A FATHERS4JUSTICE campaigner has spoken to his daughter for the first time in 500 days since a judge allowed his ex-wife to take the four-year-old to Russia.
Martyn Judd was able to wish his little girl Elizabeth a 'happy birthday' and chat to her over Skype last week, the first contact the two have shared in more than a year, after his fight to expose the court decision that allowed her removal was featured in the Chronicle two months ago.
And on April 17, the 38-year-old campaigner travelled to Russia to finally be reunited with his only child.
"My mum was in happy hysterics when we could talk to Elizabeth over Skype but after having gone through it all I don't cry anymore, I was over the moon inside but I don't let it show on the outside – I don't want to get burned again," said Martyn, who has spent thousands on court cases, contemplated suicide and even been charged with criminal damage in his desperate bid for justice.
"We played kitchen, and she showed me her new favourite toy, an electric car.
"She kept saying 'why are you not here, it's my birthday', it was like our relationship was just as it was before."
The businessman first met his ex-wife Alina Judd in the Republic of Bashkortostan, in southern Russia, while on a six-month teaching placement and the couple married 18 months later.
But soon after the birth of their first child, Elizabeth, the relationship turned sour and the pair divorced, with Martyn moving back to the UK but continuing to travel for regular visits.
Alina later moved the family to join him but conflict over permanent living arrangements, and her new partner, led to a family court dispute where in November 2012 a judge allowed Alina to return to Russia, from where Martyn claims she blocked all contact with his daughter.
Then last month Elizabeth's grandparents intervened after learning of his public fight against the decision, after his story appeared in the Chronicle.
"They got in touch to say they had decided that Elizabeth needs her father," added Martyn.
"I've written a blog, I've been arrested, I've told my story on Facebook and in the newspaper – they've seen it all and it proves that this is just ridiculous."
Although Martyn believes his visit to Russia is a huge step forward, he could never let himself 'have false hope' as to what it might mean in the future.
"I would advise someone in my position to not back down and be walked over; you have to stand up for what is right – when it comes to our children nobody can say how far is too far," he added.
In August last year, Martyn was involved in a five-hour police siege when he took to a hotel balcony in Birmingham dressed as Night Owl from the comic book and movie Watchmen, and hung a banner reading 'Equal rights, equal parents, equal love'.
He was there for the Voice of a Child conference, but his protest came to end when he lit a cigarette which sparked the hotel's sprinklers in three rooms, and he was later charged with criminal damage.
A SCHOOLBOY from Tollesbury was airlifted to hospital after he fell off his bike and a lorry ran over his leg.
The accident happened in East Street, just outside the Tollesbury Pharmacy, at just after 11.30am on Thursday (April 10).
Mason Hawkins fell off his bicycle and suffered a serious injury to his left leg but no other injuries after being hit by the lorry. He was airlifted to Broomfield Hospital for further treatment.
His dad Robert Hawkins, a father-of-two, owns a landscaping business and was with his son at the time.
"It was just an unfortunate accident and my son is recovering well although he is still in hospital," said Mr Hawkins.
"We would like to thank the overwhelming support of the village and the emergency services, particularly from the air ambulance team and the staff at Broomfield Hospital for their help with him."
A number of people stopped to help the boy.
Dimple Bhatia, 39, has owned the pharmacy in East Street for the last five years and helped Mason in the minutes after he was knocked off the bike.
"I didn't see the accident but I saw people running past the shop, so I went out and I saw the boy who was clearly in a lot of distress with his dad and I helped out as best I could," he said.
"I don't know the exact circumstances of what happened. By the sounds of things it was just an accident, but lorries do travel very fast down this narrow road and we would support the idea of a crossing."
Hardware store owner Stewart Bayford, 43, who owns Bayfords in East Street, has started a collection for Mason hoping to buy him a computer console to cheer him up whilst he is off school.
"Although the accident happened near my shop I only noticed when the ambulances arrived. The accident could have been a lot worse," he added.
"There is no suggestion this lorry was doing anything wrong. I do feel that lorries travel down the road far too quickly.
"They travel at 30mph or more through what is still a small village to the industrial estate at the end of High Street – we could definitely do with some traffic-calming measures down here.
"The pavement is also very narrow and I'd dread to think what would happen if it was mounted by a lorry."
An ambulance, an ambulance officer, and Essex Air Ambulance were sent to the scene.
John Woolfenden, who attended the incident on behalf of East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust, said: "The boy was riding his pushbike when he fell off and then got run over by a lorry."
A HORSE groom and handyman, who was caught after having underage sex with a 13-year-old girl in Dunmow, has been jailed for 28 months.
