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A Art dealer who conned his associates out of $55M before going on the run is found after 18 YEARS

It's been 18 years since art dealer Michel Cohen conned his New York associates out of $55million in 2001 - the biggest swindle the art world has ever seen. 

After racking up millions of dollars' worth of debt following a series of dismal trades on the stock market, the French-born charlatan scammed cash out of private collectors, auction houses and other art dealers before eventually going on the run.

He was arrested and imprisoned in Brazil in 2003, but Cohen managed to escape and subsequently disappeared off the face of the earth.

Now, 16 years later, Cohen has been tracked down by documentary-maker Vanessa Engle - and insists he never 'stole' the paintings he deceptively acquired as he saw them as 'loans'.

During the 90-minute film, which airs on BBC Two tonight, Engle quizzes him over a Picasso painting he 'borrowed' from art dealer Paul Gray.

She reveals Cohen, now 60, was given the artwork on consignment, having not paid Gray a penny, after telling him he could sell it for $2.2million.

Then, without the dealer's permission, Cohen 'put it on a private plane to Iowa' where he 'sold it to a collector for $4.5m'. 

But Cohen disputes this, arguing he 'owned' the painting because Gray 'invoiced him for it' - despite him having never coughed up the $2.2m.

'It's not stealing,' Cohen tells Engle. 'When you steal it's like a robbery, it's not stealing. He invoiced me - there are many examples of galleries who buy your picture and they don't pay, or they pay half of it, they have money problems, that's not stealing. Stealing is when you rob something.'

Engle then brings up a Monet painting that Cohen 'sold' to a gallery in Switzerland for $5m as well as an investor in Los Angeles for another $5m - despite not owning the piece.

It total, three different people gave Cohen a total of $12.5m for one painting which wasn't even for sale - but he is quick to argue that these payments are 'loans'. 

'They were loans at the time. I did not know 10 years later I would not be able to pay them back,' he explains.

So how did Cohen manage to pull off the biggest art swindle of all time?

Having grown up in a relatively poor household - his father was a taxi driver and his mother a secretary - Cohen became the family 'provider' when his dad left.

Richard Roy, a friend and assistant to Cohen, tells in the documentary how at age 16, Cohen pushed his mother to divorce her husband because he was 'abusive' to her. 

'He became the man of the family and he felt he had to take care of his mother, brother, sister - he had this idea that money could save the day,' Richard recalls.

'He was a high school drop-out but he was very bright, very intelligent, and a great memory, he could really remember things. He played chess and he was very good at it. Chess is strategy. For him, life is a bit of a chess game.'

As a teenager Cohen sold the encyclopedia door-to-door and was the number one salesman in France.

In want of 'something more', he and Richard moved to the US where they begin making and selling French paté.

Realising they would 'never become rich this way', Cohen moved on to selling posters and framing them, and soon became ensconced in the art industry - even buying a boat to entertain clients on-board.

'I got to know the owners of these galleries and the people, and I decided to put a small ad in the San Franscico chronicle listing some graphics for sale by these artists and I got calls,' Cohen explains. 

'I met my first private clients for an ad that cost me $100.'

Despite knowing very little about art in the beginning, dealer Ed Russell calls him an 'opportunist', adding: 'He took every opportunity offered to him.'

Richard adds: 'When you sell art, and you're French, and you have a French accent, it's a good selling point. Americans always think that somebody from somewhere else is going to know more than they do.

'He had piles of auction catalogues, and he would know them by heart. I remember there were post-it notes on almost every page. He would remember the size of the painting, the year of the painting, the price that it did at auction, he would remember everything.'

San Francisco-based Cohen became a successful dealer, selling Picassos, Monets, Chagalls to clients in New York.

'He always loved nice things,' Richard recalls. 'He felt that the more rich you look, the more trustworthy you are.

'The nice suit, the shirt, the tie - he had his suit to measure in Beverley Hills - he made that character as a very successful art dealer.

'He managed to get the trust of these people who would actually even send him paintings without any paper work, that's the crazy thing about the art world. But because of his reputation and the volume of work that he's done and in those days, anything that he would say he would do, there was no delay, sure thing.'

Unfortunately it was Cohen's love of the high life that ultimately became his downfall. In the early 1990s, he began options trading, initially to raise more capital to invest more into art.

His first successful trade saw him invest $20,000 and get $100,000 back within days.

'I felt, it's great, it's better than art, the returns are tremendous,' Cohen admits. 'It's nice to make money, lots of money.'

In 1996 he got lucky on the options market again and turned $30K to $13m, which is when he met and married his wife - an art consultant dealer - in Las Vegas.

They had their first baby in 1997 and moved to Circles on the Point at the top of Point Dume in Malibu - which featured in the 1994 movie Color of Night starring Bruce Willis and Scott Bakula - where they welcomed their second child. 

Cohen continued to buy and sell art from the west coast - to cover his $10,000-a-month mortgage, private chef, nanny, maid, gardener, his wife's horses and $5,000-a-month car loans.

His friend Robert Galoob, an art collector, describes him in the documentary as a 'young French Jewish Icarus' - referring to the character in Greek mythology who soared so high the sun melted the wax cementing his wings causing him to fall into the sea.

'It may have happened too quickly for him, I think that was one of the problems,' he says.

Things then took a turn with his trading, and a series of bad investment choices cost him millions. According to his former assistant, Cohen would lose vast fortunes in one day that he couldn't afford to pay back.

By the summer of 2000, Cohen admits in the film that his debt was 'less than $15million'.

Richard recalls: 'I was observing a train crash in slow motion because the level of debt; things became really crazy because he used money from the paintings to play the market.'

Speaking about his decision to begin swindling his associates, Cohen says: 'I tried to get back losses and then I used other people's loans or proceeds to try and make some money and pay the loans off like I did before. 

'In my mind I always thought I would pay them back. One good trade and I would have made the money and nobody would have known what I did.'

Despite his finances being in dire straits, Cohen continued to live his Champagne lifestyle, having moved back to New York to a $25,000-a-month rented apartment, and splashing out $1,800 in Prada, $2,500 on bedlinen and $13,000 on a hotel in Palm Beach for a holiday.

Six weeks before he fled, he spent nearly $4,000 in a watch shop and £22,500 on a Steinway piano. 

When quizzed about his elaborate spending by Engle in the documentary, Cohen reasons: 'I wanted the kids to learn the piano.

'If you were $20m or $30m [in debt] it's not making any difference if you spend $50,000 that month, especially with an American Express card because you don't have to pay it, you just pay the interest.'

Sotheby's eventually called the police after Cohen defaulted on a $10m loan he owed them. That's when it emerged he had been selling the same paintings over and over again for very large amounts of money - despite never actually owning them.

On January 27 2001, Cohen fled from New York, having stolen a total of $55m and leaving the art world in shock. 

To this day it appears Cohen feels little remorse for what he did. He tells Engle: 'There are pepople who have assets of $50million to billions, so it did not affect their lives, but my life was affected. 

'Yeah I feel bad, but not as bad as if you lose money for people who need to survive on it.'

Speaking about his decision to flee, he says the sentence he would have received had he stayed and been arrested would have been 'like the death penalty'.

'When the lawyer told me in the State it's five years per count... then it's five times 24 and maybe it would have been five times 50 in the end, but anyway you look at it it's like the death penalty.

'I was 48 years old then, so why should I wait for a 20 year sentence or a 15 year sentence? I did not kill anybody.'

Having flown to Madrid, Cohen then boarded the next available flight - to Rio de Janeiro, calling his random choice 'another adventure'.

After a few weeks he was joined by his wife and children, but in May 2003 he was arrested by Federal police and Interpol and taken to an underground prison.

After several months surrounded by 'dangerous people', Cohen says he 'could not take it for much longer' and hatched a plan to escape.

Hearing one of the prison ambulances was broken, he asked to go to hospital and was escorted there in a private car with two armed officers.

On a busy one-way street, Cohen leapt out of the car and ran - with the policemen unable to shoot him in the crowded area.

'I ran really fast, I mean, so fast after a few hundred metres I thought I would have a heart attack, I could not run anymore,' Cohen recounts.

'I saw a taxi and I had him drop me off at a shopping mall not far, so I bought a baseball cap and some cheap sunglasses.'

He then spent six months travelling across the Amazon to get on the other side to Guiana, which is French territory, arriving in January 2004 before flying back to France in August of that year. 

Cohen would call Richard asking for money, which he would send until cash flow became tight his end.

'When I ran out of money I had times where I could not eat,' Cohen recalls.

'Once it happened four days in a row so I had hot water and sugar, but then I could not sleep because when you have too much sugar you just, you know, you feel your pulse in your head, it's a very strange feeling, it's awful.'

His family joined him five years later in 2008, and his youngest son, who was just six months when Cohen fled, failed to recognise him - something that clearly caused the fugitive a great deal of pain. 

