A woman disguised herself as a teenage boy to sexually assault girls after grooming them online.
Gemma Watts posed as 16-year-old “Jake Waton” on social media and swapped intimate photos with victims before meeting at locations across England.
Watts, 21, of Enfield, has pleaded guilty to sexual offences involving four girls. She is due to be sentenced at Winchester Crown Court later.
Police believe she may have assaulted up to 50 victims in total.
Scotland Yard said Watts had used her own picture on Snapchat and Instagram accounts as “Jake” and targeted girls aged 14 to 16 by liking their profiles.
She used teenage slang, sent flattering messages and shared intimate photographs before travelling to meet them in person.
Her disguise included tying her hair back in a bun and wearing a baseball cap, jogging bottoms and a hoodie.
Police said all of her victims believed they were in a relationship with a teenage boy until officers revealed Watts was actually an adult woman.
She was so convincing she even spent time as “Jake” with some of the girls’ parents.
The offences she has admitted relate to a 14-year-old from Hampshire and three 15-year-olds from Surrey, Plymouth and the West Midlands.
Det Con Phillipa Kenwright said the victims “all believed they were in a relationship with a male” and had been “completely taken in” by Watts.
She added: “It’s been life-changing for all of the victims involved.”
The officer said she believed Watts could have duped “20 to 50” victims in total.
In November, Watts pleaded guilty to one count of assault by penetration, three counts of meeting a child following sexual grooming and three counts of sexual assault.
A series of new records for high temperature were broken in the UK in 2019, concluding a record-breaking decade, the Met Office has said.
The last decade was the second hottest in the past 100 years in the UK, with eight new high-temperature records set.
Four new UK records were set last year alone, including the highest winter and summer temperatures ever recorded.
Dr Mark McCarthy, from the Met Office in Exeter, said it was “a consequence of our warming climate”.
The 2010s were the second hottest and second wettest of the “cardinal” decades (those spanning years ending 0-9) in the last 100 years of UK records.
In both cases, the 2010s were slightly behind 2000-2009, which holds the record for the hottest and wettest decade.
Last year, a maximum of 21.2C was reached on 26 February, in London – the hottest February day ever recorded.
On 25 July, temperatures then reached 38.7C in Cambridge – the UK’s highest-ever recorded temperature.
The third record-breaker for 2019 was for the highest daily minimum temperature in February – a temperature of 13.9C recorded on 23 February in the Scottish Highlands.
The hottest December day is also likely to have been exceeded last week, with a provisional temperature of 18.7C recorded in the Highlands of Scotland on 28 December – although the figure still needs to be validated.
- New maximum temperature for December recorded in Highlands
- Record-breaking heatwave temperature confirmed
Overall, the UK was warmer, wetter and sunnier than average in 2019, the Met Office said.
It said 2019 was provisionally the 11th warmest year on record, with a mean average temperature of 9.42C, putting it just outside the top 10 – all of which have all occurred since 2002.
Across the decade – from 2010 to 2019 – other record monthly temperatures were recorded on 1 October 2011 in Kent (29.9C) and 1 November 2015 in Ceredigion (22.4C).
Record highest daily minimums were reached on 25 January 2016 in County Londonderry (13.1C) and 19 April 2018 (15.9C) in Greater London.
Also in the record books was the coldest March day on record, when the “Beast from the East” struck in 2018.
However, Dr McCarthy, the head of the Met Office’s National Climate Information Centre (NCIC), said it was “notable how many of these extreme records have been set in the most recent decade”.
He also noted “how many more of them are reflecting high rather than low temperature extremes”.
He warned the trend was likely to continue, adding: “We would expect these sorts of records subsequently to be broken in the future.”
He said: “We are expecting to see an increase in winter rainfall, so wetter winters and drier summers – but we could still experience some dry winters and wet summers.”
A government spokesman said climate change was a “national priority” and it was committed to increasing the momentum around environmental action.
“Since 1990, we have reduced our emissions by over 40% while growing the economy by over two thirds.