David Thomas, 26, of Hunts Farm, Hulls Lane, Shalford, near Braintree, handed himself into police after a woman reported him to Derbyshire Police after reading messages on his social network page relating to an underage girl.
Thomas, who pleaded guilty at Chelmsford Crown Court to having underage sex with the girl in January 2013, was told by Judge Anthony Goldstaub QC as he jailed him on Friday (April 11): "Yours is a case of rural sexual misbehaviour in Dunmow.
"Young girls have got to be protected and that applies in the town and in the country equally and the only way is to send people to prison if they err. You have erred and must go to prison."
Thomas was also placed on the Sex Offenders Register for ten years, but Judge Goldstaub declined to make a Sex Offenders Prevention Order.
Nicola May, prosecuting, said: "Derbyshire Police received a call from a woman reporting she had accessed his Facebook page and found messages between him and a girl."
"She had concerns about trust issues.
"He had suggested she access his Facebook account and in his likes folder there was a picture of a young looking female.
"She also found chat about underage sex at the start of the year," added Miss May.
Referring to the girl, Miss May said the woman thought she looked "16 at the very most" and looking at the messages "found they were of a sexual nature and suggested they had had sexual intercourse."
She added: "The girl had written 'if it happens again we'll need protection', and he responded 'no problems'.
"He handed himself into police at Braintree Police Station before others had the opportunity, saying he had sex with a 14-year-old girl – the age he believed she was at the time."
Julie Brice, mitigating, said: "It was a one-off. He had turned his life around having suffered alcohol and drug problems."
A MOTHER who lost her son in a Taliban attack in Afghanistan two years ago will remain in custody charged with the attempted murder of her husband.
Elaine Freeman, of Watts Close, Barnston, denies the attempted murder of Stephen Freeman on Sunday, January 5, at their home near Dunmow, as well as possessing a firearm with the intent to endanger life.
At a hearing on Monday (April 14) at Chelmsford Crown Court, Judge David Turner refused an application for bail from the 56-year-old, who is currently being held in HMP Holloway in London.
Her alleged victim, and husband of 19 years, Mr Freeman was not injured in the incident, which took place less than two years after the loss of Mrs Freeman's son, Sgt Nigel Coupe.
The 33-year-old father had been serving with 1st Battalion, The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, in March 2012 when the armoured personnel carrier in which he was travelling was destroyed by a bomb.
Speaking at the time of his death Mrs Freeman said: "Nigel served in many conflicts and war zones. He went to Afghanistan knowing the risks and prepared his family well – but you never believe it would happen to your family."
Since his death the Dunmow resident has worked to raise money for a memorial bench in his name, and even participated in the Dengie triathlon in September last year to add to the total.
Appealing for donations on her Just Giving page ahead of the 2013 event Mrs Freeman said: "I would like to raise enough money for a tree and a bench with Nigel's name and regimental cap badge to be placed at The National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, a place that honours the fallen, recognises service and sacrifice, and fosters pride in our country."
Mrs Freeman, who has a daughter living in Newcastle and two grandchildren, first appeared at Colchester Magistrates' Court in connection with the offence on January 7, before entering a not guilty plea at Chelmsford crown court on March 17.
A date for her trial has been fixed for Monday, November 17.
THE family of Maria Stubbings, murdered by her ex-boyfriend despite her repeated cries for help, have taken the first step in their long campaign for justice after an inquest into her death was opened – more than five years after she was killed.
Maria's son Bengi Stubbings, his sister Celia Peachey and Maria's brother Manuel Fernandez have been campaigning for a public inquiry into police response to domestic violence and a petition they have started needs 100,000 signatures to secure a parliamentary debate.
Marc Chivers had already served a life sentence in Germany for throttling his prostitute girlfriend, for whom he acted as a pimp, and a four-month jail term for assaulting Maria, but no measures were put in place to protect her when she called police to say she feared for her life.
Just months after his release in December 2008, Chivers, then 43, strangled the mother-of-two with a pink dog lead and buried her body under a pile of coats in a downstairs toilet.
It was not until eight days later, after several failed attempts to check up on her, that police realised the danger she was in and arrested Chivers on suspicion of burglary before searching the house and finding Maria's body.
Chivers was still inside with Ms Stubbing's 15-year-old son Bengi.
"We really want closure so we can move on and ultimately we want someone to be held accountable for the failings of the system," said Bengi, now 20, of Little Waltham.
"The police are the main agency we hold responsible for what happened to our mum, but it's also down to each individual, as a collective to help make a change for the positive.
"We hope this can be a catalyst for change.
"If we can get another 79,000 signatures this issue can be debated in Parliament and really push for change."
