Deputy News Editor Rebecca Creed looks at some of the major stories that made the headlines in the Times with a review of 2017


A HOMEOWNER spoke of his shock after a motorist crashed a car into his home causing devastation.

Rob Borgman, 62, feared he could have been killed had he been at his home on Honeysuckle Way, Witham, when the crash took place.

The HGV driver, who was in Felixstowe when his son called to tell him his home of 15 years had been destroyed.

He said: “I just thought ‘Oh God’ and came rushing down.

“Where he has crashed into the house is where I normally sit, so he could have killed me.”


A BATTLING nine-year-old boy got to go on the trip of a lifetime thanks to the generosity and hard work of his school friends.

Leo Olivacce, nine, was diagnosed with Batten Disease in May 2016, a condition which will lead to him losing his sight, mobility and eventually prove fatal.

But thanks to his classmates at Holy Family Primary School, Witham, who held cake sales and non-uniform events, Leo and his family got to go to Disneyland Paris for his tenth birthday.


TOWNROW announced it would be saying farewell to their Braintree High Street store.

The shop, which was the oldest department store in Essex, had been in the town since 1871.

It closed its doors in April after a huge closing down sale. All 40 staff members lost their jobs.


A POPULAR family man died instantly af- ter his lorry plunged off a bridge on to the A12.

Gurdip Johal’s recovery truck, which contained 26 tonnes of industrial batteries, came off Coleman’s bridge between Witham and Kelvedon.

Mr Johal, 30, died at the scene An inquest later heard the cab was likely to have been stacked almost to the top with battery cells giving it an unusually high centre of gravity.

His sister, Mandip Kaur, told the Times: “We are going to miss him forever.”


DEVELOPERS behind plans for 1,600 homes pledged £15 million for a new con- gestion-busting junction off the A120.

An outline application to build on Brook Green was submitted by Wayne Gold of the Acorn Property Group, back in December 2015.

The controversial plans to build the homes, primary school, GP surgery, employment land and open space had attracted 300 objection comments.

Developers brought forward proposals for two new slip roads off the A120 at Millennium Way in Braintree which would cost around £15 million.


YOUNG carers were left devastated after learning their place of respite was being forced to close.

Crossroads Care, which ran young carers’ centres, wrote letters to families announcing the closure of the Braintree and Halstead centres on April 1.

Kai Hodkinson, who cares for his mum Tracey and dad John, was told there was not enough funding.

Government documents showed the service was £60,000 short.


A WOMAN told how she thought she was going to die after yobs threw a brick at her car from a bridge above the A120.

Lauren Amy Edwards, from Marks Farm, Braintree, was driving home for her work break along the A120 near Cressing.

Miss Edwards, 20, a care assistant of Hereford Drive, was travelling along the dual carriageway when she heard a bang above her.

She said: “I was terrified, I came back home and parked my car and just burst into tears. I thought I was going to die when I lost control of the car.”


A DAD paid tribute to his “superstar” son who died after battling with a brain tumour, aged just 16.

Jake Whiteside, from Rayne, was diagnosed with cancer last year.

The popular Notley High pupil died at home, after spending months in University College and Great Ormond Street hospitals n London.

His dad, Richard, of Elm Walk, said: “He was a superstar, anyone who came into contact with him will always remember him. He always had a positive outlook on life.”


THE Times revealed a shopping centre had been identified as the preferred site to house Witham’s super surgery.

Mid Essex Clinical Commissioning Group had been considering various locations for a multi-purpose surgery, potentially housing some or all of the town’s GPs, since last year.

It was confirmed later in the summer Newlands Shopping Centre, in Newland Street, was the preferred option.

Discussions continue.


THE family of a missing man pleaded for anyone with information to come forward on the second anniversary of his disappearance.

Chris May, 28, has not been seen since leaving his home on May 25, 2015.

Police have been treating his disappearance as a murder case since last year and believe he may have been murdered while on the way to a drugs deal.

His mum Lorraine May told the Times: “We believe someone out there does know and I don’t know how they can live with themselves. If it was their family they would want to know.”


IT was revealed a new hotel could be built in Braintree as part of the multi million pound regeneration around Manor Street.

Braintree Council was approached by a major hotel firm who expressed an interest in coming to the town.

The hotel could become part of the £11.5 million regeneration of the area.

Plans are still being consulted on.


A PARALYSED veteran was told he will walk again, thanks to the funding of a robotic exoskeleton.

Chris Baker, of Walford Way, Coggeshall, was injured by a roadside bomb while serving with the Royal Engineers in Iraq 12 years ago.

At first, Mr Baker thought he had only suffered minor injuries, but his condition deteriorated as a result of an unknown spinal fracture. He became paralysed four years later.

In November last year, Mr Baker took his irst steps using a pair of £50,000 robotic legs made by specialist company ReWalk. In June he was offered funding for his own pair.

He said: “They are fantastic.”

> Part two of the Times' review of the year will be online tomorrow.