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Meat unfit for human consumption turned into £276,000 worth of ‘smokies’



smokiesTHE OPERATORS of livestock markets in west Wales have been warned by a judge today they are “skirting with the law” if they pretend not to know they are dealing with illegal food traders.

The warning came as Robert Gordon Thomas, 39, was sentenced for blowtorching old sheep fit only for the pet food industry and turning them into £276,000 worth of “smokies.”

Smokies, Swansea Crown Court heard on Wednesday (Dec 23), were considered to be a delicacy by Africans living in London.

Thomas, now of Nant y Croi, Ferwig, near Cardigan, blowtorched the carcases and turned £25 ewes into smokies worth between £80 and £150 each.

Huw Rees, prosecuting, said Thomas had not produced any accounts—not even a single bank account—and “may be hiding his money elsewhere.”

But it was known he had bought sheep that were either old or of poor quality at livestock markets in Dolgellau and Welshpool and may have dealt in up to 2,300 sheep.

He was operating, said Mr Rees, on behalf of Julian Jones, who was wanted for prosecution but who had fled to Columbia in south America.

Judge Paul Thomas said he would found it “unusual and surprising if the markets were not aware of local gossip” about who was involved in the smokies trade.

“If they think they can hide behind a lack of co-operation I hope at some point someone will disabuse them of that notion.

“Those responsible for these markets are skirting with complicity in these offences,” he added.

Mr Rees said the offending took place at Trecagal farm at Bangor Teifi, near Llandysul. The farm was owned by Julian Jones but run by Thomas.

Jones, said Mr Rees, had a long history with smokies and was currently banned from having anything to do with animals.

To get around the ban Jones had needed others to help him.

Environmental health officers who raided the farm found sawn off sheep legs scattered around, even into woods and rivers.

Thomas, said Mr Rees, had supplied Jones with the smokies.

Questioned about the scale of the operation, Thomas had produced either no accounts or only “fanciful” accounts which made it impossible to be sure as to how much profit had been made.

Judge Thomas said he would impose a financial penalty—and respond to a prosecution request for £32,000 in costs—on January 29 by when he expected to see four years of bank accounts. If Thomas did not produce them “I will drew the necessary inferences.”

Mr Rees said Jones had made the most profit, but he was outside the jurisdiction of the court.

Mr Rees said the supply of smokies caused harm to the environment, risked the food poisoning of anyone who ate them, and tarnished the image of honest farmers.

Thomas had been convicted twice before of contravening environmental laws—once for running a private, unlicensed slaughter house and once for burning cars to recover scrap metal.

Huw Rees Davies, representing Thomas, who admitted conspiring with Jones to contravene the 1990 Food Safety Act, said those who ate smokies were not vulnerable and knew what they were eating.

Thomas, he said, had rented Trecagal from Jones and had fallen behind with the rent. To catch up he had agreed to buy sheep for Jones.

Judge Thomas said he had known that he was dealing in smokies, which posed a health hazard and were “wholly unsuitable for human beings.”

He said he accepted that Jones had been the prime mover, but he could not have done it without the connivance of Thomas.

Judge Thomas said he had a history of ignoring laws when it interfered with him making a “fast buck.”

But he would give him “one final chance to stay out of custody.”

Thomas was jailed for 28 weeks, suspended for two years, and ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work for the community.

Judge Thomas said he would deal with the financial consequences of his offending on January 29.

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Police and drugs advice service issue warning over ‘deadly batch’ of heroin



POLICE have asked the media to issue a warning over a batch of heroin.

The drug circulating in west Wales, first detected in Llanelli, is particularly dangerous, it has been confirmed.

“We are warning drug users to take extra care following reports of a particularly harmful batch of heroin circulating in the Llanelli area” said a Dyfed-Powys Police spokesperson.

“We have reasons to believe some drugs being distributed and used in the Carmarthenshire area at present have been contaminated with other substances and could be extremely dangerous for anyone taking them.

“We would also appeal to drug users to seek medical attention immediately if they become unwell.

“Please share this information with anyone you believe could come into contact with these drugs.

”In an emergency or if you think someone’s life is at risk always dial 999.”

Earlier this week Barod, the drug and alcohol abuse service reported a dangerous and toxic heroin circulating in Pembroke Dock which a spokesperson described as being ‘potentially deadly’.

