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Serious sex offender jailed for 10 years traced by shoe print and DNA

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Andrew Edwin Check: A footprint contributed to his arrest

A SHOE print, DNA and traditional policing helped Dyfed-Powys Police track down a dangerous offender who committed a serious sexual assault in Tenby.

In the early hours of Monday, January 9, Andrew Edwin Check, aged 30, climbed through a window of a house, found the victim in her bed and subjected her to a serious sexual assault whilst in possession of a knife.

Today (Mar 27) he was sentenced for 10 years after admitting two counts of assault by penetration. He will be on licence after his eventual release until 2034 after a judge ruled he was a dangerous offender as defined by law.

Nicola Powell, prosecuting, told Swansea Crown Court how the woman woke in the middle of the night to find Check standing over her in her bedroom.

He was wearing black gloves and holding a knife.

Check, a stranger to the woman, put his hands over her mouth to prevent her from screaming and later placed a pillow over her face.

Miss Powell said his victim feared she was going to be raped and thought that he was carrying out a scene he had seen in a pornographic film. But she maintained sufficient presence of mind to eventually talk him out of continuing the attack.

In a victim impact statement she said she now suffered from nightmares, anxiety and panic attacks

“I am unable to sleep and I don’t know how and when I will recover my life again,” she added.

Check’s barrister, Catherine Richards, said he now realised he had been addicted to adult pornography.

Judge Keith Thomas said Check should be viewed as a dangerous offender and, as such, would not be released from jail until he was no longer a threat to society.

He told Check: “Such an offence rightly frightens and horrifies people in equal measure.

“You carried out the attack in a callous and determined way.”

During the investigation, a footwear mark was recovered by Crime Scene Investigators, which was believed to belong to the offender.

Using specialist technology, a national database and the eye of the force’s footwear specialist, the type of footwear was identified as a particular type of Fred Perry trainer.

This information was passed on to officers undertaking house to house enquiries in Tenby and helped identify Check as a suspect.

DNA evidence of the victim was later found on a glove located in the home of Check.

This evidence proved conclusively that Check was responsible for the crime and led to him submitting a guilty plea at Swansea Crown Court.

Senior Investigating Officer Detective Chief Inspector Ifan Charles said: “This was a particularly disturbing incident and I am pleased to see justice served today for the victim and the community of Tenby with the sentencing of Andrew Edwin Check.

“There is no doubt that the specialist work of the Scientific Support Unit coupled with the vigilance of officers during their local enquiries led to Check being identified, arrested, charged and convicted.

Footprint: A picture from the police’s evidence

“I must also thank the victim of this horrible crime for her bravery during the investigation. Despite going through a most distressing experience she remained composed, provided police with a detailed description of the offender, vital information of the incident and followed advice on preserving evidence, which assisted greatly in the investigation to catch her attacker.”

Nicola Powell, Senior Crown Prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “The evidence obtained and support of the victim meant the CPS could advise on charges at an early stage.  It also meant that we had a strong case which resulted in a guilty plea. What happened to the victim was truly frightening, and the guilty plea removed the need for her to relive the incident at Court. Her cooperation throughout this process has led to Andrew Check being brought to justice.”

After receiving a report of the incident, CSI attended and worked through the night capturing potential evidence from the scene. They recovered a footwear print from the scene and processed the image allowing it to be analysed by the force’s footwear specialist back at police Headquarters.

Dyfed-Powys Police uses the latest advancements in footwear identification, including footwear scanning equipment, access to a national databased containing almost 38,000 images of different classifications of footwear prints and providing appropriate training and qualifications for the specialist role to be performed.

Footwear Officer, Adele Benjafield, said: “The evidential value of footwear is becoming more recognised. Its value is on a par with finger prints and DNA samples and scans of footwear are routinely taken of people who come through our custody suites.

“In this investigation, we were fortunate to retrieve footwear prints from the scene, which is down to the weather conditions that night and the fact that the victim had not touched or moved anything prior to CSI attending.”

Adele spent several hours scanning the database searching for a pattern match. She found a shoe that matched the various elements of the pattern and it was a particular design of Fred Perry trainer.

