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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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All people eligible for vaccination will get theirs by end of July

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PEOPLE eligible for the coronavirus vaccine will get theirs by the end of July, the Health Minister has said.

Wales achieved its target of getting everyone in the first four priority groups vaccinated by the middle of February and is now working on offering the vaccine to those in groups 5 to 9.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has set out that people with severe or profound learning disabilities or with a mental illness will be among priority group 6.

Mr Gething said that they were would make sure that no one is left behind.

The latest figures from Public Health Wales show that 878,506 people had received their first dose of the vaccine.

59,279 people have received both doses of the vaccine.

Vaughan Gething, Minister for Health and Social Services, said: “We have achieved our first milestone of offering everyone in the first four priority groups vaccination by mid-February.

“We are now making progress in achieving our next milestone, which is to offer the vaccine to all individuals in priority groups 5 to 9.

“The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has set out that people with a severe/profound learning disability and individuals with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, or any mental illness that causes severe functional impairment, should be invited for vaccination as part of priority group 6.

“There are challenges with identifying individuals within these groups, particularly given the JCVI language is not generally in use in Wales, and we are working hard to make sure that no one is left behind. Today we have published guidance on identifying eligible individuals in these groups and on how to support them to take up their vaccine offers.

“The JCVI has also said that some of our invaluable unpaid carers should be included in priority group 6.

“Today we have also published guidance on identifying those unpaid carers eligible for vaccine prioritisation and the process around this. I am grateful to the national carers’ organisations for their support with this work.”

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Council want your help to keep Pembrokeshire active

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL is asking residents to give their views on local walking and cycling routes.

The Council aims to make journeys on foot and by bicycle easier, safer and more enjoyable for everyone.

In order to design a network that works for all, the Council would like to get the views of as many people as possible, particularly those who don’t currently walk or cycle. This will help ensure the routes built for walking and cycling work for the whole community.

The consultation focuses on the main towns and villages in Pembrokeshire which have been selected by Welsh Government as the designated localities in the County. These are:

  • Fishguard & Goodwick
  • Haverfordwest
  • Johnston
  • Milford Haven
  • Neyland
  • Pembroke Dock
  • Pembroke
  • Tenby
  • Saundersfoot
  • Narberth

Pembrokeshire Council is currently undertaking an Active Travel Network Map consultation (ATNM) which will run in 3 stages

Consultation 1: Residents can take part in the consultation exercise online, hosted by Commonplace at https://Pembrokeshire.commonplace.is/

The interactive map allows participants to flag issues, problems and successes on a plan of the active travel settlement and add comments. Such points could be for example, a pavement that is too narrow or a newly built cycle route that is regarded as a success.

The first stage of the consultation will close on 31 st March 2021.

Consultation 2: Following this, the second step of the consultation will see the Council share the initial findings and ask people what they think of the plans
proposed as a result of the feedback received.

Consultation 3: The third stage of the consultation will give members of the public a final say on the Active Travel Network Maps before they are sent to Welsh Government for approval. These maps will have been produced taking into account public feedback and ideas from consultations 1 and 2.

By upgrading facilities and creating new walking and cycling routes, the Council plans to make Active Travel the popular choice for local journeys, to increase the attractiveness of local communities as places to live and work, improve health and well-being, and help tackle air pollution.

Cllr Phil Baker, Pembrokeshire Council’s Cabinet Member for Infrastructure, said: “This consultation exercise will produce an Active Travel Network Map which will be a plan of routes the Council will use to inform where improvements to walking and cycling should be made in Pembrokeshire.

“It will help to make journeys on foot or by bicycle easier and safer for everyone, particularly those who don’t currently walk or cycle often and people who use mobility aids and will build on the increased level of walking and cycling that we have seen over the last 12 months during the pandemic.”

See more information on Active Travel at: https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/fitness-and-well-being/active-travel

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MoD called after suspected ordnance found on Tenby beach

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THE MoD had to be called to Tenby last Friday, February 19, after a member of the public found a suspected piece of ordnance on the beach.

The person attended Tenby Police Station at 5:30pm on the previous day having found the item.

A spokesperson for Dyfed-Powys Police said: “The item was collected by the MoD the following morning.”

A spokesperson for the MoD added: “An Explosive Ordnance Disposal team from Ashchurch Troop was contacted by local police in Tenby just after 6pm on February 17.

“After analysis of the one piece of ordnance that had been handed in no further action was taken.

“All further enquiries about this matter should be forwarded to Dyfed Powys Police.”

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