions | UK News


Two of the three teenagers jailed for killing PC Andrew Harper have launched appeals against their manslaughter convictions.

Albert Bowers and Jessie Cole, both 18, have lodged applications with the Court of Appeal seeking permission to challenge their convictions and their 13-year prison sentences.

No date has been set for the hearing of the appeals.

It came as PC Harper’s widow, Lissie Harper, launched a petition to show the level of public support for tougher jail terms for people who kill emergency services workers.

Image:
PC Andrew Harper died trying to prevent the theft of a quad bike

The 29-year-old is trying to secure a meeting with Home Secretary Priti Patel and wants to show the extent of the backing for her campaign.

Harper’s Law would see anyone convicted of killing an emergency services worker given a life sentence.

The 28-year-old Thames Valley police officer died trying to stop Bowers, Cole, and 19-year-old Henry Long from towing away a quad bike stolen from outside a house in Berkshire in August last year.

More from Pc Andrew Harper

He was dragged for a mile behind their car, driven by Long, who was sentenced to 16 years in prison last month.

All three teenagers were cleared of murder. Long admitted manslaughter and his co-accused were found guilty of the same offence.

Sentencing judge Mr Justice Edis described the killers as “young, unintelligent but professional criminals”, and said none of them had “shown anything resembling remorse”.



Lissie Harper is calling for a meeting with the home secretary to discuss Harper's Law



PC Harper’s widow calls for tougher sentences

Mrs Harper has said she was “utterly shocked and appalled” at the decision not to convict the trio of murder.

Bowers and Cole could be out on licence after serving less than nine years, under legislation that says a prisoner is eligible for release after serving two-thirds of their sentence.

Mrs Harper told Sky News: “I’ve learnt an awful lot this past year about grief and strength and trying to be brave, which brings me to why I’m doing this now.

“I want to make something out of this horrific year.

“Instead of Andrew’s legacy being about the horrible way he died maybe we can make a positive change I know he’d be proud of.

“A year, astonishingly, has passed and now I want to focus on this and I’m determined to get this law passed.”

Henry Long, Albert Bowers and Jessie Cole had stolen a quad bike
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Henry Long, Albert Bowers and Jessie Cole were sentenced for manslaughter

She added: “The least we can do is offer our protectors some protection.

“Not only that, but if this in some small way acts as a deterrent for people thinking of committing crimes or who live that sort of lifestyle to think ‘well actually if somebody is killed it will be a serious consequence not just a few years in prison’ and back to their normal life.”

The Attorney General’s Office (AGO) has been asked to review the killers’ sentences to consider if they were too lenient.

It may refer their cases to the Court of Appeal for judges to consider whether the sentences should be increased.



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