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Valero sentencing adjourned until next year

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FAMILIES of the victims of the refinery explosion in 2011 which killed four people will have to wait until next year for the case to reach Crown Court.

Last month, Valero Energy UK Ltd and B&A Contracts Limited admitted health and safety charges in a packed Haverfordwest courtroom, filled with those lost who lost friends or relatives in the blast.

Following the admissions at that brief magistrates’ court hearing, there was due to be a sentencing hearing held at Swansea Crown Court today (Nov 2).

But those members of the media and public who turned up today to attend were told by security officers that the case had been taken out of the list and will now not be heard until January 12.

Dennis Riley, 52, Robert Broome, 48, Andrew Jenkins, 33, and Julie Jones, 54, died in June 2011 when a storage tank exploded.

A fifth worker, Andrew Phillips, was severely injured.

At the time of the blast the refinery was operated by Chevron Limited, but ownership changed in August 2011.

B&A Contracts Ltd admitted that from October 2010 to June 2011, at Pembroke Refinery, the company failed to ensure the health and safety and welfare at work of all employees, and a similar charge of, on the same dates, failing to ensure the health and safety and welfare at work on non-employees contrary to Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974

Valero Energy UK Limited admitted that from February 1999 to June 2011, at Pembroke refinery, the company failed to ensure the health and safety and welfare at work of all employees, and a similar charge of, on the same dates, failing to ensure the health and safety and welfare at work on non-employees contrary to Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

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Hakin: Kebabs delivered despite car exploding

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WOULD you still do your job if your car exploded?

Most would say no, but for kebab company, a car going up in flames and exploding didn’t stop him last night (Jan 17).

The Haven Kebab House delivery car was out on business as it caught fire and exploded on Upper Hill Street, Hakin.

Police officers closed the road as firefighters extinguished the blaze.

The driver of the car called a colleague who then collected the food and completed the deliveries, much to the surprise of many customers who had seen the blaze on the Herald’s Facebook page.

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Parents concerned over teenage ‘gangs’ threatening violence

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CONCERNED parents of Ysgol Harri Tudur pupils have taken to social media after an incident involving teenagers from Milford Haven and Pembroke Dock required police intervention last week.

Police say that upwards of 30 teenagers were at one known disturbance near the old Cleddau Bridge Hotel on Friday (Jan 11) and were promptly dispersed.

Earlier the same day, police were called to Milford Haven School about a fight involving several pupils, which was filmed and circulated on Facebook. You can read the full report on that here.

A Dyfed-Powys Police spokesperson said: “On the evening of Friday, January 11, Dyfed-Powys Police officers attended at old Cleddau Bridge Hotel area in Pembroke Dock after receiving information of a disruption.

“A crowd of around 30 teenagers had gathered. Officers carried out some stop searches, offered words of advice and the group was dispersed.

“No offences were committed and no further police action was required.”

Posting on Facebook, concerned parents have said that their children were brought home by police officers and told not to go near the McDonald’s area of Pembroke Dock for their own safety over the weekend.

One parent claimed that, due to the number of teenagers involved, a riot van was at the scene.

Another parent, talking to us based on the promise of anonymity, said that a ‘gang’ of Milford Haven teenagers had arrived in Pembroke Dock after threats were made on the social media platform Snapchat.

A third parent of one of the boys involved, also talking anonymously, said: “There were threats made on a Snapchat group that 20 Milford boys would be waiting at Pembroke school to ‘stab them’.

“They threatened to stab three separate boys. One Milford boy was spotted outside the school on Friday and then 31 Pembroke Dock boys went to the train station to meet the rest of the gang who were supposedly coming to the Dock on a train.

“The police then took some of the children home for their own safety and some parents were told not to let their children into Pembroke Dock alone over the weekend.

“I have been contacted by parents in Milford Haven about the main boy involved. I have been told he is a ‘menace’ and terrorises kids in Milford but nothing has been done about it.”

The Herald has contacted Dyfed-Powys Police about these claims for further comment.

Police have also urged members of the public and students at Milford Haven School not to circulate the video of a fight between pupils at the school that day.

Sgt Andy Williams from Dyfed-Powys Police said: “We are investigating this incident, which appears to have involved a small group of students during a break time. Due to the location, a high number of students were in the area at the time, making it appear that far more students were involved.

“We are aware of a video that is circulating on social media which allegedly identifies those involved in the assault, and recognise the strength of feeling which exists in respect of this.

“Please refrain from sharing the video and from making any comments on the video which could amount to a criminal offence. This is in order to allow for a thorough investigation and to prevent the investigation being undermined.

“We also urge people not to take matters into their own hands or get involved in any unlawful activity which could hamper police enquiries. Where any criminal offences are committed, we will take appropriate action.

“There will be an increased police presence at the school this week to provide reassurance to students, teachers and parents.

“We are working with the school and Pembrokeshire County Council to conduct our investigation. Anyone with information is asked to report it by calling 101.”

