from BBC News for Staffordshire

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A dog walker accused of losing several pets in her care is to be prosecuted for animal welfare offences.Louise Lawford is alleged to have been looking after at least five dogs when they went missing during a walk in woods in Staffordshire, in June.Owners said Ms Lawford, who operated Pawford Paws in Sutton Coldfield, had not revealed what happened to the pets.The case, brought by Birmingham City Council, is due to be heard at the city magistrates’ court on 23 January.Ms Lawford, 49, of Flackwell Road, Erdington, is accused of nine animal welfare offences, including five counts of undertaking group walks without ensuring each dog had been vaccinated, allowing dogs off the lead without written consent and failing to contact the owners or dog warden immediately when dogs were lost.She is also accused of three counts of breaching conditions of the licence to operate a business providing home boarding for dogs and one further charge of failing to provide veterinary treatment for a skin infection for a dog.The council said Ms Lawford’s dog boarding licence was revoked on 28 June.Latest news from the West MidlandsIt is claimed the dogs vanished in Hopwas Woods near Tamworth, on 23 June.April Lock, who owned pugs Charlie and Ralph, said she was on holiday when Ms Lawford contacted her about the disappearance.”I thought originally maybe that they’d got stolen. She let us search for about two weeks,” said Ms Lock.Ms Lock and two other pet owners whose dogs disappeared on the same day have been crowdfunding to take civil action against Ms Lawson. West Midlands Police said it had investigated allegations of theft relating to the missing dogs but there was insufficient evidence to consider charges. Follow BBC West Midlands on Facebook, on Twitter, and sign up for local news updates direct to your phone.

James McClean has praised Michael O’Neill’s man-management skills after an upturn in form for Stoke City.A shift from a left back to a left winger by O’Neill has resulted in McClean contributing four assists and two goals in 11 matches.”He’s been brilliant with me and hopefully I’m repaying that faith he’s shown in me with my performances,” McClean told the Potters’ website.

“Hopefully I can give more of that between now and the end of the season.”Since O’Neill’s arrival at the bet365 stadium in November, Stoke have won five of their 12 games under his tenure and are one point above the relegation zone in the Championship.James McClean offered Kick It Out support after ‘abuse'”When you’re playing with confidence then you’re a better player and you feel like you can do a lot more, so as a man manager he’s been brilliant,” added McClean on O’Neill’s impact.”The main thing for any footballer is that you want to be enjoying your football. I’m not saying I wasn’t enjoying my football beforehand but when you’re losing games it isn’t enjoyable.”Winning games breeds confidence, and with more wins that’s going to come, but I am enjoying my football and it’s credit to the manager for that.”While Republic of Ireland international McClean “enjoyed the challenge” of his defensive role, he says he has been given more licence to attack since the positional switch.”As an attacking player it’s always nice to score and set up goals,” he added.”I played earlier in the season at left back but I didn’t complain and I didn’t make any excuses.”I’ve been playing better, but I know myself that I can play even better again, so that’s to come and hopefully I can chip in with a few more goals this season and I back myself to do that.”

Burton Albion have signed West Ham United’s Joe Powell for an undisclosed fee on a two-and-a-half year contract.The 21-year-old midfielder made just one first-team appearance for the Hammers, but had a successful loan at Northampton Town last season, losing just one of the 10 games he played.”He’s a young player with a lot of potential,” said boss Nigel Clough.

“He wants to play first-team football and recognises that initially in order do that he needs to drop down.”Burton sign defender Shaughnessy on loan from LeedsPowell, who has featured for West Ham in their EFL Trophy side for the last four seasons, signed too late to make his Burton debut in Tuesday’s League One home game with MK Dons.”I’m here to learn some more,” he said. “I’m hard working, box-to-box, very good on the ball and I like to create moments in the game that lead to goals.”Clough’s Brewers are 11th in League One, just two points off the play-off places.Find all the latest football transfers on our dedicated page.

Updates from the Cannock Chase Radio News Desk via BBC Stoke and Staffordshire From: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/51015614

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Stephen Maguire fought back from 5-1 behind to beat Neil Robertson 6-5 in the opening round of the Masters.Australian Robertson, 37, a Masters winner in 2012, made breaks of 76, 136, 71 and 45 on his way into a 5-1 lead.Maguire, 38, recovered with a break of 105 in the seventh, came from 56-0 and 40-5 behind to win the next two frames and then made a clearance of 81.

Robertson held a 33-point lead in the deciding frame but Maguire’s break of 62 saw him dramatically win the game.He will play England’s David Gilbert after the 38-year-old, on his Masters debut, thrashed Northern Ireland’s Mark Allen 6-1 in the second match on Monday.Breaks of 77, 121 and 58 helped Gilbert into a 4-0 lead, before Allen, who won this event two years ago, edged a tight fifth frame.But Gilbert, a World Championship semi-finalist in April, then made breaks of 95 and 53 to seal his place in the quarter-finals, while Allen only made one half century break in the match – an effort of 51 in the third frame.

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‘I had it in my hands’Scotland’s Maguire, who punched the air when he sealed his victory, said he was surprised he was able to win the last five frames against Robertson.”It was a crazy game and I can’t believe I won that match,” said Maguire.”He was the much better player all the way through the match and he should’ve put me to bed 6-0 or 6-1. He should’ve killed me but I could see the game turning.”I’ve only come back from 4-0 down a couple of times in my career.”Robertson, the 2010 world champion, looked on course for the next round when 5-2 and 56-0 ahead but he missed a green, before he wasted a 35-point advantage in the next frame.”There was a lot of rustiness and I’ve not played competitively for about a month,” said Robertson.”He deserved to win and I have no complaints, it’s just unfortunate to go out of the Masters when I had it in my hands.”

