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Castlemartin: Officers had ‘total disregard for safety’ before fatal shooting

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Ranger Michael Maguire: Fatally shot at Castlemartin during a live fire exercise

A COURT martial trial has been told that two Army officers and a warrant officer ‘had a total disregard for the safety’ on the day in which 21-year-old Michael Maguire was killed at Castlemartin.

Ranger Michael Maguire, from the 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment, came under machine gun fire during a live ammunition training exercise in May 2012. He had joined the battalion in May 2010 and had already completed one tour of Afghanistan.

The training exercise was preparation for a tour of Kenya, Africa.

He was fatally shot in the head from a neighbouring range, roughly 1km away.

Prosecuting, Nigel Lickley QC said that that the soldiers under fire would have been visible from the range where the gunfire was originating from.

32-year-old Captain Jonathan Price, now of the 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish, stands accused of manslaughter by gross negligence, by failing to set up and supervise a safe exercise.

45-year-old Lieutenant Colonel Richard Bell and 40-year-old Warrant Officer Stuart Pankhurst are accused of negligently performing a duty.

Addressing the court, Mr Lickey said: “All three men played their part in causing this catastrophe in different ways.

“The common sense of the situation is you do not point guns at people, you do not design, permit or allow an activity that allows machine guns to fire directly in line with your men, men that you know are there, men that you might be able to see, if not the vehicles that are with them.”

Price, he said, failed to attend a recce of the range as he prepared a Range Action Safety Plan, and also placed targets too close to each other.

“Crucially he allowed firing to take place beyond the permitted arcs of fire,” he added.

Mr Lickey said that the range of the two weapons used in the exercise, the SA80 assault rifle and GPMG general purpose machine gun, meant that anyone on the public beach 3km could have been hit by the ammunition.

He added it was ‘fortunate’ that nobody else was injured following the exercise.

In turn, Mr Lickley said that Bell failed to review or counter-sign the Range Action Safety Plan produced by Price, in his role as Senior Planning Officer, and also failed to supervise or support him during the exercise.

Pankhurst, Mr Lickley added, failed to voice any ‘caution or concern’ as he supervised the exercise, despite the fact he had both attended the recce and had knowledge of the neighbouring range.

All three deny the charges.

Seven senior officers will be visiting the site at a later date.

The trial is expected to last about six weeks.

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Pharmacy burglars smashed through ceiling

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THE POLICE have issued a warning following a burglary at a chemist in Milford Haven in which a large quantity of controlled drugs were stolen.

Dyfed-Powys Police is investigating the break-in Charles Street, which took place overnight on Wednesday, July 18.

Controlled drugs including boxes of diazepam and zopiclone, and bottles of oramorph were taken.

The pharmacist told The Herald: “We are open for business as usual despite a large amount of stock being taken, which in addition to what the police have listed also included codeine.

“We are having more stock delivered shortly so are able to meet our orders with customers.

“The criminals broke into the pharmacy, which is very secure all around, from the ceiling – they came in from the flat above the shop.”

“We are all very upset and find this distressing. This is the first time that anything like this has happened.”

Sergeant Andy Williams told The Herald: “A substantial amount of medication has been taken, many of which have the potential to cause harm if taken incorrectly.

“We are advising people to be aware in case the stolen items are discarded in a public place.”

Anyone with information about the break-in, who finds a quantity of drugs, or is offered any of the drugs named above, is urged to contact police by calling 101, quoting reference 64 of July 19.

Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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Council and teaching union come to agreement over possible redundancies

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL and The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) have come to an agreement about the possibility of potential redundancies from Sir Thomas Picton and Tasker Milward staff.

Last month, nearly 100 teachers were involved in a strike over fears of job losses as the two schools merge to form a new one – Haverfordwest High VC School, which will open in September.

Now, both sides have come to an agreement that there will be no compulsory redundancies before the end of the 2019/2020 academic year.

A spokesperson for Pembrokeshire County Council said: “Following discussions with the Conciliation service ACAS regarding the dispute at Sir Thomas Picton and Tasker Milward schools, Pembrokeshire County Council and NASUWT -The Teacher’s Union – have reached agreement regarding any potential redundancies at the schools.

“Both sides look forward to working together in future for the benefit and wellbeing of the pupils.

“It has been agreed that there will be no compulsory redundancies before the end of the academic year 2019/2020.”

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Milford Haven: Five recognised for making a difference

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THE ACHIEVEMENTS of five hard-working women who have made a huge difference in their community in Milford Haven have been recognised nationally in the TPAS Cymru awards.

Sarah Howlin, Kimberly Phillips, Leeanna Povey, Linda Rose and Catrin Tattersall won third place in the Community Action category for their work on the Mount Estate.

Together, as the Mount Estate Play and Participation Team (MEPPT), they provide free weekly play sessions for families in a friendly and welcoming environment at the Orchard Community Centre.

There is a wide selection of toys and games together with a number of art and craft activities and a fire pit where families can chat and toast marshmallows.

On behalf of the team, Leeanna and Catrin attended the gala awards ceremony in Cardiff where they were presented with the award.

Leeanna said the team’s first reaction to hearing they’d been shortlisted was to burst out laughing.

“It’s not the sort of news you’re used to having,” she said. “Two of us went to the ceremony and we were both nervous wrecks and didn’t know what to expect, but everyone was lovely and we are a very happy household!”

Leeanna said the number attending the playgroup varies from week to week, with numbers up to 50 sometimes.

“It’s very rewarding,” she said. “Part of what we’re trying to do is to get the community together; there’s lots here for families to do, you can have a gas and if there’s something wrong we’re here for each other.”

She added that the team are keen to share their experience and will be attending Playday at Scolton Manor on Wednesday, August 1 to talk to others who are thinking of setting up similar groups.

Before launching the play sessions, MEPPT undertook a number of accredited courses, with help from Learning Pembrokeshire and the Council’s Learning and Development team. They have also been supported by Dyfed Powys Police and Milford Haven Town Council.

Damian Golden, Play Sufficiency Officer at Pembrokeshire County Council, supports the group along with Nia Davies, with training, grants and funding advice. He said he was delighted their work had been recognised.

“I’ve worked in this sector for many years and their journey is something very special indeed,” he said. “They really are changing things in their community. What they’ve achieved is extraordinary. It doesn’t happen every day.

“This award is important in that it cements their self-worth and is empowering – knowing that they have the strength to change things.”

Cllr Josh Beynon, County Councillor for Pembroke Dock (Llanion ward) is among those impressed by their work.

He said: “It’s a great testament to the parents who run the play activities on the Mount Estate to be taking home a national award from TPAS.

“Through their hard work they have proved that they are able to bring together a community and I hope they have inspired other communities across Pembrokeshire to undertake similar pieces of work to help those who need it.”

Nia Davies, County Council Housing Customer Liaison Officer, submitted the award nomination to TPAS along with Damian Golden.

She said: “This is a first for a Pembrokeshire County Council group to be nominated and awarded a national TPAS Social Housing Participation Award and I can think of no one more deserving than MEPPT!

“I hope other parents are inspired by this amazing group and are encouraged to do the same as it really does provide invaluable benefits to all members of the community.”

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