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Haverfordwest: Computer shops’ drugs factory link

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Drugs link: Pembs PC in Haverfordwest

Drugs link: Pembs PC in Haverfordwest

A PEMBROKESHIRE businessman made courtroom drama after admitting to drugs offences at the last minute despite previously denying charges against him.

44-year-old Alistair Kevin Firth, who previously owned computer shops in Haverfordwest and Pembroke, and his co-accused, Daniel Cobbinah, were charged earlier this year with possession of drugs with intent to supply. The pair appeared at Swansea Crown Court on Wednesday (10th) to face a trial however they dramatically changed their pleas as the case was about to start.

At earlier hearings, former ‘Pembs PC’ owner Mr Firth of The Green, Tenby, and Mr Cobbinah both denied their guilt. They were charged in January and appeared for the first time in Haverfordwest Magistrates’ Court on February 18.

The charges were laid after the PC specialists were found to be manufacturing and selling a homemade drug called ‘Diet Coke’ which is a dangerous mixture of dental anaesthetic Benzocaine and a psycho-stimulant chemical called Ethylphenidate, known as ‘Eph’. Although illegal in Jersey since 2009, it has only recently become controlled in mainland UK, but selling it mixed with Benzocaine as a synthetic  ‘cocaine’ is classed as a controlled drug.

A HIGH STREET OPERATION

Firth and Cobbinah had also been selling and distributing the drug from the Pembs PC computer store in Market Street, Haverfordwest. According to a former employee the pair had been using a flyer distribution company operated from the premises, trading as ‘Pembrokeshire Flyer’, as a front to facilitate the enterprise. They had also hidden drugs inside computer cases.

The source close to the company told us: “I know that some of the staff were paid or partly paid, or given bonuses in drugs. This included staff working in the shop as well as distributors working for Pembrokeshire Flyer.”

A former employee told The Herald: “I was given the drug all the time. I snorted loads of it sometimes instead of wages. But I had to leave to get a job that paid real cash. You can’t buy food with drugs.”

Tragic: Anthony Gammer

Tragic: Anthony Gammer

In August 2013 The Herald reported that Dyfed-Powys Police confirmed a number of people had been arrested as part of an ongoing investigation into the circumstances leading up to the death of two young men in Milford Haven the previous month. One of those men, Anthony Gammer, 27, was employed by Firth at the time of his death. He had been taken on by the company as a flyer distributor shortly before he passed away, and died at home after taking a cocktail of drugs, with Firth’s Pembs PC van parked on his drive.

Pembrokeshire Coroner’s Court ruled earlier this year that Mr Gammer had died from “central nervous system compression” after consuming a lethal mixture of cannabis, dihydrocodeine, ketamine and diazepam.

At the time of Mr Gammer’s untimely passing, we reported that some of those who were arrested in connection with the death were being investigated for the suspected manufacturing and supplying of drugs. At the time the police told The Herald: “We can confirm we are investigating the circumstances into two deaths in Milford Haven on July 26, 2013 and July 30, 2013.”

The Herald is not linking the death of Anthony Gammer directly to the drug-manufacturing operation at Pembs PC – however, we are able to report that days before his death, Mr Gammer told a Herald reporter that he had been given drugs by Mr Firth whilst he was working for him. This information was also confirmed by another member of staff working for Mr Firth at the time.

PILL PRESS

Pill press: Drugs making equipment was found by police

Pill press: Drugs making equipment was found by police

The Herald learned on August 1 last year that police went to the location of an industrial pill making machine, which had been brought to a local engineering firm for repair. The Herald understands that police acted on information from a source close to Mr Firth’s operation, as the duo were making and selling ‘Diet Coke’ in both its white powdered form and as pills.

There is no indication or suggestion that the engineering firm knew the device’s true purpose at any stage. Speaking exclusively to this newspaper, the owner of the company, whose identity we are protecting, said: “We had been dropped the machine by a gentleman wanting it to be repaired; we had not started looking at it yet, as we had not received any payment. Next thing, the police turned up and seized it.”

CHIP SHOP CANNABIS FARM

In 2012 drug-pusher Firth was jailed for 20 months along with local Brian Davies, 67, after their cannabis factory was discovered above the Spinnaker chip shop in Upper Frog Street, Tenby. Another man, Mark Millard, then aged 36 and of Letterston, was given a suspended jail sentence for acting as ‘gardener’ for the illegal operation.

The three admitted their involvement in the production of 166 cannabis plants between December 1, 2010, and April 14, 2011. Mr Firth also admitted possessing 22 20gram bags of cannabis found at his home.

Judge Keith Thomas said he was satisfied that Firth had supplied some of the equipment used in the cannabis operation. At the time, the court heard that two rooms at the Spinnaker had been converted into a cannabis factory and the plants could have yielded six kilos of the drug. Sitting at Swansea Crown Court. the judge ruled that Firth had personally made £21,912 from the operation. He was released from prison at the start of 2013, but was manufacturing synthetic cocaine ‘Diet Coke’ within months of his release.

Staff bonuses: Employees received 'white powder' from Firth

Staff bonuses: Employees received ‘white powder’ from Firth

It is understood that Mr Firth now operates a second hand car dealership. Following his last minute plea to admitting possessing drugs with intent to supply, both he and Mr Cobbinah – who admitted the same –were bailed, and are due to reappear for sentencing on January 16.

