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Milford Haven: Newspaper editor in search for £1.4m hard drive

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IN 2009 a Pembrokeshire businessman spent £50 buying 175 Bitcoins. It was to fund a transaction that in the end he did not go on to complete – and the Bitcoin was left unspent.
But now, eight years on, Thomas Sinclair, now the editor of The Pembrokeshire Herald, is on the hunt for a computer hard drive which is now worth over £1.4million.
The value of the internet crypto-currency has skyrocketed in recent years with Bitcoins, which were valued at just a few pence when the currency was launched in January 2009 skyrocketing to £8190 each today – over eight times the value of an ounce of gold.
Thomas Sinclair said: “The computer I used to buy the Bitcoin years ago developed a fault with the graphics card and I stopped using it.
“I suspect the parts were cannibalised to keep other computers going at our offices. I never throw anything away so the hard drive is bound to be somewhere – we are currently conducting a hunt to find it – without it I will not be able to use the Bitcoin.”
He added: “To be honest, I had completely forgotten about the Bitcoins – it was only recently when going through my bank statements I saw the purchase back in 2009 and remembered that I had not spent the £50.
“After asking colleagues in the office to check the value of the 175 coins I purchased I nearly fell off my chair when the answer of £1.4m was given to me – it is simply unbelievable!”
Glenn Alcock, Head of IT at The Pembrokeshire Herald, said: “This is certainly an interesting scenario, but as hard drives have a long lifespan, I’m confident we will be able to retrieve the data successfully.
“As the business has grown, we have accumulated a lot of PCs, so it will take quite a few hours to search through everything.
“Previous employees have not been very organised with storing hardware, so the biggest challenge for me right now is finding every hard drive in the building.
“We are looking for a 6.4GB hard drive manufactured in 1998.”
Jokingly he added: “When I successfully find the hard drive, and retrieve the data, I expect Mr Sinclair will be very generous with his reward.”
Using Bitcoin allows people to bypass banks and traditional payment processes to pay for goods and services directly.
Banks and other financial institutions have been concerned about Bitcoin’s associations with money laundering and online crime because transactions take place anonymously.
The soaring value of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies comes despite growing warnings over a price bubble.
The starkest warning came from the JP Morgan chief executive, Jamie Dimon, who said Bitcoin was a fraud that would ultimately blow up.
Speaking in September to media in the USA, he said there was a limited market for the digital currency, arguing that it was only fit for use by drug dealers, murderers and people living in countries such as North Korea.
He pledged to sack any JP Morgan trader investing in Bitcoin, but also admitted he had not been able to dissuade his daughter from investing.
Jordan Hiscott, the chief trader at Ayondo Markets, said: “The returns are truly remarkable, especially given the recent ban on Bitcoin trading in China, where demand had previously accounted for at least 10% of all global volumes.”
Of the more than 16.7 million Bitcoins in circulation, nearly 4 million could be lost forever, according to new research from digital forensics firm Chainalysis, based on a detailed empirical analysis of the blockchain — the ‘digital ledger’ which records all Bitcoin transactions, and which gives the currency its value.
That amounts to a staggering $30bn.
On analyst has explained why the amount of lost Bitcoins is so high: “When Bitcoins are produced, they have a private key associated with them. It works using key-pair cryptography — you have a public address and a private key that go together. The public address is what you use to send Bitcoins, the private key is what you need to spend them.
“If you lose the private key, because of the mathematics involved and the strength of the cryptographic system, which is what makes it so safe, it’s impossible to ever get it back. What’s commonly happened is people have just deleted the file off their computer — the text document that holds the private key.”

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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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