“But we are determined to do more to increase the momentum and drive ambitious action both in the run up to and at this year’s COP26 talks in Glasgow.”
A second man has been arrested over the killing of a 60-year-old man who was stabbed in a street in south London.
The victim was found injured in Woodcroft Road, Thornton Heath, Croydon, at 21:30 GMT on Monday and died minutes later.
A 41-year-old was arrested on Boxing Day on suspicion of murder.
A 50-year-old man who was arrested at the scene on Monday remains in a stable condition in hospital after he became unwell, police said.
Detectives have asked for anyone with information to come forward.
Millwall midfielder Ben Thompson is a doubt following a midweek scan on an ankle injury suffered against Derby.
Shane Ferguson, Ryan Leonard, Frank Fielding, Tom Elliott and Jason McCarthy remain out as the Lions look to make it three successive wins.
Barnsley will be without Alex Mowatt, who is suspended after collecting his fifth yellow card of the season.
But defenders Aapo Halme and Ben Williams could feature after returning to training during the week.
- Millwall have lost their last two home league matches against Barnsley, losing 3-2 in August 2015 and 3-1 in September 2017.
- Since winning five games in a row in all competitions against Millwall, Barnsley have lost their last two.
- In 2019-20, Millwall have averaged 1.9 points per game under Gary Rowett (W5 D4 L1), compared to just 1.1 per game under Neil Harris (W2 D5 L3).
- Barnsley will be looking to register consecutive wins in the Championship for the first time since November 2017.
- Millwall are unbeaten in their last seven league games (W4 D3), since a 1-2 defeat at Reading in November – only Leeds (11) and West Brom (12) are currently on longer such runs amongst teams in the Championship in 2019-20.
- Last time out versus QPR, Conor Chaplin became the first Barnsley player to score a hat-trick in the Championship since Craig Davies vs Birmingham in September 2012. Chaplin has seven league goals in 20 apps this season, just one fewer than he netted in 31 apps for Coventry in 2018-19.
A 14-year-old boy was among two people to be arrested on suspicion of murder after a man was stabbed to death in east London.
The victim, aged in his 20s, was pronounced dead in Clarence Mews, Hackney, at 14:30 GMT on Thursday.
Police believe he was killed during an “altercation” involving several people and “at least two other suspects remain outstanding”.
The boy and a 26-year-old man remain in custody at an east London.
Speaking about the killing, Det Ch Insp Paul Considine said “another young man’s life had been tragically cut short due to the violent actions of others”.
“I would urge anyone who was in the area and witnessed this incident to come forward and speak to police,” he said.
A senior Met Police officer is facing an inquiry over his contact with another officer prior to her conviction for possession of an indecent image.
Supt Robyn Williams was sentenced this month after failing to report her sister for sending a “disturbing” clip of child abuse on WhatsApp.
It has emerged she contacted Ch Supt Simon Ovens for advice.
The Met says it is alleged he may have failed to disclose information that could have helped in an investigation.
Williams’ conviction caused controversy, with The National Black Police Association saying it was “stunned and shocked” by the sentence, calling it “institutional racism”.
She had denied the charge, saying she “zoned out” when she received the video.
The 54-year-old was sentenced to do 200 hours’ unpaid work and could be sacked.
The BBC has learned Ch Supt Ovens, the chair of the Met Police Superintendents’ Association, is himself the subject of an inquiry by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) connected to the case.
A statement issued by the IOPC said it received a referral from the Met in June 2018.
It added: “At that time we advised the officer that we had started a criminal investigation into those allegations.
“The officer was served with a notice informing them they were subject of a misconduct investigation. It should be noted that the serving of a notice in no way indicates disciplinary proceedings will follow.
“We suspended our investigation in November 2018 because of linked criminal proceedings which have now concluded, meaning the IOPC investigation has now resumed.”
The Met Police said Ch Supt Ovens was on “restricted duties”.
