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Debt worries led to petrol station theft

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Bush Hill Station: Image by Mike Hillen

Bush Hill Station: Image by Mike Hillen

WHEN a member of staff at Bush Hill Service Station in Pembroke arrived to open the business at 6am on a Monday morning, he did not expect to find the door already unlocked, and the alarm system deactivated, a court heard this week (Nov 4). That, according to the prosecutor, led the management of the premises to discover that £3102.21 was missing from the safe, and to the arrest hours later of staff member Stuart Daniel Batley. Haverfordwest Magistrates’ Court heard how a quick review of petrol station’s sixteen camera CCTV system, which had been unplugged, revealed that Batley had turned up at 4.55am; just over an hour before opening time. It became evident that Batley had switched off the cameras but did not manage to erase the part of the video where he entered the premises. Prosecutor Ellie Morgan said: “There are nine members of staff working at the petrol station. Four have keys to the front door. The defendant is one of them. Owner Darren Briggs had explained to the police that he recognised that it was Batley on the CCTV. Police attended Batley’s home address at around 12pm on the same day, but he was not it. Fifteen minutes later he was seen by officers walking towards his house with his child in a pram.”

I’M NoT GUILTY “Batley admitted to officers there and then that he had stolen the money and thrown it into a hedge. He reportedly said to police: ‘I’m not a thief so I don’t know why I did it. To be honest I was not thinking anything, I really wasn’t thinking anything at all.’ Morgan continued: “ The police went to the location and recovered £1935.00 which was still in three money bags. The defendant was then arrested, strip searched and interviewed. Police were mindful that not all the cash had been recovered and asked for an explanation. During questioning Batley said that he had ‘just remembered’ that he had thrown a balaclava and gloves under a construction container in Clare Walk near his home. There police discovered another £650, but there was still a short fall of £517.21, so there will be a claim for compensation in that amount.”

DEBT WORRIES Duty solicitor Matthew Raggett told the bench that Batley was in a large amount of debt with council tax, phone bills and loans: “His total indebtedness was between £60,000 and £70,000. He was now getting demands from bailiffs and was unable to sleep worrying that they would take everything” he said. Mr Raggett added: “Normally Stuart Batley is a right-minded person. He is now at a loss as to his reasoning behind doing this. When he got a call from his wife, to say that the police were at the house, he asked his wife to wait upstairs. He was too ashamed to let his wife know what had happened. He is, your worships, of previously good character. Clearly this is a gross breach of trust. Loans which were taken out in his name by other family members have added to his debts.” After retiring for a lengthy period of deliberation, the bench decided not to send the case to Crown Court, but asked for probation reports to be prepared before passing sentence.

KNEE JERK REACTION Speaking after a brief adjournment, probation officer, Julie Norman said: “Batley’s father took out loans in his name, and this has only come to light in the last few years. It’s all got a bit too much for him – the theft was a knee jerk reaction. He now is expressing extreme remorse and is frightened that he will receive a custodial sentence. He has a wife and two children, and is now taking medication for his emotional wellbeing. I am going to recommend a supervision order today with a high level community order. Batley is also suffering from a medical condition – the discs are crumbling in his spine. Magistrates deliberated and said: “We are not going to send you to prison on this occasion. You have shown remorse. You are of previous clean character. In the circumstances, we do realise that you have problems that you have to deal with.” Batley was given a community order with 12 months supervision. He will have to undertake 80 hours of unpaid work. He was ordered to pay a victim charge of £60 and compensation of £517.21 to cover the missing money at £5 per week starting in a months’ time.

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Appeal after woman sexually assaulted on cycle path near Haverfordwest

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POLICE officers in Haverfordwest are appealing for witnesses after a woman was sexually assaulted at approximately 4.30pm on Sunday (May 16).

The woman was walking along the cycle path between Haverfordwest and Tiers Cross when she was approached by a man who threatened and assaulted her, before walking away towards Haverfordwest town.

The male is described as a white male, between 5ft 4 and 5ft 11 tall , normal build with a welsh accent. He has short dark hair, a beard and a moustache, brown eyes, and wearing light blue jeans, navy/dark blue jersey with grey sleeves. Anyone who saw a man matching this description in the area between 3.30pm and 5pm in the afternoon.

A 35-year-old man has been arrested and is currently in police custody.

The cycle path is currently closed while the investigation continues.

Detective Superintendent Jayne Butler, who is leading the investigation, said “Incidents of this nature are extremely rare in the Dyfed-Powys area. The public may see an increased presence of police officers in the coming days as police investigate the incident. Anyone with concerns or information that could help our enquiries can speak to those officers or contact police. While a man was quickly arrested we would still like to speak to anyone who saw a man matching the above description in the area yesterday afternoon.”

Anyone with information which could help the investigation is asked to contact police. This can be done online at bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk, or by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired, text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

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Pembrokeshire County Council Cabinet endorses STEP Fusion application

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL’S Cabinet have today endorsed proposals from Cllr Paul Miller (Cabinet Member for Economic Development) to further progress the nomination of a Pembrokeshire site to host a Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP) fusion power station in the county.

Working with the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA), the proposed site is adjacent to the existing energy facilities on the South Shore of the Haven waterway.

If approved, the facility will initially host research with the ultimate aim of developing this technology which could offer a virtually limitless source of clean electricity by copying the processes that power the sun.

Cllr Paul Miller, Cabinet Member for Economic Development said: “I am pleased my Cabinet colleagues endorsed this important programme of work. The Haven Waterway has provided livelihoods, underpinned by fossil fuels, for thousands of Pembrokeshire families, mine included, for more than 50 years. It’s my job to help ensure the waterway continues to provide high skilled, engineering, science and technology jobs for the next generation of this county – and so linked to our focus on climate change (and in addition to our existing multi-million pound commitments to supporting wind, wave and tidal clean power generation) my team have been exploring whether we can also support the development of clean, green fusion technology.

“It’s very early days in the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s site selection process but we’ll provide regular updates as things progress.”

•       STEP is an ambitious programme to design and build a prototype fusion power plant;
•       It is a UKAEA programme, currently with £222m funding from the UK Government to produce a concept design by 2024: https://step.ukaea.uk/

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Re-opening of indoor hospitality and attractions at Milford Waterfront

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RESTAURANTS and indoor visitor attractions in Milford Waterfront are welcoming the return of indoor services from today.

The re-opening of indoor dining allows all restaurants at Milford Waterfront to seat customers indoors. As well as all restaurants on the Waterfront now being able to offer this service, the brand-new Foam Domes overlooking the Milford Haven Waterway are able to open, with bookings being taken from the 19th May.

Indoor visitor attractions are also allowed to re-open. This includes the Waterfront Gallery, which is open today and Phoenix Bowl & Pirate Pete’s Adventure Play which is making preparations to open from Wednesday 19th May. Also, Milford Museum, which has had a new rendered exterior finish, is preparing to open for the end of May.

Lucy Wonnacott, Marketing Manager for Milford Waterfront commented: “We are delighted to see the re-opening of indoor hospitality and visitor attractions here at Milford Waterfront. Each business has their own safety and social distancing measures in place and we kindly ask that you respect and adhere to these for your own safety, and that of others. We hope you enjoy your visit to Milford Waterfront and stay safe!”

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