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17-year-old sentenced to 15 year minimum term after brutal axe and sword murder

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A 16-YEAR-OLD schoolboy sipped tea with his stepmother at their home near St Clears and then slaughtered her with an axe and a samurai sword.

Reuben Brathwaite – who can be named for the first time today – even took photographs of the injured and then dead Mrs Scourfield and tried to upload them to the internet.

Brathwaite, now 17, admitted the murder and was today ordered by a judge to be detained at her majesty’s pleasure. He will be held in custody for a minimum of 15 years.

Brathwaite could not receive a life sentence because of his age but the sentence is effectively the same.

Swansea Crown Court heard how Brathwaite lived in a log cabin within the 14 acres of Broadmoor Farm with his father, a tree surgeon and landscape gardener, and his step mother, a keen animal lover.

Brathwaite moved into the cabin after his relationship with his step mother deteriorated.

The High Court judge, Mr Justice Picken, said he developed an interest in murder and constantly researched it on the internet, studying graphic images of executions and mass murder. He also began to feel isolated, depressed and “fed up with life,” but psychiatrists later confirmed he had not been mentally ill.

Brathwaite developed the idea that he would commit suicide but if he killed someone instead it would ‘somehow get him out of it’.

After returning home after a ‘regular, matter of fact’ day at school he put his plan into action.

Brathwaite chatted with his stepmother over a cup of tea and then indicated that there was something wrong with a cat she was looking after.

As she left the farmhouse to attend to the animal Brathwaite hit her over her head with the blunt side of an axe ‘eight or nine times’ until he could see her brain.

He took a photograph of her as she lay on the floor and tried unsuccessfully to post it on the internet.

Then he retrieved a samurai sword from under his father’s bed and cut her throat with it.

Brathwaite telephoned the police and told then what he had done and said he would put the sword into a caravan, not to hide it, he said, but to put it out of the way.

After his arrest he said he had used the axe in the hope of knocking Mrs Scourfield unconscious so she would not suffer when he cut her throat.

Mr Justice Picken said he found Brathwaite’s internet activity – and the attempt to post images of the murder as he committed it – to be ‘most disturbing’.

He told Brathwaite: “You made a clear decision to to go to find those weapons and to use them to kill your stepmother.

“This was an attack of savagery against someone who cared for you.

“This was not a spur of the moment attack. It was clearly pre-planned.”

Mr Justice Picken said if Brathwaite had been 18 the starting point would have been life with a minimum of 25 years.

But he had to have regard for his age to discount the sentence in return for his plea of guilty.

Brathwaite displayed no reaction as he was led away.

Mr Justice Picken then ruled that the court order protecting Brathwaite’s identity should be lifted because of the seriousness of his offending and because people in the area had the right to know who had murdered Fiona Scourfield.

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Protest over animal welfare concerns at Bramble Hill Farm

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LOCALS held a peaceful protest at the site of a Pembroke Dock farm, where over 200 animals were removed after a multi agency response to animal welfare concerns last month.

Around 100 worried locals from Pembroke and Pembroke Dock gathered at the entrance to Bramble Hill Farm last Friday (Feb 15) at 4pm. Those present believed the farm owners are still in possession of dogs, which they cited as the reason for the protest. Head of Environment and Public Protection at Pembrokeshire County Council, Richard Brown later confirmed that there were two dogs left on the farm, but explained they were elderly and looked after. Locals hoped the protest would mean the removal of any animals still left at the property and a ban imposed to prevent any further animals being kept at the property or by the owners.

Officers from Dyfed-Powys Police were present, with the Herald reporter in attendance being told that the police were ensuring it remained peaceful and to keep traffic congestion to a minimum. There was evident hostility towards to the local authorities and RSPCA amongst the protesters, with many feeling that their concerns about the farm were not dealt with soon enough by the relevant organisations.

Speaking to the crowd, Richard Brown said: “So the idea of what we do is, we are proceeding with our enquiries and get the case together. If we get a successful conviction, it’s an opportunity to get a ban on keeping animals. Without that conviction we can’t get a ban.”

