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Two-year-old was ‘singing’ moments prior to death, inquest hears

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A TWO-YEAR-OLD who died when the car she was in rolled into the River Teifi was ‘singing’ just moments before, an inquest has heard.

Kiara Moore, who drowned on March 19 in the River Teifi, Cardigan, was left alone for just two minutes prior to the car entering the water.

Ceredigion coroner, Peter Brunton, opened the inquest this morning (Nov 27) in Aberystwyth.

The inquest heard that Kiara’s mother, Kim, had snapped her credit card and had to leave the car to re-enter the family business, owned by Kiara’s father, Jet.

In this short period of time, Kiara was left in the car.

Kim said that the car was left in reverse on the slope where she always parks with the handbrake on. The car was recovered in third gear with the handbrake disengaged.

The car was reported as stolen and a police search was launched. It was later spotted in the river, with Kiara’s body inside. She had tragically drowned.

Experts told the inquest that Kiara moving around in the car may have been enough to start the car rolling.

The car was tested and found to be in good condition with no defects.

When asked if Kiara could have knocked the handbrake, Sgt Shane Davies, Dyfed-Powys Police’s Senior Forensic Officer, said ‘I don’t know is the honest answer’.

He added: “I can’t say with any degree of certainty how it went from the handbrake being on at the slipway to not being on in the water.

“You could release the handbrake by pressing the button at the front of it.”

No charges were brought by Dyfed-Powys Police, and the inquest was formally closed with a judgement of death via misadventure.

Kim Rowlands said in a prepared statement: “Jet owns and managed Adventure Beyond in Cardigan. I work with the company and normally go there to work in the office.

“Since Kiara was a baby she has been coming with me to the office.

“On the day there was nothing unusual. I got up, called Kiara, and got her ready. She asked me what I was going to be doing. I said going to work and she asked if she could come with me.

“I’m not on any medication. I was feeling tired but not unusually so. I parked on the slipway. Monday was only the second day I’d been there that year.

“I checked the handbrake which I always do. I left it in reverse. I parked so that the back of the car was level with the scout hut.

“I didn’t go back to the car all day. During the day we stayed in the office.

“We did walk into Cardigan town centre to go to the bank. Sometime around 3pm I got ready to leave. I unlocked the car and walked round to the passenger side and loaded all Kiara’s things. I then put her in the car seat but didn’t fasten her seat.

“I closed her door and walked round to the driver’s door which I opened and as I did I realised my bank card had snapped. I took the card out and knew I didn’t have any food at home. I gave the card to Kiara and told her I would be two secs.

“The keys were either in the driver’s door or in the ignition. I told Kiara I would be two seconds. I opened the padlock and went into the office. I could hear Kiara in the car.

“When I left there was singing and shouting. I knelt down by the safe in the office. I got a £10 note out and shut the door.

“I went out of the office and put the padlock on. I could see that my car was gone.

“I was gone for about three minutes. I went down to the river and couldn’t see anything. My next thought was that the car had been taken. I asked people if they’d seen anything.

“I dialled 999 and told them my car had been taken with daughter inside. I looked everywhere. I phoned my mum as I was panicking.

“We bought the car second-hand and to my knowledge there were no handbrake issues.

“Kiara normally sits in the front passenger seat of the car. Her seat is for zero to four years. She’s used to travelling in the car and she liked to play with the radio controls but I never saw her playing with any other controls.”

The inquest also heard from PCSO Carol Griffith, who jumped into the river and smashed a window to pull Kiara out of the car.

A statement was read on her behalf. It said:  “On Monday, March 19, I was on call at Crymych police station. I started at 9am. I had just arrived at Cardigan police station when I heard that a car had been stolen with a three-year-old girl inside.

“I began searching for the car and was directed by inspector Gareth Jones to make CCTV inquiries in the area.

“I was walking to the right-hand side of the scout hut and I was notified that a car had been located in the river. I ran back towards the river and the ARV drove past heading in the same direction.

“As I reached the bank I looked to the water. I could see a small bit of the car above the surface.

