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Couple banned from owning animals




Poor Rocky: He was unable to see before due to matted fur.

A HAVERFORDWEST couple appeared in front of the town’s magistrates on Tuesday (Feb 11) to face charges of animal cruelty against their own dog. Jason Arnold and Kerry Ann Webber both of Freeman’s View were over an hour late arriving at court but finally attended face the charges against them.

Jason Arnold pleaded guilty to the three charges of animal cruelty. The court heard that Arnold had not taken the right steps to look after his long-haired mongrel, Rocky. According to the RSPCA who were prosecuting the case, he had not provided a safe environment, he did not ensure the need of a suitable diet and he failed to protect his dog from pain, injury or disease. Kerry Ann Webber pleaded guilty to the one charge placed against her; she failed to protect the dog from pain, injury or disease.

The prosecutor John Tarrant summarised the charges against the two defendants. He commented that Kerry’s involvement with the dog was far less than Jason’s, but Rocky was a household dog. Before going into detail about the charges, Tarrant handed Magistrates the original copies of photographs of Rocky at the time he was taken into RSPCA custody.

Tarrant reported that the couple’s home environment was messy and that Rocky was kept in a two foot by two foot cage – he had no room to move. When the RSPCA entered their house, they noticed that the two dog bowls were empty and that Rocky was extremely matted. He talked about the fact that Jason had said in a previous interview that their family social worker was going to take the dog to a vet or groomer.

The RSPCA visited the couple’s home on July 14, 2014, after an anonymous call was made in regards to Rocky’s welfare. Arnold refused when an RSPCA officer asked for the dog to be signed over to them.

When Rocky was taken to the vets, he weighed 7.05 kg and was given a condition score of one out of five. Rocky could not see because huge matts covered his eyes and he could not defecate because his anal area was completely matted. The prosecutor described the pain that Rocky would have been in by asking the court to imagine their hair being pulled and twisted constantly for six weeks. Rocky had to be sedated twice over four days in order to remove all of the matting. When his matts were removed, he weighed only 6 kilos. The vet said that there was no way to know the true weight of Rocky when he came in four days earlier, but it definitely would have been less than 6 kg. In a follow up examamination on the October 8 2014, Rocky weighed an average weight for his size.

Arnold had said in a previous interview that they had owned Rocky for a few months, but he had not noticed the matting. Kerry had said that she knew that it was unacceptable but that she should not be blamed as much.

Tarrant added that Rocky was in the hands of the RSPCA still and that the boarding costs were exceeding £3,000.

The defence, Sara Lewis, asked for full credit for the pair’s guilty pleas. She went on to comment that Arnold said it was completely unintentional and that he had been feeding Rocky twice a day. He took responsibility for the fact that he may not have been feeding the dog an adequate amount of food and water. He accepted that Rocky’s coat was in a mess and that it must have been like that for a period of time.

Lewis went into further detail about the fact that the family’s social worker had been making arrangements for Rocky’s coat to be groomed. The couple do not drive and were trying to look for a mobile groomer. The two had been taking steps to resolve the problem and Anna, their social worker, had made an appointment for the week following the RSPCA’s visit. Anna helps the family with their middle child, who has learning difficulties. She attends the house to help with the children, but has never raised concerns about the state of the house. Lewis stated that this would have been something that Anna would have picked up on.

Lewis went on to say that the couple are not in the position to meet the level of costs required from them. There would be little chance of them fulfilling that debt and Lewis said that they would be set up to fail if they were ordered to pay the full amount. She went on to say that the dog meant a lot to the family and that it would be an excessive punishment to let the RSPCA keep him.

Magistrates asked why the pair were late earlier in the day and they said that they had been up overnight as their youngest daughter had earache and they had overslept. He then asked the two if they were aware that the court had been waiting around for over an hour.

The decision on the case was to be made after lunch.

When the case continued after 2pm, John Tarrant told the Magistrates that when leaving court, Webber had used abusive language against the RSPCA officer who was present. The RSPCA officer had said that Kerry has called him a p***k, a f***ing liar, a w****r and said that he was telling a pack of lies. She also followed him, pointing her finger at him aggressively. The RSPCA officer informed security.

The defence responded to Tarrant by saying that it was her first time hearing the exact allegation, so she requested that she could talk with Kerry. Magistrates agreed and Webber left with Lewis. They came back shortly after, with her crying.

Lewis said that the matter would be dealt with through an apology. She requested if she could apologise on behalf of Webber, but they wanted the apology to come from the defendant. She stood and said: “I’m sorry if I caused any offence. I know I never said it but I’m sorry anyway.” The RSPCA officer accepted this apology.

Magistrates finalised the case by stating that Rocky would not be able to go back to live with the defendants. The RSPCA will rehome him. The two were also disqualified from owning animals for ten years, and they will not be able to appeal for this time to be shortened. They were both given community orders, Jason will have to complete 90 hours of unpaid work, and Kerry 40. Their £3,155 fine was reduced to £500 each and they will also have to pay a victim surcharge of £60. They will pay £5 each per week. Magistrates asked for it to be ensured that the vet would have his fees of £906 paid first.

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Delight as foundation phase learners return to class



PEMBROKESHIRE Headteachers have reported very positive returns to school for Foundation Phase Learners.

All Foundation Phase Learners returned to schools on Monday, March 1st and attendance has been reported at almost 90% since.

