December 31, 2020 10.11 am This story is over 41 months old

Rewind: The Lincolnite’s most read 20 stories of 2020

A largely strange and sad year

The coronavirus pandemic dominated the headlines across the world this year (read our local view), but we’ve been reporting many other interesting and quirky local news, including controversial statues and plaques, tributes to lost loved ones and the lane merging saga.

A large portion of this year’s stories have unfortunately still been filled with sadness, including tragic deaths and court reports, but there has been some positive news such as the Imps currently top of League One and the launch of a number of new businesses.

The Lincolnite has always been here to keep you informed throughout 2020 and we have taken a look back at twenty of the most read stories of the year:

Margaret Thatcher statue & controversial dog gravestone

The statue of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher that will be placed in Grantham.

These two stories caused a big stir this year with many people outraged.

South Kesteven District Council leaders received backlash for agreeing to set aside £100,000 for an unveiling event for a £300,000 20ft controversial statue of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in Grantham town centre.

The council arranged for the statue to stand on St Peter’s Hill Green where it will be put on a 10ft plinth to try and deter vandals from reaching it, but that hasn’t stopped many from planning an alternative attack.

Council leaders said they were confident the money would be paid back through donations and fundraising.

Also, over 14,000 people on Facebook registered their interest in attending an egg-throwing contest at the statue.

Before and after: Guy Gibson’s dog’s gravestone. | Photos: A. Carty (2008) RAF Scampton Info (2020)

Another 26,000 people called for a dog’s name, which is a racial slur, to be put back onto a gravestone at RAF Scampton.

The gravestone paid tribute to a black Labrador dog mascot of the RAF’s 617 squadron called Ni**er.

A counter petition was also set up claiming “history has not been altered” after the name was removed from his gravestone — but the new plaque stays in place.

Black Lives Matter protests

Hundreds of people joined two Black Lives Matter protest marches in Lincoln back in June.

Chants of “Black Lives Matter,” “we want change” and “no justice, no peace” rang out through the centre of the city.

There was a touching moment at the second protest when everyone joined in to wave their arms and sing along to ‘This Little Light Of Mine’.

Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

There were also two protests in Cleethorpes this year. The first protest did not pass without trouble as police officers had to keep away an opposing smaller group and even had to us pepper-spray to get them to back off.

Humberside Police said the protest was largely peaceful, but a small group of people not protesting decided to use it as an opportunity to behave “inappropriately, threatening and assaulting officers”. | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

The second protest was more peaceful with around 80 people in attendance.

They weren’t the only protests in Lincolnshire this year as Extinction Rebellion carried out action, including ‘rebranding’ Lincoln banks, holding a ‘rebels picnic’, and setting up a pop-up clothing stall to combat the impact of fast fashion.

Branston murder

Andrei-Mihai Simion-Munteanu. | Photo: John Aron

A computer software student who strangled his mother and bludgeoned her partner to death with a hammer was convicted of their murders and jailed for life.

Andrei-Mihai Simion-Munteanu, 22, left the bodies of Leela Monti, 51, and Robert Tully, 71, at his mother’s bungalow on Lincoln Road, Branston, after carrying out the killings.

He was jailed for life and ordered to serve a minimum of 32 years before he can be considered for parole.

The families of Premm Monti and Robert Tully released a photograph of the couple. | Photo: Lincolnshire Police

The defendant told the jury that he believed he was evil and decided to carry out the most evil act he could think off as he thought that would bring him happiness.

SpaceX launch

Falcon 9 passing over Grantham on June 1, 2020. | Photo: Maxine Parsons

A landmark rocket launch that flew into space back in May caused a lot of excitement in Lincolnshire.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX company sent a manned rocket to the International Space Station on May 30. The Falcon 9 rocket hosted the first crewed space journey from the USA since 2011, when the space shuttle programme was retired.

Hundreds of people watched the skies of Lincolnshire to try and catch a glimpse of the delayed launch after the original date of May 27 was postponed due to bad weather in Florida.

Liverpool stars stroll on the Brayford in Lincoln

Manager Jurgen Klopp leads the Liverpool players down the Brayford. | Photo: Stuart Wilde / CoLC

Lincoln have made a great start to life in League One under the stewardship of manager Michael Appleton and the Imps ended the year proudly at the top of the table.

Back in September there was an extra special feeling of excitement as people gathered to see the players of Premier League Liverpool, and their manager Jurgen Klopp, taking in the sights and walking down Brayford Pool.

Lincoln lost the Carabao Cup tie 7-2, but it was always going to be a tough ask against the Premier League champions, and it didn’t stop it from being a special day.

A vast array of superstars. Photo: Stuart Wilde / CoLC

Let’s hope the mighty Imps can continue their fine form in 2021!

Lincolnshire mum jailed for trying to kill herself and son

| Photo: Adobe Stock

More than 1,000 people signed a petition to try and free a Lincolnshire mum from jail and assist with mental health support after she tried to kill herself and her two-year-old son.

