Woman threatened to ‘cut off boy’s penis and skin his dog’ after smashing vodka bottle on his head

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Aleah Johnson, from Thornton-Cleveleys, told him if he did not confess to a crime – of which there was no evidence of – or she would “come back and cut it off”


Aleah Johnson (Image: Copyright Unknown)

A woman threatened to remove a boy’s privates and rip his facial piercings out with pliers, a court heard.

Aleah Johnson, 38, and a teenager who can not be identified, then forced the 15-year-old to call the police and confess to a serious sexual offence.

This was despite there being no evidence he had committed such a crime.

Stephen Parker, prosecuting, told Preston Crown Court that Johnson and the teen lured the schoolboy to the Bispham Rock Gardens, Blackpool, using a mutual friend’s Snapchat profile.

When the boy got there he was told to fight with the teenager. When he refused, Johnson hit him over the head with a bottle of vodka, causing it to smash and drench him with liquor. The pair then set upon him with the teenager putting his foot on the boy’s head as Johnson kicked him to the face.

Johnson clipped the pliers to the crotch area of the boy’s jeans and told him if he did not confess she would “come back and cut it off.”

She threatened to “skin his dog, slit his mum’s throat, set fire to his house and pull his facial piercings out with pliers”.

As the terrified youngster was on the phone to the police, Johnson grabbed his fingernail with the tool and mouthed the forced confession to him, Mr Parker told the court.

In a victim impact statement the youngster said he was was “extremely anxious” following the attack. He suffered bruising to his face and was treated in hospital. Police recovered CCTV from a nearby property during the course of the investigation, but on September 5, Johnson approached the householder and called him a “grass”, saying he did not know who he was dealing with.

Devonshire Road Rock Gardens, Blackpool
Devonshire Road Rock Gardens, Blackpool (Image: Blackpool Council)

She waited outside the man’s house and when his wife came out, told her that her husband had cheated on her. She pleaded guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm (ABH), possession of an offensive weapon ad witness intimidation and appeared at Preston Crown Court to be sentenced.

The court heard Johnson, of Rossendale Avenue North, Thornton-Cleveleys, has worked all her adult life, most recently as a carer, and has recently undertaken qualifications in childcare. However it is unlikely she will be able to work in that field in light of her convictions.

Judge Altham said: “She has shown herself to be perfectly capable of issuing serious threats of violence.”

He sentenced Johnson to 18 months for ABH, with seven months to run concurrently for possession of an offensive weapon. He added a further eight months for witness intimidation.

The teenager pleaded guilty to ABH and will be sentenced at Blackpool Magistrates’ Court on December 9.



Lancaster and Fleetwood MP quits front bench role to spend more time fighting for constituents

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Lancashire MP Cat Smith has quit the Shadow Cabinet on the day leader Sir Keir Starmer announced a front bench reshuffle.


And the member for Lancaster and Fleetwood member marked her departure by firing off parting shots over Jeremy Corbyn’s continued exclusion from the Parliamentary Labour Party and what she sees as the opposition’s failure to push for proportional representation at the ballot box.

Ms Smith insisted she had intended to leave her role as Shadow Secretary of State for Young People and Democracy at a scheduled meeting with Sir Keir on Wednesday and “just brought things forward 48 hours.”

At the same time she announced she intends to remain in the Commons as a backbench MP – and still plans to stand at the next General Election.

Cat Smith MP has stepped down from the Shadow Cabinet.

Cat Smith MP has stepped down from the Shadow Cabinet.

The staunch supporter of Labour’s previous leader told followers on social media: “I’m looking forward to spending even more time at home here in Lancashire and standing up for my constituents.”

And she revealed she had turned down an offer to remain in her role as part of the new look front bench team.

In her letter of resignation she told Sir Keir: “It has been an honour to serve in the Shadow Cabinet since June 2016 and on the Labour front bench since September 2015.

“Although I am grateful for your offer to remain in my current brief, I have only been on the backbenches for four months in my six and a half years as an MP and I will instead be returning to the backbenches.

Cat Smith wants to return to the backbenches after six years in the Shadow Cabinet.

Cat Smith wants to return to the backbenches after six years in the Shadow Cabinet.

“I wish to focus more of my time in my Lancashire constituency in advance of the next election which I look forward to contesting.

“I have always considered myself a team player, focused solely on the intention of electing a Labour Government which my constituents, and people right across Britain, desperately need.