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Milford Haven: Fund started for injured cat

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A MILFORD HAVEN woman has taken to social media in a bid to help save her cat’s life.

Tamsin Mathias, aged 23 of St Annes Road, realised on Sunday morning (Jan 13) that her eight month old cat, Luna, was missing. Tamsin said she knew something was wrong after Luna didn’t come in for her breakfast that morning as usual, and her sister, Peppa, was meowing and walking around as if she was looking for her. Later on that day, Luna was found two doors up from her house, covered in her own excrement and struggling to use her back legs.

Tamsin said: “We found her in the front of our neighbour’s garden meowing really loud. I picked her up like a baby and carried her into the house, and as soon as we walked in through the front door she stopped meowing and was just really floppy.

“We wrapped her in a towel, and my other half got some warm water and a tea towel so I could clean her up. I started cleaning her and I noticed that there was a gap in the middle of her tail, and the more I looked at her the more I knew she needed urgent medical attention.”

Tamsin got in touch with All Pets Vet Care and made an emergency appointment for Luna. Half an hour later, Luna was receiving emergency medical treatment from two members of staff.

Tamsin said: “As soon as Billa examined Luna she could see that she had a tail pull injury – I’d never heard of it before, but it’s not great. Billa said straight away that Luna’s tail will most likely have to be removed, because the bones at the base of her tail had been shattered and her tail was limp.

“Luna’s temperature was down to 32.8 degrees, when it should be between 37-38, and she was in a huge amount of shock. Billa, with the help of Sian, managed to get Luna on a drip to get some fluids into her, and gave her some pain killers as well.”

Luna was given x-rays while conscious in an attempt to see what the damage was, however they didn’t depict everything. Tamsin was told that an x-ray needed to be done under general anaesthetic so that Luna could be placed on her back for the procedure. However, if she had undergone a general anaesthetic the night Tamsin brought Luna in, she wouldn’t have made it.

Tamsin went to visit Luna the next day, who said she seemed ‘a lot brighter’. The x-rays revealed a nasty break to Luna’s pelvis, and showed the shattering to the base of her tail.

Luna is currently on strong medication and is undergoing laser treatment to help reduce swelling. It’s important that she is able to go to the toilet by herself and show that she is continent. Tamsin said: “We were told that if Luna turns out the be incontinent, then there’s no point in her having an operation. Reading between the lines, I know what that means, and the thought of it is just so heartbreaking.

“I want to give her the best chance at life, so as long as there’s hope for her and the team at All Pets Vet Care are happy to keep treating her, then we’ll carry on fighting.”

Luna was able to come home on Thursday night (Jan 17) after spending four nights at All Pets Vet Care. Luna began showing signs that she wanted to use her litter tray, but still was unable to go.

Tamsin said: “I’ve done as much research as I can about tail pull injuries and pelvic fractures to try to prepare myself for every outcome. Luna had been leaking urine a little bit here and there, and she has to be expressed every day because she hasn’t yet gone for a wee by herself. But, when we took her home on Thursday, the first thing she did was go into her litter tray.

“She didn’t manage to go, but I thought it was a good sign.”

Luna had to go back to the vets on Friday morning (Jan 18) to be expressed, and Tamsin was shown the procedure so she can do it for Luna at home. Tamsin explained that Luna was interested in her litter tray when she came home, but didn’t go to the toilet. It was then that Tamsin was given some positive news.

“I was told that because Luna had shown interest in her litter tray that it’s more likely that she knows she needs to go and can feel the sensation, but she’s not able to squat because of the fracture to her pelvis,” Tamsin said.

“They’re hopeful that because of this, her continence will return, so fingers crossed she can have her operation soon.”

But, there’s one hurdle they’ve yet to jump. Even though Luna is insured, the insurance doesn’t cover the entire cost of Luna’s treatment.

Luna’s insurance will pay out £1000 for her treatment following her injury, however, with four overnight stays, two x-rays, laser treatment and recovery food, as well as medication, Luna’s vet bill is almost past what the insurance will pay out for her – and that’s without her operation.

“Luna will have to go to a specialist in Llanidloes to have her pelvis operated on,” Tamsin said. “It’s going to be around another £1000 on top of her existing vet bills, so we have to find the money somehow. I won’t give up on her.”

Tamsin and her family have since set up a Go Fund Me page, detailing Luna’s condition, and appealing to members of the public to help fund her operation.

Tamsin said: “If she was an old cat and she was really lethargic and clearly unwell, I’d have a different approach and outlook on her future. But she’s only eight months old, and she is really well in herself other than her injuries. She’s eating and drinking fine, playing, and she’s still just as vocal as she was before. I’m confident that even without her tail, she can go on to live a long and happy life.”

Tamsin added: “Anyone who can help, whether it’s a cash donation or just sharing the campaign on social media to help spread the word, we really do appreciate it. Thank you!”

To donate to help Luna get the treatment she needs, go to www.gofundme.com/lunastreatment

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