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Life sentence for depraved father after sexually abusing daughter

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A PAEDOPHILE described by a Crown Court judge as having ‘psychopathic tendencies’ and a ‘devious, wicked, and flawed personality’ has been jailed for life after pleading guilty to 16 counts of rape and sexual assault in a catalogue of abuse directed against his own daughter.

The child’s mother, who suffers from what the court was told was ‘battered person syndrome’, received a ten year sentence for her part in years of abuse.

CHILD MIGHT NEVER RECOVER

The Court heard that the man had effectively groomed his wife, whom he met when she was 16, and controlled access to medication she required for a mental health condition. The woman, now in her 20s, was ordered to be detained in a psychiatric hospital for treatment.

On sentencing the pair at Swansea Crown Court, HHJ Geraint Walters QC ordered that the father, in his 50s, go to prison for a minimum of twelve years and was only to be released if and when it was determined that he did not pose a risk to children. Judge Walters observed it was possible that might never happen.

To protect their victim/daughter, the Court has ordered a blanket ban on reporting the parents’ names and the name of the west Wales town in which they perpetrated their appalling crimes.

HHJ Walters said that it was hard to see how their daughter could ever recover from the depravity inflicted upon her.

During her eight years in west Wales, the child never went to school, played outside, saw a cat or a dog or had a friend.

‘HOME SCHOOLING’ CONCEALED ABUSE

The husband’s ‘home-schooling’ of his daughter was only camouflage for effectively keeping her as a sex slave, said the Judge: “Not exactly locking her in a cellar but not far from it.”

There were padlocks on all the doors and the curtains were always kept closed.

The girl was never allowed out and, consequently, had never played with friends, or gone swimming. She had never seen Christmas lights and had no concept of a celebration.

Prosecuting Council Robin Rouch told the Court that the ‘tightly controlled home environment’ was created by the father to ‘systematically and regularly abuse’ his daughter without being discovered.

The cycle of abuse only ended when the wife left the husband and reported him to the police.

When police raided the couple’s home they found evidence of systematic, long-term child abuse inflicted on the daughter by both parents. Their investigation also revealed that the father had also abused a daughter of a previous marriage.

A spokesperson for NSPCC Cymru said: “The prolonged abuse – physical, sexual and emotional – suffered by this young victim is appalling and deeply disturbing.

“The role a parent is to protect and support their child, but the couple in this case simply saw in their daughter an opportunity to inflict repeated sexual attacks.”

CALL FOR HOME SCHOOLED REGISTER

The case has reignited calls for home-schooled children to be registered by local authorities and for more active monitoring of the welfare of those children who received education outside traditional schooling.

Mid and West Wales AM Helen Mary Jones said: “The vast majority of home-schooling is a good choice made by good parents, but we know there is a small minority where things go wrong and I believe we should have those children registered – we should know they’re being home-schooled.

“I also think an annual medical check – it’s quite common when children are in primary school, they may see the school dentist or the school nurse – as a precaution, it would be really useful.”

The case has drawn comparisons with the case of Dylan Seabridge, who was effectively invisible to social and health services and who died of scurvy whilst being ‘home-schooled’ in 2011.

Dylan Seabridge – who lived in a remote Pembrokeshire community with his parents and older sibling – died of scurvy in December 2011 aged eight-years-old.

Criminal proceedings against Dylan’s parents in relation to their son’s death were halted over concerns about his mother’s mental health.

There were no allegations of sexual abuse in the Seabridge case.

GOVERNMENT TOO SLOW TO ACT

An independent report into the death of Dylan Seabridge written by Gladys Rhodes White OBE, a national expert in safeguarding and child protection, recommended that the Welsh Government change the law so that the details of all elective home educated children are kept on a register and that they are seen and spoken to and their wishes recorded on an annual basis.

At present there is no such requirement and the law does not state any general requirement for parents to inform the education directorate if their child or children were never on a school roll.

Home education’s supporters say that registration would be an unwarranted intrusion into families’ lives. In addition they claim that there is no evidence to support a contention that home-schooled children are at a greater risk of neglect than those attending a state school. There is also a distinction between those children who are home-schooled and those who are ‘kept at home’ for other reasons.

