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Pensioner cleared of sexual assault

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courtA 78-YEAR-OLD man was found not guilty at Haverfordwest Magistrates Court on Wednesday of last week after being accused of sexual assault.

John Joseph Colfer, of Haven Court, Monkton, had been charged with sexual assault on a woman from Monkton on two separate occasions. The first was cuddling and kissing her on May 23, and the second was grabbing her while she was in a phone box on May 25.

The Herald cannot name the woman for legal reasons. Three 999 calls were played from the two incidents. During the calls, the alleged victim refused to give her name a number of times and mumbled considerably over the phone. She was very unclear about the reason she was calling and said: “I went to use his landline. I was on my own. I was being stupid” and later “I know you won’t do **** all about it because you don’t do **** all around here”. In the last call, we hear her say “I just want him to leave me alone” and “I hate him” while crying.

She claimed that she had gone to Colfer’s home address to use his telephone. She then gave her version of events: “I went to use his phone and he asked me to sit down. He sat next to me and put his arms around me and started kissing me. I didn’t want him to. I used to live next door to him. I went to get up to leave and he said ‘You only leave when I tell you to’. I was scared. After he went to do something with the dogs, I just got up and walked out of his front door”.

She then spoke about the second incident: “I was in the phone box and I didn’t know he was there until he put his arms around me and said we’ve got to finish what we started and called me a slut. I said I didn’t start nothing and he went home”.

Defence solicitor, Kate Smith said: “You have indicated that you have known Mr Colfer for a long time and brought your children up next door to him. I understand that you no longer have a relationship with your daughters. I imagine that much be very stressing and upsetting for you?”

The alleged victim confirmed this. Miss Smith continued: “I understand you attended at his address. He was the last link to your daughters, so is the reason you attended the house not to use the telephone, but to inquire about your daughters and you got upset?”

She denied this fact and said: “We were talking earlier and he said I’m welcome any time”.

Miss Smith asked the victim why she went to the house. She said: “I was invited. He said I could come over and chill out. I knew he had a landline and I wanted to use it”.

Miss Smith then said: “You’re lying, aren’t you? Mr Colfer doesn’t have a landline and you’re lying about the conversation. Your statement says ‘I went over to Shaun’s phone to call the police. I’d been having problems with kids. He said if I ever have any problems I can use the phone’. What I’m suggesting is you’re giving a different account in the court than you did to the officer. Why didn’t you tell the police what you told us?”

The alleged victim said: “After what happened I was really upset”.

Miss Smith replied: “How do you say that affected you? Did it affect your memory?”

She told the court: “I’ve got depression and health problems and I don’t need to sit here getting a mouthful from you”.

Miss Smith then asked the victim: “Can I suggest you’re giving an inconsistent account on what happened? Mr Colfer did not have a conversation with you”.

She replied: “He did because I was with my ex-partner. He went to Nottingham a couple of weeks ago”.

Miss Smith asked again: “You went to discuss your children” and was cut off by the alleged victim, who shouted “No, I don’t want nothing to do with my children”.

Miss Smith told her that she knew it was difficult for her. Her response was: “You know something, you’re doing my bloody head in! He told me he didn’t have a phone, I went to get up but I couldn’t and said you leave when I tell you to. Now can we leave it?”

Miss Smith said: “I’m afraid I can’t. Did you tell him why you were there or did you just go in?” After not receiving an answer, she continued: “I understood you came into the property, he told you he didn’t have a phone and then you sat down. You haven’t said why you’re there, and he didn’t ask?”

The victim denied this and Miss Smith continued: “Why didn’t you leave the house after he told you he didn’t have a phone?”. She replied saying: “I couldn’t get up”.

Miss Smith asked: “Why didn’t you inform the police about the conversation about the landline? The defendant told you he didn’t have one, why is it a matter you have failed to mention? My problem is, you’re telling the court one thing and your statement says another. Can you explain why you failed to mention the conversation about the landline?”

The alleged victim had no answer.

“On two occasions in your statement you asked to use the telephone. Why didn’t you include his response that he didn’t have a phone?”

This question was asked twice. The alleged victim failed to give an answer.

Miss Smith read her 999 call: “I went in to use his phone. He kissed me all over and said I’m the Monkton slut’. Why didn’t you tell 999 what happened?”

She replied: “I know what happened”.

