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Safety fears prompt call for ‘gull cull’

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SEAGULLS displaying aggressive behaviour in Tenby have prompted calls for a “gull cull” – amid fears for public safety.
Councillors in Tenby say herring gulls in the town are attacking builders on rooftops and families on beaches.
The town’s Mayor Sue Lane requested that the local authority be approached to see if there was a way of controlling the belligerent birds.
“It’s a dangerous issue health wise and it’s getting out of control,” she said. “So I feel the time has come to get in touch with the county council, to see what control methods can be brought in.
“They were once just sea birds, but now they’re fast becoming land birds and need controlling.”
Businesspeople in the town say incidents of food snatching have become more common as the birds become over-familiar with humans.
Mario Fecci, of Fecci’s Ice Cream Parlour, said the gulls had become skilful opportunist who were now an increasing nuisance.
“We’ve had customers who have bought cream cakes or ice cream and had them snatched right out of their hands.
“There is most definitely a problem with gulls here in Tenby, where it seems they are nesting.
“It’s not just a problem for holidaymakers. Living in the town ourselves, we are quite often woken up around 4am with very loud squawking.
“They have become quite aggressive. You see them walking up to people on the parade and not thinking anything of snatching chips out of their hands.
“They are not scared of people any more. But we all have a responsibility not to feed them. The seagulls are opportunists who are finding it much easier to survive off fish and chips on land instead of finding food at sea, where they should be.”
Builder Andrew Thomas said there had been incidents of dive-bombing.
“If you’re near their territory, and there are chicks in the nest, they can get quite aggressive.
“One of our boys just got out of the van to use the cashpoint, and a gull swooped down at him. He raised his arms and it flew off but you can see how people with young kids would be scared.”
Andrew Davies, Tenby Town Council’s clerk, said the town’s Civic Society had written to Pembrokeshire Council to request seagull-proof bin bags.
“These are bags to put domestic rubbish in that can’t get torn open by gulls. Apparently there have been pilots in the West Country.
“Although the town council and county council encourage residents to cover their rubbish, not everybody does and the gulls are very intelligent birds. They are getting to realise that they can get underneath the covers.”
The RSPB’s Grahame Madge “Gulls are very intelligent and live on their wits.
“They will capitalise on any way they can find food and will try to seize ice creams and fish and chips from people at places like Barry Island, or in cities like Cardiff.”
A spokesman for Pembrokeshire Council said any work to reduce seagull numbers was too late this year.
“We have advised Tenby Town Council that it is now too late in the year to commence a programme of gull control, if that is what they wish to do.
“Any such action would need to commence in January or February.We have also pointed out that any such control work is expensive and no appropriate budget currently exists within the County Council.”

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Alcohol sale restrictions come into force

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ALL LICENSED premises in Pembrokeshire must now stop selling alcohol at 10pm.

The move is part of further Welsh Government restrictions introduced yesterday (Thursday) to prevent the spread of coronavirus across Wales.

The main points of the legislation are:
• All licensed premises must stop serving alcohol at 10pm.
• Pubs, bars and restaurants must close to the public at 10.20pm and not re-open until 6am.
• All businesses with a licence to serve alcohol must now serve customers sitting at a table. Customers must order, consume and pay for food and drink at that table.
• Supermarkets, off-licences and convenience stores must stop selling alcohol in-store from 10pm but can remain open beyond 10.20pm.

Further information relating to the new restrictions and hospitality and retail businesses is available at: https://gov.wales/hospitality-and-retail-businesses-frequently-asked-questions

The rules on the wearing of face coverings in hospitality premises has also changed.

Customers entering and leaving restaurants, pubs, bars and cafes and walking around the premises are now required to wear a face covering.

Customers are permitted to remove face coverings when seated at a table to eat and drink.

Staff working at restaurants, pubs, bars and cafes must now wear a face covering.

Face coverings are mandatory for everyone aged 11 and over in all indoor public spaces, unless you have a reasonable excuse not to wear one.

Members of the public are also encouraged to download and use the NHS Covid-19 app.

The app was launched yesterday and is available for both Android and Apple IOS operating systems.