The Pembrokeshire Herald has been informed by Swansea Crown Court that at the time the pair were charged the drugs found were as yet unclassified by the government. Therefore they were charged with possession with intent to supply a class A drug. However, the drug has now been classified by the authorities. Therefore, on Firth’s and Cobbinah’s criminal records the crime will now recorded as possession with intent to supply a controlled class B drug.

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Port boss: Pembroke Dock development full permission an ‘important step’

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THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE of the Port of Milford Haven has welcomed a decision of “non-intervention” by the Welsh Government over plans to re-vamp Pembroke Dock’s historic port facilities.

The redevelopment scheme, approved by Pembrokeshire County Council’s Planning Committee in May, will see some areas such as a dock covered with sand and “infilled”.

Plans also include the demolishing of some buildings, erection of buildings and ancillary works.
Despite planning being granted at council level, full authorisation to go ahead with the development was not to be issued until the Welsh Government made its decision regards the matter.

More about the planning application can be read here: https://www.herald.wales/west-wales/pembrokeshire/major-marine-project-causes-concern-about-visual-impact-and-heritage-loss/

Now that the Welsh Government has decided not to interfere with Pembrokeshire County Council’s grant of planning permission, the Port’s boss, Andy Jones, expressed his delight, saying: “This marks an important step forward in the development of Wales’ clean energy centre at Pembroke Dock.

“It will provide sustainable opportunities for the many people who rely on the activity along the Milford Haven Waterway for employment.

CEO: Port Authority’s Andy Jones (Pic MHPA)

“Pembroke Dock Marine will unlock new opportunities for young people to enter the maritime, renewable and engineering sectors, build resilience within Pembrokeshire’s business community, and make a positive contribution to our natural environment as we transition to a low carbon energy generation.”

Tim James, head of commercial and energy at the Port of Milford Haven called the project a “once in a generation opportunity to improve Pembrokeshire’s economy for years to come”.

Objectors had complained that the plans were too large and would damage the historic dockyard, as well as having a visual impact on the dock.

The was opposition from local heritage campaigners, with complaints over the size of two huge proposed hangars which the project’s critics said would impact adversely the landscape.

The economic benefits of the £60 million marine energy “far outweigh” any impact on the historic environment, a report earlier this year to council planners said.

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Medical evacuation from LPG tanker off St Ann’s Head

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ANGLE Lifeboat was launched on service at 12:59pm on Thursday afternoon (Jun 10) to assist in a medical evacuation from a LPG tanker 13 miles SSW off St Ann’s Head.

The coastguard helicopter from Newquay in Cornwall was also on route. With the poor visibility due to fog, Angle all-weather lifeboat was to stand by the vessel to provide an alternative route for evacuation if needed.

After a choppy route in the poor visibility the RNLI volunteers arrived on scene at 2:07pm.

At the time of their arrival, the paramedic from the coastguard helicopter was aboard the vessel preparing the casualty to be winched to the helicopter.

In less than ten minutes the casualty was winched up to the helicopter and flown to hospital, at which point the lifeboat and crews were stood down and headed back to the station.

After rehousing shortly after 3:30pm the lifeboat was washed fuelled and made ready for service shortly after.

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Milford Haven child sex offender Colin Sharpe jailed for 10 years

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A MILFORD HAVEN child abuser sat crying in court as details of his four-year long abuse of a schoolgirl were read out.

Colin Sharpe’s teenage victim says she is now “plagued by nightmares” that he will return and abuse her again, Swansea Crown Court heard.

Sharpe, 40, of Howarth Close was told by Judge Paul Thomas QC at Swansea Crown Court that “Your only concern was your own selfish sexual pleasure.”

The court heard that after the matter was reported to police and officers began a search for tSharpe. He was found in his vehicle in a car park at St Ann’s Head.

The court was told that police used their car to block Sharpe’s exist from the car park but he “sped off” across the grass towards the cliff edge before crashing into a fence.

The defendant abandoned his vehicle and made off on foot to the clifftop. A standoff then developed during which police brought in a specialist negotiator to talk him down.

After a lengthy negotiation Sharpe was arrested.

Passing sentence, the judge told Sharpe: “You had no concern for the psychological damage you did.”

He added: “But it is to your credit that you immediately admitted what you had done; this had saved his victim the further ordeal of giving evidence in a trial.

Judge Paul Thomas jailed Sharpe for 10 years and imposed an indefinite order requiring him to sign the sexual offences register on release.

Sharpe will now be subject to an indefinite sexual harm prevention order and an indefinite restraining order when he is released.

As The Herald previously reported, Sharpe, who has been on remand since March, admitted one charge of sexual assault and five of sexual activity with a child, all between July 2017 and March 2021.

Police were informed about the sexual abuse by a third party, who discovered what he had done, and he was arrested and questioned early last year.

Earlier, Ian Wright, counsel for the CPS said that Sharpe used “emotional blackmail to frighten the girl into staying silent”.

He added “Matters seem to have come to a head on March 12 this year after Sharpe had once again sexually abused his victim.”

Dean Pulling, defending, said that when the police interviewed Sharpe he gave ‘guilty pleas and admissions’ at the earliest opportunity.

Excerpts from a personal victim statement highlighting the ongoing ordeal of Sharpe’s teenage victim were also read out in court.

“I am having nightmares,” the statement reads.

“I have nightmares of him coming back from prison and starting to do worse. My life has been greatly affected.”

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