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Tenby police officer’s double life as RNLI volunteer

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FROM patrolling the streets to rescuing people at sea, a Tenby man is leading a double life as both a Dyfed-Powys Police officer and a volunteer with the RNLI.

PC Rob Garland comes from a family with an astonishing 180 years of combined service to the lifeboat service in Tenby, and gives up his free time to help people and animals in danger at sea.

He has spoken about his experiences as Dyfed-Powys Police celebrates its officers and staff who give up their time for other agencies as part of the UN’s International Volunteer Day.

PC Garland, who joined the RNLI at the age of 17, said: “Being in Tenby, I spent most of my time down the harbour, on the beaches and was always in and out of boats. It was a natural thing for me to do.

“My family have a long tradition with the Tenby RNLI. My great-grandfather was the coxswain (skipper), as was my great-uncle, while other uncles and my grandfather were also on the crew.

“It was kind of inevitable I was going to join.”

Not only does he have RNLI in the family, but PC Garland explained that the crew itself is a community who combine their efforts to get the job done.

“We have a great crew in Tenby, we all know we are there to do a job however we do have a laugh with it also,” he said. “We do lots of events within the community and work close in hand with all partner agencies at these events.

“However, when the pager goes off, everyone is immediately focused and the professional approach is unrivalled.”

The jobs PC Garland and the crew are called to range from helping disabled fishing trawler, heading out to broken down cargo ships that weigh over 150 times the weight of the lifeboat, or to children in an inflatable dingy being blown off the beach. He added that more and more, the crew is called to help animals in distress.

“Recent years have seen an increase in us going to dogs over cliffs, as the dog may still be alive in the water, and also to ensure the safety of the dog owner,” he said. “If they know help is on the way, it can and does stop them from taking extreme risks in going into sea or scaling down cliffs to get their pet.

“Being a dog owner myself, it’s hard to see a dog that has fallen 60 meters on the rocks below and the owner distraught trying to get to it. We do our best to recover the dog provided its safe for us to do so and to bring the dog back to the owner in a respectful and dignified way.”

PC Garland is on the crew of Tenby’s two lifeboats, and explained that the smaller inshore lifeboat d-class is used for searches and rescues in the surf, shallow water and confined locations – often close to cliffs, among rocks and even inside caves. The other boat is the bigger all-weather Tamar class, which can go to sea in any weather and is self-righting in the event of capsizing.

Looking back over shout-outs, he said: “Back in October 2017, we launched the all-weather boat into very rough storm 10 conditions during Storm Brian to reports or a person having been washed off the rocks.

“During the shout, I fractured my hand due to the impact of the waves on the boat, which was regularly being submerged by large waves. Thankfully it turned out to be a false alarm with good intent.

“I also remember launching in February 2016 s to a cargo ship which had suffered engine failure south of Caldey Island and was adrift. We launched to assist and to hold it off Caldey Island until a salvage tug arrived.

“The waves on this shout were some of the largest I have seen, they even dwarfed the cargo ship that was 94 meters in length. Thankfully, the cargo ship missed Caldey Island dropped its anchor to the east where we stood by for a few hours to ensure that it was no longer drifting.”

As a police officer, PC Garland fits call-outs around his shifts – even attending a shout minutes after getting back into bed following a night shift.

“I am aware that as a police officer my day job comes first,” he said. “I am a volunteer with the RNLI, however it does not pay my wages.

“Once I am home, having finished a shift, I will turn my pager on and answer the call should it come in. On my rest days or annual leave if I am in Tenby I will always carry my pager with me.

“It has come to the point where if my partner and I go out for a meal that I always leave my wallet and car keys with her, as I have left her in the restaurant taking them with me, which can take a bit of explaining to the staff.”

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Milford Haven: Three residents win in Postcode Lottery

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THREE people in Milford Haven got a lovely surprise this morning (Jan 22) after waking up to the good news that their bank accounts will be boosted by £1,000 each, all thanks to their lucky postcode.

The Roebuck Close neighbours landed the lolly when SA73 1AS was announced as a Daily Prize winner with People’s Postcode Lottery.