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Former RAF sergeant jailed for historical sexual offences against junior officer

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A FORMER RAF sergeant has been jailed for sexual offences more than 40 years after abusing a junior officer.

Kenneth John Preston, formerly of Crundale in Haverfordwest, was found guilty of indecently assaulting a young recruit at a former RAF base in Pembrokeshire, following a three year investigation by Dyfed-Powys Police.

Despite more than 40 years having passed since the offences took place, detectives successfully overcame challenges in the investigation to secure charges against the now 77-year-old.

He was found guilty of five charges following a trial at Swansea Crown Court.

Officer in case Detective Constable Ben Staniforth said: “This case was brought to our attention by another police force after the victim reported non-recent sexual offences which took place in Pembrokeshire.

“He had reported being assaulted on numerous occasions while stationed at an RAF base in the 1970s by Kenneth Preston, who was an officer senior to him.

“He had carried the weight of these incidents for 40 years, and had found the strength and confidence to come forward and report what had happened to him.”

Officers learned that Preston had targeted the victim while he was a teenager, taking him to secluded areas to sexually abuse him, and threatening to ‘make his life hell’ if he reported the assaults.

Both the suspect and the victim were discharged from the military, but no allegations were made to police until 2017.

CID officers immediately commenced enquiries, but with no CCTV, no forensic opportunities, and military documents no longer available, the scope for investigation was narrow.

DC Staniforth explained: “There are many reasons victims do not come forward until many years have passed. In this case, going against the military rank system and accusing a senior officer.

“Allegations of non-recent offences require a different approach to recent incidents as the passing of time means many routes of enquiry are unavailable.

“Before our investigation could fully get underway, we had to establish if the suspect was alive, as we were aware he would be in his late 70s. While we can investigate complaints against people who are deceased, no charges can be made against them.

“We discovered that Preston was indeed alive and living in the Cornwall area, and arrangements were made to interview him.”

He provided a prepared statement admitting to sexual activity with the victim, but stating it was with consent. This prepared statement – along with consistent disclosures made by the victim to family, friends and a GP in the years before reporting to police – was a key factor in the defendant being charged.

Preston was summonsed to appear at court charged with five counts of indecent assault in May 2019, however delays meant the trial did not take place until September 2020, when he was found guilty of all charges.

He was sentenced on September 18 at Swansea Crown Court, where he was handed an 18-month prison sentence, must continue to register as a sex offender – he is registered after admitting to offences in a separate case – and will be subject to a sexual harm prevention order.

DC Staniforth said: “I hope this conviction gives confidence to other victims of sexual abuse that they can still come forward and report offences many years after they have taken place, and encourages them to take the first step.

“There are people who have struggled to cope with this kind of abuse for many years, but times have changed and there are a number of support networks out there for people who feel it is time to speak – whether they report the matter to police or not.

“I would like to commend the victim for his bravery in speaking out against a senior who abused his position and caused him to lose his military career, and for his patience and cooperation during the investigation.”

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‘Predatory paedophile’ sentenced to life imprisonment

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A 58-YEAR-OLD man described as a “predatory paedophile” who abused children over a period of three decades has been sentenced to life imprisonment.

Anthony Lewis appeared at Norwich Crown Court on Thursday (Sept 24) where he pleaded guilty to non-recent offences of rape, sexual assault and indecent assaults.

Lewis admitted nine counts of rape, 10 indecent assaults and one count of sexual assault committed against girls aged from four and 17 between 1987 and 2007. The charges involve multiple offences against each victim and were committed in Norfolk, Surrey, Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire and London.

However the police force dealing with the case have asked local newspapers to publicise the case in every area, in case there are other victims which need to come forward.

Lewis, who also goes by the names Chaz, Chas, Charlie and Tony, worked as an entertainer and would target his victims by setting up talent show companies, preying on young children under the guise of getting them gigs and making them famous. The court heard he would befriend the parents of vulnerable children and make links with the likes of church and charity groups, where he knew children would be present.

