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West Wales drugs ring – guilty get 61 years

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Smashed: West Wales drug ring (Stock image)

Smashed: West Wales drug ring (Stock image)

SEVENTEEN people were sentenced to a total of 61 years in jail on Friday (Apri 10)  for their involvement in a cocaine supply ring.

The arrests were the result of Operation Redcliff, which targeted the supply of cocaine into south-west Wales.

Nine of the people sentenced were from the Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire area.

Jail sentences totalling 61 years have been handed down today after a “professional and meticulous” police operation trapped a gang running drugs into Pembrokeshire.

The so called “Liverpool Connection” arranged for large amounts of cocaine to be delivered to Milford Haven, Carmarthen and Pembroke Dock.

One drugs “meet” took place at Carmarthen golf club without the club being aware,Swansea crown court was told.

Robin Rouch, prosecuting, said police used cameras fitted with automatic number plate recognition to track the gang’s movements and bugged conversations as part of Operation Redcliff.

The drugs running was “interrupted” in September, 2012, after John Underwood was arrested at Cwmgwili when police stopped his van and found £4,200 worth of cocaine. He was jailed for 18 months but resumed his criminal activities after his release.

The court heard many of the gang had few or no previous convictions and a leading figure in the West Wales end of the operation, David “Jamie” Evans, was a family man who once won a Welsh cap for water polo.

In March 2014, £50,000 worth of cocaine was seized in a car in West Wales and officers from Operation Redcliff began making a series of arrests.

Mr Rouch said, “Those in the conspiracy used mobile phones which were often unregistered and pre-paid.. Amounts of money were paid into bank accounts in West Wales that was then transferred to people living in Merseyside.”

He said it was impossible to be exact about the amount of cocaine supplied between 2012 and 2014 but it was estimated to be worth at least £200,000.

A total of 17 defendants were sentenced over a two day hearing that ended today.

Judge Paul Thomas told them, “People like you who decide to get involved in dealing with large quantities of cocaine do so in the knowledge that if caught they will get long sentences in jail.

“You all took a calculated risk and now that you have lost that particular gamble you will pay the price.”

The Judge praised the Dyfed Powys police officers involved as being “professional and meticulous.”

Judge Thomas described Jamie Evans, aged 42, of Crud y Wawr, St Clears, as the “lynchpin” of the West Wales part of the drugs operation. He was jailed for eight years.

John Underwood, 30, of Coronation Drive, Prescott, Merseyside, was given eight years.

Peter Cummins, 29, from Byron Avenue, Whiston, Merseyside, was given six and a half years for his “significant role”.

Labourer Jenkin Davies, 55, of Bwlch Newydd, Cynwyl Elfed, was given five and a half years for his role as Jamie Evans’s “right hand man” in West Wales.

Richard Houghton, 32, of Ridings Close, St Helens, described as a courier, was jailed for four and a half years.

David Campbell, 58, of Patterson Street, Birkenhead was jailed for three years. He was caught with cocaine worth £50,000.

Greg Mackenzie, 28, of Blaenwaun, Whitland, was jailed for four years and John Fitzgerald, 44, of Prior Ledge Drive, Milford Haven got four and a half years.

Craig Cann, 34, of Trebannog Road, Porth, and Ross Hutchings, 25, of Gordon Street, Ton Pentre, described by Judge Thomas as being “at the Rhondda Valley end of the operation” were each jailed for three years while Thomas Charles Salmon, 33, from Llanmill, Narberth, was jailed for two years and eight months and Emanuel Handford, 23, of Glannant Road, Carmarthen got two years and four months.

They had all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine.

Daniel Gila, 26, of City Road, Haverfordwest, was found guilty of the charge after a trial and he was jailed for five years.

Rebecca Underwood, 28, of Whiston, Merseyside was jailed for 16 weeks, suspended for 12 months for laundering the gang’s money. Judge Thomas said he appreciated she would be left to bring up a young family alone once he had jailed her husband John Underwood.

Mark Tinsley, 32, of Dennett Road, Prescott was ordered to carry out 240 hours of unpaid work for the community for money laundering.

Both, said Judge Thomas, had provided the gang with a valuable service by allowing “large amounts of money” to pass through their bank accounts.

Adam Evans, 27, of Queen Road, Llanelli, got a nine month sentence suspended for a year for the lesser charge of being concerned in the supply of cocaine and Louise Thornton, 27, of Whitemill, Lampeter Velfrey was given 16 months suspended for a year with both being given unpaid work orders.