People’s Postcode Lottery ambassador Judie McCourt sent her congratulations and said: “What a terrific Tuesday for our players in Milford Haven who have picked up a prize today! I hope they treat themselves to something special with the windfall.”

A minimum of 32% of ticket sales goes directly to charities and players of People’s Postcode Lottery have raised £382 million to date for 5,500 good causes across Great Britain and internationally.

Many good causes local to the winners have benefitted from the money raised, and the next opportunity to apply for funding will be on the 6th of February.

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Two men arrested following discovery of illegal slaughterhouse

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TWO men were arrested on Monday (Jan 21) after a multi-agency response to an illegal slaughterhouse in west Wales.

Police say that live animals were found living amongst carcasses.

As the investigation is ongoing, police have refused to comment where exactly the site of the illegal slaughterhouse was discovered.

Warning: Shocking image below.

A spokesperson for Dyfed-Powys Police’s Rural Crime Team said: “Rural Crime team attended a call with multi-agencies to a report of an illegal slaughterhouse in West Wales.

“Live animals found amongst carcasses.

“Two males were arrested and enquiries are ongoing.

“At this early stage of the investigation we are not prepared to release further information.”

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Llangwm: Solicitor jailed for six years for £1m fraud

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A PEMBROKESHIRE solicitor who overcharged clients by almost £1m has been jailed this week for six years.

Edgar Stephen Thomas, aged 58, charged one client at the rate of £20,000 a week without doing any work at all.

Another was charged at £12,000 a week and went on to lose a total of £100,000.

Thomas, of Stephen’s Green, Deerland Road, Llangwm, admitted 23 offences of fraud and theft, which stopped only when his firm of Steve Thomas and Co was closed down by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority.

Jim Davis, prosecuting, told Swansea Crown Court that Thomas got away with the frauds by deducting monies from the estates of deceased people without telling the beneficiaries.

“He grossly overcharged and then deducted the payments directly from the estates of deceased people,” he said.

“He helped himself without telling them what he was doing.”

The overcharging began in 2005 when he was asked to handle the estate of Richard James Rogers. He charged the estate £41,800 plus VAT but internal documents showed that as the work decreased his bills increased.

Thomas agreed overcharging that estate by £12,000.

Thomas went on to plunder many more accounts.

The most outrageous example, said Mr Davies, related to the estate of Audrey Williams, who died in 2013.

Thomas charged £127,250 plus VAT, sometimes raising–but not posting–two invoices a day. He agreed he had overcharged by £100,000.

Mr Davis said Thomas’ offending did not stop there. His firm was hired by Vaughan’s Radio, an electrical store in Haverfordwest, to handle the purchase of a business in Aberystwyth.

Thomas simply kept for himself £50,000 of the purchase price.

Mr Davis said Thomas had worked for Eaton Evans in Haverfordwest, rising to becoming a partner, before leaving to form his own firm in 2005.

His accounts had to be audited and as a result the SRA were alerted to fears that he was overcharging.

A detailed forensic examination of his accounts was carried out and the fears were confirmed, along with the discovery of a shortfall in his client’s accounts of £144,326.

There was then an administrative error at the SRA and the initial report was not acted upon until June 2014, when a second financial investigation revealed more fraud and he was later struck off.

In February 2015 Thomas was declared bankrupt.

Mr Davis said the SRA had reimbursed those who had lost because of Thomas’ fraudulent behaviour, but there remained the question of costs and whether he could be made to repay any of the money. An investigation under the Proceeds of Crime Act is underway.

Thomas’ barrister, Ian Ibrahim, said his client was now broke and all the money had gone on keeping his business afloat.

“His fall from a high place has been dramatic. His remorse is complete and utterly without qualification.

“He has lost everything and knows that he will go to jail today.”

Judge Keith Thomas said those who worked in the legal profession had to demonstrate the highest level of integrity because the public put trust in them, sometimes at the most stressful times of their life.

“Your victims have described your behaviour as disgusting and despicable.

“You were struck off in 2016 and have had to wait a long time for the process to be complete, but that is partly because you were not willing to admit the extent of your offending,” he added.

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