“You will be aware that we had a meeting scheduled for later this week, during which I wanted to raise the issue of, and my concerns about, Jeremy not being readmitted to the Parliamentary Labour Party after he was readmitted into our party membership following due process.

“This position is utterly unsustainable and it is important that you truly understand how much damage this is causing in Constituency Labour Parties and amongst ordinary members.

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner said Cat was "a brilliant local MP."

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner said Cat was “a brilliant local MP.”

“You will also be aware that I am a longstanding advocate of proportional representation and I am disappointed that we, as a party, have not adopted a position which I believe to be fundamentally fairer and very much in keeping with the views of many of my constituents,

“In returning to the backbenches I wish your new Shadow Cabinet well. However I do hope that you will reflect on some of these concerns I have aimed to outline constructively and from the point of views of one of our few remaining northern ‘red wall’ Labour MPs.

“In the meantime I look forward to spending more time in Lancashire, campaigning for proportional representation and challenging the Government on their woeful inaction on tackling the climate emergency.”

Ms Smith, 36, became an MP in May 2015, beating Eric Ollerenshaw for the Lancaster and Fleetwood seat. She had been previously unsuccessful for Labour in Wyre and North Preston in the 2010 election.

Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner said: “I want to thank Cat Smith MP for all of her hard work in my team, especially in exposing and standing up against the Conservatives’ anti-democratic power-grab Election Bill.

“Cat is a brilliant local MP and I know she will continue to stand up for her constituents from the backbenches.”



Triple murder accused Jordan Monaghan admits lying to police over sourcing pills in weeks before girlfriend died

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Jordan Monaghan denies murdering his partner, two children and attempted murder of a third child


Exterior of Preston Crown Court in Lancashire.
Photo by James Maloney/LancsLive
Exterior of Preston Crown Court in Lancashire. Photo by James Maloney/LancsLive

A construction worker accused of murdering his girlfriend by giving her a fatal dose of prescription drugs has admitted he lied to police about sourcing pills.

Jordan Monaghan, 30, denies murdering Evie Adams, 23, after the mum died from a fatal dose of prescription painkillers in October 2018.

During the investigation into Ms Adams’ death, Monaghan told police someone else must have used his phone to message a WhatsApp group called UK Tablets seeking black market medication.

But he today (November 29) told Preston Crown Court: “I lied.”

Monaghan, of Belgrave Close, is also accused of murdering his two children – Ruby, 24 days, and Logan, 21 months, in 2013. He is also accused of the attempted murder and cruelty to a third child who can not be identified due to legal reasons.

Speaking from the witness box, Monaghan told the court he and Evie Adams argued on a weekend in Blackpool but had no intention of splitting up. He said internet searches from Evie’s phone, looking for properties to rent in Blackburn, were his partner looking for a place for them to live together.

In the weeks before she died, Monaghan admitted sending a number of messages to a WhatsApp group asking about Pregabalin, Tramadol and other prescription medications. But he said as far as he knew, Evie was not aware he was getting the tablets and did not get her hands on the drugs.

When quizzed by police, Monaghan claimed he did not send the messages, but today he said: “The police were out to get me. I didn’t want to admit buying drugs, so I lied. It was hard to get out of the lie really. It was a lie I had made up because I didn’t want the police to know I was buying them, but eventually I knew I had to tell the truth.”

Monaghan told the jury he first became aware his girlfriend was unwell on Friday, October 18, when she texted him asking for a cuddle as she had been unsettled during the night and had belly ache. But he said her illness had nothing to do with him and there was no unhappiness in their relationship at that time.

Later that day, he said he saw a brown bottle on the kitchen table with what he said he believed were anti-sickness pills.

He said: “I presume Evie’s got it from the chemist.”

Monaghan told the court Evie said she had seen a doctor on the morning of October 24 and had been prescribed Tramadol.

He said: “She was ill. She was tired, she didn’t want to stand up or do anything. She said she felt lightheaded and she was a bit aggressive with my grandad too. That was very unusual.”

On October 24, Ms Adams died from a fatal dose of tramadol and diazepam at a house in Hazel Close, Blackburn.

Monaghan denies her murder and all other allegations.




Brave man beats height phobias to stand on Blackpool Tower glass floor

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Paul Maplethorpe appeared on ITV’s This Morning and received held from therapists The Speakmans


A brave man has conquered his phobias of tall buildings, heights and enclosed spaces by taking the lift to the top of Blackpool Tower and standing proudly on the glass floor.

