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Jury out in chip shop murder trial

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THE JURY has retired to consider its verdict regarding the trial of a man who is charged with murdering his wife with a chip shop fryer.

Geoffrey Bran, aged 70 from Hermon in Carmarthenshire, is accused of murdering his wife Mavis on October 23 last year, and is alleged to have thrown scalding hot oil over her from a deep fat fryer, which gave her widespread burns and lead to her death later in hospital.

He had also burnt his own hand when he tried to help her remove her jumper, which was saturated in the boiling hot oil, by trying to pull it over her head.

Earlier this week, Bran gave evidence to the court in his own defence. He told the court that there would be arguments about nothing after his wife would drink alcohol and have ‘spells of paranoia moments’ in the day, but claimed he had never hit his wife during a confrontation. He said that Mavis would start drinking early, and would consume two and a half bottles of red wine.

Bran told the court they opened the Chipoteria because Mavis was doing some meals for elderly people in the village, and didn’t like retirement because she was always on the go. He said he built a cabin next to the caravan, which took around a year, because Mavis desperately wanted to open in January. He said he would clean and blanch chips, fry them, and clean the equipment after. Mavis would cook fish and pies, and make sauces.

On the day that Mavis died, Bran said Mavis was in a good mood, but had been drinking from around 9.30am that day. He said she consumed a brandy with two neighbours, and he didn’t notice anything different about her behaviour when she had been drinking.

Bran spoke about an order, for which his wife said the fat wasn’t good enough to cook the fish in. He said: “I said you may as well use my friers, I use you for chips, but you have to turn them down because they’re a bit high for fish.”

He claimed that shortly afterwards, she looking into the fryer and told him he had overdone them. He said: “I didn’t know I was meant to look after them. She said she was coming back straight away.”

With that, he said Mavis took the fish out with tongs and tossed them into a tray, resulting in a ‘waterfall of fat’. He told her he had seen worse on plates, and said he believed she wasn’t going to serve them.

He went on to describe that he went to blanch some chips, but happened to turn around to see that Mavis had fallen, and her head was about nine inches away from the floor.

He said: “I hadn’t seen her falling because I wasn’t looking at that point. I turned around and saw her flying to the floor. In the corner of my eye I could see the fat fryer moving on the table as if in slow motion, but it wasn’t slow motion. At the moment I was going to move I could see the legs … instantly the legs fell off the edge and the weight of the oil tipped the whole thing forwards the whole two tubs came out in one whoosh.

“Once the legs got over the edge the weight of the oil must have moved things fast without the tubs coming out and it was like a waterfall and landed on her chest.

“By this time now the whole unit was going through the air and landing on top of her, pulling the sockets out.”

He continued: “I grabbed her arm, grabbed her other arm, pulled her to a sitting position, and lift all her clothes off. I didn’t know whether I was doing the right thing to be honest. I just thought get the clothes off. She was wearing a thick jumper and a t-shirt underneath. Usually she wears a kitchen apron, but because we had guests that day she had forgotten to change.

“I grabbed the bottom of the jumper and pulled it off her head. I think the jumper came into contact with her face.”

When asked if he felt any pain, he said he couldn’t remember, and was trying to get her clothes off her.

He said: “I walk round her, grab her two arms and pull her to a standing condition. I pulled her to the slabs outside. At that point I forgot I didn’t have a phone. I’d forgotten to bring it down in the morning. We always took the mobile phone back to the house in the night to charge it.”

Bran said he told her to run up the house in order to call an ambulance. He said: “She screamed up the path. She was in shock but she knew what was happening. I could see her arms were peeling. That’s about it really because all the rest was quite red.”

When asked why he didn’t go with her or why he didn’t comfort her, she said he didn’t know and was ‘totally stumped’.

The court heard how when a customer came in, Bran told them there had been an accident, but when he said he could go to Newcastle Emlyn, he said he would serve him. He said that Mavis was in a dressing gown shaking, and her face was white.

