Overnight news digest - No prison for thief who witnessed Tunisia shootings, schoolboy dies from suspected meningitis and Network Rail to lose control of tracks

Donna Louise Smith, 40, from Preston
Donna Louise Smith, 40, from Preston

Catch up with all the overnight news from Lancashire and across the nation with our morning roundup.

NO PRISON FOR £90K THIEF WHO WITNESSED TUNISIA BEACH SHOOTINGS

A COMPANY secretary who siphoned off £90,000 from her employer to pay crippling debts has been spared an immediate jail term.

Donna Louise Smith, 40, from Preston, who was said in court to be suffering from post traumatic stress disorder after witnessing the Tunisian beach shootings in 2015, was given a 16-month prison sentence suspended for two years.

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STUDENT ROBBED OF EQUIPMENT WORTH £2K

A university student was robbed in the street when she bent down to tie her shoelace. Police say a man snatched her holdall containing equipment ADVERTISEMENT worth more than £2,000.

Amongst the haul was an Apple Macbook which contained important work from her university studies. “This has caused her some considerable distress as she has a crucial deadline to meet,” said DC Lewis Haigh from Preston CID. The bag snatch happened as the 28-year-old victim took a short cut path from Williams Lane, just off Pitman Way in Fulwood at around 6pm on Friday November 25.

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SCHOOLBOY DIES FROM SUSPECTED MENINGITIS

A Fylde coast primary school pupil has died from suspected meningitis. The boy, believed to be a 10-years-old, was a pupil at Clifton Primary School in St Annes and died over the weekend. Headteacher Rachel Legge His schoolmates and parents were told about his death earlier on Monday.

Rachel Legge, headteacher, said: “We are incredibly saddened by the death of one our pupils. “Our thoughts are with the family and we have written to parents to let them know how we are supporting the children through this very difficult time.” Letters were sent to parents on Monday informing them of the boy’s death, with an accompanying notice of advice from Health England.

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COUNCILLOR CLEARED OF THIRD CODE BREACH

A Wigan councillor found guilty of two code of conduct breaches was cleared of a third not previously revealed by the town hall.

Coun Bob Brierley faced the council’s standards committee last month in a private hearing closed to public and the press. A local authority statement issued at the conclusion stated the Hindley Green independent was deemed guilty of breaches relating to his behaviour.

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NETWORK RAIL TO LOSE COMPLETE CONTROL OF TRACKS IN GOVERNMENT SHAKE-UP

Plans to strip Network Rail of its complete control of England's railway tracks are to be outlined by the Government.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling wants the publicly owned Network Rail to share its responsibility for running the tracks with private train operating companies.

He believes this major policy change will lead to more reliable services and help "transform the passenger experience".

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ROYAL PREROGATIVE IS CRUCIAL IN ARTICLE 50 APPEAL, SUPREME COURT HEARS

The Government's use of the royal prerogative to trigger the process of taking Britain out of the European Union is not being done on a "whim" or "out of a clear blue sky", the UK's highest court has heard.

Attorney General Jeremy Wright told 11 Supreme Court justices at the start of one of the most important constitutional cases in British legal history that it was the "logical conclusion of a process in which Parliament has been fully and consciously involved".

The Government's top law officer said that process was one in which Parliament had "resolved to put a clear and decisive question about our nation's future to the British people, and in which Parliament expected the Government to act on the answer they gave".

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THERESA MAY TRADE MISSION TO BAHRAIN 'THE SHABBY FACE OF BREXIT'

Theresa May's trade push in the Middle East has been branded the "shabby face" of Brexit by critics.

As the Prime Minister used a two-day visit to Bahrain to line up business opportunities, critics accused her of ignoring the Gulf state's much criticised human rights record.

Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman Tom Brake said: "So this is the shabby face of Conservative Brexit politics: the Prime Minister travelling the world desperately trying to stitch up new trade alliances with anyone who will deal, in this case Bahrain, where peaceful dissenters are jailed and even tortured."

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DRINKING CULTURE TAKING ENORMOUS TOLL ON EMERGENCY SERVICES, REPORT REVEALS

The "enormous" toll of excessive drinking on Britain's emergency services is laid bare in a new parliamentary report.

Police, ambulance and A&E personnel face a risk of violence and verbal abuse as they attend drink-fuelled incidents, the inquiry found.

It heard evidence of female police officers being subjected to sexual assault - while in one case a consultant told how he was kicked in the face.

HELEN MARTEN NAMED WINNER OF 2016 TURNER PRIZE

The artist Helen Marten has scooped a £25,000 jackpot after she was named winner of the 2016 Turner Prize.

In a presentation, broadcast live by the BBC at London's Tate Britain on Monday, she was praised for her "exceptional contribution" to "contemporary visual art".

The jury described her portfolio of work - including Lunar Nibs, which was featured at the 56th Venice Biennale, and Eucalyptus Let Us In, her solo exhibition at Greene Naftali in New York - as "outstanding for its extraordinary range of materials and form".

CATHOLICS LESS LIKELY TO BREASTFEED, RESEARCH SUGGESTS

Mothers who come from developed nations with a strong Catholic heritage are less likely to breastfeed, a study suggests.

Experts looked at data from 135 countries on breastfeeding rates and the proportions of Catholics and Protestants.

They also examined regional areas of the UK, France, Ireland, Canada and the USA.

ELLIOTT, THREE, COULD HAVE FIRST CHRISTMAS AT HOME - THANKS TO HEART DONOR

The parents of a toddler who received a life-saving heart transplant are preparing for a Christmas they never thought they would have with their son.

Elliott Livingstone survived using a mechanical heart for more than a year before receiving the transplant. The three-year-old had spent most of his life in hospital before the operation in April.

Now his family are embracing the festive season, with their little boy meeting Santa Claus for the first time. His parents, Candace and Adrian, from Hampshire, have backed NHS Blood and Transplant's Christmas campaign to get more people to sign up to the organ donor register.