“I was stood next to PC Harvey and I said I was going to go into the water. I took off my vest and boots and dived headfirst into the river. The river was freezing cold and you could tell the current was really strong.

“I put my head underwater and I could not see anything underwater. The car was fully immersed in the water and was facing towards the main bridge in Cardigan.

“I swam towards the middle of the car and managed to climb onto the roof.

“I went under the water by the front passenger window. The water was so cold I couldn’t keep under for very long.

“I went down to the window and could not see inside the car.

“I was able to put both arms inside a small opening of the window. I could not see anything.

“I tried the handle on the outside but could not.

“I felt something when I put my arms through the window. I came to the surface and said that someone needed to smash the window.

“Myself and Nick managed to smash the glass after several hits and it broke. I immediately felt Kiara’s body. Both of us held her little body.

“I knew it was her because the coat she was wearing matched the description. I swam to the shoreline and Nick carried her out onto the river bank.

“Other officers started to conduct CPR but I can’t remember who that was.

“All I remember was looking at her body and her face was purple.

“I remember hearing the noise of a defib (defibrillator) and then I was taken back to the police station as I had blood on my hands. I hadn’t realised that I had cut myself.”

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Simon Hart MP says that First Minister is ‘reckless’ to say that the UK is ‘as it is, over’

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THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WALES, Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire MP Simon Hart, said that the First Minister for Wales, Mark Drakeford is wrong to suggest that the United Kingdom has had its day in its current form.

The First Minister’s exact words were “the UK as it is; is over”.

Mr Drakeford’s has said a new union should be created to reflect a “voluntary association of four nations”.

In his conference speech, the Welsh Labour leader called for “home rule for Wales in a successful United Kingdom”.

In a strong rebuke of Mark Drakeford’s comments Simon Hart MP said on the BBC’s politics Wales programme on Sunday (Mar 7) that his suggestion was “reckless” and “an overt act of flirtation with Plaid Cymru.”

Mr Hart added: “I think he realises if he wants to remain first minister he has to do a deal with Plaid, it’s the only option on the table. He hasn’t denied that, I’ve heard.

“In order to do that he has to start making noises about the union that has to appeal to his Plaid Cymru colleagues. I think it’s quite a reckless thing.”

Mr Hart explained that the UK “benefits” Wales and that the UK-wide procurement of Covid-19 vaccines proves this. He added: “It demonstrates just one example that the UK is a positive influence but it doesn’t mean that some of the other arguments are not valid”.

Plaid Cymru wants to hold a referendum on Welsh independence if it wins May’s Senedd election, but the power to do so lies at Westminster.

There has been a growing interest in more independence for Wales in the last few years, with a huge surge in membership of the non-political Yes Cymru group since the start of the pandemic.

Plaid leader Adam Price, speaking on the same programme, said: “We sincerely believe that independence is ultimately the only sustainable way whereby Wales can achieve its incredible potential as a nation that isn’t being delivered at the moment and whereby we can achieve social and economic justice for everyone that lives in Wales.”

Giving evidence to the Welsh Affairs Select Committee on Thursday, which The Herald was invited attended via a Zoom, Mr Drakeford explained said his idea of home-rule meant “the powers we have, and the devolution settlement we develop, would be guaranteed and would not be interfered with in the way we have seen so vividly in recent months”.

Mr Drakeford said: “I do think the effect of the pandemic and last 12 months has been to polarise opinion in Wales about how Wales should be governed.

“There are some people who take a lesson that we would be better off handing Wales back to Whitehall, there are some Conservative candidates standing in the Senedd elections who apparently take that view.

“It has undoubtedly strengthened interest in those people who believe Wales should be taken out of the United Kingdom altogether.”

The company which runs The Pembrokeshire Herald, Herald News UK, has recently launched a national news website for Wales which is sympathetic to Welsh independence.

This is something which could not have happened without a shift in feeling by many in Wales that as a nation it should have more autonomy.

Speaking on ITN’s News at Ten on Thursday (Mar 4), Herald.Wales South and West Wales Editor, Tom Sinclair said: “From our test marketing we can see that there certainly is a huge appetite for news that is about Wales, made in Wales, and owned by a company which is actually Welsh.”