To comes as Public Health England issued a formal alert about the risks of heroin containing fentanyl or carfentanyl.

The warning reads: “There is significant evidence from a small number of post-mortem results of recent drug user deaths and from police seizures that some heroin may contain fentanyl or carfentanyl added by dealers.

“These are highly potent synthetic opioids and very small amounts can cause severe or even fatal toxicity.

“Those of you in contact with heroin users should be alert to the increased possibility of overdose arising from heroin cut with these synthetic opioids, be able to recognise possible symptoms of overdose and respond appropriately.”

The fentanyls are a group of synthetic opioids; some have legitimate uses while others are illicit drugs.

Fentanyl is about 100 times more potent than morphine and is a licensed medicine used to treat severe and terminal pain. Carfentanyl is 4,000 – 10,000 times more potent than morphine and principally used as an animal tranquilliser.

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Tenby’s famous walrus ‘Wally’ has been spotted again



TENBY’S most famous marine animal has been spotted again after fears she had been scared away.

Wally was spotted on Friday evening by the seaside town’s Lifeboat station.

Thought to be a two-year-old male, the walrus’s return comes after it was feared she had been disturbed by people flocking to catch a glimpse of her and “getting too close”

The animal has attracted hundreds of people to the seaside town now that the travel restrictions with Wales have been lifted to coincide with the Easter school holidays.

Wally was last seen on Monday, but  members of the public were warned it was in the animal’s “best interests” to be “left alone” as much as possible and they were urged to “avoid the temptation to get near and disturb” her.

A joint statement was issued by the RSPCA, Tenby harbour master Chris Salisbury, Welsh Marine Life Rescue, Tenby lifeboat coxswain Phil John, British Divers Marine Life Rescue, Natural Resources Wales and CSIP Marine Environmental Rescue said that they were concerned to hear that people had tried to get close by using personal watercraft or paddle and surfboards.

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Police plan to deter badly behaved youths from gathering in Tenby



POLICE in Tenby responded to community concerns over antisocial behaviour and groups of between 15-20 youths gathering and clashing over the Easter bank holiday weekend. They moved the youths on, seized alcohol from them and stopped matters escalating when there were clashes between the groups. And they have a clear message ahead of this weekend – there will be extra police patrols and presence in Tenby, including on the trains, so this type of behaviour won’t be tolerated.

Dyfed-Powys Police officers used powers under the Antisocial Behaviour Act to disperse groups of youngsters meeting to drink alcohol in and around Tenby, many of whom had travelled by train to the area to meet up.

Based on these scenes from last weekend, plans are in place as part of a joint operation with Pembrokeshire County Council licensing officers and British Transport Police, to address and prevent any further gatherings.

A Section 34 Order is in place covering Tenby, which allows officers to move people out of the area and prevent them from returning for up to 48 hours.

Sergeant Stuart Wheeler said: “Following last weekend we had some concern from the community of Tenby, due to antisocial behaviour related to the groups of youths from Pembroke, Pembroke Dock and Tenby, and subsequently those groups clashing. Alcohol consumption by these youngsters was a factor.

“Proactive action was taken, and we are keen to avoid a repeat of this behaviour this weekend, and have therefore put plans in place. Additional resources have been allocated, which will allow us to respond quickly and prevent matters from escalating.

“Tenby Neighbourhood Policing Team and response officers, will be carrying out high visibility patrols in the area, covering areas known to be popular with youngsters. Pembrokeshire County Council licensing officers will be assisting us in ensuring youngsters can’t buy alcohol in the area by visiting shops and reminding them of the laws around selling alcohol, and if they bring it with them it will be seized. And our colleagues in British Transport Police will be patrolling the train network to prevent problematic groups getting to Tenby by train.”

Police are also appealing to parents and carers to know where their children are, and what they are doing.

Sergeant Wheeler added: “We would like to appeal directly to parents to be aware of where their children are, and prevent them from gathering in large groups. This type of behaviour is distressing for people living and working in Tenby, and we are urging you to be accountable for your children’s actions.

“We understand that the past few months have been difficult, and that children want to see their friends, but remember that only 6 people from 2 households can meet outdoors still. Please do your best to ensure they are adhering to regulations that are in place for all our safety.”

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