The investigation began in September 2017 when one of his victims went to the police to report the historic abuse and Lewis was arrested in connection with the allegations the following month. Devices seized at his home address, following his arrest, were found to contain indecent images of children and he was further arrested for these offences. Lewis was later charged with four offences of making/possessing of indecent images which he pleaded guilty to and was convicted of in May 2018. In October that year, he was given a 17-week prison sentence, suspended for two years, a five-year Sexual Harm Prevention Order and placed on the Sex Offenders Register indefinitely.

The historic allegations continued to be investigated and Lewis was later charged with multiple offences in May this year.

Lewis, of Yeomans Court, Meeting Lane, Burton Latimer, Northamptonshire, was sentenced to life imprisonment and ordered to serve a minimum of 11 years before being considered for release.

Investigating officer, Detective Constable Verity Holmes, from the Norfolk and Suffolk Major Investigation Team, said: “I welcome the significant sentence passed at court today but it’s important not to lose sight that even though Lewis will now spend a considerable time in prison, his victims will have to live with the impact of his abuse for the rest of their lives.

“Lewis was a predatory paedophile who would target children’s talent shows, music festivals, church and charity groups, where he knew children would be present and have opportunity to abuse them.

“Lewis’ offending spanned over three decades and we know his work in entertainment took him across the country.

“Every allegation of child abuse is fully investigated by Norfolk Police, with specialist officers guiding victims through the process. Support and advice is available from a range of agencies we work closely with towards the successful prosecution of offenders.”

Statements from all of Lewis’ victims were read out to the court, with each describing how the abuse has affected their lives and relationships. Many of them revealed their struggles in later life with alcohol and drug abuse as well as mental health issues.

After being abused, one victim described how her relationships with boys and men have never been the same since. She said: “I felt I couldn’t be around boys or men at all, including my own brother. I couldn’t trust him. The relationship with my brother has never been the same since.”

She also described the relief of finding out Lewis was being brought to justice. “I felt I could breathe again, I didn’t have to keep looking over my shoulder anymore…. he’ll go away for a long time and can’t hurt anyone else.”

Another victim said: “He took away my innocence, my childhood and my ability to form relationships with others.”

Describing the impact of his offending, another victim said: “The long-term impact on me has been horrendous… I struggle to be able to trust anybody. Life experiences I have should have enjoyed were all tainted by what Lewis did to me.”

In another statement read out to court, his victim said: “I don’t trust anybody, not even my own family. I’ve had nightmares for as long as I can remember. I would be chased by a shadowy figure. I would be running, screaming, but no one could hear. That room – it’s always in that room but now as an adult I feel stuck in there and can’t get out. I don’t know how to feel about him being convicted. I do know I want him to feel fear about going to prison, even for a second, so he feels the fear that I felt.”

Sentencing Lewis, His Honour Judge Andrew Shaw said: “You have admitted the most egregious and appalling campaign of sexual abuse over 20 years. Each one of your five victims was a child you owed a duty of care to…you abused your position of trust.

“The five victim personal statements were among the saddest and most upsetting I’ve ever heard. No underestimation you have ruined their lives. They have suffered the most severe psychological harm at your hands.”

Hendrika Tatam, a specialist RASSO prosecutor, said: “This case demonstrates that where there is sufficient evidence we will not shy away from prosecuting perpetrators of sexual abuse no matter how long ago the offences were committed and we worked closely with the police to ensure that he was brought to justice for his despicable conduct.

“We want every victim to have the confidence to report what happens to them to the police. The police will investigate and gather evidence, and where there is sufficient evidence, the CPS will proceed to prosecution.”

Anyone who may have been affected by anything raised in this case can contact police in their local area on 101.

The freephone NSPCC helpline 0808 800 5000 is available for anyone to report or seek advice about non-recent abuse. Calls can be made anonymously.

Norfolk Sexual Assault Referral Centre, The Harbour Centre, operates a 24-hour service for victims of sexual abuse and can be contacted on 0845 456 4810.

The Lucy Faithfull Foundation is the UK’s only children’s charity dedicated to preventing child sexual abuse and runs a Freephone confidential helpline 0808 1000 900.

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