Coronavirus live: ‘We’re not done with lockdown yet’

The latest coronavirus news and updates from across Scotland on Thursday, April 9.

Coronavirus: News and updates. Pixabay
Coronavirus: News and updates.

8.30pm: Blue light tribute during clap for our carers

The nation has once again come together to thank the NHS workers fighting coronavirus.

Now in its third week, the clap for our carers campaign continues to recognise key workers and all those working on the frontline battling to stop the spread of Covid-19.

At 8pm on Thursday, people across the UK showed their appreciation for health staff by cheering and applauding into the streets.

Thank you to all our emergency service workers who are working during #Coronavirus to keep our communities safe 👏 🚒 Scottish Fire and Rescue Service 🚑 Scottish Ambulance Service#ClapForCarers #ClapForKeyWorkers

Posted by Police Scotland on Thursday, April 9, 2020
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Police Scotland joined forces with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and Scottish Ambulance Service to hold a special blue light tribute.

7.20pm: Prime Minister out of intensive care

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been moved out of intensive care, Downing Street has confirmed.

On Thursday night, a spokesperson said: “The Prime Minister has been moved this evening from intensive care back to the ward, where he will receive close monitoring during the early phase of his recovery.

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“He is in extremely good spirits.”

6pm: North Air agrees to furlough workers on full pay

Unite Scotland has welcomed the decision by North Air based in Aberdeen to furlough employees during the Covid-19 crisis on full pay.

North Air is a fuel tanker company for aircrafts based at Aberdeen Airport.  

The decision to furlough 27 workers in line with the UK Government’s Job Retention Scheme follows Unite securing a trade union recognition agreement with the company earlier this year.

Unite regional officer, Shauna Wright, said: Unite the Union are delighted that North Air have agreed to utilise the government retention scheme and top up the salary to 100% for the workforce in Aberdeen. 

“This is a welcome offer from the company and shows that North Air as an employer values their staff group during these difficult times. 

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“Unite earlier this year signed a recognition agreement with North Air and this is a testament to good working relationships at a local level. 

“We hope that this shows all employers that doing the right thing at the right time is the way forward.”

5.30pm: Lawyer to scrutinise police use of emergency powers

A leading human rights lawyer has been appointed to scrutinise Police Scotland’s use of emergency powers during the coronavirus crisis.

John Scott QC will be the chairman of an independent group examining how police are using the new powers granted by emergency legislation.

Officers now have the ability to fine or arrest those suspected of breaching lockdown rules.

Mr Scott is a solicitor advocate with more than 30 years’ experience in the legal profession. He was involved in the Lockerbie case appeal and previously led the Scottish Human Rights Centre.

He is also the chairman of a review into mental health legislation.

Chief constable Iain Livingstone invited him to take on the new role, following consultation with justice secretary Humza Yousaf.

5pm: Death toll continues to rise

A total of 7978 patients have died in hospital after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK as of 5pm on Wednesday, Dominic Raab has said, up by 881 from 7097 the day before.

On the possibility of easing the lockdown, the foreign secretary said: “We are not done yet. We must keep going.”

He added: “It’s been almost three weeks and we’re starting to see the impact of the sacrifices we’ve all made.

“But the deaths are still rising and we haven’t yet reached the peak of the virus. So it’s still too early to lift the measures that we put in place.

“We must stick to the plan and we must continue to be guided by the science.”

Speaking at the Downing Street daily briefing, he said Prime Minister Boris Johnson “continues to make positive steps forward and he’s in good spirits”.

3.25pm: Sturgeon will consider allowing those who have lost loved ones to Covid-19 to be tested for the virus

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said testing relatives of people who have died from coronavirus could prevent them from “grieving alone”.

Speaking at First Minister’s Questions, Leonard said “compassionate testing” could also help patients receiving end-of-life care to enjoy the time they had left.

So far, facilities across Scotland have carried out more than 27,000 tests for coronavirus. Priority is being given to NHS frontline staff.

The First Minister said she would look at the issue “very carefully”.

2.59pm: Postal staff walkout as bosses fail to clean ill worker’s desk

Angry postal staff staged a walkout after bosses failed to clean the workstation of a worker who was hospitalised with coronavirus symptoms.

Staff at a Royal Mail sorting office in Greenock, Inverclyde, raised their grievances after a worker fell ill in work between last Thursday and Saturday and was subsequently hospitalised.

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Royal Mail: The workers walked out on Monday.

A source said despite colleagues expressing their worries about the employee’s health, nothing was done by management and the worker continued to handle hundreds of parcels to be delivered.

