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Victim speaks out about the impact knifepoint robbery

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Teifion Lewis: Robbed the man at knifepoint

THE VICTIM of a knifepoint robbery has spoken out about the impact the incident has had on his life as Dyfed-Powys Police takes part in a national knife amnesty aiming to get weapons off the streets.

The 24-year-old was approached by a man he didn’t know while walking his dog in Carmarthen on July 20 this year. A knife was held to his chest, and he was forced to hand over the money in his wallet.

His attacker, Teifion Lewis, of Llammas Street, Carmarthen, was arrested and charged with robbery within four days, and was sentenced to 40 months in prison.

Looking back at the incident, the victim, who has asked to remain anonymous, said: “At first, I didn’t realise he had a knife on him. I just assumed he was another man who was out partying, given he was young and it was late on a Friday night.

“Even when he was right in front of me with his hand on my chest, I assumed he must have had too much to drink and just stumbled into me. Once I saw he was brandishing a knife, though, that changed everything. It was at that moment that I realised I was in far more danger than I’d first thought.

“I suppose the only real thing that was going through my mind at the time was to talk to him, do as he says, and get out of there as soon as possible without becoming hysterical. I just had to keep as calm as possible for the time he was blocking my route.”

He explained that it was only when Lewis had taken his money and walked away, that he realised what could have happened had things gone wrong.

“I thought about how easily he could have stabbed me and I’d have been left out in an empty street, cold and alone, bleeding to death, without even a mobile phone on me to call my friends and family to tell them I love them,” he said.

“I’ve never given much thought as to what my inevitable death will be like, but I’d never have thought it could have ended that way.”

The victim had walked his dog every night for two years – using this particular route for seven months – with no issue. Since being robbed, he has become wary of going out at night and hasn’t been able to walk down the lane where he was stopped without suffering flashbacks.

“It’s not necessarily the whole event that comes back to me, but different parts, such as when he started to sob to me about his home life, or when he apologised for ‘having to mug me’,” he said.

“By far, what’s stuck with me the most are the words said to me as I was being mugged. The words ‘I want your money, I don’t want your life’ have been repeating in my mind every day since then, without failure.”

On September 2, at Swansea Crown Court, Teifion Lewis was sentenced for robbery and possessing a knife in a public place. The victim read out a statement directly addressing Lewis, urging him to get his life back on track and forgiving him for what he did.

“You asked me that night to forget that the robbery had ever happened,” he read. “My assumption is because you were fearful as for what might subsequently happen to you. I’m afraid though, that the image of a knife being flicked towards my chest, and the phrase ‘I want your money, I don’t want your life’ is something I will never be able to erase from my mind, no matter how much I wish for it to go.

“I want you, however, to improve. I want you to use your punishment as your wake-up call, and as a doorway to improving both your future and the future of those who you are close to. There is help available for you, even in prison, and even when it seems all hope is lost. If I can get my life back on track after my autism diagnosis, so can you.

“You’re young, you’re able bodied, and you still have time. Use it wisely. I can’t forget what you did, but just this once I will forgive you.”

The victim has spoken out about his experience as Dyfed-Powys Police takes part in Operation Sceptre – a national week of action aimed at cracking down on the illegal possession of knives. A knife amnesty is taking place during the week (Sept 18-24), with people able to bin their knives at specific locations across the force no questions asked.

The 24-year-old has backed the operation, and the chance to get knives out of our communities.

“I’d prefer it if these people who carry knives with them be honest about who they are and why they have them on their person,” he said. “But it’s much more important that it’s an opportunity to get these weapons off the street.

“If the ability to do this anonymously is what gives these people the confidence to rid themselves of their weapons, then so be it.”

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Tenby pedestrianisation starts Monday

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THE TENBY pedestrianisation scheme starts on Monday, July 1. The scheme – which operates within the town walls – will operate until Friday, September 13 between the hours of 11am and 5.30pm. The scheme will be suspended for the Long Course Weekend on July 6/7.

This permanent time-frame has been chosen following a questionnaire and consultation exercise Pembrokeshire County Council carried out after last year’s scheme which trialled the new dates.

