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Pensioner cleared of sexual assault

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courtA 78-YEAR-OLD man was found not guilty at Haverfordwest Magistrates Court on Wednesday of last week after being accused of sexual assault.

John Joseph Colfer, of Haven Court, Monkton, had been charged with sexual assault on a woman from Monkton on two separate occasions. The first was cuddling and kissing her on May 23, and the second was grabbing her while she was in a phone box on May 25.

The Herald cannot name the woman for legal reasons. Three 999 calls were played from the two incidents. During the calls, the alleged victim refused to give her name a number of times and mumbled considerably over the phone. She was very unclear about the reason she was calling and said: “I went to use his landline. I was on my own. I was being stupid” and later “I know you won’t do **** all about it because you don’t do **** all around here”. In the last call, we hear her say “I just want him to leave me alone” and “I hate him” while crying.

She claimed that she had gone to Colfer’s home address to use his telephone. She then gave her version of events: “I went to use his phone and he asked me to sit down. He sat next to me and put his arms around me and started kissing me. I didn’t want him to. I used to live next door to him. I went to get up to leave and he said ‘You only leave when I tell you to’. I was scared. After he went to do something with the dogs, I just got up and walked out of his front door”.

She then spoke about the second incident: “I was in the phone box and I didn’t know he was there until he put his arms around me and said we’ve got to finish what we started and called me a slut. I said I didn’t start nothing and he went home”.

Defence solicitor, Kate Smith said: “You have indicated that you have known Mr Colfer for a long time and brought your children up next door to him. I understand that you no longer have a relationship with your daughters. I imagine that much be very stressing and upsetting for you?”

The alleged victim confirmed this. Miss Smith continued: “I understand you attended at his address. He was the last link to your daughters, so is the reason you attended the house not to use the telephone, but to inquire about your daughters and you got upset?”

She denied this fact and said: “We were talking earlier and he said I’m welcome any time”.

Miss Smith asked the victim why she went to the house. She said: “I was invited. He said I could come over and chill out. I knew he had a landline and I wanted to use it”.

Miss Smith then said: “You’re lying, aren’t you? Mr Colfer doesn’t have a landline and you’re lying about the conversation. Your statement says ‘I went over to Shaun’s phone to call the police. I’d been having problems with kids. He said if I ever have any problems I can use the phone’. What I’m suggesting is you’re giving a different account in the court than you did to the officer. Why didn’t you tell the police what you told us?”

The alleged victim said: “After what happened I was really upset”.

Miss Smith replied: “How do you say that affected you? Did it affect your memory?”

She told the court: “I’ve got depression and health problems and I don’t need to sit here getting a mouthful from you”.

Miss Smith then asked the victim: “Can I suggest you’re giving an inconsistent account on what happened? Mr Colfer did not have a conversation with you”.

She replied: “He did because I was with my ex-partner. He went to Nottingham a couple of weeks ago”.

Miss Smith asked again: “You went to discuss your children” and was cut off by the alleged victim, who shouted “No, I don’t want nothing to do with my children”.

Miss Smith told her that she knew it was difficult for her. Her response was: “You know something, you’re doing my bloody head in! He told me he didn’t have a phone, I went to get up but I couldn’t and said you leave when I tell you to. Now can we leave it?”

Miss Smith said: “I’m afraid I can’t. Did you tell him why you were there or did you just go in?” After not receiving an answer, she continued: “I understood you came into the property, he told you he didn’t have a phone and then you sat down. You haven’t said why you’re there, and he didn’t ask?”

The victim denied this and Miss Smith continued: “Why didn’t you leave the house after he told you he didn’t have a phone?”. She replied saying: “I couldn’t get up”.

Miss Smith asked: “Why didn’t you inform the police about the conversation about the landline? The defendant told you he didn’t have one, why is it a matter you have failed to mention? My problem is, you’re telling the court one thing and your statement says another. Can you explain why you failed to mention the conversation about the landline?”

The alleged victim had no answer.

“On two occasions in your statement you asked to use the telephone. Why didn’t you include his response that he didn’t have a phone?”

This question was asked twice. The alleged victim failed to give an answer.

Miss Smith read her 999 call: “I went in to use his phone. He kissed me all over and said I’m the Monkton slut’. Why didn’t you tell 999 what happened?”

She replied: “I know what happened”.

Miss Smith said: “You have given different accounts. There is nothing in your statement about him calling you the Monkton slut. It’s inconsistent and isn’t in your statement because it didn’t happen. The defendant’s case is you came to speak about your children”.

The alleged victim screamed: “Leave my children out of this!”

Miss Smith continued saying: “He put his hands over your shoulder to comfort you,” and was cut off by the alleged victim shouting “He was putting his hand all over me”.

Miss Smith replied: “Was he? You’ve never said that before. You’ve previously said ‘he had his arms around me’. Where did he actually have his hands?”

Her reply was: “You’re female, you should know”.

There was a pause before Miss Smith continued: “’He had his arms around me and I couldn’t move’. Where on your body did he have his hands? This defendant has been charged with extremely serious offences and I need to establish exactly what happened. Had you been drinking May 23?”