Workers arrived at the sorting office on Monday morning to find out that their colleague had been admitted to hospital, yet they were expected to carry on as normal.

They immediately walked out while representatives from the Communication Workers Union (CWU) met with bosses.

A Royal Mail spokesman said: “There was a disruption to service on Monday morning at Inverclyde delivery office.

“We are working with our people to resolve any areas of concern.

“A deep clean of the office is taking place today.

“Royal Mail takes the health and safety of its colleagues, its customers and the local communities in which we operate very seriously.”

2.20pm: Priority supermarket delivery slots for vulnerable Scots to be in place next week

Nicola Sturgeon said about 4200 packages of food and essential items have been delivered free of charge to “shielded” people unable to leave their home at all during the coronavirus pandemic.

She added that the 136,000 people across the country identified as most vulnerable by medics have all been contacted offering help to get medicine and – if requested – free food deliveries.

Of those, 21,000 have registered for the support service, Sturgeon said.

In addition to the offer of food deliveries through the Scottish Government’s contracts with suppliers Brakes and Bidfood, those in the shielded group will soon be able to ask for their details to be passed on to supermarkets who will offer priority delivery services.

2.09pm: Sturgeon: Scotland faces ‘mental health legacy’ from coronavirus

Scotland will be left dealing with a “mental health legacy” of coronavirus once the virus has been quelled, the First Minister has said.

Taking part in the first ever virtual meeting in the history of the Scottish Parliament, Nicola Sturgeon said the effects of isolation necessitated by the outbreak will be felt long after it is over.

In response to a question from Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie, the First Minister said funding had been made available to allow for the expansion of counselling services, including the creation of virtual cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) sessions.

She said: “Not just in the immediate phase of dealing with this, but I suspect for a long time afterwards, we’re going to be dealing with a mental health legacy of it.

“We have to make sure that the services that provide the help that people need are there and that means expanding access to counselling now, but looking ahead to make sure that these services are appropriate in the future as well.”

1.50pm: New PPE advice for care workers following union anger

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New guidance has been issued on what personal protective equipment (PPE) Scottish care workers should wear, following concern from trade unions.

The Scottish Government has agreed with unions and local authorities that the UK-wide guidance on PPE is “official and fully comprehensive”.

Unions had criticised supplementary guidance issued by Scotland’s chief nursing officer Fiona McQueen regarding the use of face masks for care workers looking after patients not suspected of having Covid-19 symptoms.

1.22pm: PM continues to improve after ‘good night’ in intensive care

Boris Johnson’s condition “continues to improve” in intensive care where he has spent three nights while being treated for the coronavirus, Downing Street has said.

The Prime Minister had a “good night” in St Thomas’ Hospital in London and thanks the NHS for the “brilliant care” he has received, his official spokesman said on Thursday.

Boris Johnson’s condition “continues to improve” in intensive care where he has spent three nights while being treated for the coronavirus.

Posted by STV News on Thursday, April 9, 2020

12.55pm: Coronavirus claims 81 more lives as death toll rises to 447

The coronavirus death toll in Scotland has risen to 447, the First Minister has confirmed.

Nicola Sturgeon said 81 more deaths had been recorded since yesterday.

Before a ‘virtual’ session of First Minister’s Questions, she said 4957 cases of Covid-19 had been confirmed in Scotland.

Sturgeon stressed as usual that the figure was an “underestimate”.

A total of 1781 coronavirus confirmed or suspected patients were in hospital as of 9am on Thursday, with 212 in intensive care.

12.27pm: Scottish coronavirus facilities have tested 5,000 people

Coronavirus testing facilities across Scotland have already tested 5,000 people.

This includes a new facility at Glasgow Airport, which opened in a long-stay car park on Sunday, and will prioritise testing NHS frontline staff.

The Glasgow drive-through facility is by invitation only, for those who are priority testing.

Professor Jason Leitch, the Scottish Government’s national clinical director, told BBC Radio Scotland: “We’ve now tested 5,000 health and social care workers across the country, partly using work you’ll have seen on the TV, and places in Fife and Tayside.

“It’s part of the UK approach to testing but we’re responsible for who gets in and out of that service. So, we take priority people and put them through that first, and as that expands we’ll be able to increase that list.”

12.16pm: Sturgeon not expecting COBRA to propose easing lockdown measures

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The First Minister says easing of lockdown measures unlikely.

Nicola Sturgeon has said she is not expecting the Cobra committee to propose any easing of the coronavirus lockdown measures, ahead of Thursday’s meeting.

