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swanseaA DRIVER from Cardigan “took a chance” and killed a husband of 27 years and paralysed a soccer club captain.

Michael Mear knew he had not fitted a lighting board to the back of the boat trailer he was towing and that no-one driving behind would be able to see the indicator lights on his pick up truck.

But he turned right towards the driveway of his home and into the path of Christopher Nigel Lawrence, who was overtaking on his motorcycle.

Despite care provided by two doctors who happened to be passing, Mr Lawrence was declared dead at the scene.

His pillion passenger, bricklayer, soccer captain and new father Darren Williams, was paralysed and, although months of rehabilitation had led to some recovery, would never be the same again.

Mear, aged 61, then of Wave Crest, Coronation Drive, Gwbert, had denied causing death by dangerous driving and a second charge of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

On Friday (Sept 18), Mear appeared at Swansea Crown Court to face a third charge, one of causing death by careless driving, which he admitted.

Robin Rouch, prosecuting, said there was no such alternative offence as causing serious injury by careless driving, but Mear’s guilty plea encompassed the harm he had caused to Mr Williams.

Mr Rouch said on April 19, 2014, Mr Williams had visited his good friend Gary Lawrence in Cardigan. Mr Lawrence’s father had managed to bump start his motor cycle and Mr Williams accepted the offer of a ride because he had never been on one.

The plan had been to drive to the Cliff Hotel in Gwbert and turn around.

In Coronation Drive they came up behind two cars following Mear, who was on his way home from Teifi Boat Club. His truck was 1.8m wide but he was towing a trailer that was 2.3m wide with his rigid inflatable aboard.

During police interviews, Mear said he had been in a hurry that morning and had set off without refitting a lighting board to the back of the trailer.

Mr Lawrence overtook one car and came up behind a car driven by Julie Kirk.

Mear slowed to turn into his driveway and Mr Lawrence overtook her car and began to overtake the pick up truck and trailer.

Mear spotted them at the last moment and tried to steer his vehicle forwards but it was too late.

Christopher Lawrence braked but could not avoid a collision.

The effects, said Judge Huw Davies, had been “enormous.”

The court listened in silence as Mr Rouch read out victim impact statements.

Mr Williams, aged 28,sat in a wheelchair just feet away from Mear, who was in a secured dock. He wrote that he had been a soccer captain, a bricklayer with plenty of work, that he had Rachel as a partner and a young daughter in Layla, and that they had just moved into a house in Aberporth, before disaster struck.

“I was the happiest I had ever been,” he wrote.

After the accident Mr Williams had been flown by Air Ambulance to the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff and then transferred to Rockwood Hospital to begin the “long, courageous fight” to recovery.

He had suffered fractures to his ribs, elbow and wrist, but more importantly his spine at between the third and fourth vertebra. Full recovery may never be achieved, the court heard.

But his mother spoke to say he was trying so hard that he was exhausted by the afternoon and had to sleep.

Mary Lawrence wrote that she missed her husband of 27 years “every hour of every day.”

Judge Davies said the sentence had to take into account Mear’s wrongdoing as well as the consequences.

Mear’s barrister, Simon Morgan, said he had trained as an electrician and gone on to run his own business, which he had sold as a result of the accident.

He had also moved to Dingle Wood, Pencoed Avenue, The Common, Pontypridd.

Judge Davies jailed Mear for 10 months, suspended for two years. Mear was also banned from driving for 12 months.

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MP calls for cut in beer duty for pubs



PRESELI MP Stephen Crabb has written to the Chancellor ahead of next week’s Budget calling on him not to increase alcohol duties and to cut the tax on draught sales to help stop pubs going out of business.

Mr Crabb is one of more than a 100 MPs calling for a cut in the ‘keg tax’ to help pubs compete more fairly with supermarket sales of alcohol. 

Currently, beer drinkers have to pay around £1 in tax for every pint they drink in a pub, which is the highest rate in Europe and nearly twelve times higher than in Germany.

Commenting on the letter, Mr Crabb said: “Pubs are at the heart of so many of our communities and when a pub closes down something special is  lost. That is why I am calling on the Chancellor to reduce the beer duty from the keg. A cut will not only bolster our much-loved pubs across our towns and villages, but also have a knock-on boost for British agriculture and employment. 

“Over a hundred Conservative MPs and I hope that after a difficult period the Chancellor will give our pubs and clubs something to raise a drink to this budget.”

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County lines intensification week sees drug supply disrupted into west Wales



Officers from Dyfed-Powys Police carried out 11 raids during a week of action tackling county lines drug gangs.

COUNTY LINES intensification week (Monday, 11 October to Sunday, 17 October) saw officers carry out warrants, intercepting vehicles potentially involved in the supply of drugs, and working with partners to raise awareness of drug-related crime.

Seventeen people were arrested during the week, with crack cocaine (0.8grams), heroin (77g) and cocaine (6g) seized.

The value of those drugs is estimated to be around £4,500, while officers seized £6,500 under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Also seized were an extendable baton and an ammunition magazine.

Temporary Detective Chief Inspector Andrew Cotterell said: “The county lines intensification week was successful for Dyfed-Powys Police, and we had a number of excellent results thanks to the proactive work of officers and police staff across the four divisions.”

As well as the front-line warrants and police work, a lot went on behind the scenes, leading to:

  • More than 2,000 people educated about County Lines and exploitation during the intensification week in the community and partner agencies.
  • Some 50 letting agencies/estate agents educated about the dangers of criminality, such as County lines activity in rented properties.
  • More than 150 businesses educated about county lines, with an emphasis on those who provide mobile top-up services and the use of ‘burner phones’.
  • 50 ‘at-risk’ or vulnerable children, young people and adults received targeted safeguarding support on a 1-2-1 basis and in group settings.

DCI Cotterell added: “Few people are aware of the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes to support victims, or the measures we put in place to stop people from becoming repeat victims of drug-related crime.”

“It is very important to us as a force that while we act on all new intelligence to disrupt county lines, we also take a victim-oriented approach to working with those affected by these gangs to protect them from becoming repeat victims.”

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Pembroke Dock: Pensioner sentenced to 20 years for child sex offences



A PENSIONER from Pembroke Dock has been given an extended sentence of 20 years in prison with a further year on licence after being found guilty of historical rape of a child in the 1980s.

Barry Lake, aged 70, was sentenced at Swansea Crown Court today (22 October) having been found guilty of 10 counts of rape of a child and two charges of gross indecency with a child last month.

Lake, now of Newton-le-Willows in St Helens, had denied all 12 charges relating to offences between January 1986 and January 1989.

Lake was first questioned by Dyfed-Powys Police in April 2020 in what would become an intensive and complex investigation.

Investigating officer DC Claire Lewis said: “Lake denied all charges, putting his victim through the ordeal of a trial.

“As they have done throughout the investigation, they showed great courage and dignity in the face of adversity to help us convict their abuser.

“This was a long and intensive investigation with a lot of work to achieve this outcome today.

“This sentence shows that it doesn’t matter how long ago a victim has suffered sexual abuse, we as police are here to listen and take seriously any person who has suffered any form of sexual abuse albeit a day or 35 years after.

“Please do not be scared to come forward, we are here to listen to you.

“Once again, I would like to commend the victim for their bravery for coming forward and achieving this outcome today.”

After serving 20 years in prison Lake will serve another year on licence.

He was also ordered to sign the Sex Offender Register indefinitely and made the subject of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order.

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