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Cowshed Cinderella in Court of Appeal

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Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 11.11.11A £1.3 MILLION “golden egg” is at the centre of a renewed and bitter Appeal Court battle between an aging farming couple and their estranged daughter – dubbed the “Cowshed Cinderella”.

Eirian Davies, 46, was repeatedly assured by her parents, Tegwyn and Mary Davies, now in their 70s, that she would ultimately step into their shoes and take over the family’s thriving Henllan Farm, Whitland, and its herd of pedigree Holstein cows.

And in May 2014 three Appeal Court judges ruled that a stake in the thriving 182-acre farm was due to her for the years of low-paid toil she put in.

Miss Davies has told how she missed out on going to Young Farmers’ Club dances with her two sisters as a teenager because she had to “stay at home with a muck fork” , tackling her farming chores.

She worked on the family farm for over 25 years, although with sporadic breaks over the years.

“They always told me that the farm would be left to me,” Miss Davies told an earlier court hearing.

“Even on my birthday, when the other girls were having things, they would say – ‘you will have the damn lot one day, it will all be yours’,” she said.

Her father would regularly warn her “not to kill the goose that lays the golden egg” if she complained about her meagre wages, she added.

Until she reached the age of 21, Miss Davies was paid nothing at all for her work on the farm and, after that, there was a period when she was paid just £15-a-day for milking the cows, although sometimes she received more.

She claimed she could have ‘made a better life elsewhere’, but her 75-year-old father and mother, 76, insisted she had earned a fair income during her stints working on the farm, also being provided with free ‘bed and board’ and other benefits.

Describing her as ‘a self-employed herdswoman’, they argued she would have done no better financially had she worked away from the farm.

In 2009, Miss Davies was shown her parents’ draft will, which left the lion’s share of the farm to her.

However, the couple later made changes to their bequests and proposed placing the farm in trust for the benefit of all three sisters equally.

Miss Davies had a ‘passionate interest in pedigree milking cows’ and, by 1989 when she turned 21, she was the only sister left at the farm, ‘her sisters having departed to follow other paths’.

And, when she left the farm to work elsewhere for a while, her father begged her to return.

The bitter legal dispute was finally sparked in August 2012 following an “altercation” in the milking parlour – after which Miss Davies’ parents launched an unsuccessful bid to evict their daughter from Henllan Farmhouse.

Later on, Judge Milwyn Jarman QC ruled Miss Davies was entitled to a beneficial interest in the family’s lucrative farming business, prompting her parents to challenge that ruling in the Appeal Court.

But in May 2014 Lord Justice Floyd dismissed the couple’s appeal, ruling that Miss Davies had received “less than full recompense” for her contribution to the farm.

The appeal judge concluded: “This is in many ways a tragic case. The bitterness between the parties was such that each had few, if any, good words to say about the other.”

After the parents’ appeal was rejected, the case was sent back to Judge Jarman to put a figure on the amount of compensation due to Miss Davies.

He awarded her £1.3 million for her share of the family farming business in February 2015 at the High Court in Cardiff, triggering her parents to mount a fresh appeal.

The case returned to the Appeal Court on Tuesday this week (Apr 26) as Mr and Mrs Davies’ legal team launched their attack on the judge’s findings.

The couple’s QC, Simon Fancourt, claimed the £1.3 million pay-out would be “hugely disproportionate to any detriment Eirian incurred in reliance on representations that were made”.

The “representations and assurances” given by her parents were “general and non-specific” in the early days, said the barrister, including such sentiments as, “it’ll all be yours one day” and “don’t kill the goose that lays the golden egg”.

He said Judge Jarman had found that the first time the couple made any substantial “explicit representation” about inheritance was in 2009 when Miss Davies was shown a draft of their wills, bequeathing the farm to her.

Mr Fancourt said that Judge Jarman unfairly “worked on the basis that there was an expectation of inheriting the whole lot”.

“He gave too much weight to the expectations,” said the barrister.

Lord Justice Patten, Lord Justice Underhill and Lord Justice Lewison, who are hearing the case at London’s Appeal Court, are expected to reserve their judgment to a later date.

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Primary school teacher described as ‘touchy-feely’ on day two of trial

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A HAVERFORDWEST primary school teacher, accused of sexually assaulting his pupils was “very touchy-feely”, Swansea Crown Court heard on the second day of his trial.

James Oulton, 34, of Haverfordwest would put his hands around students’ waists and touch their bottoms, an ex-female pupil said in a video interview played to Swansea Crown Court.