The emergency meeting, featuring the leaders of the devolved governments, will be chaired by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab after the Prime Minister spent another night in hospital suffering from Covid-19.

The First Minister told Sky News the meeting is expected to discuss the current coronavirus situation and there is little chance lockdown measures will be changed.

She said: “I agree with Mark Drakeford, the First Minister of Wales; I don’t think there is any possibility, any likelihood, of these lockdown measures being lifted immediately, or even imminently.”

12.10pm: Former justice secretary calls for prisoner releases to fight virus

Former justice secretary Kenny MacAskill has called for the Scottish Government to set up a prisoner release programme to tackle coronavirus.

Writing in the Scotsman, MacAskill said the state has a duty of care to inmates in its prisons, which are “geared toward hothousing the virus, rather than shielding the prisoner from infection”.

Last week, MSPs passed the Scottish Government’s emergency Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill which put in place provisions to allow prisoners to be released should the prison estate become overwhelmed.

Under the new law, only those convicted of sexual or terror offences or someone who poses a threat to an identified person will be exempt from release

12.04pm: Residents dead in coronavirus outbreak at third Scottish care home

A third Scottish care home has experienced a deadly Covid-19 outbreak, with nine elderly residents reportedly dying from the virus.

Staff at Tranent Care Home in East Lothian, which cares for people with dementia, are currently trying to manage the outbreak.

It follows other outbreaks at Castle View care home in Dumbarton, West Dunbartonshire, where eight residents died after showing coronavirus symptoms, and Burlington care home in North Lanarkshire, where 13 died.

11.48am: Uni cafeteria delivers van load of stock to local food bank

A cafeteria at Edinburgh Napier University has delivered a van load of leftover stock to a local foodbank.

Enjoy at Edinburgh Napier in Sighthill sent the food to the bank at South Leith Parish Church on Tuesday.

In times like these we know how important is to pull together and help each other out. ❤️ Yesterday, we loaded up a van…

Posted by Enjoy at Edinburgh Napier University on Wednesday, April 8, 2020

A Facebook post from Enjoy said: “In times like these we know how important is to pull together and help each other out.

“We loaded up a van and delivered our leftover stock from Sighthill to the food bank at South Leith Parish Church!

“A huge thank you to Rev. Iain May for all the work the church is doing to help those in need in the local community.”

10.48am: Scottish Building Society staff support Alzheimer Scotland helpline

Scottish Building Society has partnered with Alzheimer Scotland’s free 24-hour hotline to help those living with dementia and their families during lockdown.

Staff at SBS are supporting the charity’s volunteers by providing specialist advice on questions around finances, such as mortgages and savings.

With families in self-isolation, the charity have had to increase capacity on this critical lifeline.

They reached out to SBS to ask if staff could volunteer their expertise for the helpline.

Paul Denton, SBS Chief Executive, said: “It is critical at this time that those living with dementia and their partners, carers and friends know that they are not alone.

“Alzheimer Scotland provides a vital lifeline at these difficult times and everyone at the Society feels privileged to support such an essential charity.”

10.41am: Foodbanks across Scotland benefit from ScotRail stock donation

People in need across Scotland have benefitted from donations from ScotRail staff.

ScotRail’s hospitality teams have donated food and drink stock to charities operating foodbanks in Glasgow, Edinburgh Aberdeen and Inverness.

The train operator has temporarily withdrawn all on-board hospitality services from its trains, resulting in a surplus in short dated food and drink such as soft drinks, snack boxes and confectionary.

Help for the Homeless Glasgow and Church of Scotland’s Edinburgh North East and Leith foodbank are among the charities who received donations.

10.40am: Charity provides emergency supply packs to ‘sick kids’ hospital

An Edinburgh charity is providing emergency supply packs to support children and families in hospital through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity (ECHC) – which supports the Royal Hospital for Sick Children – has launched an emergency appeal to help families having to cope with the impact of the outbreak on top of the distress of having a sick or injured child.

The free emergency packs contain non-perishable food products and essential items including nappies, toilet roll, tinned soup, beans and tea bags so parents and carers do not have the additional stress of shopping for their families while their child is in hospital.

10.22am: Uni launches study to understand mental health implications of covid-19.

A leading university is launching a new study into the mental health and wellbeing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in adults across the UK.

The University of Glasgow will work in partnership with Samaritans and SAMH for the project.

The study will aim to understand the impact of the pandemic, and the unprecedented social distancing measures introduced across the country, on mental health indicators such as anxiety, depression, loneliness, self-harm or positive mental wellbeing.

