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Farmer’s suspended jail sentence for horse cruelty



PalominoHorseA PEMBROKESHIRE farmer has narrowly avoided a custodial sentence after admitting cruelty to animals.
Gwilym Gilmour Thomas, 42, of Lodor Fach, Maenclochog, sat with his head bowed, as the three charges of causing unnecessary suffering under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 were read out.
Thomas pleaded guilty at the first opportunity to failing to adequately care for a Palomino Stallion, a Strawberry Roan mare and a Strawberry Roan horse.
There were emotional scenes in the court room as the defendant, from the dock, and his wife, from the public gallery, sobbed uncontrollably throughout the proceedings. His wife was comforted by a member of court staff.
Prosecutor Jon Tarrant told Haverfordwest Magistrates that this was the worst case of neglect of horses that the informing RSPCA officer, Mr. Abbott, had ever come across in all his years of experience.
Jon Tarrant told the court: “On April 11 the RSPCA visited a parcel of land in the vicinity of Rosebush, south of the Preseli’s. An officer photographed and videoed three horses, and a pony.”
“One animal had already died, while another was close to death, and the other two were severely malnourished; being 50-60% underweight” he added.
John Tarrant continued: “The first field the officer entered was extremely bare, and there appeared to be an area where a bail of hay had been put out previously. In that field the officer saw one horse which was struggling to lift its head and looking disorientated”
“He also found an empty bath tub which had barbed wire in the bottom of it, which had previously been used for water for the animals” he said.
John Tarrant continued: “On attempts to recover the surviving animals, one of those horses tried to evade capture – but it had to stop every so often as a result of its poor condition.”
“The fourth horse, found in another field, was estimated to have died 24 to 48 hours previously.
In a recorded interview with RSPCA officers, Thomas simply said: “I’ve failed them, I can’t forgive myself – I never realised they were struggling, I failed them.”
Defence solicitor Richard Griffiths asked “whose responsibility is it in the main to look after the horses?”
Mr Thomas’ father owns the field and the horses but generally asks his son to feed the animals.
In interview, Thomas senior said: “If I had any idea they were going down, I would have done something”.
Defending, Richard Griffiths, told the court: “My client has admitted his guilt. In interviews he was extremely sorry for what had happened to the horses.
“However, whilst admitting responsibility, you will notice from the bundle that there were two people interviewed under caution,” he said.
Mr Griffiths continued: “The defendant’s father also admitted he was at fault, but because of his age and ill health, it was decided not to be in the public interest to prosecute him.”
Mr Griffiths read out extracts of the interview between the RSPCA and the defendant’s father, Thomas senior. Mr Griffiths told the court: “It seems that the defendant’s duty was to bring food to the horses on an ‘as and when’ basis, on the instructions of his father.”
“His father suffered from chest pains and was unable to walk the length of the paddocks,” he added.
“A lady, who also had horses in the paddock, had been helping as well with the care of the animals,” he said.
“Once the lady had taken her horses away Thomas senior had forgotten to inform anyone including the defendant. This is the reason why the animals became malnourished,” Mr Griffiths explained.
“Despite viewing the animals daily, Thomas senior could only do so from a distance because he was unable to walk far. It seems that the majority of the responsibility rests with someone who is not before the court, and the defendant only played a minor role,” he said.
Mr Griffiths went on to say: “In fact, the defendant is in charge of a thousand livestock and has an excellent record.
“Last winter, one of the worst on record, he did not lose a single animal. This is testament to his attention and care of the animals he is fully responsible for.
‘’My client lives in a static caravan with his wife on the farm,” he said.
“He shares the facilities of the main house, but only receives £25 per week allowance from the business, despite working up to 17-hour days,” he told the court.
The clerk of the court told the magistrates: “This is an offence where you have to impose a custodial sentence. You have to follow your guidelines, you have no option
“However, it is within your powers to suspend the sentence,” he added.
Thomas was given a one year suspended jail sentence, ordered to undertake 300 hours of unpaid work and was disqualified from keeping horses for five years. He was ordered to pay prosecution costs of £1102.60.
Speaking after the hearing Richard Abbot said “The decision to prosecute Gwilym Thomas was one which was made by a case management officer at RSPCA headquarters.”
“It is my view that he should not have been prosecuted without his father being before the court as well.”
“Animals have suffered over a long period of time. Usually in cases like this people deserve to go to prison.
I was however, worried in court that William Thomas would get a prison sentence as this is not what he deserves.”
Speaking to The Herald, John Tarrant said: “The RSPCA is stuck between a rock and a hard place. They would be criticised for prosecuting and they would have been criticised for not prosecuting this case.”

CAPTION: One of the surviving horses, two died. Some of the photos are too shocking to publish.

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Vulnerable man targeted by rogue trader



A ROGUE trader has been ordered to pay almost £2,000 by a court after carrying out shocking DIY work for a vulnerable Jameston man.

Pembrokeshire Trading Standards prosecuted 20-year-old Douggie James Whitbread who traded as Wales and West Property Solution.

Haverfordwest Magistrates were told on Friday (Oct 23) that a joint investigation with Dyfed-Powys Police discovered that Whitbread of 8 Coldwell Terrace, Pembroke, first approached the 66-year-old victim in the summer of 2019.

