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Youth worker jailed for sexual offences against children (UPDATED)

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mike1 (2)A PEMBROKESHIRE man, who formerly worked as a child youth worker employed by Pembrokeshire County Council, appeared before Swansea Crown Court this morning (July 1), and admitted 14 sexual offences against children.

The offences include sexual touching, taking indecent photographs, and the possession of 1,129 indecent photographs of minors.

Michael John Smith, known as ‘Mik’, aged 49, of Prendergast, Haverfordwest, has been jailed for six years for offences which include touching the genitals and bottom of an eight-year-old boy, and encouraging a boy of eight to engage in sexual activity of a non-penetrative nature, including masturbation.

Michael John Smith, was a line manager with Pembrokeshire Youth Service who was sacked after “several warnings” about inappropriate behaviour towards young people.

He went on to abuse the young son of a couple who supported him following his dismissal, a judge at Swansea crown court heard today.

Smith admitted three offences of sexually assaulting a child under the age of 13, four of causing or inciting the child to engage in sexual activity, two of taking indecent photographs of the child, four of making indecent images and one of possessing 1,136 indecent images of children.

Brian Simpson, prosecuting, said all the offences, apart from the last, related to the same boy.

He said Smith had worked for Pembrokeshire Youth Service and later Pembrokeshire Youth Action Service until he was dismissed in 2012 after children complained about the ways he touched them.

But before he was sacked, said Judge Paul Thomas, he had been given “several warnings.”

Mr Simpson said some people continued to support Smith but his response was to “groom” the son of one of the couples for his own sexual gratification, sometimes videoing himself as he abused the naked boy.

The alarm was raised when the boy’s parents noticed that he was becoming more sexualised, sometimes touching his mother’s bottom and talking about “humpy.”

He also developed sleeping difficulties and one night his father went into his bedroom and asked him if there was anything wrong. The boy told him Smith had shown “new ways of humpy.”

Mr Simpson said his father felt physically sick and called in the police.

Smith was arrested but denied ever touching the boy indecently. But officers took away computers and cameras, and found the two videos and the indecent images, 19 of which were in the most serious category. Smith was arrested a second time and on being told about the evidence that had been discovered chose not say anything in reply to questions.

Mr Simpson said the boy now had bad dreams, felt sad and cried a lot. He did not play with friends in case he said something about what had happened and worried that Smith would hurt him because he had told the police about the abuse.

His father, said Mr Simpson, had felt suicidal. Both he and his wife had undergone counselling.

Jim Davis, the barrister representing Smith, said there was no doubt his sexual orientation was towards young boys and he might benefit from psychiatric treatment, although that would not be available in jail.

“The word betrayal is quite appropriate. He tells me he knows that an apology is not enough. He cannot find the words to express how sorry he is and how ashamed he is,” he said.

Mr Davis said Smith would be positively “extremely glad” if the judge made an order that would keep him away from children.

Judge Thomas said Smith had applied for jobs and positions as a senior youth worker and with the cubs, scouts and children’s homes so that he could have contact with young children.

He had used the boy, he added, as his own “sexual play thing without any regard to the consequences to a boy of that age.”

And he had even videoed the abuse.

Judge Thomas said he could pass consecutive sentences, but he had to have regard to the totality.

Smith was jailed for six years for causing the child to engage in sexual activity, four for sexual assault, two for videoing the abuse and 12 months for possessing indecent photographs, all to run concurrently.

Smith was also banned from working with children for life and ordered to register with the police as a sex offender, again for life.

Smith, who had arrived at court with a rucksack expecting a jail sentence, did not react as he was sent down.

Pembrokeshire County Council said in a hastily prepared statement that they welcomed today’s conviction. The council press release said that “justice has been achieved for a vulnerable young person and our thoughts are with that young person and their family”

An effective piece of joint working between the Police and Social Services in Pembrokeshire has contributed to this successful prosecution.

The council went on to say: “The offences for which he has been convicted do not relate to his period of employment with the Council. Michael ‘Mik’ Smith was employed as a youth worker for Pembrokeshire County Council but was dismissed in January, 2012. It is a matter of fact that there were significant failings in the disciplinary standards within the Council’s Education directorate in 2005 when Mr Smith was the subject of various allegations about inappropriate behaviour. A joint investigation by the Council and Dyfed-Powys Police at that time revealed no criminal activity or allegations of abuse. The significant failings in the Council’s disciplinary processes was brought to the Authority’s attention by the national inspectorates in 2011, leading to formal intervention – intervention the Authority has accepted and acted on.”

