Look Who You Could Have Had:
- John Wesley, 72, American actor (Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot, Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad, Hang ‘Em High), multiple myeloma.
- Robert Axelrod, 70, American actor (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, The Blob, Digimon).
- Paul Cronin, 81, Australian actor (The Sullivans, Matlock Police, State Coroner).
- Eddie Money, 70, American musician (“Baby Hold On“, “Two Tickets to Paradise“, “Take Me Home Tonight“), complications from oesophageal cancer.
- Kenny Cantor, 81, English comedian.
- Valerie Van Ost, 75, English actress (Carry On, The Beauty Jungle, Mister Ten Per Cent).
- Charlie Cole, 64, American photojournalist, World Press Photo of the Year winner (1989), sepsis
In Other News
Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson has said Kevin Hart is “doing very well” after suffering major back injuries in a car crash earlier this month. Comedian and actor Hart was taken to hospital after a vintage car he was a passenger in rolled down an embankment in the California hills. Speaking on The Kelly Clarkson Show, Johnson said his pal was “a lucky man”. “Everything is good,” he said. “I spoke with Kevin – I connected with him today.” He added: “And you know what? These things happen in life and thankfully he was strapped in nicely to his car seat.” The pair are close friends – having starred together in films including Jumanji and Central Intelligence – and the former professional wrestler, 47, confirmed he would soon pay Hart a hospital visit. “I love the guy, he’s one of my best friends,” Johnson went on. “And honestly, I mean, thank God, it could have been a lot worse. So, he’s a lucky man, and he knows it, too. Hart and the car’s driver were both taken to hospital following the crash in the hills above Malibu on 1st September. The driver of the car was not under the influence of alcohol, according to a California Highway Patrol collision report.
Freddie Flintoff has confirmed he is “absolutely fine” following a high speed accident during filming for a new series of Top Gear. The former English cricketer reportedly “ran out of runway” at Elvington Airfield near York while riding a specialised three-wheel drag racing vehicle. He was competing with fellow presenters Paddy McGuinness and Chris Harris in a drag race. In a statement, Flintoff said: “I’m absolutely fine and was back filming today. I go to great lengths to make sure I do well in Top Gear drag races but on this occasion I went a few lengths too far! It will look more ridiculous than dangerous when you see it on TV.” A spokesperson for the BBC said: “The health and safety of our presenters and crew on Top Gear is paramount. As viewers of the recent series will have seen, Freddie is often keen to get ‘off the beaten track’. “Tuesday’s filming at Elvington Airfield was no exception – but he suffered no injuries as a result of his spontaneous detour, as fans will see for themselves when we show the sequence in full in the next series.” Flintoff, who assumed hosting duties on the long-running BBC programme this year, was wearing full protective gear and a motorcycle helmet while filming. The airfield is the same one former Top Gear presenter Richard Hammond crashed at in 2006 while piloting a drag racing car. Hammond crashed at 288mph after a tyre blew out, and suffered a severe head injury. He spent two weeks in a coma and later detailed the extent of his subsequent paranoia, memory loss and depression as a result of the brain damage from the crash.
A religious celebration was marred by tragedy this week as a man participating in a traditional Islamic mourning ritual accidentally beheaded himself. Mohammed Sayum was displaying his prowess at swordsmanship in the Nalanda district of Bihar, in east India, as part of a ritual procession known as the Mourning of Muharram. According to reports, Sayum, 60, accidentally cut his own neck and was rushed to Sadar Hospital, but died from loss of blood before he arrived. The accident sparked chaos in the area, according to the news site Swarajya, where hundreds of others were also observing the ritual procession. Sayum’s son, Mohammad Feroz, told police he witnessed the incident. Police in Bihar are still investigating and sent Sayum’s body for an autopsy. Fatal accidents and violence have long plagued Muharram commemorations: On Tuesday, at least 31 people were killed in a stampede in Karbala, with 100 more injured. According to the AP, the stampede started when a walkway collapsed. The same day, 20 people were injured watching a Muharram procession in Andhra Pradesh, in southeast India, when the roof they were standing on collapsed at about 2 a.m. Police report the victims were viewing the Pedda Saragathi ritual, where devotees walk on a hot bed of coals. Also on Tuesday, a man in Uttar Pradesh was electrocuted, and others wounded, when a tazia they were carrying came in contact with a live electrical wire. A tazia is a replica of Imam Hussain’s tomb, carried during Muharram processions. Days earlier, at least four people died in Karachi, Pakistan, when a tazia collided with overhead electrical cables… Think I’d stay at home…
On This Day
- 1752 – The British Empire adopts the Gregorian calendar, skipping eleven days (the previous day was September 2)
- 1901 – U.S. President William McKinley dies after an assassination attempt on September 6, and is succeeded by Vice President Theodore Roosevelt.
- 1959 – The Soviet probe Luna 2 crashes onto the Moon, becoming the first man-made object to reach it.
- 1975 – The first American saint, Elizabeth Ann Seton, is canonised by Pope Paul VI. Before this date, there were no miracles in America because God only cared for people east of the Atlantic Ocean.