Miss Smith said: “You have given different accounts. There is nothing in your statement about him calling you the Monkton slut. It’s inconsistent and isn’t in your statement because it didn’t happen. The defendant’s case is you came to speak about your children”.

The alleged victim screamed: “Leave my children out of this!”

Miss Smith continued saying: “He put his hands over your shoulder to comfort you,” and was cut off by the alleged victim shouting “He was putting his hand all over me”.

Miss Smith replied: “Was he? You’ve never said that before. You’ve previously said ‘he had his arms around me’. Where did he actually have his hands?”

Her reply was: “You’re female, you should know”.

There was a pause before Miss Smith continued: “’He had his arms around me and I couldn’t move’. Where on your body did he have his hands? This defendant has been charged with extremely serious offences and I need to establish exactly what happened. Had you been drinking May 23?”

The alleged victim denied this. Miss Smith asked: “Why were you refusing to give your name?”

Her reply was: “Because the coppers know me”.

Miss Smith said: “In the incident on May 25 you were on the phone and you had just put the receiver down, and you state ‘he was right behind me. He put his arms around my waist and said we’ve got to finish what we started’. You made no mention about the comments he made over the phone. Upon being asked by Miss Smith if she claims to have told Mr Colfer to ‘sod off’ with reference to the alleged incident on May 25, she said: “Yes. Any more language? Because I’ve got plenty” and later said “I am having enough of you!”

Prosecuting, David Weale read out Mr Colfer’s statement: “She came to my house about her children, and she was crying a lot saying she is not allowed to see her children. I put my arms around her and gave her a kiss on the lips and her cheek. It lit her up a bit. It put a smile back on her face. When a woman’s in distress you give them a cuddle, in a way she gave me permission. I couldn’t help her with her problem. She did not ask to use the landline, and she left around 10 or 15 minutes after the kiss. “I didn’t call her a slut. I saw her to the door and waved goodbye. I’m 78 years of age, I lost that long ago. In the second incident I didn’t see her that day. I got off the bus around 5pm and I walked past the phone box on the way home, and I did not see anyone.”

Miss Smith pointed out in her final submission that it is concerning that there were no other eye witnesses to back up her account of what happened May 25 and that her evidence falls short.

Magistrates found Mr Colfer not guilty, and told the court: “We do not believe beyond a reasonable doubt that a sexual assault took place on either occasion”.’

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First Minister eases COVID restrictions

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NEW rules have come into force today (Monday Aug 3) to make it easier for family and friends to meet outdoors, First Minister Mark Drakeford announced on Friday 31 July as he set out further changes to the coronavirus regulations in Wales.

The latest package of changes follow the sixth review of the coronavirus regulations and focus on enabling friends and family to meet each other outdoors and enabling more businesses to open indoors.

The First Minster has explained that consideration has been given to extend the number of people able to meet indoors, however this will depend on people continuing to follow the rules and levels of the virus in Wales.

And has urged people to follow the new rules and guidance to help keep Wales safe and control the spread of coronavirus in the face of worrying trends across Europe.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said:

“We are becoming accustomed to living with coronavirus but we shouldn’t forget the danger it poses. This is a deadly disease and the risk to our health has not gone away – as we can see in parts of Europe where there have been new outbreaks and new measures introduced to control its spread.

“The rates of the virus in Wales remain low, allowing us to relax the restrictions further over the next few weeks but we can only do this if everyone continues to take steps to protect themselves and their loved ones.

“Businesses are required to take all reasonable measures to minimise the risk of spreading the virus on their premises. They have worked really hard to put in place measures to protect staff and customers. And we all need to do our bit too by complying with these and to keep our distance whenever we leave home and meet others.

“To the small minority who aren’t following the rules – we will take action. We’re working with our enforcement authorities here in Wales to ensure they have the powers and resources they need. I want to make sure all the measures developed to keep us safe are complied with.”

A series of changes will be made to the coronavirus regulations over the next three weeks:

From 3 August:

The restrictions preventing more than two households or extended households meeting outdoors will be changed to allow up to 30 people to meet outdoors. Physical distancing must be maintained at all times.
Pubs, bars, restaurants, cafes will be able to re-open indoors. As will indoor bowling alleys, auction houses and bingo halls.

Licenced wedding venues will be able to re-open to provide wedding ceremonies. However, indoor receptions will not be able to take place for the time being – they will be considered as part of the changes for August 15.

