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Inquest concludes suicide after woman went overboard

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THE INQUEST into the death of a woman who jumped overboard a ferry in order to kill herself, was heard at the Pembrokeshire Coroners’ Court today (Feb 23).

Jennifer Massi lived at Dagmar Court on Cornwall Road, and was 24-years-old at the time of her death.

Jeremy Davies, Coroner’s Officer for Dyfed-Powys Police told the court that Ms Massi was born in the Kongo in Africa, and was one of two children. She attended Southgate College and took a Business Studies course, and later worked in a dental practise.

Mr Davies said: “The loss of her brother affected her deeply. She suffered with psychosis and was receiving medication. At 8.31am on December 2, Dyfed-Powys Police were made aware of a missing person believed to have gone overboard the ferry, travelling from Pembroke Dock to Rosslaire.
“The coastguard reported that her property was found on the vessel, which included a coat, a mobile phone and a bank card.”

Mr Davies explained that she had travelled on the Eurolines coach from London to Pembrokeshire. The driver of the coach had not realised she was missing until the ferry docked in Ireland, and had said that she had tried to deport the coach a number of times on the way to Pembrokeshire.

Ms Massi was living alone in a one bedroom flat, and suffered with mental health. She had discharged herself from recovery.

Mr Davies continued: “CCTV showed Ms Massi entering the reception area and went on the ferry at 2.10pm. At 2.40pm, the driver of the coach went onto deck 9 for a smoke, and saw Ms Massi there. He went inside at 2.45pm and she was still there.

“Her belongings were found on deck 9, and a text on her mobile phone from a person called Lorraine, who was concerned for her welfare and urged her to make contact on receipt of the message.”

A body was later found on the shore of Milford Haven. Dyfed-Powys Police couldn’t attend as it was only accessible through vessel or air. The body was airlifted to Haverfordwest Aerodrome.

Mr Davies explained that the body matched the description of Ms Massi, and in her pocket was a coach ticket with her name on.

On Monday, December 5, Ms Massi’s father formally identified her body at Withybush Hospital.

Pembrokeshire Coroner, Mark Layton read a report by Dr Ruth Cloocke, who said Ms Massi had an established diagnosis of resistant paranoid schitzophrenia, and had a record of drug misuse.

The court heard that the severe loss of her brother, who was killed in a random act of violence, had affected her greatly, but she had mental health problems since she was a teenager. At age 15, she was removed from her mother’s care after she attempted to take her own life.

She was unable to live alone, and was looking forward to moving into supported accommodation. However, just four days before she was going to move into her new home, she was told it was no longer available.

Mr Davies said: “This had a devastating effect. She started a fire at her previous address, and claimed to have started it accidentally with a cigarette.

“At 2pm that day, she went to her father’s address, but did not tell him about the fire. She accepted a phone call and said she was travelling to the Kongo with her father later that day.

“That was the last communication she had with her family and mental heath professionals.”

Mr Davies explained that she had repeatedly attempted suicide, with incidents such as overdosing on paracetamol and Jack Daniels, thoughts of slashing her wrists and taking 50 paracetamol tablets and drinking bleach.

The court heard that on one occasion, she was found sitting in the dark by herself with two knives, and said she wanted to take apart her hair. Her hair, which was in braids at the time, had been cut off and was on the floor.

Mr Davies said: “In October 2016 she had contemplated suicide, such as walking into a circular road and getting run over. She had low self worth, and had thought about jumping from a bridge, but she denied an intent to act.”

However, Mr Davies said she did act on her thoughts on December 1.

A post-mortem report by Dr Daniel Houza, explained that there was a low level of alcohol which could have been produced after her death, but she had ultimately died through unnatural causes, in particular, drowning.

Mr Mark Layton said that looking at her history of mental health problems, and how deeply affected she was by the death of her brother, the court concludes that Ms Massi took deliberate steps to end her life.

Mr Layton concluded that she committed suicide, and passed on his condolences to the family, who were absent at the inquest.

