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West Wales drugs ring – guilty get 61 years

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Smashed: West Wales drug ring (Stock image)

Smashed: West Wales drug ring (Stock image)

SEVENTEEN people were sentenced to a total of 61 years in jail on Friday (Apri 10)  for their involvement in a cocaine supply ring.

The arrests were the result of Operation Redcliff, which targeted the supply of cocaine into south-west Wales.

Nine of the people sentenced were from the Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire area.

Jail sentences totalling 61 years have been handed down today after a “professional and meticulous” police operation trapped a gang running drugs into Pembrokeshire.

The so called “Liverpool Connection” arranged for large amounts of cocaine to be delivered to Milford Haven, Carmarthen and Pembroke Dock.

One drugs “meet” took place at Carmarthen golf club without the club being aware,Swansea crown court was told.

Robin Rouch, prosecuting, said police used cameras fitted with automatic number plate recognition to track the gang’s movements and bugged conversations as part of Operation Redcliff.

The drugs running was “interrupted” in September, 2012, after John Underwood was arrested at Cwmgwili when police stopped his van and found £4,200 worth of cocaine. He was jailed for 18 months but resumed his criminal activities after his release.

The court heard many of the gang had few or no previous convictions and a leading figure in the West Wales end of the operation, David “Jamie” Evans, was a family man who once won a Welsh cap for water polo.

In March 2014, £50,000 worth of cocaine was seized in a car in West Wales and officers from Operation Redcliff began making a series of arrests.

Mr Rouch said, “Those in the conspiracy used mobile phones which were often unregistered and pre-paid.. Amounts of money were paid into bank accounts in West Wales that was then transferred to people living in Merseyside.”

He said it was impossible to be exact about the amount of cocaine supplied between 2012 and 2014 but it was estimated to be worth at least £200,000.

A total of 17 defendants were sentenced over a two day hearing that ended today.

Judge Paul Thomas told them, “People like you who decide to get involved in dealing with large quantities of cocaine do so in the knowledge that if caught they will get long sentences in jail.

“You all took a calculated risk and now that you have lost that particular gamble you will pay the price.”

The Judge praised the Dyfed Powys police officers involved as being “professional and meticulous.”

Judge Thomas described Jamie Evans, aged 42, of Crud y Wawr, St Clears, as the “lynchpin” of the West Wales part of the drugs operation. He was jailed for eight years.

John Underwood, 30, of Coronation Drive, Prescott, Merseyside, was given eight years.

Peter Cummins, 29, from Byron Avenue, Whiston, Merseyside, was given six and a half years for his “significant role”.

Labourer Jenkin Davies, 55, of Bwlch Newydd, Cynwyl Elfed, was given five and a half years for his role as Jamie Evans’s “right hand man” in West Wales.

Richard Houghton, 32, of Ridings Close, St Helens, described as a courier, was jailed for four and a half years.

David Campbell, 58, of Patterson Street, Birkenhead was jailed for three years. He was caught with cocaine worth £50,000.

Greg Mackenzie, 28, of Blaenwaun, Whitland, was jailed for four years and John Fitzgerald, 44, of Prior Ledge Drive, Milford Haven got four and a half years.

Craig Cann, 34, of Trebannog Road, Porth, and Ross Hutchings, 25, of Gordon Street, Ton Pentre, described by Judge Thomas as being “at the Rhondda Valley end of the operation” were each jailed for three years while Thomas Charles Salmon, 33, from Llanmill, Narberth, was jailed for two years and eight months and Emanuel Handford, 23, of Glannant Road, Carmarthen got two years and four months.

They had all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine.

Daniel Gila, 26, of City Road, Haverfordwest, was found guilty of the charge after a trial and he was jailed for five years.

Rebecca Underwood, 28, of Whiston, Merseyside was jailed for 16 weeks, suspended for 12 months for laundering the gang’s money. Judge Thomas said he appreciated she would be left to bring up a young family alone once he had jailed her husband John Underwood.

