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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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Monkton: One person flown to Cardiff following incident

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THERE was a large emergency services presence in Monkton last night (May 25).

At around 7.30pm, emergency services were called to a report of an incident.

Back Terrace was temporarily closed off while officers dealt with the situation.

An Air Ambulance was dispatched and flew one person to The University Hospital of Wales.

A Welsh Ambulance Service spokesperson said: “We were called at approximately 7.30pm yesterday, Wednesday 25 May, to an incident in the Monkton area of Pembroke.

“We sent a rapid response car, an emergency ambulance and an air ambulance to the scene, where the crew were also supported by a duty operations manager.

“One person was flown to the University Hospital of Wales.”

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Community

Nature is blooming at Withybush Woods three years after enhancement project

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THREE years after the launch of a project to enhance Withybush Woods, there are abundant signs that biodiversity is thriving.

Swathes of early purple orchid – a scarce wild flower – have been spotted in shadier parts of the tranquil woodlands while a pair of rare breeding stock doves have made the woods their home for the second year.

Song thrushes can be heard everywhere on the 1.5km accessible footpath together with chiffchaffs, willow warblers, nuthatch, woodpeckers, blackbirds, blue tits and many other woodland birds.

Mallards and moorhens and their young can be seen on the restored lower pond, together with the resident swans, and a new wetland area nearby is providing a new habitat for other species of invertebrates and pollinators.

The EU-funded improvement project was led by Pembrokeshire County Council, which owns the woods on the outskirts of Haverfordwest.

Dr Steven Jones, Director of Community Services, said: “Withybush Woods has always been a beautiful and special place to visit and even more so now, thanks to its increasing range of species and biodiversity habitats.

The enhancement work received funding through the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014 – 2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government. 

The scheme also received funding through the Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme, through the WCVA.

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Education

Top of the stops: Llangwm lollipop lady wins national award

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LLANGWM school crossing patrol officer Lisa Brock has won a Road Safety Wales award for 25 years of dedication to helping children cross the road to the village primary school.
To celebrate her achievement, a giant walk to school event took place this week with hundreds of pupils and parents taking part – much to Mrs Brock’s surprise!
The walk was followed by the presentation of a plaque in assembly, where Cleddau Reach VC headteacher Rhys Buckley thanked her for ‘keeping children safe and making a difference to their day with a smile and a kind word’.
“Lisa is someone who does her job because she cares,” said Mr Buckley. “She cares about the children, their families and her community deeply and you only need to look at the work produced by our pupils in tribute to her to see that this level of care and affection is very much reciprocated.
“Every community needs a ‘Mrs Brock’ and we’re very grateful that she’s ours!”

Mrs Brock receiving her award from Helen Luff from the Council’s Road Safety Team, with pupils Lottie, Leo, Tilly, and Mrs Brock’s grandsons Jacob and Oliver. Jacob and Oliver said they were very proud of their grannie. Also pictured are (left to right) Headteacher Rhys Buckley, Ziggy the Zebra – Pembrokeshire’s road safety mascot – and Chair of Governors Barry Childs.


Some of the tributes by the children included:
‘Mrs Brock is always smiling and happy even in the wind, rain, hail and even heat. You are the reasons we are not flat pancakes on the road. Thank you, Mrs Brock.’

‘We all love Mrs Brock. She is the best lollipop lady in the world!’
‘I will never forget when my sister dropped all of her things in the middle of the road and you stopped the cars from coming. Thank you for always being there.’

Mrs Brock started as school crossing patrol officer as her two boys were nearing the end of their primary education. She has since become a huge fixture at the school, also taking on roles as a higher level teaching assistant in the junior classes and lunchtime supervisor.

“It is the children that give me the most pleasure,” she said. “They are all so polite and keen to have a chat with me. It’s not just the current pupils either; past pupils and many of the local families all come and say hello to me too when they see me on the crossing.”
Chairman of Governors Barry Childs said Mrs Brock’s relationship with the children was ‘outstanding’.

“Every child past and present speaks of her with tremendous affection,” he said. “She has time and a smile for everyone. She is credit to the school.”

Kirstie Donoghue, Road Safety Officer for Pembrokeshire County Council, describes her as ‘one of the many unsung heroes guiding Pembrokeshire’s children safely across our roads”.
“Lisa has been a devoted school crossing patrol for 25 years,” she said.
“She is reliable, hard-working and a true asset of our team, and we are hugely appreciative of her commitment over the years.
“We are delighted and proud that Lisa has won this award for her service and contribution to road safety in Pembrokeshire.”

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