Paul Maplethorpe’s everyday life was severely affected by his intense fears and left him unable to take flights abroad or simply visit multi-storey car parks for shopping.

The 49-year-old appeared on ITV’s This Morning and revealed his torment to therapists The Speakmans.

Paul explained how his mother had a fear of heights and he was also told about being pushed off a school stage when he was younger.

Nik Speakman said: “He’s always been brought up in an environment where heights are a problem. So he doesn’t know any different.

“When you’ve known if for 49 years of your life and suddenly you meet me and Eva and it’s like ‘what are you frightened of?’ It’s hard to process.”

Paul was brought to Blackpool Tower and tasked with getting to the top of the 518ft tourist attraction.

However at the first attempt to get Paul to the fifth floor he could barely make it into the lift before ‘nearly passing out’ and quickly running back out.

Paul said: “The thought of going up absolutely terrifies me.

“I cannot move physically. I’m on the floor, I’m shaking. It’s all uncontrollable. It is a daily struggle. The Speakmans are my only hope and my last hope. This is the be all and end all for me.”

Paul’s wife said: “It’s so scary for me as well. His knees buckle, the colour drains out of his face, it affects everyday life and shopping.

“Even in the car park if there’s no spaces up to the second floor he has to drive down and look for another car park.”

Paul Maplethorpe bravely standing on the Blackpool Tower glass floor
Paul Maplethorpe bravely standing on the Blackpool Tower glass floor

After two weeks of speaking to couple Nik and Eva about his fears, Paul returned to the Tower today (November 29) to tackle the challenge again and was filmed live on This Morning.

Nik asked him: “Before now what’s the highest you’ve ever been in your life?

Paul said: “I got up to the sixth floor car park once five or six years ago but other than that like, recently, first or second floor.

Nick then asked: “Right, here we are. Are you ready?”

Paul replied ‘I’m ready’ before stepping out of the elevator and receiving a hug from his wife and a round of applause.

Eva then said: “Look, there’s a glass floor there. What’s the chances? Are we doing it?”

Phil and Holly's reaction as Paul Maplethorpe stands on the Blackpool Tower glass floor
Phil and Holly’s reaction as Paul Maplethorpe stands on the Blackpool Tower glass floor

Paul then tentatively looked down before bravely stepping out onto the glass floor.

This Morning presenter Philip Schofield was left open mouthed and aghast at Paul’s phobia transformation while co-host Holly Willoughby smiled on with admiration.

Paul told The Speakmans “I feel really really good, thank you so much” and said his life has now changed “immensely”.

Paul and his wife are now planning to take a flight to the Spanish island of Gran Canaria next year.

He added: “The outlook now, I can go up and down, go to airports, get on a plane. It’s going to change it so, so much for the better.”



Blackpool must try for projects outside the town centre that residents need

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Blackpool lost out despite being designated as a tier one priority area for money from the fund.


A view of Blackpool Tower
A view of Blackpool Tower

Blackpool must bid for money for projects outside the town centre when it next seeks support from the Government’s Levelling Up Fund, it has been proposed.

Conservative councillor Bradley Mitchell put forward the suggestion after the resort’s bid for £20m from the Levelling Up Fund failed.

The council had sought £7m towards the redevelopment of the former Abingdon Street Post Office into a Hotel Indigo and Indigo Suites, £9m for town centre road improvements and £4m to create new convention space within the Olympia area of the Winter Gardens.

Coun Mitchell told a meeting of the full council Blackpool had lost out despite being designated as a tier one priority area for money from the fund.

He said the bids were also measured against factors including deliverability and value for money.

Coun Mitchell said: “It seems to follow then that the reason the bid fell short in securing funding is down to the projects the council put forward being of inadequate quality.

“Thankfully Blackpool should get a second chance to bid for this funding.

“Instead of using this lifeline to put forward further projects for the town centre on top of the tens of millions of pounds of regeneration funding that have been spent there already, quality regeneration bids should be prepared for areas outside the town centre that are in desperate need of regeneration and which Blackpool residents are crying out for.”

Members of the ruling Labour group said they were disappointed with the outcome of the funding applications, and would take on board feedback ahead of resubmitting bids next spring.

But council leader Coun Lynn Williams also criticised the process which she said “shouldn’t be a competition.”