After a sudden change of heart she instead rang for help, keeping herself and her child alive before telling nurses at hospital what she had done.

The court report explained how the mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was jailed for four years after pleading guilty to the attempted murder of her son in their South Lincolnshire home on May 7 this year.

The story caused a huge reaction and two petitions — one signed by over 1,000 people to try and free the mum and another, with just 11 signatures, wanting her to be kept in jail.

Tragic deaths of Lincoln pub manager and popular ‘Big Tissue’ seller

RIP Jeff Davis.

The Crown & Arrows pub in Lincoln closed suddenly on August 16 after the death of the general manager Jeff Davis.

Jeff had been working at the pub since 2017 and died while on shift, prompting the premises to be closed temporarily with immediate effect.

Police said the death was not being treated as suspicious.

Rob Calderbank, business unit director for Hungry Horse, the company which owns the Crown & Arrows, previously said: “It’s not an exaggeration to say that Hungry Horse is an extended family and we are all devastated by this news.”

“He was a one-off, irreplaceable.”

A popular figure in Lincoln, known to some as Big Tissue Guy, is being remembered as a Lincoln legend after his death this summer at the age of 57.

Stephen Baggott, nicknamed Baggy by his friends, was somewhat of an entertainer around Lincoln, famed for putting a smile on people’s faces on the High Street.

His daughter Hayley said: “He only ever wanted to be liked, and wanted to make people laugh and smile. I would love for him to be known as a Lincoln legend.”

The Merging Debate

The merging debate reared its ugly head again this year when vehicles straddled both lanes to block the A46 in Lincoln.

A five month road closure on Washingborough Road for Lincoln Eastern Bypass works also caused angry motorists to once again vent their frustrations over lane merging stand-offs.

Drivers have been accused of acting as self-appointed traffic police, sitting astride the white line during congestion and preventing others from using the outside lane and merging on the hill.

Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones said he was “sick to death of selfish HGVs crossing two lanes” on the A46 around Lincoln, calling lorry drivers who do this “total twonks”.

Schoolboy murdered in Fishtoft two days before his 13th birthday

Police identified the victim as Roberts Buncis, 12.

Tragedy struck Fishtoft near Boston in December when the body of 12-year-old Roberts Buncis was found in a common area at the rear of Alcorn Green, prompting a murder investigation.

A total of three teenage males were arrested, aged 13, 14, and 19. The 14-year-old was charged with murder when he appeared in court and was remanded to a secure unit in Sleaford, with a provisional trial date set for June 21 next year.

The 19-year-old was released with no further action and the 13-year-old was released under investigation.

Roberts’ father Edgars said he was touched by the amount of support he received from the public after his son’s tragic death, including over £20,000 raised to help cover the funeral costs.

Hundreds poke fun at ‘Long leg’ Imp trail statue

The Lincoln Imp Trail has been turning some heads. | Photo: Peter James Samuel Cooper

Hundreds of people poked fun at the design of the Lincoln Imp trail, as the statues were seen in public for the first time.

Many have been drawn to the long dangling leg of the statue, which sits a bit more central than the original in Lincoln Cathedral.

It prompted some to call for a redesign, but this summer’s trail was later postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Transgender ex PCSO found with explosives and gun

Zoe Watts has her own YouTube channel called Survival Mistakes.

A former Lincolnshire Police PCSO has been suspended by the force after weapons and explosive chemicals were found at her house in Lincoln. The YouTube survivalist and LGBT campaigner, who is seen brandishing an array of weapons in online videos, is awaiting trial.

Zoe Ashley Watts, 34, of St Helen’s Avenue, was formerly a member of the Bracebridge Lowfields Community Police Team working in the south of Lincoln. She then moved into a different role and has worked for the force for nine years.

Watts was later charged with having an explosive device, modified firearms and illegal butterfly knives at her home is set to face a jury trial on May 17 next year.

Watts has worked for Lincolnshire Police for nine years and had moved to a civilian role by the time of her arrest.

She has been suspended by Lincolnshire Police pending the outcome of criminal proceedings and an investigation.

Owners return from holiday to find hotel stripped by homeless couple

Stewart Headley was jailed for 17 months. | Photo: Lincolnshire Police

A couple who were saved from homelessness by the owners of a seaside hotel repaid their hosts’ kindness by stealing almost every item from the property, a court was told.

Stewart and Vicky Headley turned up on the doorstep of the Clumber House Hotel in Skegness asking for accommodation saying they had nowhere else to stay for the winter.

The owners Sarah and Stephen Lawson initially gave them a room and then asked them to “hotel-sit” while the Lawsons left the UK to enjoy a four-month trip pleased at the knowledge their business was in safe hands.

However, this proved not to be the case and the owners were left feeling so upset that they sold up.

Stewart Headley was jailed for 17 months. Vicky Headley was given a 12-month jail sentence suspended for a year and 100 hours of unpaid work.

Jury clears teen driver over triple fatal crash

The three victims of the fatal crash: Ricky (left) Joby (centre) and Aiden (right).

