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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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Man, 22, charged with murder of John William Bell in Cardigan

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A CARDIGAN man has been charged with murder after a man’s death in Ceredigion.

John Bell, 37, and also from the town, was found on the road to Cardigan Bridge in the early hours of Wednesday.

Dyfed-Powys Police said 22-year-old Ashley Keegan, of Golwg y Castell, Cardigan, has been charged with his murder.

A Dyfed-Powys Police spokesperson said: “Dyfed-Powys Police can confirm that Ashley Keegan, aged 22, of Golwg y Castell, Cardigan, has been charged with the murder of John William Bell.

Victim: John Bell

“Keegan will appear at Swansea magistrates court on Saturday 24th July 2021.

“John’s family continue to be supported by specialist officers and the investigation is grateful for the support of the community whilst enquiries were conducted.”

This is the second major incident in the same area this month.

Another man was charged with making threats with a knife, he is again from Golwg y Castell.

Dyfed-Powys Police said they received a number of calls reporting a man brandishing a knife towards another man in Maesyfelin, Cardigan, at around 4.20pm on Wednesday (July 14).

Several police units swiftly made their way to the area, but the suspect had fled.

Dean Thomas, aged 25, was quickly located at his home in Golwg y Castell, where he was arrested on suspicion of affray and taken to custody.

Mobile phone footage was gathered from people at the scene, and statements were taken from witnesses.

Cardigan Inspector Owen Williams said: “Thanks to the swift attendance of officers, there were a number of people present who were able to provide evidence to assist with our enquiries.
“Thomas also made a significant statement linking himself with the incident, and was charged within hours of being arrested.

“I hope the speed with which we carried out enquiries into this incident reassures people living in Maesyfelin, who were naturally very concerned by what had happened.”

Thomas was charged with threatening a person with a blade or sharply pointed article in a public place and appeared at Aberystwyth Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, July 15 where he admitted the offence.

He will be sentenced on July 29 at Swansea Crown Court.

In relation to the murder, anyone with information that could help officers with their investigation is asked to report it to Dyfed-Powys Police, either online at: https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk, or by calling 101 and quoting Op Reedham. If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908. Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555111, or visiting crimestoppers-uk.org.

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‘Plan ahead this summer’, says Leader of Pembrokeshire County Council

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THE FOLLOWING is a message from the Leader of Pembrokeshire County Council, Cllr David Simpson:

Hello everyone, I hope you are well and enjoying this lovely weather.

My key message this week is about planning ahead.

This week we have experienced very hot and sunny days and beaches have been full and everyone is enjoying the outdoors.

We are experiencing a high volume of visitors to the county which can at times add additional pressures on our services.

This week, for example, we have seen high demand for car parking spaces, beach clean ups, litter picking and toilet cleaning.

Due to the high footfall please consider where you are going and what you will do when you are there. Some coastal car parks on nice sunny days are filing by mid-morning.

We all also need to be patient when out and about. We are all working together to move forward after the lockdowns, businesses still have to work differently and some are struggling with staff shortages, so please be patient.

As many of us will be staying local for our time off why not consider doing a ‘not visited yet list’.

Consider places in Pembrokeshire you have not explored but would like to – make this the year you go to those places you have always wanted to go to but not had a chance.

Our front line teams are working hard to support our communities and ensure we deliver key services. I would ask for your support to help us to keep Pembrokeshire open and welcoming to all.

I’m aware of issues reported to us regarding litter being left on beaches and grass verges. Leaving litter behind is not acceptable – we have adequate litter bins out and about. Please help us keep Pembrokeshire clean.

Another issue being reported to us is fires being lit in the countryside and beauty spots while people eat and drink in the warm weather.

It goes without saying how dangerous a fire could be given the exceptionally dry weather we have had recently.

If you are thinking about lighting a fire while you are out I would just appeal to you to please think again. The potential consequences are just not worth it.

As you will know, this week we have had an Amber weather warning for heat, so just a gentle reminder to take care when out and about and please take care of your pets.

Our furry friends need extra attention in the heat. Please do not leave dogs unattended in cars and remember the walkways will be hot on their feet.

I’d like to finish this week by thanking everyone involved in our education teams and wish them all a well-deserved summer break.

I hope all our children enjoy the summer – the weather is definitely helping!

Stay safe everyone.

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Devastated family’s tribute to ‘loving and devoted’ son

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THE FAMILY of the 37-year-old man who died in Cardigan in the early hours of Wednesday morning (Jul 21) have said he will be “hugely missed by all that loved him”.

John Bell, who lived in the town, was found on the road to Cardigan Bridge at around midnight.

His family has issued this statement: “We are devastated at the loss of John.

“He was a loving and devoted Son, Brother, Father and Uncle and he will be hugely missed by all that loved him. 

“We ask for privacy at this time.”

John’s family is being supported by specially trained officers.

A 22-year-old man arrested on suspicion of murder remains in police custody.

Detective Superintendent Paul Jones said: “Our thoughts go out to John’s family at this very difficult time.

“We are currently focussing our investigation in Golwg Y Castell and the road between there and Cardigan Bridge, where Mr Bell was located.

“We are appealing for any witnesses who may have seen or heard an altercation in that area during the evening of Tuesday, 20 July, particularly the latter part of the evening, after 10pm, before police attended at around midnight.”

Anyone with information that could help officers with their investigation is asked to report it to Dyfed-Powys Police, either online at https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk, or by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908. Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555111, or visiting crimestoppers-uk.org. Quote reference: DP-20210720-458.

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