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Education

Delight as foundation phase learners return to class

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PEMBROKESHIRE Headteachers have reported very positive returns to school for Foundation Phase Learners.

All Foundation Phase Learners returned to schools on Monday, March 1st and attendance has been reported at almost 90% since.

The Council’s Director for Education, Steven Richards-Downes, said: “A wide range of council services have worked together to ensure that Foundation Phase pupils have been able to return
safely to school.

“I am particularly grateful to all school staff and families for ensure that learning is now available for our youngest learners face to face.”

Headteachers remarked how schools have filled with smiles and laughter following the safe and phased return of Foundation Phase learners.

Cora O’Brien, Headteacher at Waldo Williams School in Haverfordwest emphasised how quickly learners have settled back in to a routine.

“It has been an absolute joy to hear their laughter in the playground and to observe their love of learning face to face once again. I thank everybody in the Waldo Williams School
community for working so hard to ensure that the transition went smoothly.”

Vicky Hart-Griffiths, Headteacher of Ysgol Hafan y Mor in Tenby, said: “It has been wonderful to welcome all our Foundation Phase learners back to school. They are thriving, being amongst
friends and back to a school routine.  

“All the pupils have spoken about how happy they are to have returned and it’s an absolute pleasure to welcome them back and we can’t wait until we have all our pupils back in school.

“The school feels alive again and there’s a positive buzz and laughter once again echoing throughout the school.”

Gareth Lewis, Headteacher at Broad Haven CP School said children had returned “with real enthusiasm, and have been very keen to meet up with their friends.”

Mr Lewis added: “Our parents have been very supportive and positive about the return, and those with older children are very much looking forward to a wider return to schooling.”

Mr Richards-Downes said plans were now turning to more learners returning to schools in the near future.

“We are looking to the next phases of the re-opening of schools on the 15th of March as long as the government guidelines allow.”

Further details will be released in due course.

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Pembrokeshire County Council: This week’s Leader’s coronavirus update

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL Leader, Councillor David Simpson, has provided a further coronavirus update for Friday, 5th March as follows:

‘Welcome everyone to my weekly update.

“It is with rather a heavy heart that I tell you that it’s almost 12 months since my first statement on the coronavirus pandemic.

“On 9th March 2020, I addressed our Cabinet meeting with the following words:

“Further to the news yesterday that two people in Pembrokeshire had tested as positive for the Covid 19 virus, I am sure you will join me in wishing them both a speedy and full recovery.

“I can reassure you that our services will continue as usual, and all our employees can continue to attend to their work, appointments, schools and services as they normally would.

“We should all help protect ourselves and our communities by following Public Health Wales advice, particularly around washing hands and using a tissue for symptoms associated with cold and flu and then safely disposing of it.

“I am grateful to the co-operation and hard work of all of our staff and we will provide further updates and information when we have them.

“In the meantime I can confirm that detailed planning arrangements, both internally, with partner agencies and through the Dyfed Powys Local Resilience Forum, are well underway to ensure that the Council and Pembrokeshire are as well placed as possible for whatever challenges we may face. Thank you.”

“I am sure you will join me while I take a moment now to remember all those people in Pembrokeshire and further afield, who, very sadly, passed away since I made that announcement.

“I continue to be incredibly grateful, as I’m sure you are, to everyone who is helping to beat this pandemic, working so very hard now for over a year.

“We are fortunate now to be in a position where the vaccine programme is protecting older members of our community and starting to roll out among one of the biggest groups – the over 65s and those with underlying health conditions.

“This time next week (12th March) the Welsh Government will have notified us of their plans for the next three weeks.

“In the meantime, we remain in Alert Level 4 and the stay at home message continues to be more important than ever as we reach the threshold of better times.

“I wish you all a good weekend and thank you once again to the vast majority of wonderful Pembrokeshire residents who are doing the right thing and waiting patiently at home for restrictions to lift.

“We do really appreciate your efforts and determination to help bring this pandemic to an end.”

 

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