The council added: “Since that time the Council has completely changed its procedures and management of the Education department and is confident that the failings of nine years ago would not be repeated now.  No manager from the former Education directorate involved in the decision-making in 2005 is currently employed by the Authority. Despite a further joint investigation with police, we have not received any allegations that he abused children while employed as a youth worker.”

However, we urge anyone with any concerns to come forward and contact our duty team on 01437 776444 or the police on101. They can do so in complete confidence and in the full knowledge that these will be robustly investigated. The Tanyard Youth Project, where Mik Smith was a director, distancing itself from him. Speaking last month, Kenwyn Corris Jones, of the Tanyard Youth Project, told The Herald in a statement: “Mik Smith was not a founder member of the Project when it was set up in 1999 [as previously reported]. He became an employee in 2001 and resigned in 2003 to take up other employment. He later became a member of the Trustee Board from 2004 until 2008 when he resigned due to other commitments.

He added: “None of the current staff has ever worked with him, and no complaint relating to his employment or his time on the Trustee Board has ever been made. “Our child protection policies and practice and safeguarding training are robust and in accordance with the Pembrokeshire Safeguarding Children’s Board. “The Tanyard Youth Project is an independent organisation that works with many different partners and funders and is fully committed to providing a high quality service to young people in a safe and welcoming environment.” The Tanyard Youth Project added that they would make no further comment will be made by the Project whilst criminal proceedings are ongoing. Pembrokeshire County Council, who employed Smith until 2012, has written to concerned parents urging them to contact the police if they have concerns. It is understood that Smith had worked at, amongst other locations, the Pupil Referral Unit in Penally.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Teifion

    July 8, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    pity the council and the Police didn’t act MUCH MUCH sooner but what can you expect from those two organisations?

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Pembrokeshire cottage letting agency offers free holidays to NHS heroes

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PEMBROKESHIRE-BASED holiday letting agency St Brides Bay Cottages has teamed up with its property owners and Operation Recuperation to offer free holidays to frontline healthcare workers. The family-run firm has announced the scheme to say thank you to the healthcare heroes who are risking their lives to keep the UK safe during the coronavirus pandemic.

The generous initiative will see healthcare professionals enjoy a well-deserved break in picturesque St Davids, Solva, Newgale or Porthgain, after the crisis is over. The scheme is part of Operation Recuperation, a UK-wide campaign launched to gift future stays in beautiful places to frontline healthcare providers.

Sam Sibbald, manager of St Brides Bay Cottages, based in Solva, said: “This is our way of showing our dedicated healthcare workers that we appreciate everything they’re doing in such difficult circumstances.

“I saw first-hand the pressure the NHS is under, when my dad had a stay in hospital last year. I could tell how pushed they were on a normal day-to-day basis, let alone with having COVID-19 to deal with. Now my dad is at home, needing carers every day, and I can see, more than ever, how much we rely on the people who look after us.

“We’re taking part in Operation Recuperation thanks to the generosity of our cottage owners. By gifting stays to these dedicated workers, we’ll be helping them to recover from the fight against coronavirus.”

Several cottage owners, whose properties are let by St Brides Bay Cottages, have come forward to donate stays in their holiday homes.

Among them is Sheila Morgan, who together with her husband Chris, owns The Anchorage, a two-bedroom apartment in Solva. She said: “As a retired nurse with medical staff in the family, I can fully appreciate the strains and stresses all NHS staff are going through at present. Thank you all for your sterling work. Hopefully the peace, quiet and Pembrokeshire air will aid recuperation.”

Debbie and Patrick Bowie-Moore, the owners of five-bedroom holiday home Mount Pleasant, in Solva, said: “The healthcare workers have offered their all, and it’s our privilege to give a family – who may have been kept apart – the opportunity to stay in Mount Pleasant as a massive thank you.”

Simon Baker, who owns Cefn y Mor, a four-bedroom property in Solva, said: “We are backing the Operation Recuperation project because we have family members on the frontline of the NHS, and know what risks they are taking, and what effort they are putting into saving lives. Our only effort is to stay at home and avoid infection. A small price to pay.”

