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Debt worries led to petrol station theft

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Bush Hill Station: Image by Mike Hillen

Bush Hill Station: Image by Mike Hillen

WHEN a member of staff at Bush Hill Service Station in Pembroke arrived to open the business at 6am on a Monday morning, he did not expect to find the door already unlocked, and the alarm system deactivated, a court heard this week (Nov 4). That, according to the prosecutor, led the management of the premises to discover that £3102.21 was missing from the safe, and to the arrest hours later of staff member Stuart Daniel Batley. Haverfordwest Magistrates’ Court heard how a quick review of petrol station’s sixteen camera CCTV system, which had been unplugged, revealed that Batley had turned up at 4.55am; just over an hour before opening time. It became evident that Batley had switched off the cameras but did not manage to erase the part of the video where he entered the premises. Prosecutor Ellie Morgan said: “There are nine members of staff working at the petrol station. Four have keys to the front door. The defendant is one of them. Owner Darren Briggs had explained to the police that he recognised that it was Batley on the CCTV. Police attended Batley’s home address at around 12pm on the same day, but he was not it. Fifteen minutes later he was seen by officers walking towards his house with his child in a pram.”

I’M NoT GUILTY “Batley admitted to officers there and then that he had stolen the money and thrown it into a hedge. He reportedly said to police: ‘I’m not a thief so I don’t know why I did it. To be honest I was not thinking anything, I really wasn’t thinking anything at all.’ Morgan continued: “ The police went to the location and recovered £1935.00 which was still in three money bags. The defendant was then arrested, strip searched and interviewed. Police were mindful that not all the cash had been recovered and asked for an explanation. During questioning Batley said that he had ‘just remembered’ that he had thrown a balaclava and gloves under a construction container in Clare Walk near his home. There police discovered another £650, but there was still a short fall of £517.21, so there will be a claim for compensation in that amount.”

DEBT WORRIES Duty solicitor Matthew Raggett told the bench that Batley was in a large amount of debt with council tax, phone bills and loans: “His total indebtedness was between £60,000 and £70,000. He was now getting demands from bailiffs and was unable to sleep worrying that they would take everything” he said. Mr Raggett added: “Normally Stuart Batley is a right-minded person. He is now at a loss as to his reasoning behind doing this. When he got a call from his wife, to say that the police were at the house, he asked his wife to wait upstairs. He was too ashamed to let his wife know what had happened. He is, your worships, of previously good character. Clearly this is a gross breach of trust. Loans which were taken out in his name by other family members have added to his debts.” After retiring for a lengthy period of deliberation, the bench decided not to send the case to Crown Court, but asked for probation reports to be prepared before passing sentence.

KNEE JERK REACTION Speaking after a brief adjournment, probation officer, Julie Norman said: “Batley’s father took out loans in his name, and this has only come to light in the last few years. It’s all got a bit too much for him – the theft was a knee jerk reaction. He now is expressing extreme remorse and is frightened that he will receive a custodial sentence. He has a wife and two children, and is now taking medication for his emotional wellbeing. I am going to recommend a supervision order today with a high level community order. Batley is also suffering from a medical condition – the discs are crumbling in his spine. Magistrates deliberated and said: “We are not going to send you to prison on this occasion. You have shown remorse. You are of previous clean character. In the circumstances, we do realise that you have problems that you have to deal with.” Batley was given a community order with 12 months supervision. He will have to undertake 80 hours of unpaid work. He was ordered to pay a victim charge of £60 and compensation of £517.21 to cover the missing money at £5 per week starting in a months’ time.

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Covid-19 vaccination venues and timeline announced for everyone locally over 50

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EVERY person in JCVI priority groups 5 to 9 will be offered a COVID-19 vaccination by 18 April, Hywel Dda University Health Board has confirmed.

While the health board’s vaccination programme has the capacity to offer a vaccine to everyone in groups 5 to 9 by the original target date of 4 April, the delivery plan has had to be adjusted based on confirmed vaccine deliveries.

Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, and Pembrokeshire residents in priority groups 5 to 9 can expect to receive their vaccine as follows:

  • Group 5, people aged 65 – 69 years – delivered by GP practices between 15 February and 12 March
  • Group 6, people aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions and unpaid carers – delivered by GP practices between 22 February and 4 April
  • Group 7, people aged 60 – 64 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 8 March
  • Group 8, people aged 55 – 59 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 22 March
  • Group 9, people aged 50 – 54 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 5 April

The health board currently has mass vaccination centres located in Aberystwyth, Cardigan, Haverfordwest, Tenby, Carmarthen and Llanelli.

Group 6 is significantly the largest cohort to be vaccinated to date and we understand that many in this group will be anxious to receive a vaccine. Please do not contact your GP or the health board to ask about your appointment, you will be contacted directly when it is your turn and we thank you for your patience.

People in groups 7, 8 and 9 will receive a letter with an appointment date and time. Please arrive as close to your appointment time as possible. The letter will include a phone number to contact the health board should you need to rearrange or cancel your appointment but please make every effort to keep your allocated appointment time.

Steve Moore, Chief Executive of Hywel Dda UHB, said: “While  our programme has had to slow  due to supplies, we want to reassure everyone in groups 5 to 9 that our amazing teams of vaccinators and GP practices have the capability and flexibility to deliver our vaccine supplies as they arrive into the region.

“Vaccine supplies will start to increase again from mid-March, and we are confident that everyone living in our three counties in the top 9 priority groups will be offered a vaccine by mid-April.

“In Hywel Dda we have an older population compared to some other health boards and so over 50% of our adult population will have been offered a vaccine by milestone 2.

“To be able to say that as we approach the anniversary of the first national lockdown is nothing short of extraordinary.

“And again, I must say thank you to everyone living in our three counties who continue to come forward in substantial numbers for the vaccine. Uptake remains remarkably high and we hope to see this continue through groups 5 to 9 and into group 10.”

People are asked, wherever possible, to use their own private transport to attend an appointment. Lifts can be accepted from someone in their household or support bubble, but not from anyone else due to the risk of transmission of the virus.

The health board has put in place transport support for anyone who may have difficulty attending their vaccination appointment. If you have no other means of travel, please contact the health board on 0300 303 8322 and we will be happy to assist.

Everyone in priority groups 1 to 4 should have received an offer of a vaccination. If you have not been contacted, or have changed your mind, please contact your GP at the earliest opportunity. No one will be left behind.

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Nolton Haven: Man hospitalised after getting into difficulties in sea

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A MAN was taken to hospital after getting into difficulties in the sea off Nolton Haven on Friday.

Emergency services were alerted at 2.40pm on February 26 by a 999 call to the control centre.

The Little Haven RNLI lifeboat, Broad Haven Coastguard, an ambulance crew and a Coastguard rescue helicopter assisted police in the operation.

The male casualty was stabilised on the beach and shortly before 4.30pm, was then transported to Withybush Hospital.

A police spokesman told The Herald: “We were called to a male who had got into difficulties in the water at Nolton Haven shortly before 3pm.

“He was taken to hospital by ambulance.”

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Cyclist killed on A40 was serving police officer, force confirms

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A CYCLIST who died after a crash with a van on the A40 in Carmarthenshire was a serving police officer with Dyfed-Powys Police, the force has confirmed in a statement to Herald.Wales.

The driver of the van involved in the crash, which happened on Thursday (Feb 25) has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving, it was confirmed on Friday (Feb 26).

Police are investigating the fatal collision, which caused the road to be closed for 12 hours, and are asking for any witnesses to come forward by calling 101.

37-year-old Lynwen Thomas, who is a former student at Ysgol Bro Myrddin, Croes-y-Ceiliog, Carmarthen, was a sergeant and a very well-respected member of Dyfed-Powys Police.

A spokesperson for the police said in a statement: “Our thoughts are with her family, friends and colleagues, who have all been offered specialist support. We ask that family members are given the privacy they need at this difficult time.”

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