She said: “We shouldn’t have these pointless competitions which take up resources. The money should be paid to the places that need it.”

A total of 305 bids were submitted from across the country with 105 approved. A second round of bids is due to open in spring 2022.



Kirkham’s market switch-on format set to return

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Kirkham’s new-style Christmas lights switch on proved such a success, the format is likely to be repeated next year and a similar event could be held in the town at Easter.


Market stalls all along the main Poulton Street were the centrepiece of the day, which culminated in a spectacular fireworks display after the festive lights came on as dusk descended.

In the meantime, Father Christmas and The Grinch mingled with the eager families attending and a host of entertainment added to what organisers felt was a wonderful atmosphere.

After strong overnight winds, the opening of the stalls was put back an hour but otherwise the day went ahead as planned, with the stalls protected from the elements by the building on either side of the street.

The new format proved a big hit in Kirkham

The new format proved a big hit in Kirkham

“It was ideal – and a really memorable day,” said Heidi Hopkinson, chairman of Kirkham and Wesham Business Group and vice-chairman of the event organisers Lytham Christmas.

“We thought the market stalls idea was a better one than the conventional stage format this year for Covid safety reasons and it certainly proved a big hit.

“We are already thinking of repeating it next Christmas and it might well be back in a similar form at Easter.

“The market comes to the Market Square in town every month and is very popular but it struck us that ironically for a market town mentioned in the Domesday Book, Kirkham as far as we can tell has never previously market stalls along its main street and it went so well.

“It worked well for the shops and the response from the public was wonderful. After missing out on Christmas last year, everyone was so pleased to be involved in such an event.”



Tree planted in Fleetwood’s Mount gardens as tribute to Doreen Lofthouse

Home | Blackpool Gazette

A rowan tree has been planted in Fleetwood’s Mount gardens in tribute to businesswoman and town benefactor Doreen Lofthouse MBE.


Margaret Daniels (left), chairman of Fleetwood Civic Society, with Duncan Lofthouse, son of Doreen Lofthouse MBE, at the tree planting ceremony in the Mount gardens in tribute to his mother.

Mrs Lofthouse died in March this year, aged 91.

The ceremony was staged by Fleetwood Civic Society in the rose garden of the Mount grounds.

It was an apt place for the tribute as Mrs Lofthouse, the former boss of Fisherman’s Friend lozenge firm Lofthouse of Fleetwood, had a particular love for The Mount, with its gardens and hill-top pavilion.

A crowd gathers to watch the tree-planting ceremony in tribute to Doreen Lofthouse MBE

A crowd gathers to watch the tree-planting ceremony in tribute to Doreen Lofthouse MBE

Five years ago, Mrs Lofthouse gave a personal donation of £1 million towards a Wyre Council project to restore the whole of the Mount site to its former glory, with the other £2million coming from Lottery funding.

It was one of many generous donations she had made to the town she loved.

The businesswoman, who turned Fisherman’s Friend into a global brand but kept the factory operation firmly in her beloved Fleetwood, was also honorary president of Fleetwood Civic Society.

Doreen’s son Duncan Lofthouse, was invited to assist with the official planting ceremony, which was attended by more than 40 people.

Margaret Daniels, chairman of Fleetwood Civic Society, said: “Knowing the affection Doreen had for The Mount at Fleetwood and her love of gardening, a tree in her memory seemed an appropriate way of commemorating and celebrating everything she has done for Fleetwood.

“I was delighted to plant a rowan tree on behalf of the Society in the rose garden in The Mount grounds she loved so much.”

After the tree was planted, the assembled gathering enjoyed a warming drink in the Mount pavilion, giving them the chance to see the refurbishments of the building Doreen had such an affection for.

Mrs Daniels thanked the Wyre gardening Team and Mr Arrell for their help and Mr Wilson from Wyre Memorials who kindly provided the commemorative plaque as their contribution to the tribute.

In October it was revealed that Mrs Lofthouse had left a whopping £41.4 million to the Lofthouse Foundation’, which she and her family set up in 1994 to help refurbish her hometown.



Paul’s Fleetwood garden is all lit up for good cause

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Paul Tilling has not gone for half measures when it comes to giving his front garden some illuminating festive cheer.


At his home on Beach Road, Fleetwood, there are no less than 50 hand-made wooden features, each of which is bedecked with festive lights.