Detective Inspector Huw Davies of the Serious and Organised Crime team welcomed the sentences.

“They send a clear signal out to the criminal fraternity that drug offences will not be tolerated in the Dyfed-Powys area and officers will do their utmost to bring cases to court,” he said.

“Today’s outcome is the result of a complex and protracted operation conducted by Dyfed-Powys Police into the trafficking of substantial quantities of Class A drugs, namely Cocaine, into the force area, in this case 1 kilo of the drug was recovered.”

“I would encourage anyone who has concerns over the trafficking of drugs to contact local police.”

[soliloquy id="15630"]

The full list of those convicted is as follows:

David James Lloyd Evans b. 01/03/1973 Carmarthen – Conspiracy to supply cocaine – 7 years

Jenkin Anthony Davies b.27/03/1959 Carmarthen – Conspiracy to supply cocaine – 5 ½ years

Greg Ian Mackenzie b.23/02/1986 Narberth – Conspiracy to supply cocaine – 4 years

Thomas Charles Salmon b.18/03/1981 Narberth – Conspiracy to supply cocaine – 32 months

Louise Thornton b.25/04/1986 Narberth – Being concerned in the supply of cocaine – 16 months suspended for 2 years

Richard Houghton b.04/04/1983 St Helens – Conspiracy to supply cocaine – 4 ½ years

David Campbell b. 27/04/1956 Merseyside – Conspiracy to supply cocaine – 3 years

John William Fitzgerald b.23/12/1969 Milford Haven – Conspiracy to supply cocaine – 4 ½ years

John Paul Underwood b.06/07/1983 Merseyside – Conspiracy to supply cocaine – 8 years

Peter Cummins b.14/11/1984 Merseyside – Conspiracy to supply cocaine – 6 ½ years

Daniel Alexander Gila b.134/02/1988Haverfordwest – Conspiracy to supply cocaine – 5 years

Emanuel Lee Hanford b.13/11/1990 – Carmarthen – Conspiracy to supply cocaine – 28 months

Craig Cann b.08/11/1980 Porth – Conspiracy to supply cocaine – 3 years

Ross Hutchings b.30/07/1989 Ton Pentre – Conspiracy to supply cocaine – 3 years

Adam John Evans b.19/08/1988 Treorchy  – Being concerned in the supply of cocaine – 9 months suspended for 2 years

Mark Tinsley b.21/03/1982 Merseyside – Money laundering – converting criminal property – 240 hours community service

Rebecca Jade Underwood b.20/07/1986 – Merseyside – Money laundering – converting criminal property – 4 months suspended for 1 year

 

 

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Community

Leading hospitality company Loungers announced for Western Quayside development

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL and Loungers, one of the UK’s leading hospitality companies, are pleased to announce they have agreed headline terms for Loungers to become the first tenant of the fantastic Western Quayside development in Haverfordwest.

Loungers intend to occupy the ground floor of the building which is an important element of the Council’s long-term regeneration plan for the County Town. 

Loungers was founded in 2002 and is famous for its family-friendly, welcoming atmosphere, eccentric and spectacular interiors and great food and drink offers.

The company runs Lounge café bars across the UK – including the Cofio Lounge at the Guildhall, Carmarthen – combining elements of coffee shop culture, the British pub and dining. 

Cllr Paul Miller, Pembrokeshire County Council Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Place, the Region and Climate Change, said: “I’m really pleased to be in a position to announce the first tenancy for Western Quayside. Loungers shares our ambition and potential for the Western Quayside development in the centre of Haverfordwest.

“Western Quayside will play a key role in improving footfall and vibrancy in Haverfordwest and Loungers fits perfectly into that vision.

“An important part of Loungers’ ethos is the community element of its neighbourhood café bars and commitment to work with local groups, charities, organisations and businesses and we look forward to that continuing in Haverfordwest.

“As a Council we have been clear that we will not just sit back and let our town centres decline and this is an important step forward. 

“We look forward to announcing further tenants in due course and of course to opening Western Quayside later in 2024.”

Gemma Irwin, Community Manager at Loungers, says: “We’re so looking forward to opening our Lounge in Haverfordwest later this year.  We hope our family friendly environment and top-notch food and drink offering will prove popular with local residents. 

“We’re passionate about integrating genuinely into the communities we serve so we’re looking forward to meeting everyone and to playing our part at the heart of Haverfordwest’s food and drink scene.  