These days Cohen admits he does not dwell on the past because it's 'not productive', adding: 'It's not in my mentality to have regrets.'

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Two sisters and friend died after being ‘swept down a river’ on tour

Two sisters and a friend who were backpacking in South East Asia died after being ‘swept down a river’ during a guided tour, an inquest heard. Beth Anderson, 24, Izzy Squire, 19, and their friend, Christian Sloan, 24, were travelling in Vietnam when they drowned in fast-moving water near a waterfall on February 26, 2016. The trio were caught in strong currents after descending a waterfall and were with an official guide, an inquest was today told.

The formation was not a ‘typical vertical’ waterfall and was instead described as a ‘water slide’ by senior coroner Christopher Dorries. Reading information provided from Vietnam, Mr Dorries said groups would descend on a rockface laying on their back head first.

At the bottom of the slide was a two metre deep pool where tourists were expected to exit to the left hand side to dry land. However, the pool’s currents lead to another ‘tier’ of waterfall below which was described as ‘dangerous’. The two women from Sheffield, South Yorkshire, and Mr Sloan, from Kent, had booked the ‘trekking’ tour at the Datanla Waterfalls in the Da Lat area of Vietnam together after meeting a few days earlier while backpacking, the inquest heard. The senior coroner said: ‘Christian and a male friend met up with the girls a few days before. ‘They agreed they would meet up again at a travel agents to book a tourist trip.’

The tour hosted by ‘Da Lat Passion Tours’ – which consisted of the three of them and their guide – had been chosen instead of a more difficult ‘canyoning tour’ due to potential dangers. It was described as a ‘morning trekking’ tour through water, rivers and waterfalls in the inquest at Sheffield Coroners Court today. Mr Dorries said the group were the only three members of their specific tour. They were due to be joined by another male but he had fallen ill and did not join the group.

They were picked up by a guide, named as ‘Dang Van Si’, before commencing on the tour. The group – who each lived with their parents in England – had been walking towards one of six waterfalls in the area, the inquest heard

The coroner added: ‘They were picked up and took off. They walked to an area and were going to go to a waterfall. ‘It is a water slide which appears to be popular. When they got there, people were in the process of going down.’ The coroner said as the group was small with only three members, another tour in front with six people was asked to allow them to go first. The trio laid on their backs, head first, to negotiate the waterfall wearing helmets and life jackets. As they reached the bottom of the slide, strong currents swept them down river towards the next waterfall.

Their bodies were later recovered from the water with fatal injuries. Distressing photographs were shown to the inquest of the trio taken by one of the members of the six-strong group behind them. The photographs showed the three friends in the water below after they had descended the slide just moments before they were caught in the currents. The inquest was also shown harrowing GoPro footage taken by a member of the group of six as she went down the slide after the trio.

In the shocking footage, a girl from the group who followed Beth, Izzy and Christian screams, ‘I can’t stop!’ before clambering to the dry land on the left of the water after an evident struggle. Police officer DC Stephanek pointed the inquest to two individuals who can be seen within the footage who are believed to have been two of the victims in the water heading towards the next waterfall tier.

Forensic pathologist Charles Wilson carried out post-mortem examinations of the three bodies after they were repatriated to England. Izzy Squire, a student, had a ‘large fracture of the skull’ and injuries to her left temple. Her cause of death was described as ‘a combination of head injuries and drowning’. Employed artist Beth Anderson’s cause of death was given in the report read to the court as ‘drowning’.

Christian Sloan, a customer relations officer, died from fatal injuries which were described as ‘head and neck injuries associated with drowning’. All of their deaths were consistent with being ‘swept down a river’, the inquest heard.

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Daughter of couple who died on holiday warns Brits away from ‘DANGEROUS’ Egypt

Tourists have been warned of rampant E.coli infections at an Egyptian resort where a British couple died under suspicious circumstances last year. Public Health England say 22 holidaymakers have been struck down with E.coli related infections in Egypt this year, with fears the number will rise. Hurghada, a popular resort along the coast of the Red Sea, has been labelled a ‘hotspot for illness’ where eating food is like playing ‘Russian roulette’. Brits are being advised to avoid salads, ice cream, cheese and ice cubes as the bug is spread through contaminated water or food. They should also be careful not to accidentally take gulps of water in swimming pools. The warning comes after the sudden deaths of John Cooper, 69, and his wife Susan, 63, at the Steigenberger Aqua Magic Hotel in August last year. Egyptian authorities claimed after a post-mortem that the couple from Burnley, Lancashire, had died from E.coli, but their daughter Kelly Ormerod disputes this.

The pair died shortly after their granddaughter had walked out of their room due to a ‘funny smell’. A British post-mortem proved inconclusive although an expert claimed the Coopers may have been exposed to an ‘infectious biological agent or toxic chemicals’. An inquest into their deaths is due to take on a date yet to be fixed. Food and hygiene tests carried out by independent health inspectors at the hotel later revealed ‘high levels’ of E.coli. Two days before the deaths, British mum-of-two Sarah McCormick feared her husband Thomas was going to die from food poisoning at the very same hotel. The ex-army corporal was left ‘curled up in a ball of pain’ due to crippling stomach pains, sickness and diarrhoea, and had to be placed on a drip.

Thomas Cook evacuated 301 guests from the hotel before admitting that ‘something went wrong’ and the travel firm no longer sells holidays there. E.coli has an incubation period of three to five days, so many tourists don’t start showing symptoms until they’ve arrived back home.

Public Health England and its sister agencies advise anyone feeling sick after visiting the resort to seek medical attention. A spokeswoman told ‘For little ones it can be really quite a serious illness, and as you can imagine with package holidays, it’s really hard to work out what is causing this because everyone has eaten everything and they’ve all been in the pools.’ The government agency has advised visitors to ‘avoid food that has been left uncovered in warm environments and exposed to flies’. They also ask tourists to avoid ice and to ensure all meat is cooked thoroughly and is not served pink or cold.

Deputy Director of the National Infection Service at Public Health England, Dr. Nick Phin said: ‘Anyone suffering from diarrhoea and vomiting should ensure they keep well hydrated and seek medical advice if their symptoms don’t improve within 48 hours. ‘They should also avoid preparing or serving food while they have symptoms and thoroughly wash their hands after using the toilet to stop the bug being passed to others.’

Head of Travel at Simpson Millar Solicitors Nick Harris called the resort a ‘hotspot for illness’ and said he wasn’t surprised by the ongoing outbreak. He added: ‘This is very concerning and people are quite rightly worried. If you visit this resort you could be putting your life in someone else’s hands. ‘This area is a repeat offender with very poor hygiene practices and obviously they haven’t cleaned up their act. ‘We have dealt with lots of cases with people left seriously ill and with life long health complications. ‘The standards over there are much more lax then in the UK. ‘When you eat over there you are taking part in Russian roulette, as you have to rely on other people to wash their hands to stop you getting ill.

Tour companies need to do much more to ensure their customers safety.’ E.coli is linked to poor hygiene practices and is spread by infected faeces contaminating water or food. Symptoms include bloody diarrhoea, severe abdominal pain and cramps, vomiting and nausea. So far this year, four of the 22 English victims have been hospitalised, including one who developed haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS). The rare condition can cause kidney failure and in rare instances be fatal. One 19-year-old victim spent 11 days in intensive care in the UK last year after developing suspected HUS on a family trip to Hurghada. This is the third year in a row that the resort has seen an outbreak of E.coli. In 2018, five out of 24 Brits who visited the region were hospitalised while a further 11 Brits caught the bug the year before.

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In May 2018 she paid £10,000 to undergo gastric sleeve surgery privately

A woman who was placed on a diet at the age of ten and felt ashamed of her size 32 figure has undergone gastric sleeve surgery and now she hopes to end the taboo surrounding weight loss surgery. 

Recruitment consultant, Imogen Wilson, 26, from Crawley, West Sussex, UK, whose weight started increasing from the age of eight, grew up knowing she was heavier than most children her age. 

However, over the years, Imogen, who was placed on a diet by the time she reached ten, lost her self-confidence and became increasingly ashamed of her figure, losing any hope of ever feeling 'normal'.    

She was also too scared to do anything social due to the crippling fear of anyone looking at her 25-stone frame which she tried to conceal under size 32 clothing.

Imogen then tried calorie counting but it proved to be a losing battle, and as her confidence plummeted, she avoiding travelling for fear she wouldn't fit in a plane seat, and also refused to date. 

In early 2018, Imogen decided she had spent enough time shying away from life and she felt compelled to make a change, leading her to research weight loss surgery. 

She had previously feared weight loss surgery because she had assumed she would not be able to eat normally after, but upon looking into it she realised this was not the case.

In May 2018, Imogen paid £10,000 for a gastric sleeve and she has since been able to shed an incredible ten stone bringing her current weight to 15 stone.

