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Man sentenced to extra 14 months in jail for £22,000 forged cheque

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A PEMBROKE DOCK man who forged a cheque for £22,000 has been sentenced to an additional 14 months in jail.

Rhys Blow, aged 29, is already serving a 30-month sentence after he drove away in another man’s car with the owner’s six-year-old daughter on the back seat.

Blow, who lived in London Road before being jailed last July, today (May 11) admitted attempted fraud.

Swansea Crown Court heard how he had been a chef at the Lamphey Hall Hotel and crept into the manager’s office and stole a blank cheque.

Blow, who was drinking heavily at the time, was sacked the following day.

The day after that, said the judge Mr Recorder Greg Bull, Blow filled in the cheque making it out to himself in the sum of £22,000.

Blow tried to cash the cheque at a local Barclays but the staff became suspicious and refused to honour it.

David Williams, the barrister representing Blow, said he had been questioned by police about the matter after he had been arrested for the drink-drive offence involving the girl.

On that occasion, he climbed into the driver’s side as the owner refuelled at the Texaco garage on the Withybush industrial estate in Haverfordwest and drove away with the owner trying frantically to hold on.

Blow crashed the car a few seconds later.

Mr Williams said he should have been sentenced for both sets of offending back in July, 2017.

Mr Recorder Bull said he would have received a consecutive sentence in any event.

He said Blow had made a determined but also drunken attempt to get a large sum of money from his employer and his offending represented a serious breach of trust.

The 14 month sentence, he added, would run from today.

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Man from Pembrokeshire killed in M40 caravan crash

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Stuart Richards, 32: Killed by a car travelling in the wrong direction

A FORMER Pembrokeshire died in a collision on the M40 last week (Oct 15) when a car towing a caravan was travelling in the wrong direction and crashed into his vehicle.

32-year-old Stuart Richards, a former Sir Thomas Picton pupil, was travelling northbound in his Ford Mondeo when he was hit by the Subaru Forester.

He had served as an Army Officer in Iraq, Afghanistan and Jordan.

The driver and passenger of the Forester also died in the crash.

Terrifying dashcam footage of the car travelling down the M40 in the wrong direction has been posted to social media, showing the car failing to slow down just moments before the crash.

A Thames Valley Police spokesperson said: “Shortly before 4pm on Monday, the Force received reports that a Subaru Forester towing a caravan was travelling in the wrong direction on the northbound carriageway of the M40.

“A few minutes later, the vehicle was subsequently in a collision with two other cars, a Ford Mondeo and a Ford Focus, near junction 6.

“The driver and a passenger of the Subaru, both aged in their eighties, died. They are yet to be formally identified at this time.

“The driver of the Ford Mondeo also died. He was formally identified yesterday, October 17, as Stuart Richards, aged 32, from Stockport, Cheshire.”

The crash has been referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) after it was revealed police officers had contact with the occupants of the Subaru days prior to the crash.

A report of a damage-only collision involving the Forester was made to the police force on October 10.

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Can Pembrokeshire still afford Wales’ lowest council tax?

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PEMBOKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL’S Finance Director, Jon Haswell said council tax would need to rise significantly to meet service needs in the wake of a 0.4% cut in Welsh Government funding.

Although its the smallest cut out of all the councils in Wales, the cut puts the authority £600,000 out of pocket

He was effectively saying that the councils coffers will be empty and that something has to change, and change fast.

Last year Pembrokeshire’s council tax went up by 12.5% – the first double-digit increase in Wales since 2004 – but Pembrokeshire’s Council Tax bills are still the lowest in Wales.

At the Audit Committee meeting on Thursday (Oct 18), Mr Haswell warned that on current predictions, based on the Welsh Government’s standard spending assessment of what it thinks the council needs, council tax would need to rise by 28% or more unless services were cut.

That is 2% less than Plaid Cymru councillor Mike Williams’ said it would be at Full Council the week before (Oct 11), but it’s pretty close.

As we reported on Friday in our print edition, Cllr Williams turned his own fire on the previous administration for placing Pembrokeshire into its current financial position, pointing out that the actual rise in Council Tax needed to address the funding gap in March this year was in excess of 30%.

He said: ‘It’s about time some members had a wake-up call’ as to the current state of the Council’s finances and the previous administration’s totemic policy of having the lowest Council Tax in Wales. Firmly pointing the finger at Cllrs Adams and Davies following their earlier questions, he suggested they needed to look to themselves to find the origins of the authority’s current difficulties.

RECAP – WHAT WE REPORTED LAST WEEK

A 0.5% cut in funding to Pembrokeshire County Council will result in significant and potentially devastating cuts to public services.
As we previously reported, the Welsh Government announced its budget settlement for Welsh local government last week.
While that settlement shows ‘only’ a 0.5% cut in the Pembrokeshire’s Revenue Support Grant, the reality behind that headline figure is grim.
And there is little comfort to be taken in the news that Pembrokeshire’s cut is smaller than that inflicted on neighbouring Carmarthenshire. Pembrokeshire’s budget is far smaller in proportion to Carmarthenshire’s. Our County’s resources are stretched to breaking point following years of the folly of the ‘lowest Council Tax in Wales’ policy in twenty-two years of rule by the ‘Independent’ group, most lately under Jamie Adams.
While money was washing around local government that policy was sustainable. However, once systemic cuts came in 2008 – and persisted for ten years and rising – there was no fat to trim and cuts are now deep into the bone of frontline services.
The Welsh Government funding takes little or no account of the Council’s obligation to pay wage increases negotiated centrally which far outstrips the money provided to meet them, changes in National Insurance, changes to teachers’ pensions, the effects of inflation, and the impact of regulations affecting buildings’ maintenance.
Hit seven ways from Sunday by a barrage of deep cuts to its budget delivered year-on-year for the last decade and in the teeth of the fallout of a Council Tax policy which has left the Council’s cupboard bare, there is no way for the Council to resolve its financial position without making even deeper cuts than those already contemplated and revealed exclusively in this newspaper last week.
The social care budget’s ‘protection’ by the Welsh Government has left all Councils floundering; because Pembrokeshire has a high proportion of older residents, it has been hit hard. The Council has even less money to spend on other services as the proportion of a smaller revenue ‘pie’ is taken up by protected budgets.
The devastation being wreaked by cuts is unsurprising. In 2014 dire warnings were given about the cumulative effects of continuing cuts before that year’s budget. Almost five years’ on, the situation is even worse than predicted.
With the Cabinet unwilling to ask for a further large Council Tax increase for next year, real savings will be hard to find. Something somewhere has to give.
The only hope is that the UK Government actually delivers real relief from austerity instead of tinkering at the edges.

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Man who assaulted Tenby barmaid avoids jail

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A MAN who touched a barmaid’s bottom and then offered her money for sex has been made the subject of a suspended prison sentence.

Mark Adams, aged 55, had denied sexual assault but was convicted by a jury after a trial at Swansea Crown Court.

Today, Adams was jailed for six months, suspended for two years, and ordered to complete 20 days of rehabilitation.

He must also pay £3,230 in prosecution costs.

The jury heard how Adams did not dispute that he asked the barmaid in a Tenby pub for a “selfie” as a pretext to get close to her and touch her bottom.

He then offered her £300, and then £400, to spend time with him but agreed that really meant having sex with him.

Adams, of Tintagel Way, Portsmouth, told the jury the approach had worked in the past with other women.

Judge Keith Thomas told Adams he had followed up with sexual assault with a humiliating offer of money for sex.

His behaviour, said the judge, came from an inflated sense of his own importance.

The court heard that his victim no longer felt safe in her place of work or in her home town of Tenby.

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