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Business

1,000 thefts a day: Labour calls for more support for high streets

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SHOCK analysis by the Labour Party has revealed more than 1,000 shoplifting offences are being committed across England and Wales every day – equating to an offence almost every minute of the day.

Yet separate Freedom of Information requests submitted by the party to police forces suggest that charges have fallen by a quarter over the past five years.

Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Mid and South Pembrokeshire, Henry Tufnell, was out visiting local businesses in Tenby last week (April 19) to hear about the challenges presented by shoplifting and anti-social behaviour.

Henry Tufnell, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Mid and South Pembrokeshire, said: “Pembrokeshire relies upon local businesses to grow our local economy, support jobs, and drive tourism. Today’s stats are clear: the Conservatives have lost control.

“Labour has a plan to ensure our town centres are a safe, enjoyable place for Pembrokeshire residents to spend time in. Coupled with the Welsh Labour Government’s Transforming Towns scheme, which will provide £27 million by 2025 in South West Wales towards funding projects to regenerate and support our town centres, Labour’s priority is breathing life back into our high streets.”

Philippa Thompson, Labour’s Police and Crime Commissioner candidate for Dyfed Powys Police, joined with members of the Co-operative Party and USDAW, the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers, to campaign for stronger protections for retail workers.

Today’s announcement comes shortly after the UK government finally committed to introduce a new offence for assault of a retail worker, which Labour, the Co-op and USDAW have called for, for more than a decade.

Labour’s Police and Crime Commissioner candidate for Dyfed Powys Police, Philippa Thompson, said:

“A Labour Government in Westminster means we’ll see more police on the streets, a crackdown on anti-social behaviour, and on retail crime. As a Labour & Co-operative Party candidate, today I am campaigning with USDAW to strengthen protections for retail workers against the assault and abuse they face at work.

It has taken the Conservatives ten years to heed what Labour, the Co-operative Party and USDAW have been saying, and introduce a specific offence for assault of a retail worker. The Tories have run out of steam and run out of ideas, and it’s time for a change. Only Labour can deliver that change.”

Since September, Labour has been calling for the Tories to scrap their Shoplifter’s Charter, which is leaving criminals to steal with impunity.

The rule, brought in by Theresa May in 2014, introduced a new category of ‘low-value shoplifting’ to describe theft of goods worth under £200 and has led to police deprioritising enforcement in these cases – even where there are repeat offences or organised shoplifting. This has left businesses and retail workers at the mercy of criminals.
 
Alongside removing the Tories’ £200 rule, Labour has vowed to put 13,000 more neighbourhood police and PCSOs back on the streets and introduce a Community Policing Guarantee to tackle shoplifting.

Yvette Cooper MP, Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary, said: “Under the Tories too many communities and high streets are being blighted by staggering increases in shoplifting, but charge rates are going down. That means more criminals are getting away with it and more local businesses are paying the price.
 
“The Conservative government has decimated neighbourhood policing, leaving our town centres unprotected, and they are still refusing to get rid of the £200 rule, which is encouraging repeat offending and organised gangs of shoplifters.
 
“Labour will scrap the Tories’ Shoplifter’s Charter and bring in a Community Policing Guarantee, with 13,000 more neighbourhood police and PCSOs to crackdown on shoplifting and keep the public safe.”

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Community

Pembrokeshire embraces future with new e-bike scheme

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL, under the chairmanship of Thomas Baden Tudor, has announced an exciting new initiative aimed at boosting sustainable transportation across the region. The council has introduced a “pay as you go” electric bike (E-Bike) service, now available in Haverfordwest, Fishguard, Goodwick, and Tenby as part of a 12-month trial that commenced on 8th April 2024.

The scheme, managed by Zeus Mobility, features the Zip bikes—electrically powered bicycles designed to make cycling less strenuous and more accessible to a broader demographic. Each location will start with 10 E-Bikes, with plans to increase the fleet to 50 by summer. The service will include three main charging stations and numerous satellite bays for convenient access and returns.

