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Swan killer sentenced for ‘disgusting’ act

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Swans: The family in Withybush Woods (pic. The Herald)

A 19-YEAR-OLD man who killed a family of swans at Withybush Woods in Haverfordwest with three other people appeared at Haverfordwest Magistrates’ Court today (Mar 28).

Joseph Lawson, who now lives in Derbyshire, pleaded guilty to possessing an air weapon in a public place, possessing 0.9 grams of cannabis and jointly killing swans.

Lawson had also failed to attend the previous hearing relating to the death of the swans, and was charged with failing to appear at court.

Prosecutor, Vaughan Pritchard-Jones said: “This case has attracted public and press attention. A family of swans were shot and suspicion fell on three men and one youth.

“Enquiries were made, and police spoke to a lady who live in the same block of flats as Lawson. He turned up and asked her to hide his air rifle and said the police were after him.”

The court heard that the lady in question was very unwell, and agreed to hide the rifle.

He continued: “He turned up the next day to collect it, and she overheard that he wanted to get rid of the gun because he didn’t want the police to match the pellets with it. He asked her to give him an alibi. However, she told the police and he was arrested with three others.

“This was a joint enterprise, and they are all equally responsible. One adult pleaded not guilty, the youth was given a referral order and the other adult, Phillips, was given a four month custodial sentence, suspended for 12 months.”
He told the court that in total, four people went out shooting, and Lawson believed that Mattson, who has pleaded not guilty, had permission to shoot on private land.

Mr Pritchard-Jones said that Lawson claims he has suffered from a lack of sleep since the incident.
He said: “His intentions were to get a rabbit or a duck to eat. They started to try and find them, but found none.”

In his statement, Lawson said: “I had the gun. I am not from here, and I don’t know the area very well. We went to the woods and saw a pond but there were no ducks.”

He explained that there was a conversation about shooting ducks, to which the youth said would be ‘funny as f**k’.

He said: “I am easily led, and I shot the swan. As soon as I did it I put my head down in disgrace. I could not believe what I had done.”

He said in his statement, that he told the group that they needed to kill the swan to put it out of its misery, to which his co-defendant, Benjamin Phillips, said ‘It’s f***ing evil leaving it like that’.

He added: “It’s the lowest thing you can do, like. I’ve been feeling very low and have thought about suicide. I get help by phoning my mum.”

Mr Pritchard-Jones explained that four swans were injured in total. The wing of a cygnet had been ‘completely severed’, and was alive when it was recovered, but had to be put down by a vet.

The male swan was found dead with two pellets in its body: One in its wing, and another in its abdomen. Another cygnet also had tearing injuries, which implied that a pellet had passed through it.

Probation officer, Julie Norman, said: “This is a very unpleasant case. He bought the rifle a few days before, and the plan was to go out shooting ducks.

“It was around 8pm so would have been pitch black. He said there was peer pressure on him, and he made one shot, and the others took the rest.”

She continued: “He has mental health issues. Alongside that, he has chronic substance misuse and self harms. He has scars on his arms, and he self harmed yesterday (Mar 27) in police custody.”

Defence solicitor, David Williams, said: “I wish to express on his behalf his sincerest apologies and deep remorse of becoming involved in this incident.

“He is a young man and has never been to prison before. He has significant mental health problems. He has struggled with his mental health from the age of 8-years-old. His recent self harm was when he handed himself in yesterday.”

Mr Williams also explained that Lawson has psychosis and borderling split personality disorder.

Lawson told the court: “I am very sorry for my actions and what I have done.”

Chair of the bench, Cllr David Simpson, told Lawson: “We think that what you have done is disgusting. If you have read the local paper, you will have seen the anger and venom produced from this. People have been disgusted.”

Lawson was sentenced to four months in prison, suspended for 12 months. He must also pay £115 victim surcharge, £85 prosecution costs and £60 towards veterinary costs.

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Mark Drakeford says: ‘Thank you Wales for going red’

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LABOUR is staying in power in Wales after matching its best-ever Senedd election result. It won exactly half of the 60 seats in the Welsh Parliament with all results now declared

Labour has 30 seats, with the Conservatives on 16, Plaid Cymru on 13 and the Liberal Democrats one.
Mark Drakeford thanked Wales for “going red” and has vowed to be “radical” and “ambitious” in government, as Labour looks to solidify its leadership in Wales.

Labour’s Vaughan Gething, health minister in the Welsh government, told the media that the party didn’t “have to look at a formal coalition” because they had done so well.

“We do, however, have to talk to other groups within the Senedd,” he said.

Mr Gething said Labour had a “strong mandate to govern” with 30 of the Senedd’s 60 seats.

The Wales Green Party failed to win a seat in the Senedd elections but they say they recorded their highest-ever result in Wales. Leader Anthony Slaughter said the “results demonstrate the appetite for change” across Wales.

A very happy Mark Drakeford on Saturday, May 8 (Photo Welsh Labour/Twitter)

Amelia Womack, deputy leader of the Green Party, said: “We seem to be getting votes from all of the parties and support on that regional list as people increase their knowledge of the voting system.”

Adam Price, who held Carmarthen East and Dinefwr with a reduced majority, said he would not stand down as Plaid Cymru leader.

Despite no gains, Mr Price said the party had increased its share of the vote and its stance on independence had been a “net positive”.

“I’m not walking away from anything, because this is the moment when Wales needs leadership,” he said.

“This is a historic challenge, because of the way that the politics is moving in this island, but it’s also a historic opportunity for us.

On the campaign trail, Plaid leader Adam Price (Pic Plaid Cymru)

“We can move our nation forward and I’m looking forward to playing my part, it’s not something that anyone can do on their own.

