TRAGIC Coronation Street star Sophiya Haque spent “a few precious nights” on the houseboat she had designed with her partner in West Byfleet before dying suddenly of cancer last week at the age of 41.

David White said Sophiya, who played barmaid Poppy Morales in the ITV1 soap, had been “extremely fit and healthy” during the 12 months the couple had spent building their dream home.

The 51-year-old West End musical director had been living with Sophiya in Knaphill when she began complaining of tremendous backache and abdominal pain last month.

Mr White, who had been with the actress for six years, said Sophiya took painkillers and kept performing until December 22 before seeing her GP on January 2.

She was admitted to hospital the same day. He said: “She had that ‘show must go on’ mentality. We hit this awful situation around Christmas and new year when everything was closed, so we didn’t get a doctor’s appointment until January 2, and we were told to go straight to hospital.”

He added: “We managed to spend a few precious nights on the boat together before she went to hospital. She was having huge trouble breathing while she was in hospital.

“Apparently a blood clot could have been thrown up into her lung. Her heart was beating very fast to try and get oxygen into her system.

“It became harder for her to breathe and she blacked out. A few minutes later her heart stopped. It was not something I expected that day.

“It was a terrible shock.” Sophiya died in hospital last Thursday (January 17) just a few weeks after our Entertainments Editor Barry Rutter interviewed her about her West End role in the Peter Nichols farce Privates on Parade.

The actress, born down in Portsmouth, Hampshire, had urged Woking’s theatre-goers to take advantage of a ticket promotion to see the Michael Grandage production at the Noel Coward theatre in London.

At the time of going to press, Mr White was still waiting to find out what type of cancer Sophiya had suffered, which doctors believe might have been growing for months. He said: “They think it may be ovarian because there are often very few symptoms.

The second set of results came back inconclusive the day after she died.

“I still want to know what the cancer was, although I am coming to terms with the fact that nothing is going to bring her back.”

Sophiya’s stint on Coronation Street ran from 2008 to 2009.

She also starred alongside Angelina Jolie in the hit film Wanted, while her West End appearances included Bombay Dreams, The Far Pavilions and Wah! Wah! Girls.

Mr White added: “She was the most amazing person to live with. It was a life full of laughter and joy.”

A DISABLED man shot by armed officers after inciting terror in a quiet Knaphill street has today been jailed for four years.

Richard Pell, 41, will serve a minimum of two years in prison after threatening to harm himself and others in a night of drug and alcohol fuelled terror on July 25.

Judge Christopher Critchlow extended some leniency to Pell, who entered the court using a zimmer frame after being shot in the upper part of his leg.

Pell had pleaded guilty to charges of possessing an imitation fire arm with intent to cause fear of violence, and the communication of false information when he first appeared at Guildford Crown Court on October 11.

SHOT - Richard Pell was gunned down by armed police

SHOT – Richard Pell was gunned down by armed police

Walter Mitty character Pell, believed to be a discharged military hero, tricked emergency response teams and residents into thinking his black replica ball-bearing gun was actually a live firearm, and convinced them he had planted a bomb at his home in Oak Tree Road.

Terrified families were forced to flee their homes as a stand-off eventually ended in Pell being rushed to hospital.

Ruby Selva, prosecuting, told the court that a number of factors contributed to Pell’s actions leading up to the shooting.

Ms Selva said Pell felt shame and guilt after forgetting the anniversary of his late wife Sharon’s death.

The court heard Sharon, who was seven months pregnant, was killed in a racially-motivated attack by a homeless man in London in July 2001.

Judge Critchlow was also informed that Pell had NEVER served in the armed forces as previously believed – news which even came as a shock to his defence solicitor David Castle.

Pell deceived locals and regular drinkers at The Anchor pub in Knaphill for years, claiming his limp and speech problems were as a result of being blown up in Afghanistan while on tour with the British Army.

But the prosecution made clear that Pell’s injuries were in fact acquired in a road traffic collision.

Even without a psychiatric report, requested by Judge Critchlow at the hearing in October but delayed because of a typing backlog at Sutton’s HMP High Down where Pell has been remanded in custody for 75 days, Mr Castle invited a prison sentence at his client’s request.

The court was told that Pell had been trying to get himself killed in an American phenomenon known as ‘suicide by cop’ – a move often employed stateside by individuals who cannot commit the act themselves.

Pell, who was living with Sharon’s sister Jacqueline in Oak Tree Road at the time of the shooting, allegedly “just went off on one” after being confronted over a missing pack of biscuits.

