Review of the year 2018: March

Police, fire and ambulance attended the scene of the blaze. Picture: Steve Paffett

Police, fire and ambulance attended the scene of the blaze. Picture: Steve Paffett - Credit: Archant

In March we saw a laptop explosion, a George Cross for brave police dog Finn and a hoax bomber all make the news.

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Letchworth business Allplas suffered a major fire after a laptop ‘exploded’ when it was left on charge overnight.

CCTV recorded the moment that the laptop burst into flames which destroyed Steve Paffett’s office off Works Road.

He told the Comet at the time: “I don’t think anywhere near enough of us are aware of the potential ‘bombs’ we have indoors. I was sat at that seat earlier that day and I swear it would have taken my face off or killed me.”

It was announced in March that hero police dog Finn was to receive the animals’ George Cross after being stabbed in Stevenage in 2016,

Letchworth-based Allplas caught fire when a laptop was left on charge over night. Picture: Steve Paf

Letchworth-based Allplas caught fire when a laptop was left on charge over night. Picture: Steve Paffett - Credit: Archant


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Finn’s actions saved the life of his handler PC Dave Wardell during an attack by a suspect – although Finn had sustained two serious stab wounds he refused to let the suspect go.

German shepherd Finn has since retired and is now the Wardell family pet.

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A memorial bench was dedicated to Baldock nursery school staff member and Balstock treasurer Elaine LaRoche, who sadly died in April 2017.

Elaine was a well-known and popular member of the Baldock community, and Weston Way Nursery commissioned the Welsh oak bench to be made in her memory.

Police Dog Finn proudly shows off his PDSA Gold Medal. Picture: PDSA

Police Dog Finn proudly shows off his PDSA Gold Medal. Picture: PDSA - Credit: Archant

Her popularity was reflected in the outpouring of condolences and donations made towards the bench, which now takes pride of place in the nursery garden.

Headteacher Jane Millett said: “Elaine always played such an important and pivotal role in the Baldock community, and we will endeavour to ensure that she is always remembered.”

Thanks to the town’s generosity, the school were also able to donated £2,000 to the Hertfordshire Breast Unit Appeal.

Schools across the country were sent hoax bomb threats in March, including The Valley School in Stevenage and Fairfield Park Lower in Fairfield.

Police Dog Finn with PC Dave Wardell and PDSA director-general Jan McLoughlin. Picture: PDSA

Police Dog Finn with PC Dave Wardell and PDSA director-general Jan McLoughlin. Picture: PDSA - Credit: Archant

The malicious threats caused disruption for parents across Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire, with some being asked to come and collect their children.

It later transpired that a teenage boy from Watford was responsible for sending the emails.

George Duke-Cohan, 19, was later sentenced to three years in prison at Luton Crown Court.

The Nursery in Baldock remembered beloved Elaine LaRoche, who sadly passed away last year. Picture:

The Nursery in Baldock remembered beloved Elaine LaRoche, who sadly passed away last year. Picture: Weston Way nursery - Credit: Archant

The bench was placed in memory of Elaine LaRoche, who worked at the nursery for 27 years. Picture: W

The bench was placed in memory of Elaine LaRoche, who worked at the nursery for 27 years. Picture: Weston Way nursery - Credit: Archant

George Duke-Cohan from Watford pleaded guilty to three counts of making hoax bomb threats. Picture:

George Duke-Cohan from Watford pleaded guilty to three counts of making hoax bomb threats. Picture: National Crime Agency - Credit: Archant

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