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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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Pembroke Dock: Police track down van after terrifying experience for runner

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POLICE have tracked down two men who were in a van which allegedly followed a woman down a cycle path when she was on her morning run in Pembroke Dock.

Nina Sherratt warned women who may be running in the Pembroke Dock area to be mindful of the van after her terrifying experience.

During her run, the van pulled up and men inside started shouting at her, before turning around and following her on a cycle path.

Thankfully, another man passing in a car stopped to check on her, noticing the odd behaviour of the van, and the police were called.

The incident happened on Saturday morning (Jun 23) at around 9:30am.

Nina said in a Facebook post: “I was out this morning on Pembroke Dock top road, a large white van passed me with two men in, shouting and jeering out of the window.

“They then turned around and came onto the cycle path behind me. It followed me. I didn’t know what was happening but thankfully a man in a passing car stopped as he could see this wasn’t right.

“The van then turned back off the cycle path in the opposite direction. I can’t believe this actually happened and have contacted the police.

“At first, I couldn’t get my thoughts together but the kind stranger that had pulled over had stopped with concern unsure of their intentions. This wasn’t a bunch of youngsters messing about it was an older man 60 plus with a male passenger.”

Nina concluded: “The police have managed to track down the person/persons and the vehicle and have spoken to them. So at least this will prevent this from happening to anyone else. Keep walking/running girls!”

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Hoax call wastes RNLI time and resources following large search

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A HOAX call left RNLI crews wasting vital time and resources yesterday morning (Jun 23) as they searched for a vessel which they believed to be taking in water.

St Davids RNLI, Angle RNLI and a Coastguard helicopter were involved in the search for nearly four hours.

St Davids RNLI said in a statement on Facebook: “At 06:20 this morning our Tamar launched on service to join in a large-scale search for a vessel which was reportedly taking in water.

“We proceeded at full speed to a position south of Skokholm island and commenced a search of a designated area, which was planned by Milford Haven coastguards.

“Also involved with search was Angle lifeboat and a coastguard rescue helicopter from St Athan.

“After searching for several hours, the coastguards received information that this was a HOAX call.

“This call had tied up vital rescue resources and come at a large cost.

“With this informatio,n all SAR assets were stood down. Our Tamar was rehoused and ready for service at 10:00.”

Among the comments on Facebook, the hoax phone call has been called ‘disgraceful’, ‘disgusting’ and ‘disrespectful’.

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Police call for vigilance to report illegal raves

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DYFED-POWYS POLICE is asking farmers and local landowners to be on the alert over the next few months for warning signs of any illegal gatherings planned for their land over the summer.

Gatherings – such as illegal raves – can cause considerable anxiety to the community and if they are not dealt with swiftly, they are difficult to stop or otherwise control, due often to the sheer numbers of persons involved and the safety aspects surrounding breaking up such an event.

Superintendent Robyn Mason said: “There is little doubt that these type of events are very well planned, organised and that local knowledge is important in drawing down the main group to a particular ‘vulnerable’ field, or area of land which has been targeted previously as a suitable venue.

“Farmers, landowners and local communities are encouraged to report any suspicious activity immediately to the Police; this may be an unusual numbers of vehicles, especially camper vans, vans or trucks in the locality, illegal trespassers who may be doing ‘recce’ of sites in advance of the event.

“I can assure local communities that Police will take the appropriate action to deter illegal gatherings and deal robustly with any criminal offences discovered or disclosed.”

Members of the public are also urged to be vigilant of persons who approach landowners or enquiring for land, in the guise of hiring for apparently acceptable activities such as gymkhanas and scouts/guides events.

Please contact Police on 101 with reports on any suspicious activity.

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