High on cocaine, Pell locked himself in his room at around 9.25pm before texting worried Jacqueline: “I have made a bomb – call the pigs and it’s a big bang.”

After telling him she would show the message to the police, Jacqueline received a second alert that said: “Cool, I can take some of them with us.”

At 9.55pm, Pell put an emergency call out himself and told the 999 operator: “I’ve got a bomb in my house and a gun and I’ll kill anyone who comes in.”

Police traced the call to Pell’s address before receiving a second call which said the supposed gunman was prepared to speak with a negotiator.

Officers attended the grade-four incident – four being the highest grade that can possibly be given to an emergency call – believing Pell, supposedly of a military background, was in fact in possession of a working handgun and live explosive.

It was noted that Pell took a definite shooting stance as he left the property before pointing the gun at police.

Believing he was capable of taking an accurate shot, and was carrying serious intentions to hurt and kill others, Pell was shot with a single round and treated by officers until an ambulance arrived.

Upon questioning, Pell revealed his frustration at not being killed by the attending officers and moaned: “Why couldn’t the cop shoot me in the head?”

He admitted that his intention was to provoke police into shooting him as he felt he was more of a danger to himself than others.

Judge Critchlow sentenced Pell to 40 months in prison for possessing an imitation fire arm with intent to cause fear of violence, and eight consecutive months for the communication of false information with regard to the bomb hoax.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission continues to investigate the shooting.





FORCED ENTRY – the buckled front door at the Co-op

FORCED ENTRY – the buckled front door at the Co-op

A GANG of men used a concrete slab to smash their way into a Knaphill supermarket on Bank Holiday Monday night.

Around five to eight people took part in the robbery at the Co-operative store on the High Street at around 11.15pm.

The thieves are believed to have escaped with hundreds of pounds worth of cigarettes and alcohol.

Police confirmed that three men were later arrested during the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Several residents dialed 999 after hearing glass smash at the popular shop.

An eyewitness, who lives in one of the flats opposite and did not want to be named, said the raiders were all wearingbalaclavas.

He said: “They placed their haul of cigarettes and booze on a blanket and attempted to pull it through the gap of broken glass.

“As they couldn’t move it, two gang members were trapped inside and had to kick in the doors further to get themselves and their booty through the space.

“They then carried it to what could have been a Ford Focus hatchback parked immediately outside the store facing the car park and made off in the only possible direction of Queen’s Road.”

Surrey Police were called out to the incident at 11.45pm by which time the gang had made their getaway from the scene.

The three men are believed to have been arrested some time later. A Surrey Police spokesman said enquiries were continuing and more arrests were likely.

Knaphill residents have become increasingly concerned by levels of crime in the village during the past few months.

One shopkeeper and resident, who did not want to be named, said: “The trouble is there is no police
presence here, we’re a bit cut-off.

“If there is an incident police have to come from either Lightwater or Woking and by that time the offenders will already have made off.”

SHOOTING - investigations are on going

SHOOTING – investigations are on going

A MAN shot by armed police in Knaphill has been identified as ex-soldier Richard Pell.

Pell, better known as ‘Ricky’ around the village, was shot in the shoulder by armed officers after threatening to cause harm to himself and others outside his home in Oak Tree Road on Wednesday night.

He remains in a stable condition at St George’s Hospital in Tooting.

Neighbours had to be evacuated over fears the former squaddie had planted an explosive device in the property.

The investigation has been referred the Independent Police Complaints Commission who last night revealed Mr Pell was carrying a ball-bearing gun when he was shot.

Mr Pell, who is in his 40s, was drinking at the Anchor Pub in the High Street prior to the incident.

Pub manager Angela Pearson, 25, says she could not imagine frail Mr Pell, who walks with a cane, could pose such a threat.

She said: “We couldn’t believe what was going on, Knaphill is normally very quiet and you don’t expect these sorts of things to happen, especially from someone like Ricky.

“He can barely stand without his walking stick so you wonder how he could be capable of something like that.

“The police wouldn’t have shot him for no reason so he must have provoked them into taking action – it’s so strange to see a person all the time and then hear about them doing something crazy.

“I saw him in the pub that day and he seemed his normal talkative self, you wouldn’t have thought anything like that was about to happen – he must have flipped.”

Angela’s grandfather Keith said more needed to be done to help ex-servicemen and women and that Pell was clearly not in a ‘stable state of mind’.