The town pedestrianisation scheme is a popular one with visitors as it allows a vibrant ‘cafe culture’ feel to be embraced in the town with many of the pubs and restaurants within the exclusion zone opting an alfresco-style seating and dining experience, and on sunny summer days, it allows guests and visitors to sit outside and enjoy lunch or drinks in the sunshine.

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Substitution in psychoactive substances a growing concern for experts

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THERE is evidence of a growing market in the manufacture and distribution of new benzodiazepine susbstances, with 71% of samples of what users think is diazepam testing positive for other chemicals.

Street valium is bought and sold on the streets of Wales for as little as 50p per tablet.

Josie Smith, Head of Substance Misuse for Public Health Wales and Programme Lead for WEDINOS said: “Although there are always concerns and potential for adverse effects from the consumption of psychoactive substances, the risk is increased by the rising prevalence of substance substitution within the unregulated illicit benzodiazepine market.

“As substitute substances have varying therapeutic doses and duration of effects, there is a concern in relation to the increased potential for an individual to experience adverse and acute effects; including accidental overdose, hospitalisation and death.”

Public Health Wales’s WEDINOS service has seen an increase in the number of samples submitted for testing in the last year, with the substitution of substances within drug groups a key emerging trend.

The WEDINOS Annual Report for 2018-19 also identifies a substantial increase in non-prescribed ‘prescription’ medications being submitted to its drug testing facility.

As in 2017/18, benzodiazepines were the most commonly identified class of psychoactive substances.

Benzodiazepines such as Diazepam, Etizolam and Alprazolam (Xanax) are common sedative drugs often prescribed for anxiety and insomnia.

In addition to prescribed medical use, benzodiazepines are used recreationally and there is evidence of a growing market in the manufacture and distribution of new benzodiazepine substances.

This year, WEDINOS found a higher frequency of substitution amongst samples submitted as benzodiazepines, in particular, diazepam; with nearly three quarters of all samples submitted as diazepam in the first quarter of 2019 were found to contain other substances.

For the first time this year, WEDINOS tested samples of benzodiazepines submitted in blister pack form that contained a substance different to that named on the pack.

Josie Smith continues: “The evidence of substitution indicates that even if a person has purchased tablets looking like a medication, they may not contain the stated contents. This represents a public health challenge and a need for greater awareness and pragmatic harm reduction advice and education.”

The report shows a 58 per cent increase in the number of samples submitted to WEDINOS for testing in 2018-19 compared to the previous year. In total, 2,145 samples were tested between April 2018 and March 2019.

Public Health Wales produces reports and information to influence national and international policy to ensure it is based on the best evidence to protect and improve health.

Those seeking to receive support for drug or alcohol related concerns can contact the Wales Drug and Alcohol Helpline on freephone 0808 808 2234, by texting DAN to: 81066 or by visiting dan247.org.uk

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£700,000 flood scheme that protects people in 41 Pembrokeshire homes completed

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Natural Resources Wales (NRW) has completed a £700,000 improvement to a flood scheme that protects people in 41 properties in west Wales.

The flood storage area at Pont y Cerbyd, Pembrokeshire holds back flood waters which threaten the nearby villages of Middle Mill and Solva.

The improvements include a new 50 metre-long spillway, a new overflow structure which controls the amount of water the reservoir can hold, reinforcement to the embankment to protect against erosion, and additional drainage.

Originally built in 1990 the work on the storage area was needed after several major floods eroded part of the old spillway, making it less effective.

Now the work is complete the structure can maintain the original level of flood protection to people in the downstream villages.

To further protect and warn the local communities, NRW has installed new equipment to monitor river levels as well as a small wind turbine to power a CCTV camera that can be used to view the reservoir’s water levels in real time.

As part of the scheme, NRW also organised exercises to practice using emergency pumping equipment to manage water levels in the reservoir should the need arise.

Andy Irving, team leader flood incident management for NRW, said:

“Protecting Wales’ communities is a vital part of our work which is why we monitor river levels all over the country 24/7 and invest millions of pounds into projects to reduce people’s flood risk.

“The Pont y Cerbyd flood storage area helps manage the flood risk to 41 properties downstream of the Solva river where levels can increase quickly in harsh weather.

“Investing in improvement projects adds another level of protection for at-risk homes and businesses.

“Combining this with our training exercises means we can continue to react to incidents quickly and efficiently.”

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