Priced competitively, the E-Bikes can be hired for £3.00 for the first hour, with subsequent time billed at 5p per minute. Daily and weekly rates are also available, offering users more flexibility for longer trips. The bikes are aimed at reducing reliance on motor vehicles, promoting healthier living, and contributing to national decarbonisation targets.

Councillor Tudor tested the new bikes himself, describing the experience as “brilliant fun for the whole family” and encouraging all residents and visitors to give them a try. The initiative is part of a broader effort by the council to offer eco-friendly travel options that align with environmental objectives.

To use the E-Bikes, riders need to download the Zipp Mobility app, which allows for bike unlocking, ride tracking, and payment. The app also provides information on bike locations, parking bays, and cycling routes within the county.

Funded by a £150,000 grant from the Swansea Bay and South West Wales Metro, the project focuses solely on this E-Bike trial, aiming to make Pembrokeshire a leader in sustainable travel. For further details on hiring and operating the E-Bikes, residents can visit the Cycle Pembrokeshire webpage or contact the team directly via email at [email protected].

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20mph U-turn: Some roads will return to 30mph following public outcry

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IN a recent shift in policy, Transport Secretary Ken Skates announced that some roads in Wales will revert to a 30mph speed limit following significant public opposition to the Welsh Government’s £34 million initiative to impose a default 20mph limit. This move addresses the concerns consistently raised by many citizens.

The controversial policy, initially rolled out across Wales under former First Minister Mark Drakeford and his transport minister, Lee Waters, aimed at enhancing road safety. However, it has since faced backlash, illustrated by nearly half a million signatures on a Senedd petition opposing the change.

“We’ve put our hands up to say the guidance has to be corrected,” Skates stated, acknowledging the widespread dissatisfaction with the policy’s implementation. He emphasised the need for targeted 20mph zones, particularly in sensitive areas such as near schools, hospitals, and densely populated housing estates. Yet, he admitted that certain routes should not have been included under the stricter speed limit.

Swansea Council Leader Rob Stewart welcomed the revised approach but highlighted the financial burden of changing road signage, urging the Welsh Government to assist with the expenses. Stewart praised Skates’ “pragmatic approach” and stressed that the government should not impose the financial strain on local councils, which are already facing tough budgetary decisions.

The policy has had its proponents, particularly among cycling groups and safety advocates who argue that the lower speed limits contribute to safer community spaces. Despite this, many have called for a more nuanced application of the speed limits rather than a blanket reduction.

In response to the backlash, Skates is set to present the planned adjustments in a forthcoming statement to the Senedd. The changes will allow local councils the autonomy to restore the 30mph limit where deemed appropriate, potentially affecting up to 10 roads in Swansea alone.

Leaders from other councils, including Huw Thomas of Cardiff, expressed relief over the change. Cardiff, where the majority of roads were already under a 20mph limit, saw a favourable reception of the policy. Nonetheless, the decision to empower local governments has been largely welcomed.

The Welsh Conservatives, through their transport spokesperson Natasha Asghar, have voiced strong opposition to the original policy, criticising its expansive application. Meanwhile, Plaid Cymru leader Rhun ap Iorwerth called for a more carefully considered implementation, supporting the principle of 20mph zones but criticising their inconsistent enforcement.

Responding to comments made by Ken Skates, Labour’s Cabinet Secretary for Transport on potential changes to the 20mph guidance, Natasha Asghar MS, Welsh Conservative Shadow Transport Minister said: “The people of Wales have rightfully taken significant issue with Labour’s 20mph policy and ‘correcting guidance’ will not be enough to ease concerns.

“The Welsh Conservatives are the only the party to have consistently voted against the ridiculous 20mph policy involving 97% of previously 30mph roads and a £9 billion hit to the Welsh economy.

“The Welsh Conservatives want to see this policy scrapped and have given the Labour Government a number of opportunities to vote to do so. A more targeted approach is needed with the support of the Welsh people.”

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