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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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Injured seal is 50th rescued this year by RSPCA

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A SEAL with a severe eye injury is the 50th rescued by the RSPCA in the south west and west Wales region this season.

RSPCA Cymru was alerted after the lethargic seal was spotted struggling to move on Aberystwyth beach on Saturday (Dec 8).

The seal was stranded on a busy area of the beach, and was safely moved by experienced seal handlers before being collected by the RSPCA.

Fortunately, the seal is responding well to treatment and is currently being cared for at RSPCA West Hatch Wildlife Centre in Taunton.

The seal’s eye is not missing as first thought – but the eyeball has sunken very far back into the eye socket. Her body condition is thin, and she has a severe mouth infection.

She has been nicknamed Platypus – after a drive at the centre to name all incoming seals after non-native species of mammals.

Ellie West, RSPCA animal collection officer, said: “This poor, sweet-natured seal was in a bad way, with a nasty, damaged eye. Fortunately, she is now in our care and we hope will be safely returned to the wild in the future.

“It is unusual to deal with wildlife where we are able to remove an eye and then release them to the wild – but this is possible; and we do have evidence that seals can do well even when this is the case.

“Our team in Taunton will work hard to rehabilitate Platypus and hopefully secure another happy ending for the RSPCA and wild animals in need.”

Platypus’ rescue is the latest in another “very busy seal season” for the RSPCA in south west and west Wales.

ACO West added: “Platypus marks the fiftieth seal to be rescued by us in the South West and West of Wales this season.

“Last season, Ophelia and Brian storms meant we had to rescue more than 100 – and though the number is likely to be a little lower this time around; it has still been another very busy seal season and a huge test for our officers in this part of the UK.

“RSPCA Cymru is here to help, and we always remind anyone who sees a pup whose mother hasn’t returned within 24 hours, is on a public beach, or seems sick or injured, to contact our 24-hour emergency line on 0300 1234 999. An unhealthy seal pup looks thin – but not bony – with a visible neck, like a dog.

“It’s important the public never approach seals and keep any dogs well away and on a lead, as wild animals can have a nasty bite.”

Should you wish to help RSPCA Cymru complete rescues such as these, you can donate online.

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Capestone supplying 160,000 turkeys this Christmas

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PEMBROKESHIRE-BASED M&S supplier, Capestone, has been working around the clock to supply more than 160,000 turkeys and turkey crowns to M&S stores across the nation this Christmas.

Run by fifth-generation farmer Justin Scale, Capestone has been supplying M&S for 20 years and its business growth is intrinsically linked to this relationship.

It is also the only farm in the area that offers free range and organic products, which are growing in demand. All of the farm’s 160,000 birds this year will be the Pembrokeshire Bronze – both organic and free range.

The 2,000-acre farm started out as a small-scale farm delivering just a couple of birds at a time to M&S Carmarthen. It now supplies M&S stores across the UK and, as such, has grown to a team of 230 – rising to 430 over the peak Christmas period.

The free range Pembrokeshire bronze turkeys are especially sought after, growing over a longer period of time, meaning they are naturally fatter and more succulent.

As free-range birds, they are fed on wild herbs, clover and flowers, as well as benefiting from being able to range on the grasses in and around the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.

The birds are housed in open sheds and are free to access the fields to range whenever they choose. While Christmas is a busy time for the production side of the business, January and February will see the farm busy calculating the number of new birds needed from the hatchery for 2019. June onwards is peak season for the agricultural team as they rear the turkeys ready for Christmas.

Justin said: “We’re absolutely thrilled to be celebrating twenty years working with M&S. Our relationship has grown from supplying just a couple of birds at a time to providing 160,000 turkeys and turkey crowns this Christmas. It makes us really proud to know that hundreds of thousands of M&S customers will be sitting down to enjoy one of our turkeys this Christmas day.”

Lucy Herbert, Poultry Developer at M&S, said: “The quality of Justin’s produce is testament to the relationships he has built up over the years; with M&S, our customers and the next generation of farmers. Allowed to roam free in and around the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, Justin’s turkeys are a prime example of quality, responsibly sourced Welsh produce that is enjoyed nationwide.

“At M&S this Christmas we’re championing our festive favourites and there’s no doubt that, for many, the Pembrokeshire bronze turkey will be the absolute centrepiece of Christmas dining. Here’s to the next twenty years of partnering with Justin and his family!”

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Popular inn sold to local businessman

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THE SALE of The Nag’s Head Inn, the riverside pub situated in North Pembrokeshire, to a local businessman was recently completed by business property advisers Christie & Co.

Situated on the banks of the Afon Cych, close to the Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion borders, The Nag’s Head occupies a substantial stone-built property, which was sympathetically extended in the 1980s and recently refurbished by the previous owners in 2017 to provide a spacious and welcoming interior, with flagstone floors, wood burning stoves and beamed ceilings.

The pub comprises four trading areas across the ground floor, including a main bar, a cosy snug and extensive dining areas, and a beer garden, which provides stunning views over the river. Additionally, the property benefits from three en suite guest bedrooms and three bedroom owner’s accommodation on the first floor.

Over the years, the previous owner has grown and developed a strong local and regional reputation for The Nag’s Head, which was selected as one of the ‘Top 10 UK Riverside Pubs’ in The Guardian in June 2017 and has been awarded a Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor, while also maintaining a 4.5 rating and excellent reviews on the review website.

Following three years of ownership, previous owner, Mr Miller has decided to sell The Nag’s Head to move onto new business ventures. He said: “We have enjoyed our time at the property and have invested a lot of time and effort in to turning the business around and are looking forward to focusing on our other business interests.”

New owner, Mr Dewi Davies, who also owns the nearby award-winning holiday complex, Clydey Cottages, is looking forward to taking over the reins of The Nag’s Head and putting his own stamp on the business. Mr Davies commented: “I am delighted to be taking over the Nag’s Head from Steve and Tracy Miller. They have done a marvellous job over the past two years, building the reputation both locally and nationally, and we have inherited a great team. For the time being, it’s business as usual for the festive season and we are all excited about the future for the Nag’s Head.”

Corrina Jones, Senior Business Agent at Christie & Co’s Cardiff office, handled the sale and said: “The Nag’s Head Inn is a well maintained public house with a warm and inviting atmosphere. I would like to wish Mr Miller all the best with his new business ventures. I look forward to seeing the business go from strength to strength under the new ownership of Mr Davies and wish him all the best for the future.

“The market remains strong for well established businesses in South Wales. 2018 has proven to be one of our busiest years in relation to completions within the region, and we are seeing no slowdown in the market to date.”

The Nag’s Head was sold off a guide price of £495,000 for the freehold interest.

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