The dramatic change has seen her confidence soar and has also enabled her to go into shops in order to buy size 16 clothes.

She said: 'My weight was a concern pretty much from birth, but I started putting weight on properly from the age of eight and was on a diet by the time I was ten.

'I was very overweight from a young age and I always struggled. Growing up, I saw doctors and dieticians, but nothing really helped.

'As a child, I was told "eat less, move more". I was also told to keep a food diary which was assessed. I was a very fit and active child, and always fought to lose weight, but it was a losing battle.

'I was put on a diet from around ten, mainly eating fresh food. I had tuna salad every day at school, to the point my friends convinced themselves I would get mercury poisoning as I ate it so often.

By the time I left school, I had given up hope of ever being ''normal''. My weight affected every aspect of my life; I suffered from a crippling lack of self-confidence, I became so ashamed, I was scared to do almost anything. 

'Even sitting in a room with people made me uncomfortable because I knew they were looking at me.

'My diet has always been general calorie counting and carb restriction. Whenever I came off a strict diet, the weight would pile on - my record is putting on a stone and a half in two weeks. My body always seemed to fight against me.

'I always felt different. I couldn't participate in group activities. I was always embarrassed and shy, so I never did anything out of my comfort zone.

'My weight impacted every single aspect of my life. I haven't travelled for 10 years because I was so scared of the plane seats. I avoided dating completely as I was so embarrassed, and I never pursued a career because I just didn't have the confidence.'

After researching weight loss surgery in depth, Imogen opted for a gastric sleeve rather than a gastric bypass as her young age was an important factor, and she did  not want to live with the restrictions of a gastric bypass for the rest of her life.

The surgery and subsequent weight loss have drastically changed how Imogen views herself as she now feels confident and proud of herself every day. 

Now she regularly works out in the gym and has also completed a 10K race, much to her own amazement.

She continued: 'One day, I simply decided to do something about it and I started researching weight loss surgery. 

'I always thought it was a massive, life changing surgery and I wouldn't be able to eat normally again, but after meeting with my incredible bariatric surgeon, I knew there was nothing to be scared of.

'I had a gastric sleeve in May 2018 privately for £10,000 and have since lost ten stone. The sleeve is an incredible procedure. 

'They remove 80 per cent of your stomach so you can only eat small portions, but more importantly, it removes the portion of your stomach that produces the hunger hormone, so you don't feel hungry.

'It also speeds up the digestive process and therefore speeds up the metabolic rate. All of this comes together to help you lose weight. A day after the surgery I felt back to normal and was back at work a week later.

'After surgery, as there isn't much room, you focus on eating protein. I joined a gym after one week and eight days post-op I was swimming. 

'This has developed into a love of exercise and now I go the gym all the time and recently completed a 10K race, but before I couldn't even run for 10 seconds.

'Surgery has given me the chance to lose weight. I tried so many times and the weight always went back on, but this has given me the shot I needed. You still have to diet and exercise, it just changes your metabolism to make the weight loss achievable.

'I respect myself now. I'm worth more than I settled for. I am confident and I am proud of who I've become. I can now truly say I'm happy, and my life is a complete joy. 

'Every day I wake up with a smile on my face. I have made so many new friends as part of my bariatric support group, my family are proud of me and finally, I have lost that feeling of shame.

'Don't waste a second of your life. Being overweight is cruel, but there's an answer. I am so lucky I chose to have this surgery at a young age because now I have a future. You could spend the rest of your life on a diet, and the chances are you won't lose the weight, this is a real chance to fix it once and for all.

'I want to spread the word about the gastric sleeve because it seems such a taboo subject. If you have a cataract, you get it fixed, if you're obese, equally, it needs to be fixed. It is nothing to be ashamed of. 

'Saving your life is something to be proud of, and I want to shout it from the rooftops.'

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Muslim woman defends Jewish family after man shouts anti-Semitic abuse on Tube

A Muslim woman bravely defended a Jewish family who were the subject of anti-Semitic abuse on the London Underground. The disturbing moment was caught on video, which shows a man aggressively reading anti-Jewish passages from the Bible to two young boys wearing skullcaps, while on the Northern Line on Friday. The man is seen shouting over the child as a man, who appears to be his father, calmly puts his arm around the shell-shocked boy and distracts him, saying ‘just ignore him’. Soon, other passengers begin to intervene before the man, who was wearing a cap and a hoody, threatens someone off-camera and threatens to ‘smack you right in your nose’. A Muslim woman then defends the family and calmly confronts him saying: ‘Come on man, there’s children here.’ He swerves around to face her and accuses the Jewish community of funding the slave trade, adding: ‘These people are imposters who are now trying to claim our heritage’.

The woman tries to calm him but he shouts at her: ‘Do you care about your people?’, before adding: ‘And why are you wearing trousers, man? You shouldn’t be wearing trousers. You don’t even follow your own s***.’ British Transport Police have launched an investigation into the incident and are appealing to the public for information. Chris Atkins, 43, filmed the ‘shocking’ moment at midday after catching the Tube heading south on the Charing Cross branch of the line. The journalist said: ‘I’ve lived in London for 20 years and you’re used to people ranting on the Tube – it was only after a minute I realised, “hang on this is really, really anti-Semitic”. ‘It was the children that really got me and everyone else, he was just screaming at these children. It was horrific in every sense. ‘He seemed to be a very committed Christian and believed this was the word of God – that it said in the Bible Jews killed Jesus and they are all slave masters. ‘It’s the kind of stuff you see on Twitter a lot… but to hear someone actually say it unashamedly was shocking.’

Mr Atkins praised the woman who put herself on the line to defend the family and said although the incident was horrific, it was ‘heartening’ to see Londoners of all religions sticking together. ‘The Muslim woman didn’t take any s*** from him and really, really took him to task, very firmly and persistently,’ he added. ‘In this day and age we are told how intolerant everyone is and all religions hate each other and there you had a Muslim woman sticking up for some Jewish children.’ Filmmaker Mr Atkins filmed for around two minutes ‘on instinct’ before moving to swap seats with the young boy next to the man. He continued: ‘I was sat between the guy and the family to try and be a bit of a barrier. ‘Then another guy came up and started talking to him who was very good, who basically said “what is it in the Bible?” and “tell me where it shows that” just to divert attention away from the family. ‘It was horrific but it was also quite heartening to see Londoners of all creeds and colours taking him to task.’

Mr Atkins said the family got off the train a few stops later at Leicester Square and the father of the two boys gave him consent to share the video on Twitter. He has since given information to the police and said he is willing to give a witness statement if needed. In a statement the British Transport Police said: ‘We are aware of a video circulating on Twitter which shows passengers being harassed and being targeted with anti-Semitic abuse on a Northern Line train. ‘Enquiries are being made in relation to this footage’. Anyone who witnessed what happened, or who has information, is asked to contact BTP by sending a text to 61016 or by calling 0800 40 50 40 quoting reference 357 of 22/11.

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First picture of British businessman gunned down outside Costa del Sol villa

A British businessman who was shot dead in a professional hit in a Costa del Sol holiday resort has been pictured for the first time.

Peter Andrew Williamson, 39, from Salford, Greater Manchester, was killed as he parked outside his luxury villa in Riviera del Sol near Fuengirola after returning from the gym on Thursday.

He died instantly after one of the seven bullets fired at him hit him in the heart

Today friends and relatives paid tribute to Mr Williamson, who was nicknamed Snaggle and is understood to have two children.

Aunt Carol Williamson Moores wrote on social media: 'My caring beautiful nephew little Peter.

'Taken from us in horrible circumstances. Gone too soon. Love you Snaggle. Always in my heart. Will never be forgotten.'

Sarah Kay Moores added: 'Absolutely devastated and heartbroken. Still doesn't seem real that he's gone.'

Dawn Collinge wrote: 'Wow. In Shock. RIP Snuggle.'

Mr Williamson was gunned down in a residential street called Calle Ofrebres, in hills above the Med on the north side of the AP-7 motorway running along the Costa del Sol, around 3.15pm on Thursday.

He was sitting in his UK-plated two-seater Audi when he was targeted outside his large detached home, which has a notice by the front gate which says in Spanish: 'CCTV operating in this area.

'You may be being recorded.'

Spanish business records show Mr Williamson, believed to have been shot from another vehicle that drew up beside him before speeding from the scene, was registered as a self-employed agricultural sector intermediary specialising in 'international trade.'

Local paper Diario Sur reported today police were focusing on the theory the expat's murder was drugs-related and said he had been arrested in March by Spanish police for using a transport firm to send cannabis resin from Malaga to an unidentified destination.

There has been no official comment from Costa del Sol police about the reports.

Officers have confirmed no arrests have yet taken place.

Mr Williamson's murder was the second in less than a week in the area.

Last Friday a man was shot dead on a residential estate known as Andasol a short drive from Marbella town centre and close to a beach area called Alvarito Playa east of Marbella.

