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Swan killer sentenced for ‘disgusting’ act

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Swans: The family in Withybush Woods (pic. The Herald)

A 19-YEAR-OLD man who killed a family of swans at Withybush Woods in Haverfordwest with three other people appeared at Haverfordwest Magistrates’ Court today (Mar 28).

Joseph Lawson, who now lives in Derbyshire, pleaded guilty to possessing an air weapon in a public place, possessing 0.9 grams of cannabis and jointly killing swans.

Lawson had also failed to attend the previous hearing relating to the death of the swans, and was charged with failing to appear at court.

Prosecutor, Vaughan Pritchard-Jones said: “This case has attracted public and press attention. A family of swans were shot and suspicion fell on three men and one youth.

“Enquiries were made, and police spoke to a lady who live in the same block of flats as Lawson. He turned up and asked her to hide his air rifle and said the police were after him.”

The court heard that the lady in question was very unwell, and agreed to hide the rifle.

He continued: “He turned up the next day to collect it, and she overheard that he wanted to get rid of the gun because he didn’t want the police to match the pellets with it. He asked her to give him an alibi. However, she told the police and he was arrested with three others.

“This was a joint enterprise, and they are all equally responsible. One adult pleaded not guilty, the youth was given a referral order and the other adult, Phillips, was given a four month custodial sentence, suspended for 12 months.”
He told the court that in total, four people went out shooting, and Lawson believed that Mattson, who has pleaded not guilty, had permission to shoot on private land.

Mr Pritchard-Jones said that Lawson claims he has suffered from a lack of sleep since the incident.
He said: “His intentions were to get a rabbit or a duck to eat. They started to try and find them, but found none.”

In his statement, Lawson said: “I had the gun. I am not from here, and I don’t know the area very well. We went to the woods and saw a pond but there were no ducks.”

He explained that there was a conversation about shooting ducks, to which the youth said would be ‘funny as f**k’.

He said: “I am easily led, and I shot the swan. As soon as I did it I put my head down in disgrace. I could not believe what I had done.”

He said in his statement, that he told the group that they needed to kill the swan to put it out of its misery, to which his co-defendant, Benjamin Phillips, said ‘It’s f***ing evil leaving it like that’.

He added: “It’s the lowest thing you can do, like. I’ve been feeling very low and have thought about suicide. I get help by phoning my mum.”

Mr Pritchard-Jones explained that four swans were injured in total. The wing of a cygnet had been ‘completely severed’, and was alive when it was recovered, but had to be put down by a vet.

The male swan was found dead with two pellets in its body: One in its wing, and another in its abdomen. Another cygnet also had tearing injuries, which implied that a pellet had passed through it.

Probation officer, Julie Norman, said: “This is a very unpleasant case. He bought the rifle a few days before, and the plan was to go out shooting ducks.

“It was around 8pm so would have been pitch black. He said there was peer pressure on him, and he made one shot, and the others took the rest.”

She continued: “He has mental health issues. Alongside that, he has chronic substance misuse and self harms. He has scars on his arms, and he self harmed yesterday (Mar 27) in police custody.”

Defence solicitor, David Williams, said: “I wish to express on his behalf his sincerest apologies and deep remorse of becoming involved in this incident.

“He is a young man and has never been to prison before. He has significant mental health problems. He has struggled with his mental health from the age of 8-years-old. His recent self harm was when he handed himself in yesterday.”

Mr Williams also explained that Lawson has psychosis and borderling split personality disorder.

Lawson told the court: “I am very sorry for my actions and what I have done.”

Chair of the bench, Cllr David Simpson, told Lawson: “We think that what you have done is disgusting. If you have read the local paper, you will have seen the anger and venom produced from this. People have been disgusted.”

Lawson was sentenced to four months in prison, suspended for 12 months. He must also pay £115 victim surcharge, £85 prosecution costs and £60 towards veterinary costs.

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Tragedy above Milford Haven takeaway

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DYFED POWYS POLICE has confirmed that a 20-year-old male passed away in Milford Haven last Saturday, April 17.

Police were called to the USA Fried Chicken store on Charles Street at around 1:30pm but have said there are no suspicious circumstances.

A Herald reporter was at the scene and witnessed a number of police cars and an ambulance while plain-clothed officers were also seen.

HM Coroner has been informed.

A Welsh Ambulance Service spokesperson added: “We were called to Charles Street in Milford Haven on Saturday 17 April at approximately 1.34pm to reports of a medical emergency. We attended the scene with one emergency ambulance where we assisted colleagues from the police.”

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Tavernspite School the ‘healthiest of schools despite the pandemic’

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THE STAFF, governors, parents, and of course, the children of Tavernspite Community Primary School are delighted to gain the Welsh Network of Healthy School Schemes National Quality Award for an incredible 5th time after a recent and very rigorous assessment.

The school is already well known and highly regarded for its outstanding work in developing the health and wellbeing of all members of its school community. To achieve this prestigious recognition in the midst of a pandemic is all the more impressive. 

Health and Wellbeing at the school is led by teacher, Lauren Arthur, who has done an incredible job preparing for this re-assessment and raising the profile of the Healthy Schools scheme.

The assessor Mrs Lynne Perry, enjoyed a virtual tour and presentation by Year 3 pupils who took great pleasure in proudly showing Mrs Perry all the wonderful work the school has done to ensure its children are safe, happy with high levels of emotional and physical wellbeing.

In her report, Mrs Perry wrote, ‘Tavernspite School continues to be an outstanding health promoting school. The health promoting school ethos is evident across the whole school population and it runs seamlessly throughout everything that the school does. Tavernspite School continues to give high priority to promoting and enhancing the health and well-being of the whole school community.’

The school received fantastic support from Mrs Liz Western, Senior Public Health Officer and Lead for Healthy Schools and Pre-schools, Pembrokeshire, to whom they are very grateful.

Head teacher Kevin Phelps said, ‘We were delighted to receive this award for the fifth time, particularly considering the experiences we have all been through these past twelve months. Health and wellbeing has never been so important and we are proud to be leading the way like this.’

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Joinery learner through to Screwfix Trade Apprentice of the Year Finals

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PEMBROKESHIRE COLLEGE joinery learner, Conor Ratcliff has made it through to the final ten in this year’s Screwfix Trade Apprentice of the Year competition.

Now in its seventh year, the competition celebrates the next generation of tradespeople as they start out on their career. With over 2,500 nominations, Conor was shortlisted to the top 30 where he had to deliver a video presentation to industry-leading judges and trade body representatives. Judged on professionalism, creativity, innovation, enthusiasm and knowledge of their trade, Conor impressed the judges and is now in the final 10.  

Simon Jackson, Screwfix Customer and Digital director, commented: “Every year we are amazed by the outstanding quality of entrants and, this year, we are on the lookout for apprentices who go above and beyond to succeed within their chosen trade.

“We’ve seen how this career-boosting accolade and £10,000 prize bundle helps kickstart an apprentice’s career. I’d like to wish everyone through to this stage the best of luck!”

The prize package includes everything a future tradesperson may need to start up their own business including £5,000 of tools, a £3,000 training budget and £2,000 worth of technology. The college where they study will also receive £2,000.

Conor is thrilled to have made it through to the finals and commented: “I am extremely honoured to have made it this far in the competition and I am very excited for the final event. It would be an amazing opportunity for me, if I won this competition.

“I hope it encourages more people to consider an apprenticeship in a trade, the Carpentry and Joinery department have been incredibly supportive during my studies.”

The Final is due to take place imminently where the judges will conduct an online interview with the ten finalists before selecting and announcing their overall winner.

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