Look Back at the stories from 2008

PUBLISHED: 16:25 30 December 2008 | UPDATED: 10:21 23 August 2010

Official opening of Ebbsfleet International train station.Opening ceremony with Kelly Holmes
Picture: Jamie Gray
Mobile:07834 965462

Ebbsfleet 29.01.08 Official opening of Ebbsfleet International train station.Opening ceremony with Kelly Holmes Picture: Jamie Gray Mobile:07834 965462 Email:


January IN the first few weeks of 2008, north Kent was struck by two tragedies. Schoolboy Luke Squires, 12, of Riverview Park, Gravesend, was knocked down by a car as he crossed Leander Drive on his way home from school. Just a day earlier, Matthew Hobbs,

Copy pictures of murdered taxi driver Gian Chand


IN the first few weeks of 2008, north Kent was struck by two tragedies. Schoolboy Luke Squires, 12, of Riverview Park, Gravesend, was knocked down by a car as he crossed Leander Drive on his way home from school. Just a day earlier, Matthew Hobbs, of Brent Lane, Dartford, was killed by a Fastrack bus as he crossed Princes Road on his way to Wilmington Grammar School.

Double Olympic gold medallist Dame Kelly Holmes officially opened the Ebbsfleet International station, providing north Kent with frequent trains to the continent.

The 82-year-old former Mayor of Gravesend Frank Gibson MBE, of Windmill Street, Gravesend was found guilty at Medway Magistrates Court of assaulting two police officers on Christmas Eve in 2006. He was told to pay £910 in costs.

A Climate Camp protester gets unceremoniously shifted


THE Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, announced in February that he was looking into the possibility of an airport in the Cliffe Marshes, five years after the plan was blocked by thousands of campaigners, including jazz pianist and entertainer Jules Holland. George Crozer, of Friends of North Kent Marshes, said: "I really just wish that people like Boris Johnson would come down here and see what's there before they spout out ridiculous ideas like putting an airport in Cliffe."

Our reporters joined a massive demonstration against the closure of the Queen Elizabeth Foundation Resource Centre, a facility for disabled people, held outside County Hall in Maidstone. Despite the protests, and a 5,000 signature petition, the centre was finally closed in October.


THE first free edition of the Dartford and Swanley Times was published this month, now free to 45,000 homes.

Strong winds battered north Kent in March, and we featured the story of a mother of four who had a lucky escape after a tree crashed through her car in Vale Road, Northfleet, moments after dropping her kids off at school. Debbie Spinks

(pictured), 35, said: "I am so grateful this did not happen 10 minutes earlier because my children would have been in the back and almost certainly injured." Jubilant Fleet fans celebrated after Ebbsfleet United beat Aldershot in the FA Trophy semi final to reach the final at Wembley in May.


FREAK snow storms hit north Kent in April, with up to eight inches settling in rural areas. Just a week earlier, much of Britain basked in brilliant sunshine with temperatures soaring to 18.9C

Nearly 100 mourners attended the funeral of Lin Tiltman, wife to Cliff, and mother of tragic Claire Tiltman, who was savagely knifed to death in 1993 in an alleyway in Greenhithe. Her killer has still not been found.

Lin died in March after a battle with throat cancer, something Cliff thought was brought on because of the trauma of what happened to their daughter 15 years before. She died before she got the chance to see justice done for her daughter.


THE trial of Luke Aujila, 21, accused of running over popular 71-year-old Sikh taxi driver Gian Chand Bajar in his own cab, was held in May.

At the end of a four-week trial, Aujila - who had pleaded guilty to manslaughter but not guilty to murder - was convicted of murder and sentenced to a minimum of 20 years in jail. Fleet fans dreams came true as Ebbsfleet United won the FA Trophy Final at Wembley against Torquay United, 1-0. More than 25,000 fans travelled from north Kent to the world famous ground to watch their team triumph in the most important game in the clubs 52 year history. Five world renowned artists first unveiled their plans for the £2 million Ebbsfleet Landmark, dubbed the "Angel of the South." It will stand at twice the height of Anthony Gormley's iconic Angel of the North in Gateshead.


BARELY a month after Ebbsfleet were victorious in the FA Trophy, we revealed that the club had chosen a site for an 8,000 capacity ground, capable of holding major concerts and events and rivalling any other ground in the Blue square Premier.

ASDA in Greenhithe was targeted by ramraiders in the latest of a series of ATM thefts across north Kent.

It is estimated that thieves stole as much as £250,000, using a digger to destroy part of the supermarket.


THE Reporter featured the story of Pauline Richardson (pictured), 64, a former resident of Mulberry Road, Northfleet who worked as a receptionist at Cygnets Leisure centre. She was found strangled and beaten to death after going on holiday in Tunisia. Roger Mancini, 54, of Gravesham Court, Gravesend, was told he must serve a minimum of six years and four months in jail for stabbing his ex-wife before knifing two men in the New Inn pub, Milton Road, Gravesend on Christmas Eve. In the Dartford and Swanley Times, the Orpwood family of Apple Orchard, Swanley, told us of their "holiday from hell", where they witnessed staff having gay sex in a hotel room.


HUNDREDS of eco campaigners set up home in north Kent for a week in August at the Climate camp, in protest over plans to build a coal-fired power station at Kingsnorth. Our reporters marched with them towards the site in the Hoo peninsula to protest against energy giant E.on's plans. In one of the most shocking stories of the year, Linda Buchanan, 58, was pushed onto train tracks at Farningham Road station after a dispute over smoking. One man has been charged with GBH over the incident. David Quartey, 22, of Humber Road, Dartford, was found guilty of the murder of Dr Victoria Anyetei (inset), 54. He brutally stabbed her to death outside her home in Teynham Road, Dartford in August 2007.


AFTER more than six years in Milton Road, the Gravesend Reporter moved to new offices in the Courtyard, Manor Road, Gravesend.

In September a 33-year-old man was jailed for a minimum of 13 years for his part in the brutal murder of Kamaljit Kalon, known as "Bobby" on Gordon Promenade, Gravesend in July 2003. He was stabbed multiple times. After more than five years on the run, and countless appeals by the police, Guljinder Singh Gurewal was finally brought to justice.

Jimmy Bullard, former Dartford and Gravesend and Northfleet player was selected by Fabio England coach Fabio Capello in his squad for two crucial World cup qualifiers.


A BUNGLING burglar, who was caught on camera hanging upside down from the window of a house he was trying to raid in Fulwich Road, Dartford was jailed for three years.

Drug addict John Pearce, 32, of Browning Road, Dartford, got his foot caught when he was trying to break into the terraced house in August.

In an exclusive poll conducted by the Gravesend Reporter, we revealed that an overwhelming 74 per cent of residents were against proposals to build a 32 storey tower in the town centre. The plans, which have caused much controversy and are part of a £150 million redevelopment scheme, will be decided by the council early next year.


FOR the second year running, the Kentish Times launched our Toy Appeal in November, and former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell (inset) backed the campaign, which sends toys to sick children in hospital at Christmas. We also launched a popular campaign to scrap the tolls at the Dartford crossing for one month.

Hundreds of jobs were put at risk as one of the country's leading pharmaceutical giants, GlaxoSmithKline announced that it was in talks with 620 staff to close its Dartford site in Temple Hill by 2013.


A COMMUNITY was left reeling after the death of James Taylor (inset), 11. He was found dead at his home in New Ash Green. His mother, Jennifer, has since been charged with his murder.

It was the second tragedy for Wilmington Grammar School for Boys, after Matthew Hobbs died in January.

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