Database: The police searched for a hit

“I urge officers not to become transfixed on the brand of shoe normally, as it’s the pattern of the sole that is important, however the brand proved crucial in this investigation,” she said.

Officers took the footwear analysis work on board and during local enquiries spotted a pair of Fred Perry trainers matching the description. While this turned out not to be the actual pair of shoes worn during the attack, it provided a substantial link to the suspect. He was arrested soon after.

She said: “When I found out the footwear analysis had provided a link to the suspect my first reaction was feeling pleased that the work I’d carried out had led to this dangerous man being located. I then felt impressed that the police officers making local enquiries had understood the importance of the footwear analysis. The science is only as good as the humans using it. I did the work to identify the footwear, but if officers had not taken that on board and used the information they had, it would not have been worth anything.”

Another key piece of evidence in the prosecution case was the finding of the victim’s DNA on a black glove found at the suspect’s home. DNA-17 – the latest DNA profiling methodology – was used.

Assistant Director of Scientific Support, Glan Thomas, said: “We use the latest technology and methods to retrieve DNA from pieces of evidence and scenes of crime. DNA-17 methodology was used in this investigation and we were able to retrieve the victim’s DNA from a black glove found at the suspect’s home, which positively linked him to the attack.

“I’m pleased the Scientific Support Unit was able to play such a pivotal role in helping bring Check to justice. We have a team of highly-skilled, experienced specialists who work alongside hard-working and effective detectives. Solving a crime such as this and preventing anyone else from being harmed is what this job is all about.”

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Approval recommended for dockyard plans

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A CONTROVERSIAL plan to develop part of Pembroke Dock’s Royal Dockyard comes before the County Council’s Planning Committee next week.

Despite many objections from heritage organisations, Council planning officers recommend the development’s approval.

However, the Planning Committee will only indicate whether it is ‘minded to approve’ the proposal instead of giving it the go-ahead.

The Welsh Government has called in the application for decision by the next Welsh Government minister responsible for planning and infrastructure developments.

That means the Welsh Government will consider the Report presented to the Committee and weigh it against the objections received.

HERITAGE ASSETS VERSUSECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

The application is to develop a brownfield site within the former Royal Dockyard.

It seeks outline planning permission for the demolition or part demolition and infill of various buildings and structures, modification of existing slipways, erection of buildings and ancillary development. 

The development is intended for port-related activities, including the manufacture of marine energy devices, boat manufacture, repair and erection of plant.

The application is for outline planning permission. All matters relating to access, appearance, landscaping, layout, and scale are reserved for consideration as part of reserved matters applications. In practice, as many councils – including Pembrokeshire – have discovered, once outline planning is granted, reserved applications tend to proceed despite potential negative impacts.

A similar situation arose with Milford Haven Port Authority’s hotel development at Milford Marina, where councillors’ concerns were largely overruled by the existence of outline planning permission for the development.

Part of the proposal would see the former graving dock and timber pond infilled, the part demolition of existing slipways, and some buildings on site.

Both the graving dock and timber pond are Grade II listed. Buildings near the development are also listed, including the iconic Sunderland flying boat hangars.

The existing caisson gate currently in situ at the dock’s southern end would be removed and conserved. It is unique in Wales and a rare example. The planning report states that the caisson gate would remain within the marine environment without development and deteriorate. 

The development would include a new ‘super slipway’ built over the land extending into the River Cleddau and the construction of massive new industrial sheds to accommodate new marine technology.

JOBS AND THE CITY DEAL

The planning report claims the facilities erected will support anywhere between 288 and 975 full-time equivalent jobs in Pembrokeshire and make a substantial contribution to the local economy. However, the report also notes that the numbers of jobs claimed cannot be corroborated.

This proposal is linked to the establishment of the Marine Energy Test Areas (META), the Marine Energy Engineering Centre of Excellence (MEECE) and the Pembrokeshire Demonstration Zone (PDZ). These collectively comprise the Pembroke Dock Marine (PDM) project. 

The project forms part of the Swansea Bay City Deal to facilitate the next generation of marine renewable energy technology.