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The tournament at London’s Alexandra Palace features the top 16 players in the world, although five-time world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan opted to miss the event.His replacement, Ali Carter, 17th in the world rankings, beat former world number one Mark Selby, with England’s Joe Perry also defeating China’s Ding Junhui on Sunday.Last week, Robertson, who comes from Melbourne, announced he would be making a donation to the victims of the Australian wildfires.Robertson has said he will pay £100 per century break made by any player during the Masters as well as an additional £5,000 to the New South Wales wildlife charity Wires, which rescues and cares for stricken animals.World Snooker Tour then announced it would match the payment.

Burton Albion have signed defender Conor Shaughnessy from Championship side Leeds United on loan until the end of the season.The 23-year-old has made 15 appearances for Leeds and has also spent time on loan with Hearts and Mansfield.He joins Nigel Clough’s Burton with a view to a permanent deal at the end of the 2019-20 campaign.

“I really liked what the manager had to say and it seems like a really good set-up here,” Shaughnessy said.Find all the latest football transfers on our dedicated page.

Anti-discrimination charity Kick It Out says sectarian abuse of Stoke’s James McClean “cannot continue” after alleged chanting at their game with Millwall.The Republic of Ireland player, 30, does not wear a poppy on his shirt for games scheduled around Remembrance Day.McClean is from Derry, where in 1972 British soldiers shot civilian protesters during Bloody Sunday.

Barnsley were charged by the Football Association on 3 January for alleged sectarian chanting against McClean.”James McClean was once again subjected to disgraceful anti-Irish and sectarian abuse this weekend,” said Kick It Out after the weekend’s goalless draw.”We have informed the FA so they can investigate but we reiterate – the abuse he continues to receives is absolutely unacceptable and shames our game.”Greater action must be taken by the authorities to safeguard his and his family’s wellbeing, because the current situation cannot continue.”Championship side Stoke last week released a statement of support for McClean, who joined the club in July 2018.The Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) also issued a statement at the start of January and responded to the latest incident: “There is no justification for this or any other type of abuse and the PFA stands fully beside every player who faces discrimination.”

Fifty firefighters are battling a blaze at a 19th century Cheshire mansion.Ten fire engines were sent just after 20:30 GMT to Tilstone House on Nantwich Road in Tarporley.Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS) said the fire had spread to all three floors of the former stately home.Water is also being pumped from the Shropshire Union Canal up to teams at the house. Police have closed the A51 in both directions at Tilstone Fearnall while the fire continues.

An HIV positive man who was originally told he could not train as an airline pilot has decided to reveal his identity after achieving his goal.James Bushe had previously wanted to remain anonymous, using the pseudonym “Pilot Anthony” on Twitter to write about his battle to become a pilot.The 31-year-old had been denied the chance to train because he could not get a medical certificate.However, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) eventually overturned the ruling.James has been flying alongside Loganair training captains since November but he has now completed his training to qualify to regularly fly the airline’s Embraer 145 Regional Jets from its base at Glasgow Airport.It makes him the first newly-qualified pilot in Europe living with HIV.The CAA’s previous interpretation of European regulations meant that pilots who were already qualified could continue to fly if they contracted HIV, subject to medical fitness.However, a “catch 22″ situation meant that a person who was HIV positive could not get the accreditation needed to be able to start the training to become a pilot.James, originally from Stoke-on-Trent, challenged the CAA and won.It changed its rules to stop refusing to grant medical licences to people with HIV.Instead, people with HIV will be eligible to receive a certificate that allows them to fly, but restricts them to multi-pilot operations.The body said it was the furthest it could go until the European Aviation Safety Agency reformed its rules.James, who was diagnosed with HIV five years ago, had gained his private pilots licence at the age of 17 before he was able to drive a car. He had wanted to be a pilot since he was a child, and began flying when he was 15.James said that he was shocked when he discovered his HIV status meant he could not train to be a pilot.”This has been a lifelong dream and to hear that it wasn’t going to happen was devastating,” he said.Gareth Thomas: Ex-Wales rugby captain has HIVAfter 18 months of training, James said it was an incredible feeling to actually be a pilot.”The joy of flying I felt when I first started to train is even bigger today, particularly in light of this victory,” he said.His decision to “come out” as an HIV positive pilot was a tough one, James said.His inspiration was ex-rugby player Gareth Thomas who disclosed his HIV status in the summer.James said he felt that using an alias on Twitter was perpetuating the stigma that surrounds people living with HIV.”I’m doing this as me today because I want to challenge that stigma,” he said.”It’s not just about me, it’s about anybody who is living with HIV who wants to become a pilot. I want to get the message out there that they can do.”My message to anyone living with HIV who is facing discrimination is to challenge it and you can win.”Life expectancy for people diagnosed with HIV is now close to the population average due to advances in antiretroviral therapy, which reduces the ability of the virus to attack the body’s immune system.James says living with HIV today is not like it was in the 1980s and 1990s.”HIV should be no barrier to anybody pursuing whatever their dreams are and becoming whatever they want to be,” he said.

A teenager has been arrested after a motorcyclist was blinded in one eye by an egg thrown at him from a car.The man 31, was hit in the face as he drove with the visor of his helmet up on Newton Lane, Wigston, Leicestershire.He had emergency surgery after the attack at about 23:15 GMT on Friday but his eyesight could not be saved.The boy, 17, was arrested in Staffordshire on Saturday on suspicion of grievous bodily harm.A vehicle believed to be involved in the attack has been recovered. Follow BBC East Midlands on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Send your story ideas to eastmidsnews@bbc.co.uk


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