“Anyone looking for a space to host events or groups should pop in once we’re open, we’d love to hear from them and see what we can do to help.”

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News

Oil worker’s dream to be a homeowner shattered by gazumping Council

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THOMAS SPIERS, a 55-year-old Operations Coordinator at Puma Oil Terminal and father of three, has been left without his dream home after Pembrokeshire County Council outbid him by £15,000. Mr. Spiers, a long-time resident of Milford Haven, had his heart set on a property at 63 Haven Drive, only to find his efforts thwarted by the council’s late intervention.

Mr. Spiers, who has been privately renting for a decade with aspirations of homeownership, stumbled upon what he believed was the perfect fixer-upper in January through RK. Lukas estate agents. Despite the property’s need for substantial work, he saw potential in the £100,000 ex-council house, which had been on the market for six months with two previous sales falling through. After viewing, Mr. Spiers promptly made an offer of £95,000, which was accepted by the seller.

The joy of this acceptance was short-lived. After proceeding with the necessary legal and financial preparations, including giving notice to his landlord and paying solicitor’s fees for property searches, Mr. Spiers was blindsided. Just days before the scheduled contract exchange, he was informed of a new £110,000 offer from Pembrokeshire County Council, effectively ending his purchase plans.

The council’s bid, coming after a property viewing in October 2023 and amidst a 16% hike in council tax rates, has raised questions about its timing and motives. Mr. Spiers, who found himself in a precarious position with his sons’ housing at stake, reached out to the council and local MP Stephen Crabb, he says only to be met with unfulfilled promises of callbacks and auto-replies.

The situation highlights the challenges faced by private individuals competing in an increasingly difficult housing market. Mr. Spiers voiced his frustrations over what he perceives as an injustice by the council, particularly in light of their late and significantly higher offer. Fortunately, his current landlord has allowed him to remain in his rental for now, stopping him from being made homeless, but leaving him out of pocket by approximately £1,000 in solicitor’s fees.

Stephen Crabb MP told The Herald: “Mr Spiers emailed me on Monday afternoon when I was speaking in the House of Commons chamber. He received the usual auto-reply message to show that his email had been received.

“The auto-reply makes clear that all emails from constituents who request my assistance with a casework problem will receive priority attention, which normally means within a few days. I receive around 200 emails each day and have to prioritise cases according to urgency.

“Whilst I am sorry to hear about the circumstances in which Mr Spiers’ house purchase fell through, there is actually nothing that a Member of Parliament could have done to prevent it.

“This is a private contractual matter and the questions that need to be asked are of Pembrokeshire County Council, and whether they have acted appropriately.

“It would be appropriate for Mr Spiers to contact his County Councillor who will be able to offer support with this.”

Pembrokeshire County Council have been asked to comment.

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Health

New X-ray equipment plan at Tenby Cottage Hospital revealed

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X-RAY services at Tenby Cottage Hospital are to receive a major boost thanks to an investment of £625,000 in brand new equipment which is being installed at the Hywel Dda Health Board-run site over the next few weeks.

The equipment, funded by Welsh Government, will allow the unit not only to provide the highest quality images but will also mean patients with reduced mobility or advanced clinical needs can be more easily accommodated.

However, in order to install the new equipment, x-ray services will be temporarily unavailable in Tenby Cottage Hospital until Friday, 19April 2024.

Over the next few weeks, imaging for GP patients will be provided on an appointment only basis at South Pembrokeshire Hospital in Pembroke Dock between 9-5pm.

Patients attending the Minor Injuries walk-in centre can still attend Tenby Cottage Hospital but may be sent to Withybush if an x-ray is required. Alternatively, patients can choose to attend Withybush Emergency Department directly.

John Evans, Pembrokeshire County Director for Hywel Dda said: “We are delighted that Tenby Cottage Hospital will be receiving brand new and up to date x-ray equipment thanks to this investment from Welsh Government.

“We apologise for any inconvenience caused over the short period of time while the equipment is being installed but look forward to providing an improved level of care for Tenby community patients into the future.”

Patients needing further help or information should contact the radiology departments at Withybush Hospital on 01437 773385 or South Pembrokeshire Hospital on 01437 774018.

The health board is reminding people not to attend busy A&E departments unless they have a critical, life-threatening emergency and asking people to choose their healthcare services very carefully, so that only people with urgent or emergency care needs are being seen in A&E. 

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