The alleged victim denied this. Miss Smith asked: “Why were you refusing to give your name?”

Her reply was: “Because the coppers know me”.

Miss Smith said: “In the incident on May 25 you were on the phone and you had just put the receiver down, and you state ‘he was right behind me. He put his arms around my waist and said we’ve got to finish what we started’. You made no mention about the comments he made over the phone. Upon being asked by Miss Smith if she claims to have told Mr Colfer to ‘sod off’ with reference to the alleged incident on May 25, she said: “Yes. Any more language? Because I’ve got plenty” and later said “I am having enough of you!”

Prosecuting, David Weale read out Mr Colfer’s statement: “She came to my house about her children, and she was crying a lot saying she is not allowed to see her children. I put my arms around her and gave her a kiss on the lips and her cheek. It lit her up a bit. It put a smile back on her face. When a woman’s in distress you give them a cuddle, in a way she gave me permission. I couldn’t help her with her problem. She did not ask to use the landline, and she left around 10 or 15 minutes after the kiss. “I didn’t call her a slut. I saw her to the door and waved goodbye. I’m 78 years of age, I lost that long ago. In the second incident I didn’t see her that day. I got off the bus around 5pm and I walked past the phone box on the way home, and I did not see anyone.”

Miss Smith pointed out in her final submission that it is concerning that there were no other eye witnesses to back up her account of what happened May 25 and that her evidence falls short.

Magistrates found Mr Colfer not guilty, and told the court: “We do not believe beyond a reasonable doubt that a sexual assault took place on either occasion”.’

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Cardigan man accused of murder in court

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John Williams Bell was found murdered in Cardigan

A CARDIGAN man who is accused of stabbing a man to death has appeared in court today (Jul 28).

Ashley Keegan, 22, of Golwyg y Castell, Cardigan, appeared before court via video link where he spoke only to confirm his name and date of birth.

Swansea crown court heard how Keegan is accused of stabbing 37-year-old John Williams Bell seven times in the back.

Mr Bell’s body was discovered in the early hours of Wednesday Morning, July 21, on the road to Cardigan Bridge.

The court set a provisional trial date for January 3, 2022.

Keegan will remain remanded into custody until the trial.

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Park Authority Committee tours successful carbon reduction projects

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MEMBERS of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority’s Sustainable Development Fund (SDF) Committee made a tour of local projects recently that have benefitted from SDF funding.

Since 2000, over 200 projects have been supported by the Fund. Over the past year, the Fund has changed its focus to support community-led projects that mitigate the climate emergency by contributing to a reduction in carbon.

Coppicewood College, which promotes and supports sustainable woodland management, was one of the successful applicants visited by Committee Members. After entering into talks with the West and South Wales Wildlife Trust and securing a new home in Pengelli Forest on a 25-year lease, an application was made for SDF funding to build a workshop using sustainable building methods. Both the College and the Wildlife Trust will benefit from this new partnership, as the College now has a brand new home in a prestigious SSSI woodland and the Trust will be able to have a programme of woodland management tailored to the needs of local wildlife.

SDF Committee Members also paid a visit to Clynfyw Care Farm, where funding has been used to pay for equipment, set-up costs and training in a new vermicomposting (worm composting) project. This creates a sustainable and high quality compost, which can be used to improve soil conditions organically for local vegetable produce growers, while sequestering carbon during the process.

Bwlch-y-groes village hall also formed part of the itinerary for Members, who were shown where the SDF-funded photovoltaic panels and electric vehicle charging point, which are set to complement the new building, will be positioned.

The tour came to an end with a talk from the Cwm Arian Renewable Energy Project, which has received an SDF cash injection to help with the Pembrokeshire Energy Efficiency Programme (PEEP) – a project that aims to engage with communities across North Pembrokeshire in order to understand behaviours in energy reduction.

Jessica Morgan, Funding and Grants Officer for the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Trust, said: “It’s been hugely rewarding to see so many innovative climate solutions coming to fruition as a result of SDF grants.

“We are now inviting applications for the next round of funding. If you are part of a community-led group or organisation based in or around the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park and have a project that would help reduce carbon and/or respond to climate change, please consider applying.”

Projects can include:

·       Installing renewable energy generation facilities, such as solar panels, to a community building

·       Transport initiatives that promote reduced carbon emissions

·       The installation of community facilities that minimise waste, such as water fountains

·       Any other community-based carbon reduction initiatives.

The deadline for applications is 12 noon on Friday 10 September

Further information on how to apply and an application form can be found at www.pembrokeshirecoast.wales/sustainable-development-fund/.

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Firefighters respond to industrial unit fire at Rope Walk, Hakin, Milford Haven

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EMERGENCY SERVICES are responding to a fire at an industrial unit off the Rope Walk in Hakin, Milford Haven this morning (Tuesday, July 27).

The fire broke out just after 10am. Witnesses at the scene told our reporter that they beleived the fire was linked to welding work which going on a the time on the premises.

Three fire applicances are engaged with fighting the fire.

Another person close to the scene said: “Black smoke could be seen from quite a distance, and there were popping sounds and small bangs coming from inside the warehouse as the fire took hold.”

No injuries have been reported.

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