Detectives hunting the killer, believed to have fled the scene in a getaway car, have not made any official comment on the nationalities of the gunshot victims, although local reports at the time said they were of 'Arabic origin.'

That incident is being linked to a gangland drugs feud.

In January a millionaire businessman who was close to the stars of reality TV series TOWIE and partied with the likes of Mohamed Al Fayed, was shot dead outside his luxury Costa del Sol home.

Marco Yaqout was gunned down in the early hours of January 21 as he drove into his garage in his trademark UK-plated Bentley.

His killer was waiting for him outside his villa on a quiet residential street in an upmarket neighbourhood in San Pedro de Alcantara near Marbella called Las Petunias.

English-speaking entrepreneur Marco was described at the time of his murder as the owner of at least five-well-known nightspots in Puerto Banus, including the TOWIE favourite TIBU, and Linekers.

The gruesome murder was the latest in a string of violent incidents on the Costa del Sol in recent months.

They have included two attacks on Britons, the shooting of a Dutchman in a sushi restaurant in the popular resort of Benalmadena and the machine-gun murder of a Frenchman outside his home in Marbella.

Last September a 24-year-old Brit was stabbed twice in the legs by an assailant who attacked him in the street without warning in the popular resort of Puerto Banus.

The violent crime occurred ten days after a 35-year-old Brit was shot, stabbed, beaten and given a Glasgow Smile - caused by making a cut from the corners of a victim's mouth up to the ears - close to the same area after being abducted by a gang of criminals over a drug deal.

The torture victim was later identified as Craig Moran, jailed for 13 years for his part in a September 2003 armed raid on a jeweller's in Nottingham in which shop owner Marian Bates was killed.

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uspect mother tries to kill herself after missing daughter, 5, ‘is found dead’

A mother who was a suspect in the case of her missing 5-year-old daughter tried to kill herself shortly after the girl’s body was believed to be found. Brianna Williams, 27, was rushed to a hospital November 12 after overdosing on unidentified pills on the same day authorities found remains while searching for her daughter, Taylor Williams, in a wooded area in Alabama. Family members said Williams was on life-support after the incident, while investigators said she was in a medically-induced coma, but she has since recovered and was charged with two counts of child neglect while hospitalized. She was also charged with giving false information to police. Authorities said they believe the body they found is Taylor, but have yet to positively identify her. They are also still working to determine a time and cause of death. Brianna Williams was transferred to the Duval County jail in Jacksonville, Florida after spending nine days in the hospital, police said Thursday.

Williams, a petty officer in the US Navy, reported her daughter missing from her home in Jacksonville on November 6, but she stopped cooperating with police once they questioned ‘inconsistencies’ in her story, police said. She originally told investigators that Taylor was gone when she awoke on the morning of November 6, but family members and several others told police that they have not seen the girl for a while.

Williams also told investigators that the child had been staying with her grandmother, Brianna’s mother, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama throughout October – but her mother denied having the girl that month. Both maternal and paternal grandparents told police that they had not seen Taylor for more than a year. Records show the last time Taylor attended daycare on the naval base they lived on was April 29. An arrest warrant for Williams said Taylor was last seen in May.

Forensic Expert Michael Knox told First Coast News that the ‘last seen in May’ designation on Williams’ arrest report is a ‘telltale sign’ of foul play. Tonisha Williams, Brianna’s sister, said Brianna did not answer texts from her family for months leading up to the day her daughter was reported missing.

‘The coroner’s position would be if, in fact, it’s clear to them that this child was dead long before the time that she was supposedly last seen by the mother,’ Knox said. ‘That would be enough to show that the mother is doing something wrong here, that would tend to indicate some foul play.’ Williams is due to be arraigned in December.

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Great-grandmother lost three family members to murder and manslaughter

A woman who lost three of her family members in horrific circumstances is asking Merseyside businesses to help her expand her groundbreaking charity.

Jean Taylor, from Greasby, has lost THREE of her family members – a daughter, son and sister – to murder and manslaughter and is the founder and chairperson of Families Fighting For Justice (FFFJ).

The organisation, which is based on Anson Street, off London Road, Liverpool, also includes children’s charity O.L.L.Y – Our Lost Love Years, which supports children bereaved by murder or dangerous driving. 

Both groups were born out of a nationwide campaign led by Jean, which culminated in a march on 10 Downing Street almost exactly 11 years ago. It called for full life sentences to be given to those guilty of first-degree murder and tougher sentences for manslaughter.

And FFFJ is now hoping to receive the financial support it needs to open a much-needed respite centre, and a separate new home for its children’s charity.

Jean was inspired to take her fight to the government and judiciary following the brutal murder and mutilation of her daughter, Chantel Taylor, a 27-year-old mum-of-three from Birkenhead, in 2004.

Stephen Wynne, who went to the same secondary school as Chantel, was jailed for life after pleading guilty to her murder. But his original sentence of at least 21 years was cut by appeal court judges in 2006 to 18 years.

FFFJ’s motto is One Moment in Time Left Us a Lifetime of Suffering – but Jean, a mum-of-five, gran of 17 and great gran of 14, has suffered three appalling moments in time.

In 2000, Jean’s 31-year-old son, Stephen Crofts, was found dead in his Birkenhead flat after being given a lethal injection of diamorphine by a former girlfriend, who was found guilty of manslaughter and jailed for three-and-a-half years.

And in 1998, Jean’s sister, mum-of-two Joyce, 47, was discovered unconscious in her London home by a neighbour and taken to hospital. Before she slipped into a coma she told the neighbour she had been attacked and left for dead. Three days later she died from her extensive internal injuries. No one has ever been convicted of her murder.

FFFJ, says Jean, was inspired by Chantel – while one of Chantel’s children, Joseph, launched O.L.L.Y in 2010 when he was just 12.

In 2008, Jean co-ordinated a nationwide campaign which led to a march to 10 Downing Street. Around 200 relatives and friends of murder victims travelled to London – including more than 60 from Merseyside – as part of Jean’s Enough Is Enough: Life Should Mean Life campaign.

After their Walk For Justice, from Whitehall Place to No. 10, Jean handed over a 35,000-name petition demanding an end to parole for murderers.

Jean told us then: “This will by no means be the last time people see my name in the ECHO.”

She has been proved right.

The formidable campaigner, who won our overall Silver Liver Award at the ECHO Awards 2010, in recognition of her extraordinary community spirit, and the Courage Award in the Merseyside Woman of The Year Awards in 2017, believes a lack of action on deterrents by successive governments is partly responsible for the dramatic escalation of serious knife crime across the UK.

She says: “I was shouting for proper sentences but our judiciary and governments didn’t listen. And since then we have seen shocking rises in knife crime and countless killings. I am sick and tired of seeing innocent lives being taken.”

But Jean has achieved so much – and given so much comfort to families left bereaved by murder and culpable road deaths.

She explains: “When I came back from Downing Street I said I wanted to form a group so our victims’ voices could be heard, and heard above those of the perpetrators – and within six months Families Fighting For Justice was launched. Two years later, Chantel’s son, Joseph, launched O.L.L.Y, and, after operating from several different premises over the years, we were able to open this place – The Hub – two years ago. It was commissioned by Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner Jane Kennedy.”

The Hub is a three-storey haven of hope and one-stop shop for those who have been left heartbroken by the violent actions of others. Jean and her brilliant band of 25 volunteers help people of all ages rebuild their lives. They identify what professional help may be needed – which could involve housing issues, counselling or concerns about a family member misusing drugs or alcohol as a result of his or her grief and anger – and direct them to the right agencies and programmes.

And it all begins at The Hub, with Jean explaining: “The first thing we do is take people into our peaceful and relaxing lounge downstairs, and let them speak. This is the very start of the support we give to families.”

Jean says O.L.L.Y and her colleague Beverley Awang, lead session worker for the children’s charity, are crucial to this: “Bev does so much brilliant work with the children. O.L.L.Y is vital because children can often become the forgotten victims. We provide them with a range of activities in The Hub and also arrange days out and short breaks, with the help of our 14-seater bus, which is our pride and joy. All this can help them avoid taking the wrong road in life, and to regain a positive outlook and make new friendships.”

Beverley says: “I think it’s really important that children understand they are not on their own and, if they want to, can tell us whatever is on their minds. We don’t want the children to feel they are isolated, and it’s great to see them regaining their confidence on the many day trips and breaks we take them on.”

But Jean and Beverley want to do much more.

Jean explains: “One of our dreams is for O.L.L.Y to be able to have its own place – somewhere with more than just a backyard, that we have here. Somewhere with a garden where the children can enjoy barbecues and have a bouncy castle. Another dream is to be able to open a respite centre – which could be a caravan – to help with family bonding.

“We are grateful for all the support we have received over the years, and it would be fantastic if we could now take things a stage further – because we believe there is much more we could do to support those adults and children who desperately need our help.”

