Stories that hit the Reporter headlines in 2013

Karl Lyon with his pet tortoise Sherman
Karl Lyon with his pet tortoise Sherman
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Chris Amery concludes his look back over some of the stories you’ve read in the St Helens Reporter during 2013.

July

Shocking figures showed that police had deployed taser guns 27 times in the last three years - including six times at youngsters aged between 12 and 19.

Officers discharged the weapons, which administer victims with a paralysing electric shock, at 26 incidents since May 30, 2010 - including twice at one call-out.

But a force spokesman defended their use, insisting tasers were only ever used as a last resort.

Thousands of women were pretty in pink as they joined forces to stand up to cancer at the annual Race For Life event at Haydock Park.

Scores of fun-runners donned pink clothing as they took part in the 5km run.

Many also wore t-shirts with emotionally-charged messages about a friend or family member who had been affected by cancer.

August

A fantasist who falsely claimed his pregnant wife had terminal cancer to claim a free holiday was jailed for two years.

Brazen conman John Williams also claimed he was a GP and complained that staff at Manchester Airport had mocked his wife’s condition as part of a ruse to claim a free family holiday to Florida - worth £7,000 - for free.

But the 36-year-old’s extraordinary web of deceit was exposed when phone records proved that his wife had not even contacted the travel agency involved.

A distraught St Helens woman discovered that crematorium staff had removed a special plaque dedicated to her grandmother on the 25th anniversary of her father’s death.

Melanie Hayes was stunned to find that a small plaque dedicated to her grandmother, Bruna Goth, had been unscrewed and removed from her plot without notification.

A Town Hall spokeswoman said that for health and safety reasons the council operated a “flowers only” policy.

September

Three St Helens schoolboys were hailed as heroes after they rescued two men who were trapped in a flat fire.

Quick-thinking teens Callum Chadwick, Ethan Chisnall and Joshua Jump raced to the rescue after seeing smoke billowing out of a block of flats in Blackbrook.

They not only kicked down the door of the fire-hit flat but dragged the two men to safety.

A mum-of-two told how her family’s miscarriage heartache inspired her to try to raise funds to buy medical equipment for other bereaved mothers.

Katy Quinn lost twin girls Hope and Faith at 24 weeks in 2006 and a son named Andrew at 18-and-a-half weeks in March this year.

The 41-year-old set up the Baby Loss Foundation charity ion a bid to buy a £10,000 scanner to be used away from the birthing unit.

October

The family of Helen McCourt vowed to continue searching for the murder victim’s remains after police declared that the search of a churchyard grave for her body had drawn a blank.

After 18 hours of excavation at a family plot at St Aidan’s in Billinge, officers, working on a tip-off, reported that nothing untoward had been found.

Helen’s mother, Marie, said: “We have to pick ourselves up and start looking again. To give in would be to give Ian Simms another victim.”

A quick-thinking teenager helped save the life of a shell-shocked pet tortoise after a light in its enclosure sparked a fire.

Emergency crews were called to Dentons Green after Karl Lyon, 14, suddenly sniffed a strong smell of smoke.

The front room, which housed Sherman the pet tortoise, was totally filled with thick black smoke after a fire broke out in his vivarium.

November

A convenience store boss told of his terror after a sword-wielding robber burst into his shop on Hallowe’en.

Mukesh Kumar, manager of US Food Plus, thought the masked thug was playing a Hallowe’en prank until he demanded cash and swung the sword at the shopkeeper.

Miraculously, the victim, 26, escaped unhurt and the robber was forced to run off empty-handed.

Inspirational former Saints star Steve Prescott MBE lost his long cancer battle.

Tributes to the popular father-of-two, who raised tens of thousands of pounds for charity following his diagnosis, were paid from across the sporting world and the wider community.

His great friend Paul Sculthorpe described Prekkie as the “Man of Steel”.

December

A heavily pregnant St Helens woman feared she would go into premature labour after raid police smashed their way into her home.

Nikola Cunnington, who was 32 weeks pregnant, claimed she was then strip-searched as officers attepted, in vain, to find any trace of illegal drugs.

But DCI Lee Turner insisted that the drugs raid was “completely justified” given the evidence police had at their disposal.

Gale force winds blew over the Victoria Square Christmas tree and caused a string of other problems across the borough.

Strong gusts also caused a tree to fall across three lanes of traffic on Prescot Road and caused tiles to fall from an Ormskirk Street roof.

A window and window frame were also blown out of a property on Prescot Road.