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Cow DNA used to secure criminal prosecution

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DYFED-POWYS POLICE has become the first police force in the UK to use DNA evidence from a stolen cow in a criminal court case.
The force used DNA from a £3,000 heifer, which had been retagged by a neighbouring farmer after escaping from a field, to prove it had been stolen.
The blood samples were compared against cows on the victim’s farm to prove a familial link and secure a conviction.
David Aeron Owens, of Salem Road, St Clears, pleaded guilty to theft at Swansea Crown Court on Monday, February 3.
PC Gareth Jones, officer in case, said: “This has been a long and protracted enquiry, and it has taken a lot of work and patience to get to this point.
“Without the use of the heifer’s DNA we would not have been able to prove that it had been stolen by Mr Owens, and that he had tried to alter identification tags to evade prosecution.
“We are proud to be the first force in the UK to use a cow’s DNA in a criminal case, and will continue to use innovative methods to get justice for victims.”
The investigation started in December 2017, when a farmer in St Clears reported the theft of one of his 300 cows which had escaped from his field four months earlier.
Mr Owens had denied the missing animal was on his land, but the victim recognised it among the herd.
PC Jones visited the farm and was handed a cow passport, listing ear tag numbers for the cow in question and the animal Mr Owens alleged was its mother.
PC Jones applied for a warrant to seize the stolen cow, which was separated from the herd and had blood samples taken for DNA comparison.
“Under advice from the Animal Plant Health Agency, and due to regulations about moving cows, the disputed animal remained on Mr Owens’ farm,” PC Jones said. “He agreed to look after it on behalf of the police.
“It was established through DNA tests that the heifer listed on the cow passport was not related to the disputed cow.”
Arrangements were made for further samples to be taken by a vet, which were compared with a cow on the victim’s farm.
They were proven to be siblings, and based on the DNA results, CPS authorised charges against Mr Owens. He was summonsed to court and pleaded guilty to theft.
This is the first time DNA blood from a heifer has been used in relation to a criminal court case.
PC Jones said: “I must thank the victim in this case for the determination shown in wanting to see justice being done. It has been a long investigation, but we hope he is satisfied with the outcome.
“What this case shows us is that where the farming community works with the police, reporting crimes and providing us with vital information, we can be successful in taking out prosecutions.
“I echo comments made by the judge, who said Mr Owens, as a farmer, would be well aware of the need for a level of trust in the rural community. In committing these offences, he has played a part in breaking down that trust, which will be difficult to build back up.”
During the criminal investigation, Mr Owens started his own proceedings against Dyfed-Powys Police over the way blood samples were taken from the cow as he had not been willing for this to happen.
A judicial review found the force was lawful in obtaining blood samples from the animal.
Mr Owens was sentenced to a £4,000 fine and must pay £400 costs.

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Haverfordwest High School ski trip updated statement

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Haverfordwest High VC School is closed for a pre-arranged Inset day today (Wednesday, 26th February) for staff training.

The school is intending to re-open tomorrow (Thursday) in line with guidance from Public Health Wales.

The family of two pupils who went on a family trip to Northern Italy over half-term have also sought advice from Public Health Wales. Although the family visited the region of Veneto, they did not visit the quarantined town of Vo. The advice for them is the same as for other people who have visited Northern Italy – that they do not need to self-isolate unless they have symptoms of coughing, shortness of breath or fever. Neither of the pupils have presented any symptoms.

To view the statement released by the school yesterday (Tuesday), please visit https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/newsroom/haverfordwest-high-school-ski-trip-statement

* For the latest advice on coronavirus, please visit the Public Health Wales website at https://phw.nhs.wales/news/public-health-wales-statement-on-novel-coronavirus-outbreak-in-china/

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Pembroke child was kept in almost ‘unimaginable filth and deprivation’

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WHEN Police entered a Pembroke house to investigate an allegation a child was being kept in unsanitary, they found a scene of almost unimaginable filth and deprivation.
On Tuesday (Feb 25), Magistrates in Haverfordwest heard Police officers attended the property earlier this year. They were barely able to open its door to squeeze inside the filthy dwelling.
Officers found the rotting corpse of a dog on the kitchen floor, the toilet bowl overflowing with excrement, and water with a film of scum in the sink.
No food was found in the fridge apart from a single container of out-of-date coleslaw.
The woman’s bedroom was littered with empty boxes of wine.
When officers examined the child’s bedroom, they found the child grubby and unkempt. The child hadn’t been washed for a long time. Its only food appeared to be rice scattered on its bed.
The child is now in foster care.
Given the seriousness of the case, the Prosecution invited the Bench to send the case to Swansea Crown Court.
Neither the child nor its mother can be named for legal reasons.
Mr David Elvey, defending, did not object to the Crown’s application and made no submissions on his client’s behalf.
Magistrates committed the case to Swansea Crown Court for a hearing on March 27.
The Bench extended the woman’s unconditional bail to the Crown Court date.

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Last Pembroke bank to close HSBC confirms

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THE LAST bank branch in Pembroke is due to close in the summer, HSBC has confirmed this week. Pembroke is one of 27 branches HSBC is set to close by the end of this year, with the Pembroke branch closing on July 31.

The bank has said that jobs may be at risk due to the closure.

HSBC was the last bank in Pembroke. Barclays and Santander closed last year.

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