Ch Supt Ovens declined to comment.
“I couldn’t focus on schoolwork because I was focused on surviving.”
Rapman is a musician and director whose debut film, Blue Story, tells the story of friendship, love and postcode wars in south-east London.
It follows the life of Timmy who lives in Lewisham but goes to school in Peckham – two areas that have a notorious rivalry.
Rapman – real name Andrew Onwubolu – tells Radio 1 Newsbeat: “That part of it was based on my life – it made my school experience very difficult.”
The film’s message is backed up by its soundtrack, with lyrics like: “I’m not trying to justify, I just want to show you what these young boys are fighting for.”
Rapman says he wants the audience to see past crime statistics and headlines about knife crime, to understand how a “good kid” can lose their way.
“I want people who see the film to learn that these kids are not all spawns of Satan.
“They didn’t come from child abuse or neglectful mothers. What kids go through in the school playground is so intense, it all starts there.”
He believes that more provisions should be put in place to support children who have problems at school, and mentoring should be given instead of “waiting until they’re 17, feeling alone and end up picking up a weapon.”
The rapper-turned-film-maker’s work first went viral in 2017 when his YouTube series, Shiro’s Story, amassed more than 20 million hits.
The three-part drama tells the story of a character whose world is turned upside down when he gets involved in drug dealing and violence, while coping with the news his best friend is the biological dad of the daughter he thought was his.
The story is told mainly through music, Rapman’s bars to be specific, and it got him noticed by Jay Z, who signed Rapman to his label RocNation in 2018.
After the success of Shiro’s Story, the rapper was able to start creating the film script he had been sitting on for a while. He partnered with the BBC and Paramount Pictures, and Blue Story was made.
“My casting director went to all the top agencies to find actors but I also wanted to use raw talent.
“I put a casting call out on social media, I wanted new faces.”
One of those new faces was Stephen Odubola.
Stephen, 23, emailed Rapman after Shiro’s Story won an award, saying he would love to work with him – but got no reply.
A few months later, after trying his luck at the open audition, he was cast as the protagonist in Blue Story.
Stephen tells Radio 1 Newsbeat: “I walked into that audition and didn’t think I would get it. There were so many people.
“I prepared so much, and now watching it back is like an out of body experience. Watching the greatness we have created.”
Rapman is clear that Blue Story, which also stars Top Boy’s Micheal Ward, is a film for everyone.
“Mothers, kids in gangs, kids who aren’t in gangs, politicians.
“It’s the most authentic journey you’re going to see.
“I love when I go to the screenings and see people who look like they’ve had no connection to that world – people who are upper class, wealthy, and are just curious.
“I’m hoping that everyone who can’t relate to that world, but understands human emotions, goes to watch it.”
The family of a 15-year-old who was stabbed to death in east London have said he was a talented and loving boy.
Baptista Adjei, from North Woolwich, was killed on Stratford Broadway on his way home from school in October.
A 15-year-old boy has been charged with murder.
Do we inherit loneliness from our parents in the same way we inherit our hair and eye colour? Two women explain how loneliness has played a part in their lives – and how it relates to their parents and children.
“Loneliness for me is constant. No matter where I am, it just doesn’t go away. It’s almost like you can feel it in your bones, this deep feeling of wanting to fit in and wanting to be around people you know and love, but you can’t.
“I do think I have inherited it. It’s kind of been passed on to me.”
Angel Kissi and her mum Hayley, both struggle with anxiety, depression and loneliness. For her mum, the latter was sparked by severe post-natal depression. For Angel, it started when she was a child.
“My family stood out in Peterborough. Everyone knew who we were because we looked different. I’m really tall and mixed race and I stood out,” says the 20-year-old. “When I went to university, things were good but I still felt like I didn’t fit in. I thought moving to London would change that and it didn’t.
“I still felt like I was quiet and awkward. I really struggled to connect with people and make friends straight away. Everyone was going out for drinks after class and I was never invited. I felt like I was doing something wrong.