9.55am: Airbnb cancels all bookings in the UK for the next month

Short-stay rental giant Airbnb has cancelled all bookings in the UK for April and said properties would only be available to health care professionals and key workers.

It put the restrictions in place in response to government advice regarding the coronavirus pandemic and resulting lockdown.

Airbnb said in a statement: “In response to UK Government advice we have liaised with guests to cancel all leisure stays during April 2020 to ensure we limit the spread of coronavirus, protect our community and observe travel restrictions.

“During April we are happy to host healthcare professionals, or key workers connected to the coronavirus response who still need accommodation away from home during this difficult time.

9.16am: Doctor has only held his baby girl once as he self-isolates from family

In a bid to protect their families, some NHS workers have taken steps to isolate themselves outside of work.

Sending children to stay with grandparents, aunts and uncles is one step some NHS staff have chosen to take.

Other NHS workers have started living in hotels, hostels and other temporary accommodation as they care for coroanvirus patients.

One Glasgow GP described how he is still sharing a roof, but is isolating himself from his wife, son and newborn baby in order to protect them.

Sandesh Gulhane’s baby girl is just one week old but he has only held her once – after she was born by caesarean section in a sterile operating theatre.

He told PA that he wanted to do “everything” he possibly can to keep his family safe.

“I am basically socially distancing myself from my family,” Dr Gulhane said.

“I say hello, but I don’t hug my six-day-old child, my six-year-old son, I don’t go near my wife.

“I sleep in a separate room, I use a separate bathroom, I eat separately to them.”

He urged people to stay at home, adding: “I am sacrificing my family life and people can’t sacrifice having a BBQ.”

8.53am: Hearts to fight SPFL plans to relegate them to Championship

Premiership bottom club Hearts last night released a statement on SPFL plans to finish the season as it stands.

That would mean Hearts being relegated to the Championship, with Celtic being declared champions.

Here’s what Jambos chair Ann Budge had to say.

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Ann Budge says Hearts will not accept SPFL plans to finish the season as it stands.

8.50am: What does the coronavirus data tell us?

The National Records of Scotland yesterday released detailed data on coronavirus deaths for the first time.

STV News’ online politics reporter Dan Vevers has analysed the numbers.

8.37am: Prime Minister spends third night in intensive care

Boris Johnson remains in intensive care, where he was taken on Monday night after his coronavirus symptoms worsensed.

He is said to be “responding well” to treatment and is sitting up and talking.

8.30am: Coronavirus claims life of first NHS worker in Scotland

STV News last night revealed the death of district nurse Janice Graham from Covid-19.

She’s the first NHS worker in Scotland to lose their life to the coronavirus.

Friends and colleagues have paid glowing tributes.

District nurse Janice Graham is the first Scots NHS worker to die from coronavirus.

8.15am: Nicola Sturgeon to hold virtual FMQs.

Thursday is usually the day the First Minister fields questions at the Scottish Parliament from opposition leaders and MSPs.

Today, however, she’ll do it via video call as part of her daily briefing from St Andrew’s House.

8.00am: UK Government to consider lockdown extension

The UK Government’s emergency committee Cobra will meet today to discuss an extension to lockdown.

Politicians will review the restrictions based on scientific evidence about the spread of coronavirus.

Yesterday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said ending lockdown early would be a “monumental mistake”

7.35am: Housing market ‘may need government intervention’

Government intervention may be needed to help revive the housing market after the coronavirus epidemic, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

The RICS March 2020 Resident Market Survey shows a downward trend for all areas of the housing market across Scotland post Covid-19.

Simon Rubinsohn, RICS Chief Economist, said: “The feedback from the survey does imply that further government interventions both in the wider economy and more specifically in the housing market may be necessary.”

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said: “We are committed to supporting the housing market and home-building industry and to achieving the earliest possible restart of housing construction, but only when it is safe to do so.”

7.23am: New poll warns that Scotland is facing a ‘cost of living crisis’

Scotland faces a “cost of living crisis” amid the coronavirus outbreak, a poll of more than 1,000 adults has found.

The tracking poll for Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) found about a third (34%) of Scots were concerned about their ability to pay for food and other essentials.

7am: Dedicated dozen: Carers move in to keep coronavirus out

A dozen care home workers are spending 32 nights on lockdown alongside elderly residents in a desperate bid to prevent coronavirus.

St David’s Care Home owner Ivan Cornford, 58, decided the best way to protect residents was by blocking access to the outside world.

It was only possible thanks to 11 of his employees volunteering to live in the home — and sacrificing contact with their own families for the entire time.