Jim and Maureen Dale, whose three-bedroom holiday home, May Cottage, is situated on a grade II-listed farm, near St Davids, said: “Rarely do we get an opportunity to say thank you to the staff at the NHS – we tend to take the service so much for granted. Now the chips are down and there they all are, on the frontline looking after us all. Thank you all at the NHS.”

David and Judith James, who are offering a free stay at their converted watermill, Melin Llanrhian, near Porthgain, said: “We’re delighted to be able to support Operation Recuperation as a very small thank you to everyone in the NHS who has worked so hard in such challenging circumstances.”

Operation Recuperation is collecting donations – in room nights and cash – to give free stays to frontline healthcare staff, once the virus restrictions have been lifted.

Rachel Sherwood, who launched Operation Recuperation, said: “A huge thank you to St Brides Bay Cottages for proudly supporting Operation Recuperation and to the cottage owners who have donated stays in this stunning part of Wales, despite very challenging times.

“Sometime in the not-too-distant future, a number of our frontline healthcare staff will be enjoying long clifftop walks, fresh seafood, lazy days on the beach and cosy evenings in sea-view cottages.”

To find out more about St Brides Bay Cottages and Operation Recuperation, visit: https://www.stbridesbaycottages.com/, email enquiries@stbridesbaycottages.com or call 01437 720027.

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Council pays out £2.5m in business grants to date

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL has revealed that since Wednesday, 1st April, it has already paid out £2.5 million in grants to local businesses.

The Authority’s Cabinet Member for Economy, Paul Miller, said Council staff had been working hard to make the Covid-19 business grants payable as soon as possible

Explained Councillor Miller: “Payments started on Wednesday this week for those who qualify for grants linked to the National Non-Domestic Ratings (NNDR) system. We have already paid out around £2.5 million in grants to local businesses.

“Daily payment runs are being made in order that these can get into business bank accounts as soon as possible.

“We cannot unfortunately acknowledge receipt of applications but, once authorised, businesses will be emailed and the grant will be paid within two to three working days.”

Councillor Miller added: “If there are any issues with a grant application, or information is missing, a Council officer will be in touch to discuss the matter. A dedicated team has been set up to do this.”

For further business advice refer to the Council’s Business pages which can be accessed via the following link: https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/business-advice-and-support

This will enable access to the application form for the above grants, provide answers to frequently asked questions and links to further sources of advice through HMRC, Welsh Government, Department of Work and Pensions, Public Health Wales and other organisations.

For further enquiries not answered through the business pages, email: covid19@pembrokeshire.gov.uk and an officer will respond. Please view the business pages first.

For those who don’t qualify for the grants, Welsh Government will soon be making details available of how business can access other funding through an Economic Resilience Fund.

Details will be available on the Council’s business pages as soon as they are released by Welsh Government.

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Man issued with two COVID-19 fines in 24 hours as police thank those following new legislation

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A man has been issued with two fines in 24 hours for flouting Coronavirus legislation, as police thank those who are following the new rules.

Dyfed-Powys Police officers in Carmarthenshire stopped the 22-year-old from Llanelli twice for being out of the house without a reasonable excuse.

A report was made on April 1 that three men were breaching the COVID-19 legislation by gathering in Llanstephan. A woman who had attempted to film the men reported that they had stolen her phone and driven away.

Officers quickly linked the car to a suspect and traced it driving towards Carmarthen and then Llanelli, and a roads policing unit was directed to the area.

The car was stopped, and the two occupants – a 22-year-old from Llanelli, and a 18-year-old from Carmarthen – were arrested on suspicion of theft. They were also both issued with tickets for COVID-19 offences.

T/Chief Inspector Tom Sharville said: “We are taking the new legislation seriously, and would like to thank the majority of people who are staying home to keep others safe.

“The measures are difficult to adapt to, but it is important that we stay at home to save lives.

“However, there is a minority out there who are under the impression the legislation does not apply to them, and are flouting the law.

“This was the second fine one of these men was issued with in 24 hours, after he showed a clear disregard for all guidelines.”

The men were arrested on suspicion of theft of a mobile phone, and were released under investigation pending further enquiries.

For information about the COVID-19 legislation, and answers to many frequently asked questions, visit https://bit.ly/DPPCovid19

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