Friday brief: community will gather at funeral of murdered Northampton teenager
Plus a round up of what's been happening in Northamptonshire this week
The funeral of Northampton teenager Fred Shand will take place next Friday at All Saints’ Church in Northampton.
Fred, 16, was killed in the Kingsthorpe area of the town as he walked home from school on March 22. A 14 and 16-year-old accused of his murder are currently going through the courts.
The service, which starts at 11am, will be led jointly by Father Oliver Coss of All Saints' Church, Bishop Donnovan Allen from the New Testament Church of God, and Pastor Phil Azille from Pottershouse Church in Kingsthorpe. Tributes will be given by Fred's family and friends, and by members of the school communities at Kingsthorpe College and All Saints' School, whose choirs will perform alongside the Chapel Choir of Malcolm Arnold Academy.
Speaking ahead of the funeral, Father Oliver Coss said:
“All Saints is the place where Northampton has so often come together at times of grief, as well as in times of hope and joy. It is appropriate that we should gather here to express our sorrow, to commend Fred on his final journey, and be a comfort to those who loved him most. It will be our earnest prayer that this expression of Christian hope will bring peace to so many broken-hearted parts of our town.”
Fred’s tragic death put into sharp focus the issues of knife crime in the county. His murder followed those of Corby teenager Rayon Pennycook and Dylan Holliday who were killed in the summer of 2021. Just weeks after Fred’s death, Northampton university student Kwambena Osei-Poku was killed after an incident which broke out within the university campus.
West Northamptonshire Council’s diverse communities forum has put the town’s knife crime problem on its agenda for its next meeting which is being held on May 25.
News in brief
The leisure group running Kettering conference centre has extended its operations, so that a solution to keep it running can be found.
As reported by the Northants Telegraph the Compass Group has now said it will keep going until July.
Last week the staff who work at the centre, which includes the Balance Health Club and the Lighthouse Theatre were told the venue would cease operating at the end of May, due to increased costs post pandemic.
The centre is leased from the local authority, although is ultimately owned by BQ Farms Ltd (formerly linked to land owner the Duke of Buccleuch).
The council has said it is looking at contracts but has not made any further statements this week. Finance executive member Lloyd Bunday said ‘money was tight’ when asked if the authority would be stepping in to help keep the popular leisure venue open.
The trial of Fiona Beal was halted temporarily this week.
Primary teacher Beal is accused of murdering her long term partner Nicholas Billingham and then burying his body in the garden of their Northampton home.
Beal admits killing Billingham but denies murder. The trial started in April but had a break over the Easter period and after Beal took to the stand last week, the trial was halted for reasons the trial judge has ordered the media cannot report.
The trial is due to commence again on Tuesday.
Two university students have been charged with the murder of a fellow student.
Advertising student Kwambena Osei-Poku, 19, was killed on the evening of April 23 dying in the street from a stab wound, just yards outside the campus grounds where he was living.
Ogechi Eke and Melvin Lebaga-Idubor, both 19, will face trial in October after appearing at Northampton Crown Court this week. Two other students have been charged with perverting the course of justice and will reappear in court next month.
Northampton North MP Michael Ellis has been appointed as a member of the government’s efficiencies and value for money committee.
The committee will oversee the work of the government’s public sector fraud authority which is being set up to look at economic crime within the public sector.