The defendant denies 30 charges of sexual assault at a primary school in Haverfordwest. The alleged offences took place between 2012 and 2018.

On the opening day of the trial, court heard that Oulton said the case was a “witch-hunt” and that he always behaved appropriately with children.

On Tuesday, the jury watched the video interview with one of Oulton’s former pupils, who said he was a “friendly person, very chatty and sociable and quite outgoing and wanted to know everything that was going on.”

She added: “Mr Oulton often wanted to know a lot of details on what we had done over the weekend, where we had been, and also who they had been with.”

“At the time I just thought he was trying to be really friendly but now when I look back at it now, it does seem odd.”

The witness also described the defendant as a “very touchy-feely teacher”.

She added: “If he was marking your work or if you approached him to ask him a question, he would put his hands around your waist or around your bum”.

“If he was standing by his desk, he would, like, motion to his knee, so he wouldn’t ask you directly to sit on his lap but he would tap his knee.”

Swansea Crown Court heard that the witness eventually came forward and told her parents parents after she heard them speaking about Mr Oulton being suspended from his job.

“Did you feel under pressure to say something had happened to you?” asked Mr Clee.

The witness answered “No”

Oulton, of Richmond Crescent, Haverfordwest, previously told the court he had behaved appropriately.

He also believed letters were sent by Pembrokeshire County Council to parents which encouraged “deliberately false evidence” and collusion between pupils.

The trial continues.

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‘We don’t want it’: councillors object to HGV tanker park plans

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PEMBROKE DOCK town councillors have objected strongly to plans to build a HGV tanker park in the town.

The tanker park would be located on the south-western side of Criterion Way, behind the ASDA petrol station.

However, at a meeting of the town council’s Planning Committee on Tuesday, April 13, councillors were in agreement that it would create more problems for the town.

Councillor Jonathan George said: “I’ve noted the public input on this and they don’t seem very happy about where it’s going to be put.

“It is close to a small park area and I don’t think it’s suitable to put this here. I won’t be supporting this.”

Cllr George Manning added: “There are many aspects of this which are totally inappropriate for Pembroke Dock. There are many other sites available but they haven’t looked at any of them.

“This does not do anything for the Future Generations act and it will bring more disruption to the town.

“This does not bring about any improvements to the existing transport infrastructure. There are lots of things about this, we don’t want it. I don’t think they have looked into it in enough detail.”

Cllr Gordon Goff said that the impact it would have on the public and wildlife would be ‘astronomical’.

He went on to say he was not happy with one of the statements in the application and said they ‘don’t want to be blackmailed’.

One of the documents submitted with the application states that if the development was not approved it would mean that the applicants, Certas, ‘will either have to find a different site’ or ‘will have to cease operating in the area’.

Cllr Terry Judkins said that the Port Authority wanted to ‘use Pembroke Dock as a dumping ground’ and added that he could not support it.

Cllr Maureen Colgan added that she was ‘totally against’ the application and said that the area should be kept for leisure and be developed as an area where people can sit and enjoy themselves.

The application is due to be decided by Pembrokeshire County Council at a later date.

Cllr Paul Dowson has already called in the application for it to be debated by the County Council’s Planning Committee.

In his request he states that it is too near habitation, it is within the Pembroke Dock conservation area and that children have been using the area near the bandstand as play area for over 20 years.

The area had also previously been the subject of an application for a marina and other leisure facilities but that investment was written off in 2017.

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Trial of Haverfordwest primary school teacher starts at Swansea Crown Court

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A HAVERFORDWEST primary school teacher who is accused of sexually abusing eleven children thinks he is a victim of a witch hunt by the police, a jury has heard.

But at Swansea Crown Court on Monday (Apr 12), the Clare Wilks for the prosecution said that the defendant had “abused the trust of parents and staff” by sexually touching children in his care.

James Oulton, denies 30 charges of sexual assault against the eleven children who were aged eight or nine years old at the time.

The alleged offences took place between 2012 and 2018.

The jury heard how the pupils, now aged between 11 and 17, claimed he touched them sexually.

But the court was also told that Mr Oulton claimed he received cards at the end of term, and he believed letters sent by Pembrokeshire council to parents encouraged false complaints and collusion between pupils.

Oulton, 34, of Richmond Crescent, Haverfordwest, told the court he had behaved appropriately.

The jury heard how the alleged abuse occurred while Mr Oulton was working at a primary school in Haverfordwest.

Clare Wilks, prosecuting, said some of the children alleged that they had been assaulted on a daily basis, while others had had given statements to say it only happened the one time.

The trial continues.

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