The guidance will be updated to relax the position on children under 11 having to maintain a 2m distance from each other or from adults. This reflects the scientific evidence, which shows the risk of transmission is lower among this age group. However, it is very important older children and young adults continue to follow social distancing and the other measures to keep them safe.
If conditions remain favourable, from 10 August:

Swimming pools, indoor fitness studios, gyms, spas and indoor leisure centres will be able to re-open.
Children’s indoor play areas will be able to open.

The Welsh Government is also exploring whether changes can be made to the rules to enable people to meet indoors with other people who aren’t part of their household or extended household from August 15.

The First Minister added:

“It is thanks to the hard efforts of everyone in Wales that we have been able to control the spread of coronavirus and relax the restrictions. We can only continue to do this if everyone carries on this hard work.

“If we stop now, there is a real risk we will see new outbreaks of coronavirus and we may have to reverse some of these restrictions to control its spread again.

“We are facing the likelihood of a resurgence of the virus over the autumn and winter –this will not be over by Christmas. We all have an ongoing responsibility to keep Wales safe. This means maintaining social distancing, washing our hands often and thinking carefully about where we go, what we’re doing and why.”

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Temporary measures create extra space around the county

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FURTHER measures to aid social distancing are being considered by Pembrokeshire County Council following the successful implementation of several schemes.

Through engagement with local communities and funding from the Welsh Government for the re-allocation of road space, the Council has created extra space to support social distancing measures and the unlocking of businesses.

The measures also look to promote active travel and other forms of sustainable travel.

Over recent weeks schemes have been focussed on the centres of Tenby, Saundersfoot and St Davids as well as some measures in Narberth and Haverfordwest.

In Saundersfoot parking bays have been suspended and temporary barriers have been put in place to extend the width of the footway at Cambrian Terrace and The Strand.

A new one-way system has also been introduced in the centre of St Davids. This has allowed the carriageway width to be reduced and a new pedestrian footway created linking Oriel-y-Parc to Cross Square.

In addition the Authority has also partially pedestrianised Cross Square which has created a pedestrian friendly environment and an area that can be utilised for other types of activities including market stalls.

In Narberth the Council has introduced measures to support social distancing where footway widths do not lend themselves to two way pedestrian flow. Again parking has been suspended and temporary barriers installed to allow part of the highway to be utilised by pedestrians. Further measures are currently being considered at other locations.

In Tenby for the annual pedestrianisation scheme, the Council has looked to support the unlocking of businesses by providing guidance and advice on various matters including Café Culture and social distancing.

Our Streetcare team has played a pivotal role in meeting various businesses including those from the hospitality sector, and has looked at individual properties to see what measures can be implemented.

In addition we have provided extensive information signage at all of the above locations highlighting the need to social distance.

All measures have involved community engagement from the start which has meant that we have been able to develop the schemes with the support of those impacted.

The situation across Pembrokeshire is currently being reviewed with regards to whether further measures are needed.

Councillor Phil Baker, Cabinet Member for Infrastructure, Licensing and Major Events, said: “By working closely with our communities we have been able to determine what needs to be done and where, to ensure we can continue to unlock safely.

“The extra space provided and the safe space for pedestrians is part of our plans to work together and adapt the way we live in response to Covid-19.

“These schemes will support our businesses, residents and visitors and we will implement further schemes where it is deemed necessary.”

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Police dispersed large group of teenagers and seized alcohol in Broad Haven

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POLICE have been out in force in Broad Haven dealing with groups of teenagers gathering and drinking in Broad Haven.

It is currently illegal for more than two households to meet together outdoors due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Friday night (Jul 31) operation resulted in an amount of alcohol being seized.

A police spokesperson told The Pembrokeshire Herald: “Officers are currently in Broad Haven dispersing a large group of teenagers who have gathered. Alcohol has been seized and they have been directed to leave the area.

“If a parent has a child currently in Broad Haven could you please contact them and arrange to collect them.”

Police are urging youngsters to respect local communities by not gathering in large groups this weekend

Officers and their partner agencies are concerned about reports there may be gatherings of youngsters planned for this weekend in Pembrokeshire.

Police are working closely with partners in the county this weekend, and will act quickly to disperse any such gatherings.

Police are urging youngsters to act responsibly, and respect our local communities and the sacrifices we’ve all made over the past few months to have some more freedom now.

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