Companies who could potentially gain from the development have signalled their support from the proposal.Although their enthusiasm is predictable, the economic potential for local businesses cannot be ignored.

DOCKYARD ESSENTIAL TO TOWN’S EXISTENCE

However, a raft of objections also exists.

The Council received representations from, among others: The Victorian Society; The Georgian Group; Hywel Dda University Health Board;  Pembroke Dock Heritage Centre; Pembrokeshire Historic Buildings Trust; Pembroke Civic Trust; Naval Dockyards Society; The Commodore Trust; Ridgway History Group.

Not all of those organisations objected to the principle of development. For example, Hywel Dda expressed concern about the potential effect on access to South Pembs Hospital and patient care. However, most criticised the impact on the historic environment of the Royal Dockyard. Individual objections also expressed the same concerns.

The Naval Dockyard Society points out that the Dockyard construction was the reason for Pembroke Dock’s creation as a town. Without it, the town would not exist.

The Society continues: ‘The proposed scheme would severely damage Pembroke Dock Conservation Area and crucial listed buildings. 

‘The Grade II* Graving Dock would be infilled and partially built over, the Grade II Timber Pond infilled and built over, and the Grade II Building Slips Nos 1 and 2 partially demolished and removed. It would also be detrimental to the adjacent Grade II Carr Jetty setting, which adds to the group value of these threatened structures at Pembroke Dockyard.

‘These structures are the last and most important features of the magnificent and unique assemblage of thirteen slips, graving dock and timber pond constructed and functioning 1809–1926. 

‘Pembroke Dock specialised in building warships during the transition from wood to iron and steel, sail to steam and turbines. 

‘While the eastern slips were sacrificed in 1979 for the Irish ferry terminal and the deep-water berth Quay 1, we now live in a more responsible era, when significant community assets merit planning protection.

‘The Royal Dockyard established at Pembroke Dock from 1809 was unique: the only one in Wales, the only one on the west coast of Britain, and the only one created solely as a shipbuilding facility. 

‘It built over 260 warships for the Royal Navy, including many of the most prestigious warships of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as well as five royal yachts. Many of these vessels were built on the two large slipways at the western end of the yard threatened by the current development proposal’.

THE COMMUNITY’S VIEW

William Gannon represents Pembroke Dock Town Council on the Milford Haven Port Authority. Mr Gannon recently hosted an online event that reviewed the application and gave local people the chance to express their views.

We asked him what the public had to say about the plans.

Listening to the community: David Gannon (photo credit: David Steel)

William Gannon told us: “The feeling of the Community following our Zoom Meeting was that we welcome the 1800 jobs and the £63 Million of investment that the Pembroke Dock Marine Project has promised. 

“However, the Community is concerned about the Pickling Pond and The Graving Dock’s loss, which will be buried beneath the new slipway. Both The Pickling Pond and The Graving Dock are Grade 2 Star listed heritage assets.

“The Community are also concerned about the size of the two ‘super sheds’ that may be built. It is felt that these sheds are both too large and ugly, and they will damage the appearance of the Dockyard and The Haven and could damage Pembroke Docks plans to develop Tourism in and around the Dockyard.

“Our Community is looking to strike a balance between the need to develop the Dockyard and to preserve our Heritage Assets. 

“We believe that we can do this by working with The Port to develop a solution that allows for both.”

The Port Authority plans to infill the dock and pond in such a way as to preserve the structures and excavate them in the future. Once they are built over, however, the circumstances that would be possible or even likely are unclear. 

The Port Authority also proposes to use digital media to provide an ‘augmented reality’ experience to show visitors what the Royal Dockyard looked like before its development.

The Port says that part of the land, the Carriage Drive, would be enhanced and restored under its plans for the site.
The balance between preserving heritage and creating future jobs in one of its pet project areas is one the Welsh Government will wrestle with on this application and others.

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Primary school teacher would ‘moan’ as he touched female pupils, court hears

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A HAVERFORDWEST primary school teacher would “moan” while he touched his female pupils in a sexual way, a witness said in Swansea Crown Court.

In total, 11 former pupils, who were all under 13, have come forward and accused James Oulton, 34, of sexually assaulting them.