“I have a role to play, we all have a role to play and that’s what’s exciting about politics at the moment. Wales is on the move Wales is on the march. I’m going to be part of that.”

Later, on social media, Adam Price said: ” I extend my congratulations to Mark Drakeford on securing a mandate to lead the next government. Although disappointed not to be returning more Members to the Senedd, I am proud that we ran a positive campaign based on a transformational programme.

“Our Senedd group will bring renewed energy and fresh ideas and I look forward to working with all my colleagues as we continue to build the case for independence. We will be a constructive but forensic opposition as we enter a crucial period of pandemic recovery.

“However, the sixth Senedd will be poorer without one of Wales’s most remarkable politicians. No one has given more to the party or to her community than Leanne Wood – an inspiring role model for so many.

“Leanne’s commitment to the Rhondda is unparalleled and I know she will continue to make an important contribution to the future of our nation and the pursuit of social justice which always has and always will drive her politics.

“Westminster’s attack on devolution is only just beginning and Wales needs a plan – that plan must focus on taking our own future into our own hands so we can build a nation that is fair and free.

TORYS CLAIM BEST RESULT EVER

The Welsh Conservatives say that they have secured the party’s best ever result in a Senedd election, winning 16 seats in the Welsh Parliament.

In a statement to the press the party said: “Today’s final election results have seen the Welsh Conservatives secure two regional list seats in both South Wales Central and South Wales East.

“Welsh Conservatives polled 289,802 votes (share up 5.0) across 40 constituencies – 26.1% of the vote – winning eight seats including gains in both the Vale of Clwyd and Brecon and Radnorshire.

“On the five regional lists, Welsh Conservatives secured 278,560 votes (share up 6.3), winning eight seats. The result will see the Senedd return its first ever female from a BAME background, with Welsh Conservatives’ Natasha Asghar making history with election in South Wales East.

Welsh Conservative Senedd leader, Andrew RT Davies with Joel Williams on election day (Pic RT Davies/Twitter)

Commenting, Welsh Conservative Senedd leader, Andrew RT Davies said: “Firstly, I’d like to say a huge thank you to our outstanding set of Welsh Conservative candidates, activists and staff who’ve worked incredibly hard throughout this campaign and secured the party’s best ever Senedd result.

“The team has gone above and beyond and deserve great credit for the positive campaign we’ve run right across Wales, and I am thrilled to see Natasha Asghar make history in South Wales East by becoming the first female from a BAME background to be elected to the Senedd.

Newly elected Conservative member of Senedd, Sam Kurtz, talking to BBC reporter Aled Scourfield (Pic J Coles/Herald)

“As a party we are also delighted to have secured constituency seats in the Vale of Clwyd and Brecon and Radnorshire, and increased seats on the regional lists, resulting in our highest ever representation in the Senedd with 16 members.

“It’s been an unconventional campaign and it’s clear incumbency and continuity has played a significant part. To that end, I would like to offer my sincere congratulations to Mark Drakeford and Welsh Labour on a successful campaign.

“The election has been fought in good spirit by political parties in Wales and I would like to pay a final word of thanks to the many officials across the country who’ve allowed this election to take place in a safe and effective manner.”

IMPACT OF PANDEMIC

Ian Price, director of CBI Wales, congratulated Labour. He said: “This is a critical time for the Welsh economy and the new parliament must have a laser-like focus on rebuilding from the devastating impact of the pandemic,” he said.
“That means all parties pulling together and working with business to protect jobs, rebuild livelihoods and create a fair and sustainable recovery that addresses the longstanding structural challenges our economy faces.”

Royal Town Planning Institute, largest professional body for town planners in the UK and Europe, commented on the election result saying: “The Welsh Labour Manifesto meets many of the issues raised by the RTPI, including tackling climate action, investing in public transport and active travel, and the delivery of quality affordable homes, including a focus on strengthening Welsh language communities.

“The manifesto commits to strengthening the autonomy and effectiveness of local government to make them more successful in delivering services. We have highlighted the need to invest in planning services to enable the delivery of Welsh Labour’s priorities.”

LABOUR “RESILIENT”

Speaking to the BBC, political commentator Prof Roger Awan-Scully said: “I think it’s been an astonishingly resilient performance by the Welsh Labour Party, amidst disasters for Labour elsewhere in the UK.

“The Conservatives are also performing strongly, but not quite bringing it home in terms of the number of constituency victories that they might have expected.

“For Plaid Cymru I think this has to be said to be a deeply disappointing election.”

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Conservatives hold on to Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire seat

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THE CONSERVATIVES have held on to their Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire seat despite Labour closing the gap.

Sam Kurtz will take over the seat from the outgoing Angela Burns who held a majority of 3,400 at the last election.

This time, the gap was just 936 to Labour’s Hassan Riaz who picked up 10,304 votes.

Plaid Cymru’s Cefin Campbell picked up 6,615 votes.

The turnout in Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire was slightly up to 52.12% from 51.2% in 2016.

However, with a larger electorate thanks to votes for 16/17-year-olds, the number of votes cast went up by almost 3,000.

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Paul Davies re-elected as Conservatives hold Preseli Pembrokeshire

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PAUL DAVIES has been re-elected to represent the Preseli Pembrokeshire constituency.

He won with 12,295 votes, while there were 10,895 votes for Labour’s Jackie Jones.

Plaid Cymru candidate Cris Tomos gained just over 6,000 votes and there were also 1,239 for Reform UK candidate Alan Dennison.

There were over 3000 more votes cast in 2016, down largely in part to the fact that 16 and 17 year olds were able to vote in this election.

Both the Conservatives and Labour received more votes than before while the gap to Labour closed to just 1,400.

After being elected, Paul Davies said he would continue to ‘fight for Pembrokeshire’ and thanked those who had been involved in his campaign.

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