Review of the year: What happened in Redbridge in 2015?
PUBLISHED: 15:00 01 January 2016
As we prepare for the year ahead, we take a look back at some of the highlights of 2015.
January: The year started as it meant to go on with the proposal to build a housing development on Oakfield playing fields leading the news agenda. The Recorder followed this story the whole year, and the saga shows no signs of ending at the start of 2016. Fauja Singh, the world’s oldest marathon runner and local celebrity, was given the British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to charity and sport. He was aged 103 at the time.
February: The Recorder broke the story of Westminster buying properties in Redbridge to house their homeless in February. Council leader Cllr Jas Athwal accused the inner London boroughs of “dumping” their poor residents on the outer London boroughs. This continued throughout the year with Kensington and Chelsea also looking to buy properties in east London. Iconic Ilford department store Bodgers’ celebrated their 125th year anniversary with £4million worth of sales.
March: A mother and her lover were found guilty of killing her eight-year-old daughter after subjecting her to months of abuse. After a six week trial Polly Chowdhury and Kiki Muddar, from Chadwell Heath, were convicted of manslaughter of Chowdhury’s daughter Ayesha Ali. A new sculpture in the middle of Gants Hill roundabout, known as the “egg whisk”, was built, which divided opinion.
April: Two friends were killed in a “horrific” and tragic motorbike crash in Clayhall. Redas Dainys, 16, and Justas Pranckunas, 20, both died at the scene after Redas’ first time on a motorbike. Reporter Laura Burnip exclusively interviewed Labour leader Ed Miliband with Ilford North candidate Wes Streeting in the run up to May’s general election. Mr Miliband said he had “big ideas to change the country”.
May: The general election dominated the news before and after the vote, with Labour’s Wes Streeting pipping incumbent Tory Lee Scott in Ilford North by under 600 votes. In Ilford South Labour’s Mike Gapes held onto the seat he has represented since 1992, John Cryer comfortably kept Leyton and Wanstead for Labour, and government minister Iain Duncan Smith retained Chingford and Woodford Green. Inspirational teenager Sara Taha Hajj, who fled Syria, was nominated for a Young People of the Year award by Barnado’s.
June: Another story which hogged the headlines for much of the year was the fete of Seven Kings nightclub the Shannon Centre. Joshua Fabiyi, of Bulwer Road, Leytonstone, was accused of possessing an imitation firearm, an incident which caused police to revoke the club’s alcohol licence. Mr Fabiyi will go on trial in the new year. A South Woodford curry restaurant owner was flown half way around the world by a Qatari millionaire to cater for his mum’s surprise birthday.
July: The Recorder’s Investigations Unit tracked down a man facing extradition to India over charges relating to alleged domestic violence and dowry demands in India. Journalists confronted Ahmed Anees Hussain, who had been living in the UK for four years, as to why he had not answered the criminal case in his native India. Also that month, a gardener from Ilford made a rare discovery when he found bananas growing in his garden.
August: The final Facebook post of inspirational Seven Kings singer and model Seema Jaya Sharma went viral after she lost a long battle with cancer. Hundreds turned out to celebrate Seema’s life at her funeral after her mum Santosh Kapal paid an emotional tribute to her “amazing” daughter. Ilford South MP Mike Gapes joined Tamils from all over Europe at a Hindu chariot procession in Ley Street, Ilford.
September: A distraught dog owner spoke of the horror of witnessing her toy poodle being mauled to death in an Ilford park by another dog. A Recorder appeal helped trace the attack dog’s owner, who apologised for what had happened after his dog was seized by police. Patriotic youngsters in the borough marked the Queen becoming our longest-reigning monarch and baked biscuits and cakes.
October: The Recorder uncovered shocking internet profiles inciting young people to share naked pictures of their peers in the borough. Police issued a warning regarding the “baited pages”, which were encouraging children to share pictures and “name and shame” others. Ilford’s marathon man Harmander Singh became part of an exclusive club after he racked up his 100th race in Canada.
November: An inquest into the death of a Chadwell Heath family revealed Rethish Kumar Pullarkattil Kunjunny, 44, strangled his wife Shighi Kotuvala Padmanabhan, 37, and their twins Niya and Neha Rethishkumar, both 13, in May, after the marriage broke down over a dispute about a property in India. He hanged himself days later. Shighi’s cousin Nithin Sasi, 33, spoke to the Recorder exclusively from India about the family’s tragic end. We also reported on semi-professional footballer Sabah Mahmood, 22, who was nominated for a top award.
December: Internet trolls targeted Ilford South MP Mike Gapes after the Recorder broke the news of his emergency surgery following complaints of chest pains. Ilford North MP and friend of Mr Gapes, Wes Streeting, said he found the abuse “deeply upsetting”. Also this month, we saw a stunned Balmeet Lall, of Redbridge Lane East, Redbridge, win a brand new Porsche with £10,000 in the boot.
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