The boss of the Independent Police Complaints Commission, Rachel Cerfontyne said the case was one of the "most disturbing" she had overseen and said Maria's death was both "predictable and preventable".
Celia Peachey, 34, outlined their campaign for justice by getting an inquest into her mother's death which could help them make a civil claim against the police for the failures that led to the 51-year-old's death.
"It's good news that this inquest is going ahead. It's the first positive step in trying to shine a spotlight on the holes in the system to safeguard any other potential victims being let down in the same way my mum was." she said.
"What happened to my mum is just not acceptable.
"The police service is a public service, this is why our call for a public inquiry into state failure is vital, it concerns us all, police, CPS, social services, voices of victims and subject experts with experience must be heard, listened to, and communicate with one another, working as a team to educate, illuminate and create great change.
"This is an ongoing process to help everybody communicate better with one another. All those different agencies need to open up and talk to one another, nationally and globally.
"There's no one particular error, there were so many chances to save her that were missed. There was a catalogue of errors, that's why this inquest is so important as it can be a catalyst for change.
"Communication is the essence of life, but all of us have to take responsibility, we can't just keep pointing the finger. We, and these agencies hold the key to a better world – the system is ours to change."
In August 2010 Essex Police issued an apology to Maria's family after her desperate pleas for help went unheeded.
The next pre-inquest hearing will be on May 9.
To sign the petition visit: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/public-inquiry-into-police-and-state-agency-response-to-domestic-violence
DOZENS of women and girls donned garish pink outfits, waved pom-poms and danced the day away at the Chelmsford Race for Life launch event on Saturday.
Cancer Research staged a carnival-style party in the High Street to get passers-by to sign up for the annual race in which 5,000 women are expected to run through Hylands Park in July.
Dance groups, Platinum Majorettes and Dance Projection, performed dazzling routines for shoppers and even convinced some to learn the moves to Cancer Slam, the charity's Race for Life routine. Volunteers also sold pink flowers, raising just under £1,000 for the charity.
Breast cancer survivor and mother-of-three Nikki Brewer, 31, from Great Baddow, who helped at the launch event and even painted her body in a pink camouflage pattern, said: "It's thanks to charities like Cancer Research that I'm still here today, so it's very important to me to get involved.
"The launch event was amazing, and my children love to help out with me. It was great to have the support from all of the volunteers and Race for Life staff. Local shops such as Starbucks, Giraffe and Millie's Cookies provided drinks and snacks for us."
Nikki is running the 5k race in Chelmsford and also the alternative Pretty Muddy obstacle course event in Ipswich on her hen-do before she marries Ben Kilpin.
Event manager Gill Burgess said: "I'd like to say a massive thank you to everyone that supported us and made donations. I hope many women get involved and sign up for Race for Life."
The Race for Life campaign is the largest women-only fundraising event in the UK and raised £526 million, with the Chelmsford event contributing £280,000.
To sign up to a Race for Life event near you, learn the dances moves to the Cancer Slam, or give a donation visit raceforlife.org or call 0845 600 6050.
ALMOST 600 leaflets were thrust into hands along the High Street as a campaign group slated Essex County Council for wasting money and demanded that it cuts taxes.
The TaxPayers' Alliance gathered under the statue in Tindal Square on Friday between 1 and 2pm before moving to County Hall to voice their anger about the council tax freeze – saying that it should actually have been cut.
Chris Manby, 25, who works as the grassroots co-ordinator in Essex and took part in the protest, said: "I think the council is better than some but we do think that the level of council tax is unacceptable.
"We think hard-pressed families would be better served by cutting the tax and giving them more of their own money to spend.
"The average band D house in Chelmsford is £35 more than the national average. It may not seem like much, but it's the difference between buying something in the shops and not.
"We also think there are massive areas of wasteful expenditure," added Mr Manby, who says savings could be made on unnecessary spending.
"Over the last three years the council has spent £50m on outside consultants and £40m on temporary staff. They have also spent an extra £3m on an extra lane of the A176 near Basildon, and £2.3m on gagging orders for staff who have left.
"Paying less on this would save taxpayers' money."
"I hope it was successful," he said. "I would like to run more protests like that in the future.
"I'm calling for the council to relieve the finances of ordinary families who might still be struggling to get by."
In response, Cllr David Finch, leader of Essex County Council, said: "We use temporary staff when we do not want to fill permanent vacancies and the amount spent on consultants varies. I would dispute the amount of £50m as well.
"We run a very lean ship at the county council. We are always looking to save money and at the same time provide value for money. We have progressively brought down council tax and we have zero council tax rises for the last four years.
"We know how to manage our money. The TaxPayers' Alliance just sit down and carp at us."