Oulton denies all the charges – saying the case was a “witch-hunt” and that he had behaved appropriately all times.

One of the pupils, who was in year four at the time, opened day four of the trial by giving evidence via a video link.

The girl told the court: “He would put his arm around by back and backside.”

Under cross examination Chris Clee QC, for the defence, asked the witness: “Did you tell the police that you were touched in an inappropriate way?”

The witness answered: “Yes, teachers should not be touching in that way.”

James Oulton

Asked if what he was doing wrong, the witness replied:

“Yes, very wrong”

In cross examination letters and cards were produced, made the witness whilst in school, where she had said Mr. James Oulton was “the best teacher in the whole world.”

One of the cards said: “You’ve made my life complete”.

Another card said: “Thank you for being so nice, and thanks for everything that you’ve done for me.”

The witness added: “Despite what he did do, he was a good teacher.  

“He used to buy us treats.

“He was nice caring and a sweet and fun teacher – but not what he was doing.

Referring to the cards, she said: “I would definitely not be saying that stuff now.”

Explaining how she told her parents the witness said: “Once I realised that [x] was in his class, I asked her ‘did he do this stuff to you?’

“She said yes.

“I realised more and more it was wrong and it was time to grow up now, and to speak.

“As soon as I found out that this was happening to [x] I stood up and told my parents.

Asked if she had seen inappropriate behaviour happening to anybody else the witness answered: “He did it to most of the girls in the class, but he had his favourites.

Asked if she had spoken to other girls about the touching, the witness said: “Yes, I was just curious was it just me, or was it normal?”

“Teachers should most definitely not be doing that to students.

“Doing what?”, the witness was asked, “You said in your police interview that he would pull you off your chair and make you sit on his lap, is that true?”

“Yes,” was the reply.

“Did you try and stop him?” she was asked.

“Yes, I tried to push him off sometimes and said, ‘get off its weird’, but I didn’t want to make a scene.

“He would make me sit on his lap whilst he was marking my work.”

When asked by the defence barrister how she was sat on her teacher’s lap, and if it was under a desk, the witness answered: “No, not under the desk, as both of our legs wouldn’t fit under.”

The witness also said that when she was sat on the defendant’s knee he would make “a low grunting noise.”

Asked if she had spoken others about this case, the girl said: “Police told my mum and dad that there were very many people involved in the case.

“I thought it was just me and [x] that was going to be at court, I only recently discovered that others had come out.”

A second female pupil was also giving evidence via video link. She was 9-years-old at the time of the alleged offending.

Firstly, a pre-recorded interview was played in court in which the witness said: “My teacher, Mr. Oulton always put his hand up my leg like that and up my t-shirt.”

She added: “If he calls you over and he pulls you onto his lap, if you don’t, he pulls your chair over and makes you.”

“How would he make you?” the QC asked.

“He would grab your arm, push you, and then pull you in”, she replied.

When asked if this was a one off, the witness said that the defendant “did it every day.”

“How would you be sat on his lap?”, she was asked.

“He would have one arm on my stomach, then the other arm would be rubbing my leg.”

“He would swap arms and then put one arm up my t-shirt.”

When asked to clarify if it was under her t-shirt the girl explained: “Yes it was under my t-shirt rubbing his hands up and down.”

The witness added: “If I tried to get up for work, he would just grab my arm.”

“He would make a funny sound like a hissing airplane.”

“We had a helper in the class, and when he came in, he would stop, and then I could go and sit down.”

The trial continues.

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New trees planted to help town

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SEVERAL new trees have been planted on Riverside Avenue in Neyland.

They were planted by Grandiflora, courtesy of the Town Council which recently pledged to plant more trees in the town in an attempt to help the environment.

As well as helping the environment, the trees will prevent vehicles from being parked on the grass verges on Riverside Avenue, which had been severely churned up over the winter and looked unsightly.

The Town Council will be working with Pembrokeshire County Council regarding parking issues in Neyland.

The trees will be tended and watered over the summer period to ensure they reach their maximum potential and enhance the area for residents and visitors alike.

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