Mark Tinsley, 32, of Dennett Road, Prescott was ordered to carry out 240 hours of unpaid work for the community for money laundering.

Both, said Judge Thomas, had provided the gang with a valuable service by allowing “large amounts of money” to pass through their bank accounts.

Adam Evans, 27, of Queen Road, Llanelli, got a nine month sentence suspended for a year for the lesser charge of being concerned in the supply of cocaine and Louise Thornton, 27, of Whitemill, Lampeter Velfrey was given 16 months suspended for a year with both being given unpaid work orders.

Detective Inspector Huw Davies of the Serious and Organised Crime team welcomed the sentences.

“They send a clear signal out to the criminal fraternity that drug offences will not be tolerated in the Dyfed-Powys area and officers will do their utmost to bring cases to court,” he said.

“Today’s outcome is the result of a complex and protracted operation conducted by Dyfed-Powys Police into the trafficking of substantial quantities of Class A drugs, namely Cocaine, into the force area, in this case 1 kilo of the drug was recovered.”

“I would encourage anyone who has concerns over the trafficking of drugs to contact local police.”

[soliloquy id="15630"]

The full list of those convicted is as follows:

David James Lloyd Evans b. 01/03/1973 Carmarthen – Conspiracy to supply cocaine – 7 years

Jenkin Anthony Davies b.27/03/1959 Carmarthen – Conspiracy to supply cocaine – 5 ½ years

Greg Ian Mackenzie b.23/02/1986 Narberth – Conspiracy to supply cocaine – 4 years

Thomas Charles Salmon b.18/03/1981 Narberth – Conspiracy to supply cocaine – 32 months

Louise Thornton b.25/04/1986 Narberth – Being concerned in the supply of cocaine – 16 months suspended for 2 years

Richard Houghton b.04/04/1983 St Helens – Conspiracy to supply cocaine – 4 ½ years

David Campbell b. 27/04/1956 Merseyside – Conspiracy to supply cocaine – 3 years

John William Fitzgerald b.23/12/1969 Milford Haven – Conspiracy to supply cocaine – 4 ½ years

John Paul Underwood b.06/07/1983 Merseyside – Conspiracy to supply cocaine – 8 years

Peter Cummins b.14/11/1984 Merseyside – Conspiracy to supply cocaine – 6 ½ years

Daniel Alexander Gila b.134/02/1988Haverfordwest – Conspiracy to supply cocaine – 5 years

Emanuel Lee Hanford b.13/11/1990 – Carmarthen – Conspiracy to supply cocaine – 28 months

Craig Cann b.08/11/1980 Porth – Conspiracy to supply cocaine – 3 years

Ross Hutchings b.30/07/1989 Ton Pentre – Conspiracy to supply cocaine – 3 years

Adam John Evans b.19/08/1988 Treorchy  – Being concerned in the supply of cocaine – 9 months suspended for 2 years

Mark Tinsley b.21/03/1982 Merseyside – Money laundering – converting criminal property – 240 hours community service

Rebecca Jade Underwood b.20/07/1986 – Merseyside – Money laundering – converting criminal property – 4 months suspended for 1 year

 

 

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Education

Styling their way to the top

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(Left to right) Level 2 - Festival theme - work by Holly Mathias and Celebration of Colour - Level 2 and 3 – work by Leah Rees

FOUR hairdressing learners: Holly Mathias, Jenna Kilgallon, Helaina Thomas and Leah Rees, recently earned themselves a place in the next stage of the Concept Hair Magazine Learner of the Year Competition.

The candidates were invited into the College to show their fully presented entries as evidence and then submitted them remotely to the Concept Hair Magazine judges in December.

The categories for the competition were: Festival Hair, Red Carpet, Old School Barbershop, Celebration of Colour and Safari.

The unique styles allowed the learners to show off their creative hair styling skills from plaits to updos, to bold colour creations.