Paul, 44, an intensive care nurse at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, has been creating these Christmas displays for the past decade and they have been getting more ambitious each year.

They have become something of a local attraction and in that time Paul has managed to raise a total of £11,000 for Brian House children’s hospice, through the donations he receives.

Paul Tilling at his home with Christmas lights and boards on display in Fleetwood

Paul Tilling at his home with Christmas lights and boards on display in Fleetwood

This year he even held an official launch, attended by Spiderman and Superman, and so far the display has raised more than £1,000 for the good cause.

The father-of-one, who lives at home with dad Brian, said: “The displays have just been getting bigger and people come along to see it and very kindly drop in donations.

“I’ve always been a big supporter of Brian House and this has become a great way of raising funds for them.

“It’s been a pretty grime time with Covid so I think it brings a bit of colour and brightness and cheers people up.”

Some of the displays in Paul Tilling's garden

Some of the displays in Paul Tilling’s garden

The displays include a memory tree in which people put messages up on the tree for a small donation, and there is a festive-themed picture postcard with holes for people’s faces to appear, on the bodies of Mr and Mrs Christmas.

There is also a Christmas train and a cheery Santa, with the displays extending to the side of the house.

The pieces have been carved by Paul’s mum, Elaine, who began making some of the new ones back in June.

Paul, a former councillor with Fleetwood Town Council, will keep the display up until after the New Year and is hoping to raise some extra funds for the hospice by then.

Some more of the colourful displays in Paul Tilling's garden

Some more of the colourful displays in Paul Tilling’s garden

Blackpool businessman’s long journey to publication of his first novel

Home | Blackpool Gazette

A Fylde coast businessman has “ditched his business suit” for the publication of his first science fiction novel.


New York-born Ed Christiano, who used to be the chairman of Blackpool BID and One Blackpool and who now runs marketing agency Deeper Blue, has released Ditching the Ugly Suit, a futuristic tale of technology that allows users to live as someone else.

Ed, who lives in Blackpool and has written two other books, said the story came from a moment of inspiration which took him into a whole world of possibilities

He said: “I have always been fascinated with mannequins. Some are graphic representations, others look more realistic or natural. That and a fascination with wax museums gave me the idea to write about identity and how we see ourselves.

Ed Christiano, who lives in Blackpool, has had his first science fiction novel published.

Ed Christiano, who lives in Blackpool, has had his first science fiction novel published.

“The character in the fist few pages sees some figures which he thinks are mannequins but they are not. It’s all about the migration of the soul into another body and the implications that follow.

“I have worked hard on the editing to make sure there isn’t wasted sentence in there and to get the modern balance of description and character development. It isn’t my book, it is my readers’ book, so it has to be right for them. I think it’s an easy read and I just want people to enjoy the ride.”

While studying art and cinematography at college in New York, Ed met comedian Andy Kaufman, best known as goofy, foreign cab driver Latka Gravas from the TV series Taxi and the subject of the film Man in the Moon.

He said: “I was designing posters for the acts that came to perform for the students and he was on a comedy tour. I drew his portrait and he signed it. He wrote, ‘from one artist to another, tank you very much’.”
The book Ditching the Ugly Suit is about the transfer of personalities into other bodies

The book Ditching the Ugly Suit is about the transfer of personalities into other bodies

Ed started his working life as a film technician in Hollywood, working on movies and videos featuring – John Huston, Tony Curtis, Pelé, Vera Miles, Keir Dullea, Robert Walker Jr, Ken Howard, John Carradine and Michael Jackson.

He said: “I thought I wanted to be an animator at Disney and they offered me a job as an in-betweener. It sounded great, but they said I had to do in-betweening for seven years, that was the union rule. But I was so young, 20, seven years seemed an eternity. I could not draw Mickey mouse for seven years!

“Hanna-Barbera only did 12 frames a second on their cartoons whereas Disney did 24, that’s why they appear more fluid, so Disney needed artists to do the frames in between. So I ended up as a technician.”

It was while working on a film called Young Giants, starring John Huston and football icon Pele, that he met a lady from Blackpool and ended up crossing the Atlantic to start anew on the Fylde Coast in 1988.

From there he set up his own marketing businesses Deeper Blue and now designs websites for a variety of clients. He also designs book covers professionally and has done the cover of his own book Ditching the Ugly Suit.

The book is available online and at bookshops Book and Bean in Kirkham and Plackitt and Booth in Lytham.