* If you think you can help Jean, please go to, email or call 0151 709 2994 (9.30am-4.30pm).

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Sssurprise! Cat owner screams in horror when she discovers her pet is playing with a SNAKE

This is the dramatic moment a woman investigating her cat's strange behavior screamed when she discovered her pet was playing with a snake.

Christina Laughter, 38, thought her cat Barley, a Maine Coon, was 'chasing tufts of his fur around' in her home in Jacksonville, Florida.

The insurance analyst says at the start of the clip: 'For 30 minutes, at least, the cat's been over here getting sketched out over a shadow.'

Barley has difficulty seeing and at first Christina did not think anything of his antics.

She said: 'Barley has inverted eyelashes. So his eyelashes grow from inside his eyelids, but despite his eye condition, his nose is on point.'

Hoping to capture the adorable moment, Christina's husband Matt, 40, suggested that she record the seemingly confused Barley.

After recording for about a minute, Christina's curiosity got the better of her and she went to take a closer look at what Barley was doing.

As she picked up the boot and saw what Barley was playing with, Christina jumped back, and shouted: 'It's a f***ing snake!'

Luckily the snake was of a common garden variety, and wasn't venomous.

Christina said: 'This was the first time I've had a snake in my home.'

After she shooed Barley away from the uninvited guest, Christina turned her attention to removing the snake from her house.

'My husband was on his way home already,' she said.

'So I guarded the snake in the corner with my trusty broom until my husband got home, and then he put him back in the yard.' 

The pet-owner confirmed she feels 'much safer' after discovering her cat has a nose for unwelcome guests.

'He's very good at sniffing out creatures that belong outside,' she said.

Maine Coon cats are the largest domesticated cat breed with adult males weighing around 18 pounds.

Native to the state of Maine they are one of the oldest natural breeds in North America, and are known for their supreme hunting skills.

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Infant sensed her mother had cancer when she is breastfed

A young mum has revealed how her baby boy helped detect her cancer. Sarah Boyle, 26, a call centre worker, tells how Teddy, now one, would ‘scream’ and become distressed when she tried to breastfeed him from her right breast. A little worried, she went to her GP and was referred to hospital where she underwent a scan and a biopsy. Two weeks later she was diagnosed with grade 2 triple negative breast cancer. The new mum, who lives with her husband Steven Boyle, 28, a recruitment consultant from Staffordshire, is now receiving chemotherapy and is planning a double mastectomy with immediate reconstruction. She said: ‘Teddy is my hero – if it hadn’t been for him I would never have suspected I had cancer. My consultant told me that breastfeeding helps a mother and baby bond. In my case it did more than that – it saved my life.’ ‘Teddy could obviously smell and taste that the milk from my right breast tasted different from the milk from my left breast.’ Adding: ‘My consultant said he’d never seen anything like it before and was baffled and amazed. He told me it was very fortunate I chose to breastfeed – otherwise my illness may not have been discovered.’

Sarah first noticed a lump in her right breast in January 2013, but when she went to her GP she was told it was cyst and not to worry. Over the course of four years, she had the cyst scanned five times as it fluctuated in size but was told it was hormonal and not malignant, so Sarah put her fears aside and carried on with her life. In May 2015, she fell pregnant with her first child Teddy, who was born in February 2016, Teddy arrived weighing 7lb 15 ounces, and was a healthy and happy baby. After around five months of breastfeeding, Sarah noticed her right breast wasn’t ‘working’ as well as the other and it appeared a little smaller. She contacted her health care assistant but was told it was ‘common’ and nothing to be concerned about. But a month later, when Teddy was six months old, he stopped feeding altogether from her right breast.

She returned to her GP and asked if it was to do with the cyst, but was told it was fine. As the weeks rolled into months, Sarah tried her best to get Teddy to feed from her right breast but he wouldn’t budge. ‘He just wasn’t having it, even if I gave him a cuddle on that side he didn’t like it.’ When Teddy was eight months old, Sarah went back to her GP and asked to be referred for a scan. In November 2016, Sarah underwent an ultrasound scan at Royal Stoke University Hospital, she recalls: ‘I’d just finished the scan and a consultant came in and said there was an area within the cyst which looked suspicious and I would need to undergo a biopsy.’ Two weeks later, Sarah was diagnosed with grade 2 triple negative cancer – a non hormonal cancer which is extremely rare in young women.

The cancer inside the cyst had been growing for three months – exactly the same time Teddy stopped feeding from her breast. The day Sarah was diagnosed she was told to immediately stop breastfeeding so they could start chemotherapy. She’s now around half way through her treatment, After, she is planning a double mastectomy with immediate breast reconstruction surgery. She said: ‘I want other women to be aware of any lumps in their breasts and to always get them checked out.’

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One Direction dancer quits showbiz after snapping both heels in freak accident

An ex-One Direction dancer is dedicating herself to helping animals in memory of the pet dog who gave her the strength to walk again after a freak injury.

Gemma McKee faced life in a wheelchair when she broke both heels while performing in 2012.

But she says the bond she had with Great Dane Cesar helped her make a full recovery.

And it was made all the more special when Cesar suffered complications with his own legs and had to use a wheeled harness to follow Gemma around.

But the 10st faithful dog, who even helped Gemma get through a broken marriage, had to be put down last year.

“It was quite sudden, almost like he’d been hanging on for me and putting all his energy into me,” says a heartbroken Gemma.

“As soon as he knew I was going to be OK, he let go.”

Now she’s given up dancing to foster homeless dogs and study veterinary science to become an animal physiotherapist.

She got Cesar as a puppy in 2011 after her widowed mum died of cancer. The same year she got her big break as a backing dancer on a 1D tour.

But in 2012, Gemma’s life was thrown into turmoil.

A leap into a pool in Hamburg as part of a dance routine by her troupe Doll House went horribly wrong when she landed feet first in the shallow end.

She had metal plates inserted into both heels and there was no guarantee she’d walk again.

But with Cesar by her side, Gemma, 32, summoned up the courage to take her first steps in August 2013. Two years later tragedy struck again when Cesar’s back legs gave way.

But the two kept encouraging each other and Gemma went from strength to strength, even getting back on the dance floor.

“He became a local celebrity and owners of disabled pets told me our story gave them hope.”

The Sunday People revealed their amazing story and they even appeared on ITV’s This Morning.

In August 2017, Gemma wed her long-time partner in Tuscany with Cesar walking her down the aisle in a waistcoat and bow tie.

But the marriage fell apart in just over a year. Once more, her companion was there for her. “He would wipe away my tears, snuggle up with me and physically drag me out of bed in the morning when I didn’t want to get up,” says Gemma.

But not long after she had moved out of the marital home, Cesar fell seriously ill and there was no hope of recovery. Gemma relives the painful moment he looked at her for the last time.

“Human or animal it doesn’t matter. I was lucky enough to meet my soulmate and experience true love. Looking at me, he stretched out and gave a huge sigh before his big, soft eyes closed.”

Now living in Surrey with Cesar’s ashes buried under a great Dane statue by the door, Gemma works for a veterinary surgery’s management team.

“I know he’d be proud of everything I’ve done,” she says. “He was my soulmate.

“So far I’ve rescued four dogs from Cyprus and helped them find loving homes in the UK.

“Cesar and I both gave each other a second chance in life and I want other dogs and families to experience that.”

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Mum’s horror over ‘disgusting’ note from teacher in son’s lunch box

A 'livid' parent has pulled her child out of a daycare after discovering one of the teachers wrote a horrible reply on a sweet message she had left in her son's lunchbox.

Mum Francesca has been working with her son on his eating as she says he is 'extremely picky' when it comes to food.

She's been introducing new healthy options into his lunchbox and discussed the changes she had made with his day school so staff can help with the transition.

The mum, from Texas, said her son is 'absolutely perfect the way he is' and the change was simply to encourage him to make healthier food choices.

Knowing it may be a struggle for him at first, Francesca left an adorable note in his lunchbox for staff to say: 'Please tell [him] that his mommy loves him so much and I'm thinking about him. Thank you.'

When her son returned home, she discovered a teacher at the school had written a reply underneath in black marker, saying: 'NO! Put him on a diet and go away!'

Posting an image of the shocking note on Facebook , the mum wrote: "Instead of his school being supportive, I am in absolute shock at what happened.

"I sent this note in [his] lunchbox, thinking that it would make him smile at lunch time, but instead I received this in return from one of the teachers!

"Of course I was absolutely livid and immediately reached out to the school.

"First thing this morning I was at the school waiting on the director with my mother-in-law for a meeting.

"I was assured that it was being investigated and handled, yet almost no remorse was shown.

"The teacher that wrote this note confessed while I was at work and was fired.

"I am disgusted that I put my trust in these people to care for my child and this is what I get in return."