The Council’s Director for Education, Steven Richards-Downes, said: “A wide range of council services have worked together to ensure that Foundation Phase pupils have been able to return
safely to school.

“I am particularly grateful to all school staff and families for ensure that learning is now available for our youngest learners face to face.”

Headteachers remarked how schools have filled with smiles and laughter following the safe and phased return of Foundation Phase learners.

Cora O’Brien, Headteacher at Waldo Williams School in Haverfordwest emphasised how quickly learners have settled back in to a routine.

“It has been an absolute joy to hear their laughter in the playground and to observe their love of learning face to face once again. I thank everybody in the Waldo Williams School
community for working so hard to ensure that the transition went smoothly.”

Vicky Hart-Griffiths, Headteacher of Ysgol Hafan y Mor in Tenby, said: “It has been wonderful to welcome all our Foundation Phase learners back to school. They are thriving, being amongst
friends and back to a school routine.  

“All the pupils have spoken about how happy they are to have returned and it’s an absolute pleasure to welcome them back and we can’t wait until we have all our pupils back in school.

“The school feels alive again and there’s a positive buzz and laughter once again echoing throughout the school.”

Gareth Lewis, Headteacher at Broad Haven CP School said children had returned “with real enthusiasm, and have been very keen to meet up with their friends.”

Mr Lewis added: “Our parents have been very supportive and positive about the return, and those with older children are very much looking forward to a wider return to schooling.”

Mr Richards-Downes said plans were now turning to more learners returning to schools in the near future.

“We are looking to the next phases of the re-opening of schools on the 15th of March as long as the government guidelines allow.”

Further details will be released in due course.

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Pembrokeshire County Council: This week’s Leader’s coronavirus update



PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL Leader, Councillor David Simpson, has provided a further coronavirus update for Friday, 5th March as follows:

‘Welcome everyone to my weekly update.

“It is with rather a heavy heart that I tell you that it’s almost 12 months since my first statement on the coronavirus pandemic.

“On 9th March 2020, I addressed our Cabinet meeting with the following words:

“Further to the news yesterday that two people in Pembrokeshire had tested as positive for the Covid 19 virus, I am sure you will join me in wishing them both a speedy and full recovery.

“I can reassure you that our services will continue as usual, and all our employees can continue to attend to their work, appointments, schools and services as they normally would.

“We should all help protect ourselves and our communities by following Public Health Wales advice, particularly around washing hands and using a tissue for symptoms associated with cold and flu and then safely disposing of it.

“I am grateful to the co-operation and hard work of all of our staff and we will provide further updates and information when we have them.

“In the meantime I can confirm that detailed planning arrangements, both internally, with partner agencies and through the Dyfed Powys Local Resilience Forum, are well underway to ensure that the Council and Pembrokeshire are as well placed as possible for whatever challenges we may face. Thank you.”

“I am sure you will join me while I take a moment now to remember all those people in Pembrokeshire and further afield, who, very sadly, passed away since I made that announcement.

“I continue to be incredibly grateful, as I’m sure you are, to everyone who is helping to beat this pandemic, working so very hard now for over a year.

“We are fortunate now to be in a position where the vaccine programme is protecting older members of our community and starting to roll out among one of the biggest groups – the over 65s and those with underlying health conditions.

“This time next week (12th March) the Welsh Government will have notified us of their plans for the next three weeks.

“In the meantime, we remain in Alert Level 4 and the stay at home message continues to be more important than ever as we reach the threshold of better times.

“I wish you all a good weekend and thank you once again to the vast majority of wonderful Pembrokeshire residents who are doing the right thing and waiting patiently at home for restrictions to lift.

“We do really appreciate your efforts and determination to help bring this pandemic to an end.”


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Sergeant Hillier ‘died doing the job he loved’, says his heartbroken father



THE ARMY SERGEANT who died after being injured in a live firing exercise, has been named locally.

The incident occurred at Castlemartin Training Area, and led to the death of Sgt Gavin Hillier, who was in the Welsh Guards.

In a post on social media, his father wrote: “Absolutely devastated to be writing this post, probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.

“At 3.45am this morning I received a phone call that will forever change my life. My eldest son Gavin Mark Hillier was in a fatal accident yesterday in the army (the job he loved).

“Sleep tight & rest in peace son. I’m so proud of you. Goodnight and god bless, love your heartbroken dad.”

An Army spokesperson said: “It is with great sadness we can confirm the death of a soldier on March 4.

“Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this tragic time.

“The circumstances surrounding this death are being investigated and it would be inappropriate to comment any further.”

It is understood that Sergeant Hillier, who served as part of the Welsh Guards’ motor transport platoon, was due to be deployed to Iraq and had previously been awarded a Long Service and Good Conduct medal by Prince Charles, the regiment’s Colonel in Chief, in 2019.

The tragic incident is the latest in a number of accidents at Castlemartin.

In 2017, The Herald reported that two soldiers died in a tank explosion, which a coroner ruled was due to a design flaw.

The following year, an Army captain was jailed in July 2018 after a 21-year-old soldier was killed by a stray bullet during an exercise at the range in 2012.

An investigation has been launched into the death of a soldier at Castlemartin RAC Range following a military exercise.

Police were called to the site at just before 10.45pm on March 4.

Sadly, a man was pronounced dead shortly after. Our thoughts are with his family, who have been informed of the incident and are being supported by specialist officers.

An investigation is underway led by Dyfed-Powys Police. Officers are liaising with the Health and Safety Executive and MoD.

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