He added: “I’m not saying the shooting was unjust but he shouldn’t have been in that position to start with, having spoken to him in the pub it is clear that he needed help.”

On Friday evening July 27) police confirmed a man in his 40s has been arrested on suspicion of possession of an imitation firearm and use of a firearm to make threats.

A man in his 30s who was arrested at the scene on suspicion of communicating false information about a hoax bomb was  released with no further action.

But he was subsequently rearrested by the UK Border Agency on suspicion of immigration offences and remains in police custody while the matter is investigated.



CORDON - Oak Tree Road is sealed off by police

CORDON – Oak Tree Road is sealed off by police

A MAN shot by police in Knaphill last night was carrying a black BB gun, the Independent Police Complaints Commission have revealed.

Armed Response Units rushed to Oak Tree Road just after 10pm yesterday (Wednesday, July 25) after an individual was reported to be carrying an armed weapon with the intent of harming himself and others.

A man in his 40s was shot at the scene and was taken to St George’s hospital in Tooting. Police have yet to reveal the extent of his injuries.

Officers confirmed a firearm had been discovered and the IPCC later confirmed the weapon was a ball bearing air gun.

Paramedics were working on a man on the ground and eventually an ambulance turned up – it was a bit of a shock

IPCC commissioner Mike Franklin said: “This matter was referred to the IPCC in the early hours of this morning (Thursday 26 July) and we immediately sent investigators to the scene.

“At this stage we can confirm that one round was fired by one officer resulting in the man’s injuries and hospitalisation.

“A  weapon was found at the scene and has been identified by a ballistics expert as a 6mm BB gun which had been painted black. Further forensic work is being carried out on that weapon and IPCC investigators have supervised house to house inquiries in the local area.

“Our inquiry, which is in the very early stages, will be a thorough investigation scrutinising all of the circumstances surrounding the police actions and decisions leading from initial 999 calls made earlier in the evening up to the shooting.

“An IPCC family liaison manager has made contact with the man to explain our role.”

One resident, who did not want to be named for security reasons, said people entering the property in question were often drunk or in search of drugs.

The mother of two described the incident as a shock but admitted police were always being called to deal with trouble right outside her door.

Reliving the ordeal, she said: “My son woke up me at around 11pm saying that armed police were running around everywhere and that he thought someone had been shot.

“By then the shot had gone off so I came down in my dressing gown to have a look and there were police absolutely everywhere.

“Paramedics were working on a man on the ground and eventually an ambulance turned up – it was a bit of a shock.”

Fears the man had planted an explosive device at the property led to some residents being evacuated to a nearby church, but a bomb disposal team found nothing.

“At about midnight we were evacuated to Holy Trinity Church hall and got back home just gone 2am.

SHOOTING - police cars line the road

SHOOTING – police cars line the road

“I woke up this morning at around 5.30am and this whole area was cordoned off – they’ve obviously been very busy over night.

“I’ve lived here 17 years and that house has always been trouble.

“The area has changed vastly since we’ve moved in.

“It’s not the quiet neighbourhood it used to be and police are always outside.”

Another witness told the News & Mail: “I was there at about 12.10am when the bomb disposal unit arrived. There were still armed police around.

“My friend was there and had just finished his shift at Sainsbury’s – there were about 10 police cars in the shop’s car park and more outside.

“He drove down to see what was happening and he heard gun shots at about 11.15pm. The armed police were full-on with machine guns.

“The police evacuated the area sending people to the nearby church.

“They told my friend to get down in the car.

“The man told them he had a bomb in his house and that’s when the police shot him.”

Another man in his 30s was arrested at the scene and remains in police custody.

The shooting  has been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission who have sent investigators to the scene.

A spokesman said: “A decision on the level of IPCC involvement will be made once the assessment is completed.”

Video footage below courtesy of BRONXYTV.


SCRAPPED - Alpha now plan to sell on the property in Victoria Road

SCRAPPED – Alpha now plan to sell on the property in Victoria Road

ALPHA HOSPITALS will not be going ahead with plans to use a house in Knaphill as a facility for vulnerable teenagers.

Residents had called an emergency meeting after finding out that the property – 14, Victoria Road – bought by the private mental healthcare company was not going to accommodate staff as the vendors and estate agents had been led to
believe – but to house five female patients.

Although Alpha refused numerous requests to send a representative, Woking Borough ­Council chief executive Ray Morgan, local councillors Melanie Whitehand and Saj Hussain, 38 residents and the News & Mail attended the meeting on Friday, July 6, at St Hugh of Lincoln Church in Victoria Road.