Bran was kept in custody until October 24. He was asked if he visited Mavis in hospital, but said he was told he was not allowed to.

He said he wanted to see her to say goodbye, and told the court that he misses her every day.

During cross examination, Bran was pressed as to why he didn’t comfort his wife of 30 years and ask about how she was. He told the court he ‘couldn’t face it’, but couldn’t say why.

He claimed that his wife deliberately lied to paramedics and blamed him for burning her. He said ‘they are all lies’, and said that she would always make things up and blamed him for everything.

Bran was asked, if he had helped to remove Mavis’ clothing, why he didn’t have burns on both hands. He couldn’t answer.

The court heard that Mavis suffered 46% burns to her total body area. The burns were both partial and full thickness.

The front of her body mostly suffered from full thickness burns, including her torso, thigh and neck. Her eyes were closed when she suffered the partial thickness burns to her face. Her eyelids were burned, but not her eyes themselves. There were no burns to the back of her hands, her palms or her fingers, but there were to her inner forearms. They were likely secondary burns, caused by the removal of her clothing.

The burns proved to be fatal when her condition deteriorated. As a result, the burns she suffered caused her death.

The jury retired at 12.51pm on Monday (Nov 18) to consider the case. Judge Paul Thomas QC, said: “Members of the jury I am now going to ask you to retire and consider your verdict in this case. There is no pressure of time. Take as short or as long time as needs be. As far as today is concerned, if you have reached a verdict that is well and good; if you haven’t you will be sent home and return tomorrow.”

The jury has since retired and the court awaits a verdict.

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Simon’s Hart to Hart with Pembroke constituent

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SIMON HART has got into a heated doorstep discussion with a Pembroke pensioner whilst canvasing for next week’s general election.

Michael Hart, 70, who is no relation to Simon Hart, contacted The Herald at lunchtime today (5 December) to say that he had been in a heated discussion with the Tory incumbent, who was out door-knocking on his street.

The argument was sparked by the swastika saga – as exclusively reported in last week’s Herald – in which Simon Hart REFUSES to account for the appearance of offensive Nazi graffiti on one of his election placards, two years after it was taken down from public display.

Simon Hart photographed the placard in question in 2017 – at which point the only evidence of graffiti it bore was written text. But he posted a new photograph of the same placard to kickstart his re-election campaign last month, in which two swastikas are visible where none appeared before.

The MP is still refusing to give any public explanation, and has threatened legal action against those speculating over what he says is “demonstrably untrue.”
Since being reported by his favourite local weekly, Michael Hart tells us that he noticed how Simon Hart was still keeping quiet on the swastikas’ appearance – despite being approached by journalists reporting on the matter for the Independent, Daily Mirror, iNews and Western Mail titles.

Earlier this week WalesOnline reported that, when approached, Simon Hart failed to offer “an explanation as to how the swastika signs ended up on the election board, or who might be responsible”, but he told them: “Any suggestion that I had anything to do with this is malicious, false and defamatory and lawyers have been instructed”.

Michael Hart tells the Herald that he became aware Simon Hart was out campaigning on Kingsbridge Drive at lunchtime, when the candidate’s poster landed on his doormat.

The retiree says that the swastika issue led to the disagreement – in which words were exchanged and threats of legal action were inferred made towards him by the government minister.

Michael Hart, a retired teacher and mechanical engineer, said that he tackled Simon Hart to explain how the swastikas came about. He says his prodding produced what he calls a “tentative explanation” from the Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire incumbent, which he finds “hard to believe”.

“I opened my door and went out to the drive, and politely said I did not want the poster. A few moments later, Simon Hart came up the road and onto my drive.

“I complained to him about two things – the Conservatives’ illegal proroguing of Parliament, and all that I’ve read about his publishing of the photo on his Facebook page of his defaced election board with the swastikas on.

