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Happy to avoid jail – Pembroke Castle Novichock hoaxer sentenced

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A MAN who deliberately and maliciously planted bottles claiming to contain nerve agent Novichok at a tourist attraction has been sentenced after a two year investigation.

John ap Evans, of Northgate Street in Pembroke has today been sentenced for five charges under section 114 of the Anti-Terrorism Crime and Security Act.

The 67-year-old was charged after placing bottles containing what he claimed to be Novichok at Pembroke Castle on a number of occasions in 2018.

Dyfed-Powys Police Detective Inspector Phil Kite said: “Dyfed-Powys Police welcomes today’s sentencing of John ap Evans. At a time of heightened concern across the country, following the Novichok poisonings in Salisbury, Evans deliberately and maliciously planted objects to play on people’s fears in an act of terror.

“To this day he has offered no mitigation or explanation for doing what he did.”

The investigation began on July 13, 2018, when a visitor to Pembroke Castle found a plastic bottle containing an unknown liquid in a cavern. On the bottle was written “Instant Death – Novichok – A 232. Do not Touch”. The castle was immediately evacuated, and emergency services were called.

Owing to the physical appearance of the bottle, officers’ working assumption was that the item was homemade and potentially a hoax. However, all possible enquiries were carried out to ensure there was no risk to the public, with a CBRN response initiated and police, fire, HART and explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) attending to assess the bottle.

While the investigation was ongoing, police received further reports of a similar nature. On July 20, 2018, two bottles were thrown into the castle grounds – one bearing the word Novichok in hand writing, and the other saying “deadly virus”. Three days later, a clear plastic bottle containing red fluid was found in a castle cavern.

Emergency services at Pembroke Castle (Pic: Herald)

DI Kite said: “These incidents, while swiftly established to be a hoax, caused immense disruption to Pembroke Castle, and a waste of emergency services resources.

“Along with police, colleagues from the ambulance service, including their Hazardous Area Response Team, and the fire service were called to each incident, and we required specialist forensic examination of the liquid.

“Evans’s actions caused fear and uncertainty in the area, risked diverting emergency services away from those in genuine need, and had a substantial financial impact on the public purse.

”On receiving reports of subsequent incidents, our priority was to establish whether these crimes were linked to the initial offender or were copycat offences, and to bring this action to a swift end.”

Following lengthy CCTV enquiries, John ap Evans was identified as a suspect, having been seen walking in the relevant area at the time of the offences. He was arrested on August 8, and was later charged with five offences under the Anti-Terrorism Crime and Security Act.

He was sentenced at Swansea Crown Court on Monday, February 1 to 21 months in prison, suspended for two years. He must pay compensation of £2,400 to Pembroke Castle, must complete 200 hours of community service, and take part in a 15 hour rehabilitation programme.

Following sentencing, DI Kite said: “It has taken more than two-years of protracted investigations to secure his conviction for the people of Pembroke and West Wales.

“We hope today’s sentence will reassure the public that Dyfed-Powys Police will do all we can to bring those intent on causing fear to their community to justice.”

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Permit applications open for Tenby pedestrianisation scheme

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL is now accepting applications for vehicle access during this year’s Pedestrianisation of Tenby.

The scheme, which is due to start on Monday, July 5 and conclude on Friday, September 10, will again see the walled town divided into three ‘zones’, each having varying degrees of vehicle access.

Whilst all necessary plans are being put in place for it to start and finish on the above dates, the scheme will remain under constant review in light of Government guidance relating to Covid-19, and the Council will provide any updates as necessary.

Possession of an ‘access permit’ does not provide any exemption from Government restrictions, and any regulations relating to travel and the occupation of holiday accommodation or second homes must be observed at all times.

Following the success of last year, the permit application process will continue online, with paper application forms and guidance notes no longer being delivered to residents and businesses.

The application form and guidance notes are available from pembrokeshire.gov.uk/tenby-pedestrianisation

Residents and business within Tenby are encouraged to complete the application process as soon as possible, to ensure that there is sufficient time for the application to be processed.

Permits will be issued approximately 7-10 days prior to the start of the scheme.

For enquiries, e-mail tenby.pedestrian@pembrokeshire.gov.uk

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Join the Dyfed-Powys Police and Crime Panel as an independent member

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THE Dyfed Powys Police and Crime Panel is looking for two members to join them in their work to support and challenge the Dyfed Powys Police and Crime Commissioner.

The Panel is made of up of members nominated by Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Powys county councils along with at least two independent members.

Opportunities have now arisen for two independent members to join the Panel and carry out key statutory roles that will support the Commissioner exercise his role effectively.

Members will be expected to attend and take part in regular meetings and take part in decision making, creating reports and making recommendations to the Commissioner.

They will review the Commissioner’s annual draft Police and Crime Plan and annual draft budget, review and scrutinise his decisions and actions, and if necessary review the proposed appointment or removal of the Chief Constable and other senior police force appointments.

Applicants will need to demonstrate that they can take a balanced and objective approach in supporting the Panel and the Commissioner, make strategic and well-informed decisions, and interpret and question financial, statistical and performance related information.

They will also need to be able to act as a ‘critical friend’, challenging views or proposals for change constructively.

Applications close on May 31, and appointments to the Panel will be made until October 31, 2024. 

For further information, visit www.dppoliceandcrimepanel.wales

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Successful Fire Service and Health Board partnership to enhance COVID-19 vaccine roll out comes to end

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TUESDAY 11 May 2021 marked the end of a hugely successful partnership between Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service and Hywel Dda University Health Board, initiated to enhance the roll out of the COVID-19 vaccine to the communities of Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire.

Since February, Community Safety Staff from Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service have transported 125 passengers over 9450 miles to ensure they were able to receive their COVID-19 vaccination.

Chris Davies, Chief Fire Officer for Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service said: “Recognising the configuration of our Service, the areas we cover and indeed the people we employee, this seemed an ideal opportunity for us to widen our response to the pandemic and support our partners in safeguarding our communities.

“Whilst we already collaborate with the Welsh Ambulance Service Trust, this opportunity enabled us to expand our assistance further within the health arena. This partnership with Hywel Dda University Health Board was the first of its kind for Fire and Rescue Services in Wales and paved the way for a number of similar partnerships for us and the other Fire and Rescue Services in Wales.

“I am extremely proud of our staff who have participated in this collaboration and have made a huge difference to the lives of so many people. Their contribution has without doubt had a positive impact on our response to this global pandemic”.

Mydrian Harries, Corporate Head of Prevention and Protection for Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, coordinated the Service’s response to this call for assistance.

“Our communities are at the heart of our core business. Knowing we were in a position to make an impact, we put in place a robust solution in record time, to not only ensure the safety and wellbeing of our staff, but to also safeguard those who were eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination, but may have had barriers preventing them from attending their appointments.

“Using this partnership as template within which we could expand, we have since been able to offer our assistance to other Health Boards across the Service area. Indeed, a group of 10 vaccine heroes from our Service have joined Powys Teaching Health Board’s vaccination team, playing their part in distributing vaccines at mass vaccination sites in Newtown and Builth Wells. This is another fantastic example of how working together has been vital in our ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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