“Eventually I stopped going to my lectures. I would get up, get ready to go and then go back to bed. I would avoid going to shared areas of my flat, I shut myself away and isolated myself. I went into the loneliness and let it take over.”
Unable to cope, Angel left university before the first year was over. Although she felt a strong desire to go home and be close to her mum, she rented a room close-by.
“It’s good we don’t live together because we would be bringing each other up and down all the time. She has definitely helped me with some aspects [of my mental health] but other times I didn’t want to speak to her because I didn’t want to make her worse.
“If she was different, then maybe I’d be different. I don’t blame her at all, she didn’t choose to be like this, it’s not her fault. It’s probably something that I have got from her. Personality traits or attitudes that I’ve learnt from her without meaning to.”
According to Age UK, loneliness is defined as feeling a lack of affection, closeness or social interaction with others.
The charity Mind says it is not a mental health issue but research suggests it is associated with an increased risk of depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and stress, and can be triggered by major life events such as bereavement, relationship break-ups, retirement, changing jobs and moving.
Dr Rebecca Nowland, who has researched the subject of loneliness, says it can be passed down in families.
“I don’t think we’re going to find a gene for loneliness but it’s about how we respond to an experience of loneliness that might be genetic,” she said.
“There has been a number of studies that have indicated that loneliness is certainly hereditary, that it might run in families and there might be associations between a parent’s loneliness and a child’s loneliness.
“Being parented by someone who has been in a lonely state for some time means we might transmit some of those negative feelings. It’s the transmission of negativity that might be happening rather than the experience of loneliness itself.”
Kirsty McGrath thinks loneliness became a problem for her after her son was born five years ago. She tried going to a number of mother and baby groups to make new friends but struggled to organise play dates and found herself increasingly isolated.
Although her husband supports her in the evenings, she finds daytimes difficult because she is often alone and has no-one to talk to. The 33-year-old teacher, who lives in Eltham, south London, says she is worried that not being able to socialise her children will have an effect on them and she might pass on her own feelings of loneliness, which she describes as a “grey cloud”.
“I am paranoid of passing it on to the kids, I wouldn’t be surprised if I did. It’s something I am very aware of. I just want them to feel comfortable around others and not feel like they don’t fit in.
“My son has come home from school and said to me that he doesn’t have any friends and that he hasn’t played with anyone. I’m worried he is like this because of me, that I haven’t put him in enough social situations to know how to mix with others.”
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Loneliness is a common experience among new parents and finding groups with shared interests, as opposed to those just focused on parenting, is one way to cope, says Dr Nowland.
Dr Faruq Fazal, a GP who has worked in mental health services, says loneliness comes about when people don’t have a support network and believes teaching coping skills in school could help.
“Nobody really teaches you how to cope through life’s challenges. For those suffering from loneliness, it’s not just about physically having people around you, it’s when you feel you’re not able to talk to people and you don’t have any emotional support,” he says.
“I see people who don’t have a support network and their coping strategy has gone.”
Mind suggests a number of ways to manage loneliness, including peer support and talking therapies.
Dr Nowland says seeking professional advice can also help those stuck in a cycle of behaviour brought about by loneliness.
“Loneliness leaves you with this emotional feeling that is quite painful and distressing. If someone is lonely and they have felt it for a long time, it’s realising that it’s ok and that you might have developed negative thought patterns.
“You might need some help with cognitive behaviour therapy to help you think and reframe things.”
Angel has had counselling but says although it has helped with her anxiety, it hasn’t helped with her feelings of loneliness.
She returned to university briefly but has since decided to focus on her mental health, work, and learning to drive.
“Loneliness is really different from anxiety and it’s different from not being able to make friends,” she says.
“Anxiety can isolate you, but the loneliness that I felt at university was separate from that – it’s about being around people, but being in your own little world.
“I’m in a relationship and I’m close to my family but that loneliness is still there. Overall, things have improved a lot, but I don’t know if it’s ever going to go.”