Francesca has since removed her child from the daycare and has enrolled him in a 'beautiful new facility', explaining that although she is worried about the higher cost, her son's safety and level of care 'comes first'.

She added that her son wasn't aware of the the note and she had only told him they are moving up to a 'better school' and he's excited to get started.

She also said the experience should act as a warning to other parents to monitor their children's schools closely to ensure they are being treated with care.

Others shared in her anger, with one writing: "No. This can not be real!?? I can not believe a grown adult wrote this back to you!?

"The school was certainly correct in firing this person. I can not believe someone actually wrote this!!

"I am so sorry that you have gone through this."

Another said: "Omg. Girl you handled this so well. I wish I had your grace. I am HOT right now just thinking about this."

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Girlfriend of young father, 29, who died in a freak pool accident

The girlfriend of a young father who died in a freak swimming pool accident has revealed the harrowing moment their six-year-old daughter found him underwater.   

Jonathan Massandy, 29, from Perth, died three days after breaking his neck while  swimming at a public pool with his daughter, Bobbie, on Sunday, November 3.  

His partner, Sarah Prijt, 26, has told Daily Mail Australia how the brave young girl raised the alarm, telling another swimmer her father was still underwater.  

The events leading up to Mr Massandy's death are unclear, but doctors say he broke several vertebrae in his neck and did not drown.

Bobbie is believed to be the only one who witnessed her dad's tragic death and the family has had to rely on her version of events while the incident is investigated.

All I've been able to get out of my daughter at the moment is that they were playing,' Ms Prijt said. 

'He was teaching her how to penguin dive - when you squat and put your hands together in front of your head and then fall into the water. 

'Then she said ''Daddy didn't come back up''.'  

It is unclear how long Mr Massandy had gone undetected at the bottom of the pool or how long it took for Bobbie to find help. 

'She had to go find a lady, and a lady had to find a lifeguard but I don't really know how long that took,' Ms Prijt added.

'She's only six so she doesn't really understand the concept of time.' 

CCTV footage of the incident is available, but the family won't know what occurred until it's reviewed by a coroner. 

Earlier in the day, Mr Massandy, who ran his own landscaping business near Perth, had taken Bobbie to the pool alone because it was one of their 'favourite things to do together.' 

Ms Prijt, who was home at the time, said the family only learned something was wrong when it was time to pick the pair up. 

Mr Massandy's father called his mobile phone only to receive a response from someone telling them to go to the pool. 

They arrived to find paramedics trying to resuscitate him. He was then rushed to the hospital where doctors revealed he had severed his spinal cord. 

'He was on life support for a few days but he was just getting weaker so the family had to make a decision to turn it off,' Ms Prijt said.  

'We wanted the kids and family members to say goodbye. The hospital was amazing in supporting us.' 

Mr Massandy died in hospital last Wednesday surrounded by his family. 

The young mum, who works at a local coffee shop, is now left with the pain of knowing her little girl had to be the one to find her dad's body. 

'She understands what happened. She's quite aware, actually - to be honest she's been such a trooper. I'm so proud to be her mum just because of how strong she's being.

'She doesn't want to talk about it, but she's been okay at the moment.  

'She's only talked once voluntarily about the incident but every now and then she'll mention something that makes her think of him. 

'I keep telling her it's okay if you want to be sad. She's just an amazing little girl and I am in awe of her.' 

Sarah and Jonathan shared two kids, but the couple split shortly after the birth of their two-year-old son Ajay in January 2018.  

At the time of Mr Massandy's death, the two had been giving their six-year relationship another shot.    

Ms Prijt described the father of her children as 'amazing' and said he was 'wildly passionate' about his job.

She said the hardworking dad had been supporting both his family and his parents before his death.  

'He didn't deserve to go. He deserved to have the fullest life because he was the perfect person,' she said tearfully. 

'I can't imagine deep down how my kids are going to feel because they're going to grow up without a dad.

'My daughter and Johnny were best mates. She's not only lost her daddy, she's lost her best mate and that really breaks me.'

Ms Prijt has created a GoFundMe page to help with the funeral costs. 

The campaign has raised more than $7,000 of its $10,000 goal over the course of a week. 

'We as a family are grieving so hard as he was nothing but a generous giving person and he didn't deserve to go like this,' she wrote on the GoFundMe page. 

'He was such an amazing father to his son and daughter, and all he was doing that day was having fun with his little girl.'

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His dad has been deployed 10 times. This is his message to other military kids

His father, Dave, is a Green Beret on his 10th deployment. The family lives in northern Virginia while Dave is stationed somewhere overseas. Davidson is used to not having his dad around, but he never forgets him.

"Sometimes it's fine because we actually do a lot of fun things while he's away, but it's also sad because he's just not here," Davidson told CNN. "My mom sometimes breaks down and cries a lot because she misses him. And it's not really hard for her because I help her, but it's just she misses him."

Davidson sees the world matter-of-factly, approaching his dad's deployments with the strength that many military families display.

"I don't even know where he is, but I think he's fine because he's a good, strong guy," he said.

Each family deals with the hardship in their own way. This is how Davidson's family does it. They asked that CNN not use their last name for security reasons.

'My mom cried and I was pretty scared that my dad was going to die'

Davidson helps his mom, Elizabeth, whether it's holding his youngest sister or reading bedtime stories to his three younger siblings.

But Davidson does more than read books. When he was 6, he wrote a book about about what a military parent's absence means to a child.

Davidson's book is finally coming out just in time for this Veterans Day. It's called "Brave for my Family" and was published under a pen name, Davidson Whetstone. His father illustrated the book.

When Davidson was 3, his dad was wounded by a rocket-propelled grenade in Afghanistan days before Christmas in 2013.

"My Mom cried and I was pretty scared that my Dad was going to die," Davidson wrote in the book. "We got on an airplane to Washington, DC."

Dave was flown to Germany and then to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he underwent several surgeries. Shrapnel hit him in the face and down his right side, missing his carotid artery by millimeters. He lost peripheral vision in his right eye and shrapnel remains in his body today.

Davidson said he doesn't remember how he felt when he learned about what happened to his dad. He just remembers being grateful to see and hug him.

"I wanted to write the book because I wanted to show other kids that they won't have to be scared when their dads are deployed to countries that war is going on and scary things," Davidson said.

Seeing the illustration of Dave in the hospital brings back the emotions of what happened.

"When you look at it in the book, it just looks so real," Elizabeth said in between tears. "It brings me back to that day where I walked in and I saw him hugging Davidson and all his shrapnel wounds."

She remembers thinking, "OK, Jesus, you're still here and we'll get through this."

As Dave recovered in the hospital, a visitor showed up Christmas 2013 and promised Dave they'd do lunch sometime. In 2014, the visitor came through. The whole family went to Vice President Joe Biden's house and broke bread.

A few years later, the father and son decided they wanted to share their story. Dave suggested the idea of a book.

Dave was home between deployments, so he and Davidson would sit together after church on Sundays and work on the book. Davidson would write and his dad would draw. It was their time together.

Drawing had always been a passion and a way for Dave to organize his thoughts when he was young.

"After losing half the vision and near sight in my dominant eye, it became much more difficult to draw," Dave wrote in an email from overseas.

"But, illustrating Davidson's story gave me a strong motivation to create a meaningful representation of our family's sacrifice and courage. It also allowed me to spend time recalling and appreciating the details of our family's experience, and to come to terms with some things," he wrote.

Dave said he feels grateful to have his family in his life, especially his wife, who raises their four children while he's away.

"I can't express how proud I am of my whole family, and how immeasurably blessed I am to have each of them in my life. I am so proud of Davidson for writing this book, but if I'm being honest, this is only a snapshot of his talents and passion as a good young man."

'They know that we talk openly about why he does what he does'

Dave and Elizabeth knew each other in college, but they didn't date until later. They had a whirlwind romance, getting married in 2008. Dave went to Special Forces training. Military life is the only life Elizabeth has known from the time they met.

Several months after Davidson was born in 2010, Dave went on his third deployment. Dave has been gone for some part of almost every year of their marriage, ranging from three months to a year for training or deployment, Elizabeth said.

"I have four kids and it's busy at home," Elizabeth said. "When I stop and someone really wants to know about our life, it's kind of the reality of yeah, it is sad. I do miss him, and it is hard, but I've done things that I never thought I could have done by myself with four kids."

Elizabeth cares for her children and homeschools them. The family talks about why Daddy is gone so often. The older children seem to understand why.

"This is all I've known, that their daddy goes away because it's for us, for our country and to keep us safe," she said. "They know that we talk openly about why he does what he does."

Having a partner deployed can be a challenge, especially for a family with small children.

When she had strep throat earlier this year, Elizabeth had to take all four children with to the emergency room. Their homeschool co-op set up a meal train for Elizabeth, and others in her circle sent encouraging texts.

