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Rapist councillor to appeal child sex conviction

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THE FORMER Mayor of Pembroke and convicted child rapist Dai Boswell is to appeal his conviction of historic child sex offences.

The Herald has been told by Pembrokeshire County Council that Boswell lodged an appeal against conviction and sentence last week.

The St Mary North representative’s conviction had led to calls on social media for him to be somehow ‘sacked’ as a councillor.

However, due to a 46-year-old piece of legislation, Boswell is still able to receive his allowance as a member of the County Council and there is nothing the Council can do to stop it.

The fact that the former Mayor of Pembroke, who has been convicted of a string of historical sex offences is able to continue to receive his allowance has caused understandable outrage. However, PCC are powerless to remove him as a councillor due to the terms of the Local Government Act 1972.

The power to amend the legislation and change the criteria for when a councillor may and may not remain in post is under the control of the Welsh Government, and amending the law would require specific legislation to the Welsh Assembly, which is now in recess.

The law currently means that steps to disqualify a councillor can only be taken if they fail to appeal to the conviction within 28 days of sentence being passed upon them – in Boswell’s case that no longer applies.

As he is appealing his conviction, Boswell cannot now be disqualified under the provisions of the relevant part of the Act covering disqualification until the conclusion of the appeal process and only then if his conviction is upheld.

To heap further misery upon the Council – which is copping an extraordinary amount o​f​ criticism – there is nothing it can do to either short-circuit that process or to take steps that would amount to going behind it by suspending the paedophile councillor until the end of his appeal.

When we asked the County Council to explain the position for our readers, a spokesperson told us: ​”​Pembrokeshire County Council is aware that there is some speculation around the position of Councillor David (Dai) Boswell following sentencing on 13 July for extremely serious sexual offences against two children.

“Unless the Councillor resigns from his position, the Council can only disqualify a Member if, since election, he has been convicted of an offence and has been sentenced to imprisonment for a period of not less than three months.

“Conviction is deemed to occur on expiry of the period allowed for making an appeal or application with respect to the conviction (the defence has 28 days in which to serve an appeal notice following conviction), or the date on which such appeal/application is finally disposed of. Councillor Boswell submitted a notice of appeal against all convictions and sentence on 16 July​.

​”​Councillor Boswell retains his seat and is currently entitled to receive a salary. The Council cannot declare a vacancy until the appeal process is completed or, if the date is sooner, the date six months from which he has failed to attend a meeting of the Council, that date being 23 October 2018​.”​

In short, due to the way the Local Government Act was drafted almost half a century ago, a ‘conviction’ does not become what might be deemed ‘a final conviction’ until after a failed appeal and Boswell remains a councillor until that point and entitled to his remuneration as such.

However, a possibility remains open for the Council to pursue in order to rid itself of Boswell in a few months’ time.Under the law, if a councillor fails to attend a meeting for a period of six months, they can be removed and a by-election called.
Child-rapist Boswell last attended a meeting of the Council on April 23.The period of six months for disqualification runs forward from that date and continues to run at the same time as any period following conviction, sentence, and/or appeal. It is highly unlikely that any Judge would even consider an application to set aside any decision by the Council to remove Boswell from his Pembroke St Mary’s seat after the six month period had elapsed, unless further assurances had been given to Boswell by Council officers in relation to the rule’s operation upon him before St George’s Day or afterwards.

We asked the NSPCC whether they were actively lobbying for a change in the law to prevent such a scandal occurring again.

An NSPCC spokesperson said: “Boswell was convicted of appalling sex offences against children and it is right that he now faces many years behind bars where he cannot harm others.

“It is wrong that someone convicted of sexual crimes against children can continue to serve as an elected official for any period of time and we support a change to the law to ensure situations like this are not repeated.”

The key point is that it is a change in the law which is required, not unilateral and unlawful action by the Council, however well-intentioned.Moreover, the WLGA developed the same point in its press statement on the Boswell case.

After pointing out the extreme rarity of cases such as Boswell’s, a WLGA spokesperson said: “The issue in question is a legal anomaly in the current framework that needs to be urgently addressed. A guilty verdict does mean an automatic disqualification, following a 28-day window for a possible appeal.

“This is where the problem is located and needs urgent review, especially as this deplorable offence is a fundamental breach of the statutory duty that councillors have to ensure that all children within local authority areas are safeguarded and protected.”