After agreeing to cut the man’s grass, Whitbread made regular accompanied visits looking for other jobs and pressurising the pensioner to have them done.

The victim did not know him as Douggie Whitbread as the defendant gave a false name.

Whitbread offered to fit new floor lino in the toilet and small adjoining passageway of the victim’s home, saying he would do a good job. Instead, the court heard, he and a fellow worker spent less than an hour and charged £300.

The standard of the work was shocking and showed Whitbread’s inept ability. Jagged edges and numerous gaps were left where it had not been fitted correctly, exposing the existing floor underneath.

Despite there being enough lino on the two metre by two metre roll, Whitbread told the victim he needed more to finish the job.

A few weeks later the victim was approached by Whitbread at a bus stop near his home. He said he would return the next day to finish the work and that he wanted another £300.

The victim informed a neighbour and Pembrokeshire County Council’s Trading Standards team and when Whitbread returned he was arrested by police.

Whitbread was also questioned about another incident involving hedge-cutting for an elderly lady and admitted taking away the waste as advertised on his business flyer. However, he did not hold a Waste Carrier Licence at the time.

Whitbread admitted four offences under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. These were: carrying out work not fit for purpose; trading without professional diligence; omitting to give required information for doorstep contracts and advertising and conducting waste removal services when not licensed.

A £200 fine was imposed for each offence together with £1,000 costs plus a £110 victim surcharge. A compensation order for £300 was also awarded to the victim and a restraining order imposed prohibiting Whitbread from approaching the pensioner indefinitely.

“I am appalled by the standard of work and how this vulnerable gentleman has been hounded and taken advantage of” said Sandra McSparron, Lead Trading Standards Officer. She added that the incidents had left the victim anxious and unwell.

The County Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Protection, Cris Tomos, said: “This court case sends a clear warning to rogue traders that targeting the elderly and vulnerable for financial gain will not be tolerated. We will pursue and prosecute all those who commit such despicable crimes.”

Councillor Tomos also said the case showed the great community spirit of Jameston residents looking out for one another and was a fine example of successful partnership work between the police and Trading Standards.

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Drug driver arrested in Milford Haven after driving through stop sign and into roadworks



A DRUG driver who drove through a stretch of roadworks on the wrong side of the road, before hitting a parked car and trying to hide from police has appeared in court.

Christopher John Brown led Dyfed-Powys Police officers on a pursuit through Milford Haven on Friday afternoon (October 23), putting pedestrians and other road users at risk.

Pembrokeshire Roads Policing Unit have thanked people for their help in tracing the 31-year-old, of Meyler Crescent, after the manner of his driving became so dangerous they could no longer follow him.

A Roads Policing Officer had attempted to stop Brown at around 1pm when he was seen driving out of The Mount estate at speed.

However, he failed to stop when requested and sped away in his BMW.

As police followed, Brown drove on the wrong side of the road, overtook a number of cars waiting at roadworks, and drove through a stop sign, forcing an off duty officer to take evasive action as the defendant drove towards him.

Police deemed the danger level too high to continue the pursuit when Brown drove through a coned area of roadworks where there were a number of people working.

At this point, members of the public pointed out to officers which direction he had driven in.

Brown went on to collide with a parked car, before getting out of his vehicle and attempting to hide behind another. He was found by a PC, who arrested him on suspicion of dangerous driving and administered a drug wipe.

A Pembrokeshire RPU spokesman said: “This was a highly dangerous incident, during which Brown put a number of people’s lives at risk.

“Driving through a stop sign and into a coned area of roadworks was simply beyond comprehension, and could have had a tragic outcome.

“As we decided to end the pursuit, we were assisted by a number of people, and the team would like to thank members of the public in Milford Haven for their help in tracing Brown.

“Your support is greatly appreciated.”

Brown was charged with dangerous driving, driving with no insurance, driving while disqualified, failing to stop when requested by police, and possession of cannabis.

His vehicle, which had no insurance, tax or mot, was also seized.

He was remanded to appear in front of the next available court, and admitted all five offences at Swansea Magistrates’ Court on Saturday, October 24. He also pleaded guilty to an additional charge of driving whilst unfit through drugs, which was laid on at court.

He will be sentenced at Swansea Crown Court on November 16.

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Five arrested in connection with large cannabis grow in Whitland



FIVE people have been arrested in connection with the discovery of a large amount of cannabis in Carmarthenshire.

Dyfed-Powys Police carried out a warrant under the Misuse of Drugs Act at an address in Whitland, on the morning of Friday, October 23.

Officers found a significant number of mature cannabis plants, with a sophisticated hydroponics set-up, numerous bags of cannabis bud, and cannabis resin.

Police seized electronic devices, several thousands of pounds in cash and silver bars, as well as vehicles under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Five people – a 58-year-old woman and four men aged 28, 30, 60 and 61 – were arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the production of cannabis, and possession with intent to supply.

They have been bailed with conditions pending further enquiries.

Detective Inspector Rhys Jones said: “This is an example of excellent collaborative work between a number of different departments in the force, which has taken a significant amount of drugs off the streets.

“As our investigation into this cannabis cultivation continues, we ask anyone with information that could help enquiries to please get in touch.

“We urge anyone with information about suspicious or unusual activity in rural areas report it to us, or contact Crimestoppers anonymously.”

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