Coronavirus: Highest number of deaths recorded since May

Another 28 people have died with Covid-19 in the last 24 hours, as a further 1739 positive cases are confirmed.

Radoslav Zilinsky via Getty Images

Another 28 people have died with coronavirus in Scotland, the highest daily rise since May 21.

The country also recorded 1739 new cases, representing 19.8% of people newly tested and 9.7% of the total number of tests carried out.

The total number of positive cases in Scotland since the start of the pandemic now stands at 50,903.

Of the new cases, 605 are in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, 520 in Lanarkshire, 250 in Lothian and 105 in Ayrshire and Arran.

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There are 873 people in hospital confirmed to have the virus, up by 49 in 24 hours.

Of these patients, 73 are in intensive care, a rise of three.

The death toll under the measure of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days has risen to 2653.

Separate weekly figures released by the National Records of Scotland (NRS) show that, as of October 18, 4376 deaths have been registered in Scotland.

Between October 12-18, 75 deaths were registered that mentioned Covid-19 on the death certificate, representing an increase of 50 deaths from the previous week – the highest weekly total since early June.

Of those deaths, more than three quarters occurred in hospitals, representing 58 deaths, 12 occurred in care homes, and five at home or in a non-institutional setting.

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The NRS figures record all deaths linked to coronavirus – including instances where Covid-19 was cited on the death certificate, whether it was the cause or a contributing factor.

They also contain all deaths where the person was suspected to have the virus, even if they never took a test to confirm it.

The total number of all-cause deaths registered in the week ending October 18 was 1,129, six percent higher than the average over the previous five years.

Pub and restaurant restrictions extended by a week

Pubs and restaurants in central Scotland will not be able to open before November 2.

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Coronavirus restrictions on pubs and restaurants have been extended by a week.

A ban on indoor home visits and travel guidance urging people to stay in their health board area will also remain in place until at least November 2, when a new tiered system of lockdown rules begins.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that while there was “cautious optimism” the restrictions were working, ministers were told by advisers it would not be safe to lift the measures from Monday, October 26.

Coronavirus has claimed the lives of 28 people in Scotland over the past 24 hours, with more than 1700 cases recorded.

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Pubs and restaurants in central Scotland were all but closed – except for takeaway services – from October 9 to stem the spread of Covid-19.

Cafes across the five central health board regions – Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and Arran, Lothian, and Forth Valley – have been exempt from the shutdown as long as they do not serve alcohol.

Across the rest of Scotland, pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes have only been able to operate indoors between the hours of 6am and 6pm. They have been prohibited from serving alcohol inside, but can still serve drinks outdoors until 10pm.

The Scottish Government has also asked residents in central Scotland to “think carefully” before travelling outwith their health board area.

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Announcing the extension at her daily briefing, Sturgeon said: “It allows us to transition more smoothly to the new levels system that we hope will be introduced on November 2.”

Financial support will be extended to help businesses affected by the extension of restrictions.

The First Minister added that she understood the move was “harsh” financially and emotionally.

She said: “I know all of this is really unwelcome and I know that these restrictions are harsh.

“They are harsh financially for many individuals and businesses, and they are harsh emotionally for all of us.

“I want to stress again that none of these decisions are being taken lightly – this is all about trying to save lives and minimise the health damage that we know this virus is capable of doing.”

The hospitality industry fears the extension will have “devastating consequences”.

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Stephen Montgomery, spokesman for the Scottish Hospitality Group, said: “With current restrictions remaining in place until November 2, and no indication of what the new tier system will entail, the financial support package must be increased or countless venues will be forced to close for good, and tens of thousands of people will lose their jobs.”

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said “there’s no hiding the fact that today’s extension won’t go down well with many firms”.

Andrew McRae, FSB’s Scotland policy chair, added: “We asked ministers to clarify whether the current hospitality restrictions would be lifted next week.

“Hopefully today’s announcement has come early enough to prevent independent pub and restaurants ordering unnecessary stock, disappointing customers or confusing staff.”


Rapist who filmed sex attack given life sentence

Kevin Oliver attacked the 47-year-old for hours at her Ayrshire home during a violent murder bid.

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Kevin Oliver was sentenced at the High Court in Glasgow.

A bodybuilder who filmed himself torturing and raping a woman during a murder bid has been given a life sentence.

Kevin Oliver made the 47-year-old suffer for hours at her home in Troon, Ayrshire, in October 2018.

The mum feared she was going to die as he battered, abused and humiliated her.

Oliver, 32, filmed the attack on his mobile phone. Footage from the incident was played to jurors at the High Court in Glasgow.