Charlotte Jones, Hairdressing lecturer was over the moon with the learners’ success; “We were all so impressed with the creativity, dedication and enthusiasm of all the students who took part in the competition. Also, the students who supported the entries during the day and the models who gave up their time to be involved. They should all be very proud of what they have achieved. The results were amazing!”

The students worked to COVID regulations ensuring all the correct PPE and procedures were followed.

Finalist, Holly Mathias entered three categories which included; Styling Level 2 – Festival Theme, Hair Up Level 2 – Red Carpet and Avant Garde – Safari.

Holly shared her experience; “Taking part in the Concept Hair competition, has really boosted my confidence and proved that hard work really does pay off. The support from the staff at Pembrokeshire College is outstanding. I would recommend everyone to take part in this competition as not only is it an amazing experience, but it really allows you to think outside the box and be as creative as you can! I would 100% take part in this competition again.”

Holly plans to go into full-time employment when she completes her course and hopes to one day work on cruise ships or even own her own salon.

The next stage involves the candidates submitting photographic entries on the 12th March where six will be shortlisted for the national finals which is set to take place virtually in April.

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Community

Environmental projects supported by Park Authority’s Sustainable Development Fund

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PROJECTS involving worm composting, community planting and solar panels were just some of the projects that recently received support from the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority’s Sustainable Development Fund.

More than £140,000 was awarded to eight projects at the committee’s January meeting with the next deadline for applications set for 12 noon on 23 March.

Clynfyw Care Farm was successful with an application for a vermicomposting project, which will create a quality rich sustainable compost that can be used to improve soil conditions organically. This will support local vegetable producers and sequestrate carbon in the process.

The Newport Area Environment Group will receive funding to lead a community planting project promoting decarbonisation through biodiversity.

Cwm Arian Renewable Energy secured financial support to research a Pembrokeshire-wide Energy Efficiency program, with the aim of reducing energy use and tackling fuel poverty by increasing and normalising the uptake of low carbon life choices.

Funding for photovoltaic (PV) panels was agreed for projects submitted by Herbrandston Sports and Recreation Association, South Ridgeway Community Association, Neuadd Gymuned Bwlchygroes Community Hall, Ramsey Island Nature resort and Visitor Centre, and Crymych Rugby club, who all received funding to help harness solar energy.

Directors from Clynfyw Care Farm said: “Thanks to funding from SDF, this worm composting project will be a useful tool for engaging with people, reducing CO2 and teaching a simple sustainable process with important stages in a safe, supported environment. Once established, vermicompost will be available for purchase in local outlets, providing an environmentally-friendly alternative for local growers.”

Applications for funding are encouraged from not for profit groups, including village halls, community councils and environmental groups in the county who have a project that will contribute towards a reduction in carbon and help respond to the climate emergency.

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News

Council: Despite a rise Pembrokeshire still has lowest council tax in Wales

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCILLORS have voted to back a recommendation of a 3.75 percent increase in Council Tax for the coming year.

The increase equates to an extra 82p per week for Band D properties.

Pembrokeshire will still have the lowest Council Tax in Wales with Pembrokeshire Band D Council Tax payers paying £214.11, or £4.11 per week, less than the average across the country.

Cllr Bob Kilmister, the Cabinet Member for Finance, said the increase had been reduced from a proposed 5 per cent to 3.75 per cent to reduce the impact on Council Tax payers.

Introducing the budget to members, Cllr Kilmister said to go for a figure below 3.75 per cent would inevitably lead to much higher rises in future years.

Falling below 3.75 per cent would also lead to cuts in Council services, Cllr Kilmister said.

He added: “A reduction in services and staff numbers will affect the poorest in our communities the most. I believe we have a duty to these people.”

Councillors also voted for Council house rents to be increased by 1.5% for the coming year plus increases of up to 50p per week where properties are not at target rent levels.

The votes were taken at the full meeting of Pembrokeshire County Council held on Thursday, March 4.

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