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Mother and son jailed for life with 11 year minimum term

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BARRY ROGERS and Penny John have been jailed for life for the murder of Betty Guy.

Each must serve a minimum of 11 years before being allowed to apply for parole.

Mrs Guy ‘loved life’ and ‘loved a little giggle’, her daughter Lorraine Matthews has said in a victim impact statement.

The statement read by Jim Davis, for the prosecution, at Swansea Crown Court, said: “We grieved once after her death and now we have to go through a different kind of grief.”

Ms Matthews said she was ‘shocked that a member of my own family is capable of committing such a despicable act on an old lady’.

She added: “My mother was in no way ill enough to warrant a mercy (killing).

“I had spoken to her doctor some months before and was reassured of her health… I find it difficult to come to terms with the fact that her life ended before it should have naturally.”

Christopher Henley, QC, for Barry Rogers, said the ‘only way of explaining what happened is as a mercy killing’.

He said Rogers loved Mrs Guy ‘deeply and truly’.

“There’s no direct evidence of this but there appears to be a solid basis to believe that Betty Guy was a participant in discussions about what happened,” he added.

Mr Henley urged the court to act with ‘a degree of compassion’.

Sentencing Rogers and John, Mr Justice Lewis said they committed the murder ‘on a belief, a misguided belief, held by each of you that the murder was an act of mercy’.

He said: “Mrs Guy was not terminally ill.

“She did not have any form of cancer. Mrs Guy had mobility problems but she was not bed-bound.

“She was in pain and had been prescribed a painkiller but there’s no evidence at all to suggest that Mrs Guy was suffering unbearable pain.

“You did not therefore kill Mrs Guy because she had, or you believed she had, a terminal illness.

“Again this was not a case where Mrs Guy was suffering or you believed she was suffering in unbearable pain and you wanted to bring that pain to an end… you believed Mrs Guy was old and ill and wanted to die and you believed that you should end her life.

Mr Justice Lewis said Rogers and John had both agreed to end the life of Mrs Guy.

He said: “You each had your role to play.

“You, Ms John, decided that the time had come to kill your mother.

“You arranged for your son to come and carry out the killing, you gave your mother drugs, intending to sedate her.

“You, Barry Rogers, were the one to place the pillow over Mrs Guy’s face and to suffocate her.”

Mr Justice Lewis said Mrs Guy was a ‘cheerful, lively and well-liked person’.

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Llangwm: Solicitor jailed for six years for £1m fraud

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A PEMBROKESHIRE solicitor who overcharged clients by almost £1m has been jailed this week for six years.

Edgar Stephen Thomas, aged 58, charged one client at the rate of £20,000 a week without doing any work at all.

Another was charged at £12,000 a week and went on to lose a total of £100,000.

Thomas, of Stephen’s Green, Deerland Road, Llangwm, admitted 23 offences of fraud and theft, which stopped only when his firm of Steve Thomas and Co was closed down by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority.

Jim Davis, prosecuting, told Swansea Crown Court that Thomas got away with the frauds by deducting monies from the estates of deceased people without telling the beneficiaries.

“He grossly overcharged and then deducted the payments directly from the estates of deceased people,” he said.

“He helped himself without telling them what he was doing.”

The overcharging began in 2005 when he was asked to handle the estate of Richard James Rogers. He charged the estate £41,800 plus VAT but internal documents showed that as the work decreased his bills increased.

Thomas agreed overcharging that estate by £12,000.

Thomas went on to plunder many more accounts.

The most outrageous example, said Mr Davies, related to the estate of Audrey Williams, who died in 2013.

Thomas charged £127,250 plus VAT, sometimes raising–but not posting–two invoices a day. He agreed he had overcharged by £100,000.

Mr Davis said Thomas’ offending did not stop there. His firm was hired by Vaughan’s Radio, an electrical store in Haverfordwest, to handle the purchase of a business in Aberystwyth.

Thomas simply kept for himself £50,000 of the purchase price.

Mr Davis said Thomas had worked for Eaton Evans in Haverfordwest, rising to becoming a partner, before leaving to form his own firm in 2005.

His accounts had to be audited and as a result the SRA were alerted to fears that he was overcharging.

A detailed forensic examination of his accounts was carried out and the fears were confirmed, along with the discovery of a shortfall in his client’s accounts of £144,326.

There was then an administrative error at the SRA and the initial report was not acted upon until June 2014, when a second financial investigation revealed more fraud and he was later struck off.

In February 2015 Thomas was declared bankrupt.

Mr Davis said the SRA had reimbursed those who had lost because of Thomas’ fraudulent behaviour, but there remained the question of costs and whether he could be made to repay any of the money. An investigation under the Proceeds of Crime Act is underway.

Thomas’ barrister, Ian Ibrahim, said his client was now broke and all the money had gone on keeping his business afloat.

“His fall from a high place has been dramatic. His remorse is complete and utterly without qualification.

“He has lost everything and knows that he will go to jail today.”

Judge Keith Thomas said those who worked in the legal profession had to demonstrate the highest level of integrity because the public put trust in them, sometimes at the most stressful times of their life.

“Your victims have described your behaviour as disgusting and despicable.

“You were struck off in 2016 and have had to wait a long time for the process to be complete, but that is partly because you were not willing to admit the extent of your offending,” he added.

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Claim a free McDonalds cheeseburger this week

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TO REMEDY ‘Blue Monday’, McDonalds is giving away a free cheeseburger to everyone this week.

Starting today (Jan 21), the fast food chain is asking customers to install the McDonalds app on their phone and then take it to their nearest restaurant for a free burger.

Blue Monday is said to be the ‘most miserable day’ in the year.

The app is available on both the Google Play store for Android devices, and the App Store for iOS devices.

Once downloaded, register a new account, or log in to your existing account, and go to ‘My Deals’ to claim your free burger.

The offer runs until Friday (Jan 25) and can be claimed any time after 10:30am, when the breakfast menu finishes.

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Road re-opened following successful bridge replacement

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PEMBROKE ROAD in Merlins Bridge, Haverfordwest, has re-opened and train services between Whitland and Milford Haven have resumed as normal, following the successful replacement of Pembroke Road railway bridge this weekend.

Over the weekend, Network Rail teams worked around the clock to demolish and remove the existing railway bridge deck – which carries the South Wales Main Line. Engineers then installed a new, steel structure which includes a concrete collision beam to provide extra resilience, as part of Network Rail’s Railway Upgrade Plan to improve the reliability of the railway.

Rhys Howells, scheme project manager for Network Rail Wales and Borders, said: “We would like to thank residents and rail passengers for bearing with us whilst we replaced Pembroke Road railway bridge.

“The previous bridge deck was nearing the end of its serviceable life, and has now been replaced with a more resilient structure which will help to keep the railway in West Wales running reliably.”

Next month the second part of this £4.25m upgrade project will see engineers replace Milford Road railway bridge.

The A4076 at Milford Road railway bridge on Dredgeman Hill will be closed from 7pm on Friday 15 until 6am on Monday 18 February and a fully signposted diversion route will be in operation.

Residents and local businesses wishing to find out more about the work to Milford Road railway bridge are invited to attend a ‘drop-in’ event on Thursday 31 January from 3pm to 6pm at the Merlins Bridge Welfare Hall, Pembroke Road, SA61 1JW. No appointment is necessary and representatives from Network Rail’s project team will be on hand to provide information and answer any questions.

You can also find out more information about this essential upgrade project here: www.networkrail.co.uk/Merlins-Bridge.

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