He was challenged numerous times on whether Sean Burns, owner of the farm, has been prosecuted for animal cruelty. Mr Brown then confirmed that ‘he has been prosecuted previously’.

He added: “We have to be careful not to prejudice any case. All of our interests is animal welfare. We can’t just go in and remove animals because people want us to. We don’t have those powers.

“There is a range of offences being investigated and a range of individuals being investigated.”

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Neyland woman imprisoned for driving while disqualified

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A 35-YEAR-OLD woman who was caught driving while disqualified twice in four days days has been sentenced to six months in prison.

Victoria Anne James, of College Park, Neyland, was stopped by Dyfed-Powys Police roads policing officers in Johnston on Friday, February 15. She was reported for the offences and her Alfa Romeo car was seized.

James was stopped a second time by police on Monday, February 18, for driving while disqualified while driving another car.

She was arrested and charged with two counts of driving while disqualified and two counts of driving without insurance.

She was convicted at Haverfordwest Magistrates’ Courts that same day and received a six month prison sentence, and received a further 24 months Driving Disqualification.

Sergeant Justin Williams said: “Police intelligence led officers to stop Victoria Anne James on February 15 where she was reported for offences and her car was seized. For her to commit the same offence two days later shows her disregard for the law.

“I hope this targeted, swift work from roads policing officers and the courts, which has resulted in a prison sentence serves as a stark warning to James and others considering flouting the laws on our roads. We are monitoring our roads and we will take robust action to ensure we keep other drivers on our roads safe by upholding the law.”

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Boy took his own life after failure to refer him for psychiatric support

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THE INQUEST into the death of 14 year-old Derek Brundrett, who was found hanged at Pembroke School in December 2013, has found that there were individual failings in efforts to get psychiatric support for the teenage boy – who then went on to take his own life.

Derek had seven different social workers and record keeping by social services was in a “shocking state of affairs” leading up to his death.

Returning a narrative verdict, the Assistant Coroner, Paul Bennett, said: “That Derek Brundrett took his own life and intended to do so in circumstances where, despite efforts to refer him for psychiatric support there was a failure to do so.”

Although no systemic failures were found, the Assistant Coroner ruled that there was a failure to refer by a social worker, a failure by a GP to provide extra information when referrals in 2012 and 2013 were declined, and a further failure to provide the relevant information on the appropriate referral form of a Looked After Child.

Derek’s death was in the context that he had been returned to foster care and was concerned about a return to the Pupil Referral Unit.

Derek’s actions were not considered to be a cry for help but rather a deliberate attempt at self-harm, the Coroner’s report stated.

The inquest had previously heard there were numerous failed attempts to refer him to mental health services.

A social services referral plan was not completed by Derek’s social worker because “she believed him to be happy”.

The inquest also heard Derek’s GP had made “routine” referrals for mental health treatment in 2012 and 2013.

Angela Lodwick, head of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) for the Hywel Dda University Health Board, said they had to “prioritise children with severe mental health disorders”.

She added requests for more information about Derek’s condition went unanswered.

But she told the inquest that, at the time, CAMHS was not proactive in seeking more information.

Ms Lodwick said CAMHS would have probably “taken him on referral and made an assessment” if they had known about Derek’s risk-taking behaviour and talk of suicide in 2013, such as when he climbed onto the school roof.

She told the inquest the system had been inadequate and “the position was that everyone sat on their hands waiting” but CAMHS has since made improvements.

A spokesman for the Pembrokeshire County Council said: “The death of a child is a profound loss and all the professionals involved in this tragedy feel great sympathy for Derek and his family and friends. We would like to repeat our sincere condolences to them at this time.

“Derek’s loss is deeply felt by those individuals who had formed close and caring relationships with him.

“We would like to thank the Coroner for his thorough investigation and consideration of the case.

“We will, of course, reflect upon all of the issues that have been raised during the Inquest, and consider what lessons can be learned with a view to continuing to ensure the safeguarding and well-being of all children and young persons served by Pembrokeshire County Council.”

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