- 1321 – Dante Alighieri, Italian writer (b. 1265)
- 1715 – Dom Pérignon, French monk and priest (b. 1638)
- 1852 – Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, Irish-English field marshal and politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (b. 1769)
- 1982 – Grace Kelly, American-Monacan actress; Princess of Monaco (b. 1929)
- 2009 – Keith Floyd, English chef and author (b. 1943)
- 2009 – Patrick Swayze, American actor, singer, and dancer (b. 1952)
John Martin Scripps was an English spree killer who murdered three tourists—Gerard Lowe in Singapore, and Sheila and Darin Damude in Thailand—with another three unconfirmed victims. He posed as a tourist himself when committing the murders, for which British tabloids nicknamed him “the tourist from Hell”. He cut up all his victims’ bodies, using butchery skills he had acquired in prison, before disposing of them. Martin was arrested in Singapore when he returned there after murdering the Damudes. Photographs of decomposed body parts were shown as evidence during his trial, making it “one of the most grisly” ever heard in Singapore. He defended himself by saying that Lowe’s death was an accident and that a friend of his killed the Damudes. The judge did not believe Martin’s account of events and sentenced him to death by hanging, making him the first Briton since Singapore’s independence from Britain and Malaysia to be given the death penalty. He is also the second Westerner to be executed in Singapore since independence, the first one being Johannes Van Damme.
Whilst Martin killed at least three people in Singapore and Thailand, he may have killed others in Belize, Mexico, and the United States. His modus operandi was to pose as a tourist and converse with randomly chosen caucasians, either aboard their flights or while waiting at airports. He stayed in the same hotels as his victims in a room near theirs. Once he had an excuse to be in their rooms, he used an electroshock weapon to immobilise them before killing them by striking their heads with a hammer and cutting them up in their bathrooms. He chose caucasians as his victims because they were vacationing far away from their home countries, which made him less likely to be discovered. His motive apparently included money, as large amounts were withdrawn using the credit cards of Gerard Lowe and Timothy MacDowall. Martin was arrested when he arrived at Changi Airport on the evening of 19 March 1995 and produced a passport with his assumed name, Simon Davis. Police had put the name on their wanted list on 14 March after they determined that Lowe had checked into River View Hotel with someone by that name. In a police interview room in the airport, Martin smashed a glass panel and cut his wrist with a shard of glass in a suicide attempt, fearing that he would be hanged immediately.
The police found five passports on Martin in addition to his own—two British passports issued to Simon Davis, two Canadian passports issued to Sheila and Darin Damude, and a South African passport issued to Gerard Lowe—each with Martin’s photograph affixed. They also found credit cards belonging to Sheila Damude and Gerard Lowe. In addition, police found Simon Davis’ birth certificate, and items that Martin had used to immobilise and kill: a hammer weighing 1.5 kilogrammes, a battery-operated Z-Force III electroshock weapon, a can of mace, two pairs of handcuffs, a pair of thumb-cuffs, two Police brand foldable knives, an oilstone and two Swiss army knives. Importation of some of these into Singapore is illegal.
In court, Martin argued that he was by nature not a violent person. “I may have worked in the (prison) butchery, but cutting up a human body is another thing. When I saw the photographs (of Lowe’s body parts), it made me feel sick.” He maintained that he had killed Lowe after the latter made homosexual advances that caused him to “freak out”; he had previously fended off homosexual attacks twice while imprisoned: in Israel in 1978, and in England in 1994. However his pleas fell on deaf ears as the evidence against him was conclusive. The judge sentenced Martin to death by hanging.
In the days before his hanging, Martin wrote of an “emptiness” inside him and lamented that no one had loved him besides his family and his ex-wife María. Martin’s mother remarked, “Whoever he is now, he’s the person the prison service trained him to be. These bastards have no right to take my son’s life. I brought him into the world. I am the only person who can take him out of it.” However, no one formally protested against the hanging. At dawn on 19 April 1996, Martin was hanged in Changi Prison together with two Singaporean drug traffickers. Prior to his hanging he was granted his last meal of a pizza and a glass of hot chocolate.
When Martin’s ex-wife María heard that he had been hanged, she said: John disappeared on several trips and went to the United States and Southeast Asia. I knew something awful was happening, but I could not believe he had started killing people. The last memory I have of him is a message he sent promising we would meet in the next life and that he would never let me go again.
I bet she sleeps well at night….
Last Week’s Birthdays
Alfie Allen (32), Ian Holm (87), Linda Gray (78), Virginia Madsen (57), Elizabeth Henstridge (31), Johnny Vegas (47), Guy Ritchie (50), Colin Firth (58), Adam Sandler (52), Hugh Grant (58), Henry Thomas (47), Jeffrey Combs (64), Eric Stonestreet (47), Julia Sawalha (50), Topol (83), Rachel Hunter (49), Martin Freeman (47), Heather Thomas (61), Pink (39), Julian Richings (63), and Miles Jupp (39).