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One detective told how she had never witnessed anything like it in her 15-year career.

Oliver returned to the dock on Wednesday having earlier been convicted of assault, rape and attempted murder.

Lord Armstrong imposed an Order for Lifelong Restriction. Oliver must also serve a minimum five years behind bars.

The rape victim told how she initially felt “sorry” for Oliver before she started dating him in 2017.

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In June 2018, the woman had to beg Oliver for ‘permission’ to meet a friend.

He only agreed if she went to the same pub as him – and that she had to wear a cardigan to cover bruises he caused.

After returning home, the woman feared Oliver was going to “snap” her neck. She ended up with a dislocated jaw after he grabbed her face tightly.

In October 2018, the pair went out in Glasgow before returning to her home.

When the woman then refused to have a gin with Oliver, he put her through the violent ordeal.

The sobbing victim recalled: “He was on top of me and he stripped me. I was telling him to stop.

“He was saying: ‘I am going to teach you a lesson. You are my property’. He said he was going to torture me.”

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Prosecutor Bill McVicar asked the witness: “How long did this go on for?” She replied: “Hours.”

‘I just thought that I was going to die.’

Victim

The terrified woman was physically assaulted, raped and tied up.

She told Mr McVicar: “He repeated all the things that he did in each room of the house. I just thought that I was going to die.”

Oliver also dragged the screaming victim into the bath. She said: “He was pushing my face in the water … in and out. He was trying to drown me.”

The woman was locked in a cupboard for being “disobedient”.

Mr McVicar asked did she recall Oliver filming what he was doing. She replied: “I believe he did. He was taking pictures and videos.”

Clips played during the trial showing the woman being mocked as she was forced to carry out degrading acts.

Detective sergeant Claire Jack was one of the officers who later viewed the footage

His QC Iain McSporran asked her: “Have you ever seen anything quite like that?”

She replied: “Not in relation to another adult, no.”

The court heard the victim managed to sneak out after Oliver fell asleep. But, even after he was held on remand, he continued to harass her.

She told him: “I am petrified of you. I don’t want to see you again. Leave me alone.”

Oliver was also convicted of causing the victim fear and alarm with prison letters and phone calls.

He had earlier sexually assaulted a second woman at his then home in September 2017.


Young mum-of-six dies just months after cancer diagnosis

Holly Blake was told in August she had less than a month to live after doctors said she had a rare form of sarcoma.

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Holly Blake was a mum to six children.

A 35-year-old mum-of-six has died with her loved ones at her side, just months after being diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Holly Blake was told in August she had less than a month to live after doctors said a rare form of sarcoma had spread throughout her body.

Holly, from Edinburgh, gave up her job as a digital facilitator as she underwent her third-round of chemotherapy at the capital’s Western General Hospital.

Holly’s partner Niccolas Scott, 32, proposed to her on the same day that she received her devastating diagnosis.

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The couple got married on Leith Links in August alongside her children Eli, Poppy, twins Daisy and Pippa, and youngest twins Edward and Primrose.

The family put their own eccentric spin on the wedding dress code, with Holly wearing a white dress with trainers, while her sons Eli and Edward wore Hibernian FC tartan kilts with t-shirts and trainers.

A message posted on a Just Giving page set up by Holly’s aunt Christine Longridge on Wednesday morning said: “Our beautiful Holly’s soul left our lives and took her place among the stars at 4.05am Sunday October 18.

“It was a still Edinburgh morning with Robin’s singing in the trees, she passed peacefully in comfort with her mum and husband by her side

“Words can not express how grateful we are for all your donations.”

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The Just Giving page has exceeded its original target, raising more than £22,000 so far.

Beauty spot searched after blood-stained clothing found

Officers were made aware of the discovery at Corstorphine Hill, Edinbrugh, on Tuesday morning.

Ross MacDonald / SNS Group via SNS Group
Police: Blood-stained item found in woodland.

Police are searching woodland in Edinburgh following the discovery of a blood-stained item of clothing.

Officers were made aware of the find at Corstorphine Hill on Tuesday morning, around 9.35am.

The item has been sent to the lab for further analysis.

A police spokeswoman said: “Examination of the item will be carried out to confirm what it is and officers are carrying out a search of the area.”

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No other related items were found at the site, police added.

An investigation into the discovery is ongoing.


Five care home residents die after Covid-19 outbreak

Five care home residents have died in a coronavirus outbreak.

© Google Maps 2020
Charnwood Lodge: Outbreak at care home.

Five people have died following an outbreak of coronavirus at a care home in Dumfries.