While fully appreciating the need to cater for the integration of Alpha’s vulnerable patients into the broader community, the Knaphill residents felt strongly that accommodating five 14 to 18-year-old female mental healthcare patients in a property where 23 young children live withinjust a four-house radius, was inappropriate.

An action group spokesman said: “We acknowledge these young adults need a place to live while they recover – no one is immune from mental illness – and we have learned that Alpha work closely with the NHS. But our priority is the safety of our own children and families already living here and we feel Victoria Road is unsuitable.”

At the meeting, Mr Morgan said: “I understand the stress caused. I am here to see if we can reconcile the situation. The house is not the same as the hospital. It is about moving people on in settled accommodation.”

He added that he would seek to secure a letter from Alpha to residents to outline the precise nature of use by Friday, July 13.

The spokesman said: “We feel it was a constructive meeting and were pleased to have the support of Ray Morgan.”

A statement last Friday from Alpha Hospital’s Zsara Thomas, said: “Alpha confirms it no longer plans to open a home at 14 Victoria Road. We remain committed towards providing much-needed mental healthcare for children in the community.”

Mr Morgan stated: “I have agreed to assist in finding accommodation in a less sensitive location to provide the essential support these people need.

“It was clear none of you wished to harm the young people Alpha were intending to support, you were just fearful and wanted to secure the safety of your own children.”

CAMPAIGNER - James Tucker lives next door to the property in question

CAMPAIGNER – James Trotter lives next door to the property in question

FURIOUS Knaphill residents battling a private company’s plans to move mental healthcare patients into a house in their street turned out in force for an emergency meeting.

The Victoria Road Action Against Alpha Hospitals Group called the meeting after finding out that the property at No.14 bought by Alpha was not in fact to accommodate staff – as the vendors and estate agents had been led to believe – but to house five 14 to 18-year-old female patients, within a four-house radius where 23 young children live. Builders had already been moved in without warning.

Although Alpha had refused numerous requests to send a representative, Woking Borough Council chief executive Ray Morgan, local councillors Melanie Whitehand and Saj Hussain, 38 residents and the Woking News & Mail attended the meeting on Friday at the St Hugh of Lincoln Church in Victoria Road.

After three weeks of being “fobbed off’, the group had made up to a dozen invitations to the private healthcare company to send a representative to make them accountable.

I understand the stress caused. I am here to see if we can reconcile the situation

All were refused without explanation – repeatedly saying they would meet individuals only.

Questions were emailed to the hospital but were either not answered at all, side-stepped or answers changed.

Apologies had been received from the council for their lack of communication. A formal complaint had been made to them but with a waiting time of seven days. And the group had written to MP Jonathon Lord who was unable to attend but wants to be updated on the situation.

James Trotter, who lives next door to the property with his wife and three young children said: “My home has been valued at £475,000 but, an estate agent said, if the house next door does become a care home, the value will drop by £100,000.

‘We have no problem with nurses moving in.”

Mr Morgan said: “I understand the stress caused. I am here to see if we can reconcile the situation.

“Council officers have advised Alpha to make an application for its legal use. This is an application for a Certificate of Lawfulness. If it complies, Alpha will be able to proceed. If not, they will have to go through a formal planning application.”

When asked about the deceitful way the company had bought the house, Mr Morgan said: “I am not in a position to speak for Alpha on the subject of being misled. I will take it up with their senior management.

“The house is not the same as the hospital. It is about moving people on in settled accommodation. It could be my daughter, your son… these could be our children. I can personally speak as I lived near a house in the same position in Gloucestershire where there was no problem.”

A resident said: “Is that why you moved here, then?”

Mr Morgan said: “We do need a dialogue with the company and to look at how do we help manage this situation.”

Mr Morgan said: “I have come here to find a way to address the issues. I have not come here to make it stop.”

Another resident said: “I worked in a home in Camden for 14 to 18-year-old girls and I can guarantee you there would be a blow-up three or four times a week – windows broken, furniture smashed up… I promise you it will be mayhem.”

Mr Morgan replied: “Let’s not stigmatise these children.”

Asked what degree of mental issues the patients may have, he said: “Some children will have different conditions. I don’t know who these people will be. There is an absence of clarity. I am happy to come back and answer all your questions.”

When asked what do the neighbours do if the patients move in and then kick off, Mr Morgan said: “We need to find out what constitutes ‘disturbance’, ‘inappropriate conduct’ – we need it defined.”