“When I asked him about the signs, he got agitated, angry, and threatened me with legal action, and said he would pursue anybody who made out that he had anything to do with it”.

“On pushing him further, he told me how he thinks they got there. He says when his signs were in storage in a shed, that the shed was broken into, and a large number of placards including the swastika placard were ‘damaged or defaced’ for a second time!

“It really is quite some theory – and if it is true now, then it was true last week when the issue was first exposed. So why didn’t he mention this before now, when the Herald and other papers started asking him questions, or why didn’t he contact the police?

“Why was it when he put the poster on Facebook did he not then explain how the swastikas got there?

“I’m not sure why but he was recording our conversation on his phone. At the end of the visit no one from Mr Hart’s party would accept the poster back – so I threw it in the road and then it was picked up.”

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Jeremy Corbyn 100% confirmed to visit Pembrokeshire this weekend

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LABOUR leader Jeremy Corbyn will be visiting Pembrokeshire this weekend to shore up support for Labour candidates in the area.

Although the exact itinerary has not yet been confirmed, Labour HQ in Cardiff has confirmed to The Pembrokeshire Herald that Mr Corbyn will definitely be in attendance.

Mr Corbyn will be keen to rally votes for Philippa Thompson, who is standing in the Preseli Pembrokeshire seat – the second most marginal in the UK.

At the 2017 election she lost to Stephen Crabb by just 314 votes.

An email sent out to Labour members states: “Jeremy Corbyn will be in Haverfordwest to talk about how we win a better society, and we hope you can join him.

“This election is a once in a generation chance for us. Together we can reverse a decade of austerity. Take power from the billionaires, the bad bosses and the big polluters and give it to workers, young people, communities and everyone the Tories have failed for so long.

“We’re coming together to make our voices heard in Haverfordwest this weekend. This is about getting together, being inspired, and making a difference in the final week.”

The exact location will be sent out to those who register to attend, the email ads. The indoor rally is expected to start at 5.30pm.

Corbyn’s supporters said they hope that their leader will also attend an outdoor rally taking place in Haverfordwest town centre, at a location to be confirmed, the same afternoon.

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Haverfordwest boy caught taking drugs by officers thirty miles away

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A TEENAGE boy was arrested in Haverfordwest last week, after he was caught smoking cannabis on CCTV cameras which are monitored in Carmarthen (on Nov 28).

As part of the ongoing effort to crack down on anti-social behaviour in the town centre, known as Operation Spitfire, Haverfordwest Inspector, Reuben Palin, was at police headquarters, where the cameras are monitored, when he spotted the boy on-screen.

He saw a group of teenagers known to police, and the camera operator was able to zoom in for a closer look at their activities. After a call to local officers, they quickly arrived at the scene. The group was searched and one of the youths was arrested for possessing the class B drug.

Insp. Palin said: “We’re doing all we can to address community concerns about anti-social behaviour in Haverfordwest, and this includes putting the town’s new CCTV system to best use.

“Seeing the capability of the cameras in live-time has shown that CCTV is not just useful when an incident has occurred, but can also help us monitor what’s happening in town, and will hopefully deter bad behaviour.

“Obviously this can’t replace good old fashioned foot patrols, and we have a plan that sees CCTV complementing a visible police presence.”

The teenage boy arrested on suspicion of possessing the small amount of cannabis admitted the offence, and will be dealt with by the Youth Offending Team to ensure he gets support for his drug use.

He continued: “We are also working with other agencies, in particular the council, which has recently opened a drop-in centre for young people at No 2 Old Bridge, with the aim of offering a wide range of activities and opportunities that reflect their interests.

“While we have a strategy to minimise anti-social behaviour in this area, we would like to remind parents that the actions of their children are not the responsibility of the police. We urge you to be aware of what your children are doing, and where they are spending their time.

“No one should have to put up with anti-social behaviour and I would encourage the community to contact Haverfordwest Police to report any issues or concerns.”

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