All five were residents at Charnwood Lodge on Annan Road.

Community Integrated Care, the charity which runs the home, said it took immediate action by conducting a full decontamination and “implementing a number of additional robust infection control measures”.

It said it was now working closely with Dumfries and Galloway Health and Social Care Partnership to support residents and families.

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Martin McGuigan, managing director at Community Integrated Care, said: “As soon as the outbreak developed, we took immediate action. We conducted a full decontamination of the home and implemented a number of additional robust infection control measures.

“It is, however, with great sadness that we have lost five people we support as a result of the virus and our hearts go out to their loved ones, as well as our colleagues.

“We have been astounded by the incredible efforts and professionalism of the entire staff team who have done their utmost to support residents, families and each other through this incredibly challenging time.

“We will continue to work closely with the local authority and public health teams to ensure that we are taking all necessary steps to protect everyone within the home and provide the practical and emotional support needed.”

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Dumfries and Galloway Health and Social Care Partnership, which involves the NHS, the council and the third and independent sectors, urged everyone to do their part to limit the spread of the virus.

A partnership spokesman said: “This has been proving a very difficult and concerning situation, but we would note the dedication of Community Integrated Care and their staff at Charnwood Lodge in their response.

“Work was undertaken to contain the spread of Covid-19, and this has not been an easy task against this highly infectious virus.

“This outbreak has again demonstrated just how highly transmissible the Covid-19 virus is, even when the correct protocols are being observed.

“Covid-19 can result in mild symptoms, and sometimes none at all. This can mask its spread to more vulnerable individuals where it can pose a very significant risk.

“Following the guidance around the use of PPE (including face coverings), around physical distancing and good hygiene remains absolutely vital in reducing risk – but these are by no means an absolute guarantee of protection.

“These tools are quite simply the best measures which currently exist to help reduce the risk as much as possible, and help limit the spread of the coronavirus.”

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MSP Joan McAlpine, who represents the area in Holyrood, released a statement on social media on Tuesday night.

She said: “I have just received a briefing from Dumfries and Galloway Health and Social Care Partnership about the outbreak of Covid-19 at Charnwood Lodge Care home in Dumfries.

“Sadly it informs us that five people have now died at the home, in circumstances where COVID-19 was present.

“My deepest condolences go to their loved ones and it goes without saying that I stand ready as one of your local MSPs with any assistance I can offer.

“Community Integrated Care, the charity who run the home, are working closely with DGSCP to support residents and their families.

“The partnership have paid tribute to the dedication of the charity and its staff at a terribly difficult time and says the outbreak demonstrates “how highly transmissible the COVID-19 virus is.

“This is awful news and shows how important it is that we suppress this terrible virus. I am contacting the health and social care partnership for more details.”


Medical students warned to stay away from drug consumption van

The University of Glasgow said the students' 'future careers' are at risk if they continue to volunteer.

STV News
Glasgow: Peter Krykant is determined to continue operating the service.

Medical students have been warned that their future careers are “at risk” if they continue to help out with Scotland’s first mobile drug consumption van.

Glasgow University said it had a “duty to warn” its students over voluntary activity that could lead to “serious consequences”.

In a letter sent out this week, medical school bosses said they had been contacted by concerned colleagues at Glasgow Alcohol and Drug Recovery Services in regards to students serving as volunteers on the van.

Although the university does not intend to investigate the matter further and has “no desire” to dictate what students do in their spare time, medical school chiefs stated: “We do, however, have a duty to warn you in clear and unequivocal terms when voluntary activity may carry serious consequences for your future careers.”

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Dangerous: A Glasgow alleyway littered with drug paraphernalia.
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Peter Krykant, the man behind the van, is determined to continue operating the service within Glasgow city centre despite risk of prosecution.

He has modified a minibus into a facility where he says addicts will be able to safely take drugs under supervision. 

He hopes it will prevent overdoses and blood-borne viruses among users.

As well as clean needles and harm reduction advice, there are also medical supplies on board – including naloxone, which is used to reverse a potentially-fatal overdose.

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The van has been set up as Scotland tops the chart for the highest drug deaths in the EU and as Glasgow tackles its worst HIV outbreak in 30 years.

Mr Krykant launched the service despite previous calls for a legal consumption room in the city being rejected by the Home Office.

He has been warned that running such a facility puts him at risk of committing offences under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

STV News
Police: Officers on the lookout for illegal activity.

In the letter to the medical students, Professor Matthew Walters and Professor John Paul Leach stated that the NHS does not condone or endorse the van.