When compared to ‘normal’ teenagers’ behaviour, another resident responded: “When they play their music too loud, you just knock on the door and ask them to turn it down. You can’t do that if you don’t know who’s going to answer the door and what reception you might get.

“We want to know what the protocol is if something happens – management, Alpha…”

Mr Morgan said: “If things did get out of hand and I am unable to overturn the process, I will seek authority from the council to intervene and buy out Alpha.

“What I might seek to do is a back-to-back deal with Alpha for the council to buy the property from them and house a family in it.

“But the deal goes both ways – from you residents too.”

It was pointed out that the neighbourhood officer is also very concerned about what the police might have to deal with.

A resident said: “You should have at least two carers in a house of five teenagers, which will make the total seven and therefore it’s a business.

And: “If the clients are in the house for only six months, as we have been told, they are transient and therefore not resident.”

Another resident asked: “It is a profitable opportunity for Alpha – doesn’t that make it a business?”

Mr Morgan said: “It is a private business with the NHS. This is exactly the same. Yes Alpha will make a profit, just as your GP does and NHS dentists. The point of delivery is part of NHS services.”

To which a resident replied: “But I don’t think my doctor or dentist are mentally disturbed.”

James Trotter added: “We were planning to spend the rest of our lives living here. If it goes ahead, why don’t you buy my house and move in, lose £100,000, because we do not want to live here.”

Mr Morgan concluded: “The first stage will be for Alpha to apply for Certificate of Lawfulness via the council. And state what they will do in writing.”

He has said that he will seek to get Alpha to commit to taking no action to commission the operation at 14, Victoria Road, until the council has been able to determine the planning use of the property.

If it is established as a lawful use he will endeavour to establish with them the precise nature of use and a protocol that would secure reasonable operation to avoid local disturbance and to remedy any events should they arise.

He will also seek an exit route if possible should the need arise.

Mr Morgan is seeking to secure a letter from Alpha to residents to this effect by Friday, July 13.

He has requested a ‘cooling off period’ of no public activity against this intended use while he pursues these matters.

KNAPHILL HOSPITAL – psychiatric care

KNAPHILL HOSPITAL – psychiatric care

A GROUP of outraged residents are fighting plans to house patients with mental health conditions in a property recently bought by a private healthcare  company.

The ‘underhand’ manner in which Alpha Hospitals – a medium-secure mental health facility – went about the purchase has infuriated and upset many families in Victoria Road, Knaphill.

Alpha had informed estate agents and vendors that they wanted to buy No.14 as a residence for five or six members of staff.

James Trotter, who lives next door to the property with his wife and three young children, said: “I initially looked into the matter because of concerns that five staff could compound on the already congested parking in the road.”

On May 22, when he tried to get in touch with Alpha’s registered manager, Ian Hutchinson, the switchboard would not put him through and refused to pass on Hutchinson’s email address.

After three weeks of being “fobbed off’’, Mr Trotter received a letter from Alpha on June 14 – dated June 7 – by which time the sale of the property had been completed on June 11.

It transpired that Alpha’s objective was to change the property’s use from residential to one suitable to house girls ‘unable to live at home’.

Whether this means a secure unit or not is unknown.

Alpha already has a purpose-built hospital in Knaphill which provides an extensive range of psychiatric care for people with mental health conditions.

A resident said: “We’ve learned that Alpha do not need a planning application for the residential institution because there are to be no more than six people living in the house.

Mr Trotter added: “The property was bought in an underhand way, stating that it was to be for staff to live in – but we now know Alpha’s intentions are to convert the house into a home for up to five female patients aged 14 to 18.”

A Victoria Road Action Against Alpha Hospitals group has been formed and a meeting called for Friday, July 6 at St Hugh of Lincoln Church in Victoria Road at 8pm, inviting Alpha representatives, residents, councillors, local police and MP Jonathan Lord. A petition has also been set up calling for the plans to be scrapped.

Alpha Hospitals business development director Zsara Thomas admitted: “We recognise that our communication with residents has fallen far short of what was expected and we regret any upset and distress caused.”

In a letter to residents Ms Thomas said Alpha would not be attending the meeting but that she would be “happy to meet with any resident individually”.

One resident, who did not want to be named, said: “Alpha’s credibility has gone down the pan. There is no trust there any more. The very least they can offer us is an explanation and we would like some guarantees.

“We would like some reassurances and some open lines of communication should the need arise.”