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‘Date rape’ drug found in ‘inspirational’ woman’s body

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A YOUNG woman who was found dead in Tenby last year had ‘date rape’ drug in her system, an inquest has heard.

Michaela Haines, 25, was discovered hanging in a stairwell – but the hearing was told her family refuse to believe that she would have killed herself.

Her family say ‘inspirational’ and ‘vivacious’ Michaela had no history of suicide attempts and was planning for her future.

The inquest found the levels of so-called ‘date rape’ drug GHB in her body were so high they could have caused her drowsiness.

The hearing was told toxicology test showed Michaela was almost twice the drink-drive limit when she died and there were levels of GHB in her system.

Michaela Haines: Had a ‘date rape’ drug in her body (pic. Wales News Service)

However the inquest was told it was possible for the body to naturally produce GHB after death – and it didn’t necessarily mean she had taken it.

Barrister Peter Donnison, representing her family, said police failed to investigate if Michaela’s death was anything other than a suicide.

He said: “There is no evidence that this is suicide other than the body being found as it was, there was no history of suicide attempts.

“There are no witnesses present saying they had spoken to her and she was thinking of doing this; on the contrary you had people saying the opposite.”

Mr Donnison also questioned why a policewoman allowed a friend of Michaela’s boyfriend to remove her body instead of preserving the scene.

Inquest: The family are looking for answers (pic. Wales News Service)

PC Jayne Colley said the man – known only as ‘John’ – went into the block of flats in Tenby and helped her take the body down from above a stairway.

PC Colley told the hearing: “I was aware that there was a female hanging, possibly I didn’t want to go in on my own; I have a young daughter.

“I can’t remember whether I asked him to come or he volunteered, but I am very grateful for him coming in.

“I was the only officer present at the time. I asked ‘John’ to hold her body as I couldn’t handle her on my own, I didn’t want her to fall down; we laid her on the stairs, we gave her that respect.”

Pathologist Dr Daniel Houser told the inquest there were no signs of suspicious circumstances.

The cause of death was given as asphyxia by hanging.

Toxicologist Phillipa Wood said the levels of GHB had been found in blood following a request for a second test – finding 70 milligrams per millilitre of blood, a level which could cause drowsiness.

The inquest in Tenby into Michaela’s death two days before Christmas Day last year was adjourned for the coroner’s conclusion later this month.

 

Education

Learners ‘Dream Team’ logo is a hit

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Learners studying on the Cornerstone programme at Pembrokeshire College recently entered a competition set by Pembrokeshire People First (PPF) to design a logo for their Dream Team.

Made up of PPF’s four learning disability champions, The Dream Team make sure that the voices of people with learning disabilities are heard and they needed a logo that shows what they do.

College lecturer, Heidi Baker saw the competition and thought this would be a great project for her Cornerstone learners – a group of 14 students with learning disabilities who love to get creative.

To start the process the learners undertook some research into what makes a good logo and found that effective logos are: easy to recognise, colourful, simple, vibrant and don’t contain too many different colours or words.

The learners then invited members of The Dream Team into the College to ask them questions about what they do and what kind of logo they needed. This allowed the learners to build everything they needed into the design, including the fact that the logo had to be bilingual.

The learners submitted several designs and provided the judges with information on how they had developed their ideas. The judges were overwhelmed by the learners’ ideas and the efforts they had put into creating a logo including providing mock-ups of their designs on t-shirts and bags.

Following a couple of tweaks, The Dream Team will soon proudly be wearing the logo designed by Cornerstone learners.

Lecturer Heidi Baker commented: “It is great to have students with learning disabilities designing for The Dream Team. We’re proud to have created a truly collaborative logo – all the students had a hand in creating it – and we hope The Dream Team enjoy using it. We might be up for designing more logos in the future if anyone else out there is interested in commissioning us!”

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Pembrokeshire cottage letting agency offers free holidays to NHS heroes

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PEMBROKESHIRE-BASED holiday letting agency St Brides Bay Cottages has teamed up with its property owners and Operation Recuperation to offer free holidays to frontline healthcare workers. The family-run firm has announced the scheme to say thank you to the healthcare heroes who are risking their lives to keep the UK safe during the coronavirus pandemic.

The generous initiative will see healthcare professionals enjoy a well-deserved break in picturesque St Davids, Solva, Newgale or Porthgain, after the crisis is over. The scheme is part of Operation Recuperation, a UK-wide campaign launched to gift future stays in beautiful places to frontline healthcare providers.