Meanwhile, councillors will be ruing the advice tendered to Boswell by Monitoring Officer Claire Jones last year – namely, that he did not have to attend council meetings as seminars would do – that issue now is more to do with the confidence they can have in the Monitoring Officer.The Herald has spoken to a number of councillors, all of whom are less than impressed by the position into which the Monitoring Officer’s advice to Boswell has placed them, with one suggesting it would be hard for Ms Jones to regain members’ trust in the validity of her judgements in light of the mess.

Those feelings are intensified by the fact that had Boswell applied for a leave of absence under the rules, as a person innocent until proven guilty it would have been bound to have been granted. It is possible that in seeking to avoid one unpopular decision, a ‘solution’ was reached which has now come back to bite those officers involved in the original decision. A decision upon which no councillors were consulted.

That confidence will have been further eroded by the extraordinary debacle that saw members of the Council’s staff scuttling around County Hall to find records and a dramatic reinterpretation of the status of a sandwich lunch attended by Boswell in November 2017 before James Goudie QC was able to support the Monitoring Officer’s peculiar interpretation of the rules and regulations.

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Police confirm firefighter died in Neyland boat collision

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DYFED-POWYS POLICE attended Neyland Marina, Milford Haven following reports of a collision on the waterway at around 11:30am on Tuesday, (Sept 17).

A spokesman told The Herald: “We can confirm a 35-year-old serving Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service Firefighter tragically lost his life during the incident, in which two boats collided.

“Next of kin have been informed and are being supported by specialist officers. Specialist teams from both the fire and rescue service and police were also on scene supporting witnesses.

“We have informed the Marine Accident Investigation Board and will be working with them to establish what happened here today.

“Our thoughts go out to the family of the deceased and to his colleagues at Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service.”

Deputy Mayor of Neyland, Cllr Dr Simon Hancock said: “I extend my deepest condolences to the family of the young man who so tragically died in the accident this morning. I know the whole town will join me in sending them to his family.

“We acknowledge the remarkable professionalism of the emergency and rescue services who responded to this very sad incident.’

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Crown court to sentence Pembroke Dock paedophile

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A 46-YEAR-OLD man who pleaded guilty to being in possession of over 6,500 indecent ‘real photographs’ of children, has been sent to Swansea Crown Court for sentencing by Haverfordwest magistrates.

Brett Johnson of Finch Close, first appeared before magistrates at Haverfordwest Law Court on August 27, and appeared again before the court on Monday (Sept 16) following a pre-sentence report made by the probation service.

Johnson pleaded guilty at the first court hearing to a charge of downloading one indecent image of a child between March 30, 2009, and June 28, 2018, and pleaded guilty to a second charge of downloading 6,570 indecent images of children between June 30, 2005, and June 28, 2018.

Prosecuting at the first hearing, Mr Vaughan Pritchard-Jones told the Court that the reason for the long dates related to when he owned various computers.

Magistrates at Haverfordwest on Monday (Sept 16) decided to decline jurisdiction and sent the case to be dealt with at Swansea Crown Court on October 4 at 10am. Johnson was released on unconditional bail.

Magistrates made no direction under section 45 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999.

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Glebelands Fun Day A Hit

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A FUN DAY at Glebelands play park in Hakin on Saturday (Sept 14) to garner support to further develop the facility, has been hailed a success.

The prime movers behind the community-led event were two local residents, Richard Nicholas and Wayne Richards.

“As well as trying to raise the profile of the park, the aim of the fun day was to get other local residents involved in setting up a community group to move the project forward,” explained Richard.

“I’m pleased to say there was a lot of interest in forming a group and we also had some great feedback on what play equipment should be installed. There was a clear view that people want the park back to being a safe, clean area where children can play.

Working with Richard and Wayne, to organise the community-led fun day were Pembrokeshire County Council and the Invest Local organisation.

The County Councillor for Hubberston, Viv Stoddart, who attended the event, said: “It was an amazing day – a perfect example of the community coming together to host an afternoon of fun for all the family. There was something for all to enjoy – and enjoy they did, with lots of smiley faces from everyone.

If Saturday’s event is a guide, it was evident there is enthusiasm in the community to transform the play park into an up-to-date facility. I wish them well, and will give all the support I can to see the playground become a truly family fun place for all.”

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