Families find ways to stay connected

"Deployment can be a profound experience for families and most families come through it fine," said Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth, director of the Military Family Research Institute at Purdue University. "Military families are known for being resilient. But it also can expose families to a wide variety of challenges, and particularly if somebody's injured."

MacDermid Wadsworth is a professor who has studied military families for 20 years. In that time, research has shown that service members, their spouses and their families have exhibited higher rates of mental health symptoms tied to a deployment, she said. If a service member is exposed to trauma or is injured, the risk goes up.

"There's a lot of concern about deployments that happen early in children's lives because it's coming at a time where kids are learning how to relate to others," MacDermid Wadsworth said. "How kids do is very much a function of how parents do."

Keeping in touch with the deployed family member is a big part of staying close as a family.

"There's been enormous creativity over the last few years in helping folks to stay connected during deployment," she said. "There are lots of examples of clever care packages and storybooks that are really well suited for kids and parents who are separated."

Dave calls his family when he can, but he also sends audio recordings or videos for Elizabeth to play for the children. He has one of him reading daughter Lily James' favorite book.

"It's changed a little with every child I have had," Elizabeth said. "When I just had Davidson, I had all these books that Dave would read, and we would videotape him, and I would play it for him."

Each time Dave goes out on a mission, Elizabeth and her children pray for his safe return. He recorded himself praying, and the kids pray along with the recording when he's not at home.

While Americans are grateful for the sacrifices that service members make for our country, it's the sacrifices that they don't see that are the hardest, Dave said.

"I have been wounded in combat, and I have lost close friends," Dave wrote. "But, for me some of the toughest pills to swallow are not being there for first words, first steps, first Christmases, first birthdays, and all the moments that you'll never have again. The hardest thing is watching my kids grow up in pictures."

So is waving goodbye as he heads on another deployment.

"We know what It's like to have a spouse deployed. He's on his 10th deployment," Elizabeth said. "We hope this book will be an encouragement to other military kids and families."

Proceeds from the book will go toward organizations like Green Beret Foundation that support military families and wounded warriors.

People sometimes ask how they can help military families. Elizabeth says the little gestures go a long way.

"We are so strong and I feel like we'll get it done no matter what," she said, "but it's so sweet when someone does the littlest act of kindness to our family because it helps so much."

Texts of encouragement, like "I'm praying for you" or "I'm thinking about you" have comforted the military mom. And, she said, people should befriend military kids. They have to move around a lot. Davidson has moved nine times in his 9 years of life.

For other military children, Davidson has a message.

"I want people to feel brave, not afraid and happy because your dad's going to be OK," he said.

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'I'm so happy you're my sister!' Ajay Rochester reveals she found her long lost sister Janeene after sending her DNA to uncover her family history

Former Biggest Loser host Ajay Rochester has revealed how she found her long lost sister Janeene after a long and arduous search. 

The 50-year-old mother-of-one, who was adopted in 1969 at six weeks old, submitted DNA to an online website earlier this year to uncover her family's history, and was shocked after finding out she had a sibling.

Ajay revealed to New Idea she struggled to get into contact with Janeene at first after trying to message her on Facebook and sending her a friend request. 

It was only after she took to Instagram to vent her frustration did Janeene finally respond. 

'They must have seen it [Instagram story], because immediately I got a message from Janeene saying: "Of course I want to know you! I just didn't think it was real, I thought you were a scammer!"' Ajay explained to the publication.

The siblings share the same father - a man Ajay never got to meet.

In August, Ajay flew to Queensland where Janeene lives to meet her family.

The bubbly personality told the magazine how they hugged and cried as they laid eyes on each other.

'We had a girls' weekend and we did facials and watched Grease. We kept saying to each other, "We should have done this when we were kids!"'

Ajay, who has a son named Kai, 20, believes there is another half sibling out there and had always searched for a family that 'loved me for me.'

'I've found someone who truly belongs to me... I had that with my son, but it's like I've put the final piece into the puzzle. I have real siblings!, she added.

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2 moms have babies with Down syndrome that become best friends and internet stars

A pair of toddlers with Down's syndrome have formed an unbreakable bond after they were brought together by their parents. 

Clara and Cutler, who are both two, have been inseparable since Clara's mum Lana Beaton, 39, and Cutler's mom Amy Sanders, 43, began arranging play dates for their children when they were just a few months old.

Amy, a school teacher, and stay-at-home mom Lana knew each other growing up in Grand Forks, North Dakota, but were never close friends until they both welcomed children with Down's syndrome within months of one another.

Now the adorable pair spend at least two days a week together and share their physical, occupational and speech therapy sessions. 

Mom-of-four Lana, who gave birth to Clara in November 2015, sent Amy a Facebook message after she heard from a mutual friend her son Cutler, born in February 2016, also had the condition.

The parents arranged to meet in a local Starbucks in April 2016, where Clara and Cutler hit it off, and the mothers say their toddlers have been best buddies ever since. 

The moms say bubbly Clara has a positive influence on Cutler, who is a little shy, and is one of the only people who can bring him out of his shell.

The pair love playing tag, watching movies and getting up to mischief together.

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Gran of boy, 3, crushed to death says her own daughter should die in jail

The grandmother of a toddler who was crushed to death by a car seat has said she believes her own daughter should spend the rest of her life in jail for letting him die. Adrian Hoare, 23, was found guilty of child cruelty and assault against her son Alfie Lamb, three, and jailed for two years and nine months. Alfie’s gran Janis Templeton-Hoare has said she will never forgive her daughter for placing Alfie into the footwell of an Audi convertible Janis said no sentence will ever be enough for the loss of her grandson. Asked whether she would back life in jail for whoever was responsible for Alfie’s death – even if it was her own daughter – Janis said: ‘Yes. I would still back that. My attitude is a life for a life. If you take a life, you give your life. ‘It doesn’t matter who. If it was my own daughter I would still say the same.

‘She’s out in a few months and it just seems a shame that little man’s not here anymore and she’s got the rest of her life to live. She’s still a baby.’ The Old Bailey has previously heard how Alfie collapsed on the journey back to Croydon from a shopping trip in Sutton, in February last year. He died in hospital three days later. It is alleged her then partner Waterson – adopted son of former Tory minister Nigel Waterson – reversed his seat into the child twice as he screamed ‘mummy, mummy’. Janis has told how her daughter was obsessed with Alfie when he was a baby but lost interest as he began to toddle. She said Adrian spent more time on her phone messaging men and looking at social media than she did caring for Alfie. She explained: ‘At first you couldn’t breathe on Alfie, she was so protective.

‘I’d take him down to town and half an hour after having him I’d get; “How long you gonna be? I want him back”, that sort of thing. ‘But, as he got to about 13 or 14 months and he was starting to toddle, being a baby as a baby does, getting into mischief and all that she used to get a bit snappy, bad-tempered and it would be; “Oh mum, take him”.’ Alfie was conceived after a one night stand in 2013, when Adrian was just 18. Janis explained that she had a ‘volatile’ relationship with her daughter and they would often argue. She said she had brought up her daughter’s ‘lazy’ parenting with her at least ten times but couldn’t bring herself to report it. She said: ‘She was my daughter and I hoped it would just get better as she got older. ‘Adrian would still be sitting in her pyjamas at two or three in the afternoon. Baby would still be in babygrows. Before he could sit up and support himself, he’d be in a bouncy chair and that would be it. He’d be shoved in front of the telly.

‘Adrian was constantly on Facebook talking to people. ‘If Alfie cried and he wanted something, she’d pick him up, chuck him beside her, give him a toy or a bottle and was then straight back on her phone again. ‘To be honest, she wanted to be a mum but she didn’t want to be a mum. She wanted to have the title “I’m a mum”, but didn’t want the responsibility of being a mum.’ Adrian was cleared of manslaughter but convicted of child cruelty and assault in February. Waterson is accused of deliberately reversing his seat into Alfie and will face retrial in September of a charge of manslaughter. Janis initially thought Alfie had been involved in a car accident, and was furious to hear the toddler had been in the footwell even though she’d bought the couple a carseat. ‘I did get told by a few friends to go for it and take parental rights from Adrian over Alfie, but I wouldn’t because it was her baby,’ she said. After his death she couldn’t speak to her daughter for seven months. Janis wasn’t invited to her grandson’s funeral, and only saw it had happened when her daughter posted selfies with her friends from the day.

However, she said she now needs to accept her daughter’s part in Alfie’s death for them to be able to repair their relationship. They speak every day from HMP Bronzefield in Surrey. Janis said: ‘If she’d been honest and said; “Mum, I love Alfie to bits but I’m really not coping” I would’ve done anything to support her. ‘I would really, really want to try and help her and get this all worked out, find out the truth and try and build something from it and show her where she’s gone wrong. But I haven’t got a clue where to start. ‘I hope – and I know it sounds horrible – that she can’t have any more kids. I really do. ‘Babies are not toys you take out of a cupboard, play with for a few hours and put back. They are not.’ She added: ‘I think of him every day, I wish he was here, I just wish he’d knock on the door and say ‘Nanny I’m hungry, I want something’. I just miss him so much.’