Sam Sibbald, manager of St Brides Bay Cottages, based in Solva, said: “This is our way of showing our dedicated healthcare workers that we appreciate everything they’re doing in such difficult circumstances.

“I saw first-hand the pressure the NHS is under, when my dad had a stay in hospital last year. I could tell how pushed they were on a normal day-to-day basis, let alone with having COVID-19 to deal with. Now my dad is at home, needing carers every day, and I can see, more than ever, how much we rely on the people who look after us.

“We’re taking part in Operation Recuperation thanks to the generosity of our cottage owners. By gifting stays to these dedicated workers, we’ll be helping them to recover from the fight against coronavirus.”

Several cottage owners, whose properties are let by St Brides Bay Cottages, have come forward to donate stays in their holiday homes.

Among them is Sheila Morgan, who together with her husband Chris, owns The Anchorage, a two-bedroom apartment in Solva. She said: “As a retired nurse with medical staff in the family, I can fully appreciate the strains and stresses all NHS staff are going through at present. Thank you all for your sterling work. Hopefully the peace, quiet and Pembrokeshire air will aid recuperation.”

Debbie and Patrick Bowie-Moore, the owners of five-bedroom holiday home Mount Pleasant, in Solva, said: “The healthcare workers have offered their all, and it’s our privilege to give a family – who may have been kept apart – the opportunity to stay in Mount Pleasant as a massive thank you.”

Simon Baker, who owns Cefn y Mor, a four-bedroom property in Solva, said: “We are backing the Operation Recuperation project because we have family members on the frontline of the NHS, and know what risks they are taking, and what effort they are putting into saving lives. Our only effort is to stay at home and avoid infection. A small price to pay.”

Jim and Maureen Dale, whose three-bedroom holiday home, May Cottage, is situated on a grade II-listed farm, near St Davids, said: “Rarely do we get an opportunity to say thank you to the staff at the NHS – we tend to take the service so much for granted. Now the chips are down and there they all are, on the frontline looking after us all. Thank you all at the NHS.”

David and Judith James, who are offering a free stay at their converted watermill, Melin Llanrhian, near Porthgain, said: “We’re delighted to be able to support Operation Recuperation as a very small thank you to everyone in the NHS who has worked so hard in such challenging circumstances.”

Operation Recuperation is collecting donations – in room nights and cash – to give free stays to frontline healthcare staff, once the virus restrictions have been lifted.

Rachel Sherwood, who launched Operation Recuperation, said: “A huge thank you to St Brides Bay Cottages for proudly supporting Operation Recuperation and to the cottage owners who have donated stays in this stunning part of Wales, despite very challenging times.

“Sometime in the not-too-distant future, a number of our frontline healthcare staff will be enjoying long clifftop walks, fresh seafood, lazy days on the beach and cosy evenings in sea-view cottages.”

To find out more about St Brides Bay Cottages and Operation Recuperation, visit: https://www.stbridesbaycottages.com/, email enquiries@stbridesbaycottages.com or call 01437 720027.

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Council pays out £2.5m in business grants to date

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL has revealed that since Wednesday, 1st April, it has already paid out £2.5 million in grants to local businesses.

The Authority’s Cabinet Member for Economy, Paul Miller, said Council staff had been working hard to make the Covid-19 business grants payable as soon as possible

Explained Councillor Miller: “Payments started on Wednesday this week for those who qualify for grants linked to the National Non-Domestic Ratings (NNDR) system. We have already paid out around £2.5 million in grants to local businesses.

“Daily payment runs are being made in order that these can get into business bank accounts as soon as possible.

“We cannot unfortunately acknowledge receipt of applications but, once authorised, businesses will be emailed and the grant will be paid within two to three working days.”

Councillor Miller added: “If there are any issues with a grant application, or information is missing, a Council officer will be in touch to discuss the matter. A dedicated team has been set up to do this.”

For further business advice refer to the Council’s Business pages which can be accessed via the following link: https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/business-advice-and-support

This will enable access to the application form for the above grants, provide answers to frequently asked questions and links to further sources of advice through HMRC, Welsh Government, Department of Work and Pensions, Public Health Wales and other organisations.

For further enquiries not answered through the business pages, email: covid19@pembrokeshire.gov.uk and an officer will respond. Please view the business pages first.

For those who don’t qualify for the grants, Welsh Government will soon be making details available of how business can access other funding through an Economic Resilience Fund.

Details will be available on the Council’s business pages as soon as they are released by Welsh Government.

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