Children’s Commissioner for Wales Sally Holland disagrees: “I’ve been calling for the government to act in a stronger way, so have all the directors of education in Wales, all the directors of social services and the government’s own independent safeguarding board.

“For me the pace of change has been too slow and hasn’t been strong enough to ensure every child gets the right to an education to be safe and to have their say.”

A Welsh Government spokesman said: “Earlier this year the education secretary announced plans to consult on regulations that will require local authorities to establish a database to identify children not on a school register.
“We are also reviewing and updating national protection procedures to examine how social services and education practitioners can work together and share information to ensure children who are home-schooled get the support they need.”

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MP calls on Welsh Government to explain broadband delays

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STEPHEN CRABB has called on the Welsh Government to come clean over broadband rollout delays.

Minister Julie James AM, whose responsibilities include digital infrastructure and inclusion, has been urged to explain the reasons for delays to the rollout of superfast broadband to rural properties across Wales.

Last year, the Superfast Cymru scheme saw BT receive £425m in return for connecting the vast majority of premises in Wales to next-generation broadband.

When the contract ended, 90,000 mainly rural properties still had not been connected. Further details of another scheme to complete the work were due to be announced in July, but at the start of August, Julie James AM suddenly announced that ‘unforeseen issues’ were causing delays which could not be further discussed because of ‘commercial confidentiality’.

Stephen Crabb, MP for Preseli Pembrokeshire, said: “It’s simply unacceptable for the Minister responsible to announce delays to the next stage of Broadband rollout but refuse to explain why. Access to reliable, fast broadband is of increasing importance to businesses, large and small, in Pembrokeshire and I have worked with many across the constituency to improve their broadband access.

“However, the digital divide continues to exist with rural communities in Pembrokeshire suffering again. It is an inescapable fact that delivery of broadband infrastructure is devolved to the Welsh Government and Julie James AM should now come forward and explain the reasons for these delays.”

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Air ambulance lands at ‘serious’ crash scene

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THE WALES AIR AMBULANCE has landed at the scene of a serious crash this morning (Sept 25) between the Sentry Cross and Honeyborough roundabouts on the A477.

Posts on Facebook from witnesses at the scene say a man is being treated by paramedics.

Police have said one car was involved in the incident.

In addition to the helicopter, Dyfed-Powys Police, the Welsh Ambulance Service and Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service are at the scene.

The road is currently closed with diversions in place.

A police spokesperson said:  “Dyfed-Powys Police is at the scene of a serious RTC between the Sentry Cross and Honeyborough roundabouts, Pembrokeshire.

“The A477 stretch between those roundabouts is currently closed while emergency services deal with the incident. One car is involved; the driver has received serious injuries.

“No further information is available at this time.”

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Drone guide to limit wildlife disturbance

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THE PEMBROKESHIRE COAST NATIONAL PARK AUTHORITY has released new drone guidance for recreational users that seeks to limit the disturbance the aerial devices can cause to protected wildlife.

As well as reiterating general safety advice from the Civil Aviation Authority’s Drone Code, the guidance will help recreational users of drones or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to understand the impact their use could have on rare species and on other people’s enjoyment.

National Park Authority Biodiversity Officer, Sarah Mellor said: “While the Drone Code focuses on safety, we have produced this simple guide to help protect the array of wonderful wildlife that attracts many people to Pembrokeshire.

“Species such as seabirds and seals are particularly vulnerable when they are breeding or nurturing their young and even low levels of disturbance can impact on them and can lead to reductions in populations.

“The guidance also highlights how livestock can be easily startled by drones, including the sheep, cows and horses that graze the coastal slopes alongside the Pembrokeshire Coast Path.

“We want everyone to enjoy their visit to Pembrokeshire, so being aware of the impact drones can have on other people and the area’s peace and tranquillity is also important.”

The guidance has been prepared in collaboration with partners including commercial drone operators, Pembrokeshire Coastal Forum, National Trust, Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, Natural Resources Wales and Pembrokeshire County Council.

The information will be updated as more rules and research findings are released. The document, which is available from the National Park Authority’s website, can also be printed as a reference guide.

You can download the guidance by visiting www.pembrokeshirecoast.wales/filming.

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