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Boyfriend's innocent text got him locked up in cell and banned from US for life

A British man visiting his girlfriend was locked in a cell for 24 hours and banned from the US after officials found a single text on his phone that suggested he wanted to move there. Isaac Roblett sent American Camila Iglesia the message a month earlier which read: ‘I am moving to be with you.’ He has said he was talking about spending three months with Camila under an ESTA permit. But immigration officials discovered it when they seized his mobile and wrongly thought he was planning to stay in America long term. Marketing manager Isaac, 24, was locked up in a cell for a day and interrogated in a windowless room for an hour and a half before officials scoured his mobile. He was deported the next day without seeing Camila, 23, and is now also banned from visiting the US using an ESTA permit.

Isaac, of Hastings, East Sussex, flew to Chicago for the trip of a lifetime on April 24 – two days before his and Camila’s one-year anniversary. The loved up pair had plans to visit New York and Los Angeles. They met when Camila was studying on an exchange at Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance in Sidcup, Kent. They quickly fell in love, and enjoyed travelling, food and watching sports together and Isaac had visited her before. He had previously flown to her home city of Miami and the pair drove to Chicago, where Camila is studying to become an actress, late last year. Isaac said of his interrogation: ‘They went through my phone, all my messages, and found a message to my girlfriend which said “I am moving to be with you”. ‘They said that’s evidence enough to not allow me in.’ The full message – sent during an argument – read: ‘In terms of a break up, I don’t know what I’ve done to make you forget that in a month’s time I am moving to be with you.’ But Isaac insists he just meant for the duration of the holiday, adding: ‘I wouldn’t say “visit you” if it’s three months.’ And he added: ‘I was almost crying, trying to hold back the tears. One of the officers told me: “Man up, get over it.”’

The guards continued to comb his messages and Isaac says they made comments about his relationship which were ‘below the belt’. The whole time heartbroken Camila was waiting at the airport’s arrivals lounge for Isaac to turn up. When he didn’t, she was left feeling ‘scared’ and ‘angry’. Isaac says he was thrown in a cramped cell with four other people. He added: ‘It was the worst thing you’ve ever seen. The toilet was literally a hole in the ground.’ He says he did not eat, shower or sleep, with bright lights left on overnight. The next morning Isaac spoke to the British Embassy, and paid £700 for a flight back to Heathrow with a stopover in Dublin. He was taken to the plane in handcuffs.

Since returning to the UK he says he has been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and now wants to warn others that US border officials will comb visitors’ phones. The couple are going to try and stay together, despite Isaac’s ban. ‘It’s horrible, the love of my life is in another country and I can’t even see her,’ Isaac added. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: ‘Our staff offered advice to a British man who was denied entry to the USA, and were in contact with the US immigration authorities regarding his case.’

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Florida grandmother unexpectedly delivers her own GRANDCHILD

A grandmother unexpectedly delivered her grandchild after her daughter went into labor on the way to the hospital — and this wasn't the woman's first time delivering a baby. 

April McMasters, 45, from Holiday, Florida, known as 'mum' by her three grandkids, helped deliver her granddaughter Braelynn in the backseat of a car on September 21 when traveling to the hospital with her daughter, Makayla Cole. 

'She was set to be induced Monday morning, but Saturday she woke up and her water broke,' McMasters told Good Morning America about the moment. 

'I delivered her all on my own. There were no other directions until after she was born [the operator] told me to dry her off and then put her in a clean towel.' 

This was not the first time McMasters had to deliver a baby for her daughter, though. 

When the grandmother's first grandson, Maddex, was born, Cole rang her mother to inform her she was in labor. 

'I called my mom at work and asked if she could come home because [the contractions] were getting stronger," Cole told the publication. 

'My mom called the hospital who told us they weren't close together or long enough. They told us to wait it out a little longer.'

But Maddex, who is now four years old, refused to wait any longer and was born on the bathroom floor of his parent's home with McCasters lending a helping hand.      

'He loves to tell anybody he can,' McMasters said about her grandson. 'He says, "I was born on the bathroom floor and I was so excited to be here, that I popped right out and my mum caught me."'

The grandmother delivered her first grandchild with the assistance of a 911 operator dictating directions for each step. 

In the end, McMasters described the moment as an 'incredible' experience, saying she would do it again 'in a heartbeat'. 

But she had no clue it would actually happen again until Braelynn, now two months old, was born in the back of the car on the way to the hospital. 

Cole admitted to Good Morning America that her children come pretty quickly, given how her first birth with Maddex went. 

As a joke, friends even gifted McMasters an in-home birthing kit in case there was another situation where her daughter would have to give birth outside the hospital. 

The daughter gave birth to her second child, Nixen, without a hitch in a hospital. But then McMasters skills, and the in-home birth kit, were needed again with Braelynn. 

'I think it's really cool and makes the bond strong between [my mom] and my children,' Cole said about the birthing stories.

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Skint mum's incredible gift after swapping life with wealthy couple

A wealthy retired couple have enabled a single mother to pursue her dream of starting her own business by giving her a life-changing gift.

Shahid and Rifat Azziz, from Swindon, swapped homes, budgets and lives with Kelly Gallant, 34,  and her two sons 15-year-old Kieran, and 8-year-old Kyle from Derby for tonight's episode of Rich House, Poor House on Channel 5. 

When Shahid and Rifat arrived in the UK from Pakistan 40 years ago, they had just £25 in their pockets. 

Through hard work they saved enough for a comfortable retirement, and built their dream five-bedroom home which was completed in time for Shahid's 70th birthday.

Shahid worked in IT, before moving into stock management as well as investing in property, while Riffat initially took on low-paid work sewing at home, from 7am until 10pm each day. 

But by the time she retired she ended up as a senior manager at a catering firm.

In his retirement, Shahid volunteers as an immigration lawyer as well as working as an Imam at his local mosque.

Meanwhile Kelly works as a self-employed cleaner but has to turn down work to look after her sons.

Her weekly budget is £139, which includes topping up the gas and electricity meter and feeding both her sons. 

She reveals she spends no money on herself, but recently invested in a car after walking to every cleaning job.   

Before she leaves for her week of luxury in Wiltshire, Kelly has to borrow a suitcase from her brother's girlfriend to store all the family's clothes, because she doesn't own one herself.

The Azzizs are shocked when they stay in Kelly's three-bedroom house in Derby, but Kelly is delighted as she's given ten times her normal budget - £1,163 a week - to spend while living in Shahid and Rifat's huge house.

She is wowed by the custom-built home, particularly the couples, air-drying, self-cleaning toilet.

As she counts out her weekly budget, her youngest son Kyle is amazed by the amount of money in front of him, adding: 'That's the first time I've seen a £50, I didn't think they really existed'.

She spends the money on a day out to a local adventure park, a luxury £18 chicken, and even a lunch and spa-day at a local country manor. 

'It would be lovely to take the boys out like this, even once a month' Kelly says, adding that it helps grow their confidence. 

In Derby, Shahid and Riffat are equally impressed to see that Kelly and her sons grow their own vegetables in an allotment to save pennies.

Shahid soon realises Kelly is doing everything she can to provide for her boys but can't take risks as a business because she's the only family member taking home money.

Impressed with her efforts to grow her own food to provide for her family, the Azzizs soon realise her freezer is too small to store off of the vegetables she is growing.

They meet Keiran's friends who come around to Kelly's home to play football in the green outside.

Shahid joins them and ponders 'I wish I had spent more time with my own children and given them more of my attention.

'It's a difficult decision when you are trying to put bread on the table. Kelly is spending more time with her children and putting her ambitions on hold. 

Shahid decides to rally around his local Islamic community to raise funds to buy a new freezer for the single mum.  

Seemingly, with no end to their generosity, they eat leftovers on their last days in the home, opting to put the remaining £25 of their budget on the gas and electricity meter, so Kelly doesn't need to worry about it.

In a heartwarming letter, Shahid writes: 'Dear Kelly, everyone told us what a lovely and hard working mum you are and that your sons are a credit to you.

'I hope you will accept a free freezer from us to help you preserve your produce from your allotment.'

'Islam means "I should love all mankind" and we all dearly love you and your family.'

The couple also buy Kelly a carpet cleaner, meaning she'll be able to offer more services in her new business. 

Elated upon seeing her new gifts Kelly says: 'I've had my fridge for 16 years, that's amazing.

'I can offer carpet cleaning services now too.

'This week has really made me realise that I'm ready to expand my business to have more cash.

'I don't believe money can buy happiness but I can see that it can help.'

 While, back home in Swindon, Shahid adds: 'You can get complacent and when you see someone who is working just as hard as you but who is struggling because they haven't had a lucky break, it's hard.

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