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Pair guilty of ‘sordid’ insurance scam

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BMW_X5_II_20090913_rearA WOMAN from south Pembrokeshire and a man from Carmarthenshire admitted an attempt to defraud the Tesco Car Insurance Company at Haverfordwest Magistrates Court on Tuesday.
Helen Jane Arthur, 43, of Ridgeway, Saundersfoot, and Paul Biella, 26, of College Square, Llanelli, stood in the dock together as they both entered guilty pleas to fraud by false representation, contrary to the Fraud Act 1996.
CPS Prosecutor Gerald Neave told the court that the co-defendants had “met by chance” at the Cross Roads service station in Kilgetty.
Gerald Neave explained: “Arthur had pulled into the garage in her BMW X5. As she was buying petrol, co-defendant Biella noticed the for sale sign in the car window. He offered Arthur £4,000 for the car, but she felt this was not enough and they could not agree a price.”
He added: “Several weeks later when times were hard, a friend suggested to Arthur that she should accept the offer and she searched through her mobile phone to find his number and then eventually got into contact with him.”
Mr. Neave continued: “However, on contacting the co-defendant rather than offering the £4,000 he said that if Arthur paid him £500 he would arrange for the car to be ‘stolen’ and she could claim for the loss of the car against her Tesco car insurance policy.”
“They agreed on this plan of action, and Biella affixed new number plates to the car and collected it from Saundersfoot” Mr. Neave told the court: “At 4.15pm on June 28, Arthur called the police and reported her vehicle stolen. PC Jones attended and took a report. Although Arthur claimed to be in possession of the spare keys, she could not produce them to the police. Police number plate recognition cameras revealed no trace of the car,” he said.
Mr Neave added: “However police were alerted to another vehicle with a different registration mark leaving Pembrokeshire and heading towards Llanelli. When they checked the details they found that the co-defendant Biella was an insured driver. A search of this Llanelli home revealed documents including a service manual for Arthur’s car. He was then arrested and eventually admitted the offences in interview.”
Arthur also admitted to police that she was part of the scam.
Defending, Michael Kelleher said: “Arthur is a lady of clean character hitherto, she has entered a timely guilty plea. She has never been involved with any dishonesty before, and wonders how she got involved in this sordid scam. She has had several family problems. She had bought the BMW X5 and a horse with inheritance money; she wanted a strong car for a horse box.”
Mr. Kelleher said things went wrong when she had various difficulties with her children, which The Herald cannot report as the court has placed us under reporting restrictions.
“The result of these problems was that she needed to sell this vehicle,” Mr Kelleher said.
He added: “It is still Arthur’s position that she was not the prime mover, however we have to accept that this could not have happened had she not agreed to report the vehicle stolen. So they are both in this together.”
Mr Kelleher told the court that he had three character references for Arthur which showed her to be a hard-working parent holding down a part time job at a supermarket.
“The vehicle was returned and Tesco did not pay out. The only person who lost out here was Arthur for paying half of the £500 which her co-defendant had asked for,” he said.
Before retiring for lunch the chairman of the bench said that he was considering all sentencing options from a community sentence to custody.
Following the adjournment, Probation Service Officer, Mrs Norman explained to the court that Biella wasn’t sure what he was going to do with the car, and hadn’t thought that far ahead.
Mrs Norman told the court: “Biella has been suffering from anxiety and depression but is actively looking for work in order to get his life back on track.”
When asked by the probation officer where he would have got the money from when he originally offered £4,000, he said he would have got the money from his parents.
The court was told by probation that it was money issues had prompted this behaviour from Biella.
On sentencing Biella, magistrates said: ”We seriously considered your situation because you’ve got a criminal record already. It was almost a split decision whether or not we should send you to prison.”
For his part in the plot he was given an 18 month community order and ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work. He was also fined £145.
On sentencing Arthur, magistrates said: “We have decided to sentence you to a community order. We have reduced your sentence from 16 to 12 months, because of your guilty plea.”
Arthur was also ordered to do 100 hours of unpaid work and fined £145.
The chairman of the bench said to the pair: “If we see you in court again you are likely to go to prison”.

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Vulnerable man targeted by rogue trader

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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

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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

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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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