A newly qualified driver was cleared of causing the deaths of three of her passengers after her overloaded car left the road and collided with a tree.

Kasey Boulton, 19, who had passed her driving test less than a month before the collision, had five passengers in her Vauxhall Astra including one in the rear footwell.

Ricky Sharp, 17, Aiden Sawyer,17, and Joby John Scrimshaw,14, all died. Boulton and the other two passengers were also seriously injured.

Lincoln student fined £10k for party with up to 100 people

The party was hosted at the Viking House student flats on Newland. | Photo: The Lincolnite

A Lincoln student was fined £10,000 after police broke up a party attended by up to 100 people.

Lincolnshire Police were called to Viking House on Newland, which is managed by the University of Lincoln, during the evening of Friday, December 4, during tier 3 lockdown, and two days after the national lockdown ended.

Chief Superintendent Jon McAdam said when officers arrived they found a party “in full swing” and there were “at least 70 people, possibly up to 100”.

The university said at the time that it was taking the matter extremely seriously and an internal investigation was ongoing.

Worker dies after tragic building site incident in Lincoln

Tributes have poured in for Harry Cheston. Photo: Facebook

Family, friends and colleagues paid tribute after a 23-year-old Nottinghamshire man died in a construction incident in Lincoln in January.

Harry Cheston from Rainworth was working for subcontractors Melfort Construction on the Lindum Rudgard Lane student accommodation site off West Parade and was understood to have become trapped under an overturned tipper.

Over £4,500 was raised to help Harry’s family and at the time his mother, Leisa Jayne Cheston, said: “We will love you forever our darling son, you will always be our baby boy, our whole world, sleep tight my gentle giant.”

Soldiers pose naked on Red Arrows memorial jet after “drunken party”

The controversial photos were posted on social media.

Three soldiers caused controversy on social media after stripping naked and climbing onto a retired Red Arrows plane used as a memorial at RAF Scampton.

The three soldiers on COVID-19 testing duty – Colour Sergeant “Tats” Taylor, Corporal Shane Woods and Private Anthony Panton – posed naked on a retired Hawk T1 Red Arrows plane.

The trio, from the 2nd Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment, were said to have been at RAF Scampton whilst running mobile coronavirus testing. It is alleged that they had been at a boozy party after ten days of coronavirus testing duty.

Lincoln paedophile caught in sting after sending pictures to ‘teen girls’

Patrick Malone was caught in a sting. | Photo: KKS

A Lincoln man found himself caught in a paedophile hunters sting after sending explicit messages and pictures to what he believed to be teenage girls.

Patrick Malone, 34, set up a meeting with someone he believed to be the girl on WhatsApp, but when he turned up he was confronted by members of a paedophile hunter group.

The group called the police, who then detained Malone. Malone was jailed for two years and ten months and was placed on the sex offenders register for life.

Tributes as man named locally after fatal Lincoln lake ‘accident’

RIP Arnie Weavers.

The tragic death of 27-year-old Andrew Weavers shocked the city after his body was recovered in a fishing lake near Sainsbury’s supermarket in August.

Tributes poured in Andrew, known by many as Arnie, after his death and a fundraiser to honour him raised over £2,900.

An inquest held in November this year heard that Arnie died after taking drugs and drowning.

The inquest heard how he had been out socialising with friends during the evening of August 12 and shortly before midnight he was part of a group of young people who gathered at Starmers Pit in Lincoln.

During the early hours of August 13, Arnie joined other members of his group swimming. He did not appear to be in any distress and was seen to go under the water, but sadly did not resurface and his body was later recovered by underwater search teams.

Attempted drowning of Bella the dog

Bella during her recovery. | Photo: Newark Police

A story just at the border in Nottinghamshire sparked a big and angry reaction after a dog was thrown into the River Trent with a heavy stone tied to its neck and left to die.

A woman spotted to Belgian Shepherd, whose name was registered as Bella in 2010, in Farndon in Newark and managed to drag her to safety.

A petition with over 165,000 signatures demanded “Justice for Bella!” and a 31-year-old woman has since pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal.

Charlene Latham, of Newark but living in Ilfracombe, pleaded guilty at Nottingham Magistrates Court in November.

Leigh Johnson, 32, denied the same charge and both were released on unconditional bail and are due back in court on March 8, 2021.

Police ignored stepmother having sex with teen stepson

Police dropped their investigation into reports that a stepmother was having sex with her teenage stepson, until the victim came forward four years later.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, began having full sex with the boy when she was in her early 30s and he was just turning 16. She was caught when the teen’s father hid a dictaphone in their home.

In March, she was sentenced to five years in prison.

And a bonus story…

Jim Broadbent in London Spy (2015). | Photo: WTTV Limited

Jim Broadbent is the most searched for person from Lincolnshire on Wikipedia, according to an online map which shows you famous people’s home towns.

‘A People Map of the UK’ looks at famous people that have been Wikipedia’d more than anyone else, and renames the place they were born or grew up in to match, and our story about it proved very popular.

Check out the map