Professor Walters, the head of the School of Medicine, Dentistry & Nursing, and Prof Leach, the head of the Undergraduate Medical School, also highlighted that volunteers could face charges if something goes wrong.

They warned: “As MBChB students studying on a programme leading to a GMC-registrable primary medical qualification you are subject to professionalism and Fitness to Practise standards. These apply to both your professional and personal behaviours. 

“As such, any criminal charges would be followed by a Fitness to Practise process and, no matter the outcome, further review by the General Medical Council prior to registration.

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“If you are thinking about volunteering, please consider these risks, and the good you can do over the span of a lifetime in medicine. 

“At this very early stage we would advise you not to risk your career and your huge potential to make positive change.”

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Injecting: One woman previously told STV News she took drugs ‘to forget’.

A spokesperson from the University of Glasgow told STV News that medical students are encouraged to undertake extracurricular activities which benefit the community.

However, they added: “As the drug consumption van project is not supported by the NHS or compatible with current legislation, we have advised them against participation.”

In response to the university’s stance, Mr Krykant said he understood the need to keep students safe and advise them on any activity that could impact their studies.

However, he stated that the medical department has commented on areas that it is “clearly not educated on”.

Highlighting a section in the letter that said the “Scottish judicial system regards engagement with services of this nature as participation in the supply of controlled substances”, Mr Krykant stated: “I would challenge them to point to the area of law that states the running of a drug consumption room is concerned in the supply of controlled substances.

“It is also clear that unless our future doctors and nurses are allowed to engage with those most marginalised, then society has a long way to go before we see real changes.”


I went undercover on the ‘Wine Alley’ to tackle drug problem

Ex-undercover police officer Simon McLean has written about his experience tackling Glasgow's drug problem during the 80s.

Simon McLean via Email

Former undercover drugs police officer Simon McLean spent years tackling Glasgow’s growing drug problem in the early 80s. 

He spent 17 years targeting supply in the Govan area, often posing as a dealer himself to infiltrate high-level crime gangs.

Being part of Glasgow’s serious crime squad was Simon’s ultimate goal.

“We were dealing through the letter box to the punters that would come in, and from that it took us to Renfrew, Ayrshire, Greenock,” he said.

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“We recovered firearms, huge amounts of drugs and information. 

“We were never chasing drug users. They were only a route to the drug dealers, suppliers, manufacturers and importers.”

Simon says at the time there was very little known about distribution but he recognised it was behind most of the crime in the area.

“The police were totally oblivious to it. Not only oblivious but deliberately ignored it. Didn’t think it was a police matter.”

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He secured funding for Scotland’s first public ‘tip off line’, which led to undercover operations in an area known as Wine Alley, which is only a few hundred yards for the former Orkney Street police station.

“I’d go to my work [as a police officer] in the morning then in the afternoon I’d sell drugs in the Wine Alley,” Simon said.

‘We had all this heroin that we had to do something with. We buried the heroin and that’s the last we saw of it.’

Simon McLean

In one incident, the team buried a haul of heroin in exchange for information from a dealer.

“We recovered a huge amount of heroin. The deal was we would lose this quantity and he wouldn’t be charged if he gave us the information we sought,” Simon said.

“That all led to a big bust down in Greenock with a ship coming in. But we had all this heroin that we had to do something with.

“We buried the heroin and that’s the last we saw of it.”

Simon is speaking out about his experiences as he launches his memoir following his policing career.

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The Ten Percent follows his policing career from his first posting in Campbeltown to detective on Rothesay, serious crime squad in Glasgow to undercover drugs officer in Govan.  

While Simon believed at the time the team was making a difference, he has concerns about Scotland’s continuing drugs problem.

“The sad thing is we thought we were making a difference but we patently weren’t because I can hand on heart tell you that those problems are still as prevalent in Scotland now and our prisons are full of low level drug users,” he said.

“We need to look at this from a different place than this ‘war on drugs’ that we talk about which hasn’t worked for 40 years.”


Elderly woman dies in crash that also left driver injured

The woman was a passenger in the car when it left the road and struck a tree.

An elderly woman has died after a car left the road and struck a tree in Fife.

The 74-year-old passenger suffered fatal injuries in the crash on A985 at Cairneyhill on Monday.

A man who was driving the car, also 74, has been left with serious injuries.

Emergency services attended the scene and both pensioners were taken to hospital.

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The woman died two days later and the man remains in hospital in a serious condition.

Officers investigating the incident are appealing for information.

A spokesman said: “Anyone who was driving on the road around the time of the crash who has dash-cam footage is asked to call Police Scotland on 101,”


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