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Monkton protesters talk to top brass

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Protest: Outside Pembroke Dock police station

THIS MORNING (Jul 13) at 9:30am, around one hundred protesters returned to the council offices in Pembroke Dock for a meeting with police and Pembrokeshire County Council spokespersons. On arrival, they were informed that there was not enough space within the building and a handful of protesters would be allowed in.

The group, lead again by Charlie Price, declined this offer, and moved to outside the police station, where they told officers that any meeting would have to take place outside in public for all of the protesters to participate in.

With the protesters assuring the police that the protest would remain peaceful, the group cheered as it was announced that Superintendent Ian John and Kerry Macdermott, Head of Housing and Revenue Services for Pembrokeshire County Council, would be arriving shortly.

Supt. John said: “The two residents of that flat, as it stands, neither of those two people, were actually currently on the sex offender’s register.”

“The facts are, they were not on the sex offender’s register. It would be inappropriate for me to go into specific detail, but what I will say, the lady who moved in with the gentleman who is the tenant of the flat, was not required to record her movements, as she would have been if she was on the sex offenders register.

“She was not placed there. She placed herself there.”

Supt. John then went on to warn about the dangers of so-called sex offender registers which can be found on the internet, which were not official police sources and potentially ‘not current or accurate’.

Mr Macdermott said: “It is no different to having a relationship and your partner moving in. That’s what has appeared to have happened her.

“For whatever reason, the tenant has allowed that person to move in with him.

“I also manage the housing benefits as well, so I can speak with knowledge, there are many cases where a single tenant, and there is another tenant who moves in as a partner, we would not necessarily put them as joint tenants for a whole raft of legal reasons.

“She wasn’t declared as living at the property and the tenancy was not changed.”

The group then described an alleged incident in which they claimed to have ‘ran out’ a paedophile from his home the night before (Jul 12), who drove to the police station and slept in the car park.

Supt John responded by warning against any vigilante actions: “Let me just say, for anyone who commits any criminal offences, we will deal with it. If anybody at all considers taking the law into their own hand, that is the wrong thing to do, you know that.

“We have a good relationship with the people in Monkton. We want to work with everyone and keep everyone safe, but there are laws in this country which protect people.

“It is not up to me or you which punishment or control people have, we have to work together safely, and I’m telling you we will continue to do that.

“It is your duty as citizens to work together with us. By talking about taking the law into your own hands… you are putting yourself at risk.”

He then went on to reassure the group that since Tuesday night, Dyfed-Powys Police had conducted extensive research into the woman’s situation: “The circumstances of the individual we are talking about have been thoroughly looked in the last 24 hours. Prior to that we had some contact with her locally, but what we did not know was the details of that background.”

Mr Macdermott then offered financial support to the group, who earlier in the morning had been talking about raising funds for charity: “If you set up a committee with Pearl on the committee, there are certain funds we can make available to you.  I am prepared to come down and help you, help raise funds, and provide monies for charities.”

Mr Price, and many of the members of the group, saw this as an attempt of ‘paying off’ their cause, and declined: “We appreciate the offer, we are glad to know you are willing to sit down and talk to use. One thing we don’t want is the council to pay us off, so thank you for your offer, but we don’t need your money.”

Annalee: Not happy with the sex offenders register

A local resident, Annalee, then spoke of her experience with the sex offenders register after he daughter was sexually assaulted: “Fifteen years ago my daughter was sexually assaulted by a cousin. He only got put on the sex offenders register for five years, because he admitted doing the crime and was 15. He did his five years, and then went into the army.

“He used a different name – that wasn’t policed. He’s come out of the army, re-offended, and is now back on the sex offenders register for another five years.

“The law needs to change. If the law was how it is in England and Scotland, and there was more of a punishment, perhaps he wouldn’t have come out of the army and re-offended.

“I went to court 18 months ago after he was caught re-offending, it was a court in England, the Judge couldn’t believe why he was only on the register for the severity of the case against my daughter for just five years.”

Following the conclusion of the meeting, Cllr Pearl Llewellyn said: “I am here for Monkton. I support you 100%, but this has to be a peaceful demonstration – you won’t get anywhere with shouting.

“Charlie has excelled himself yesterday and today – he is a good spokesperson, he’s talking from the heart and means every word he says, but you have to know what you’re asking and what you’re talking about.

“I have to take advice from police and the council – I was told by Pembrokeshire County Council not to get involved or to come to these meetings, but I have, because my daughter lived in Monkton.

“Thank you all for coming down and being very patient.”

The event concluded with the announcement that a further protest would be held at County Hall in Haverfordwest tomorrow (Jul 14).

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Crime

Former senior social worker jailed for sexual assault against a child

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A FORMER senior social worker (formerly of Pembrokeshire) who attempted to arrange to meet children for sex, and admitted enjoying ‘caressing’ a young girl, has been jailed for five years.

When police arrested Richard Ford (formerly known as Dale Richard Barker) in September 2022, they discovered more than 900 indecent images of children on his computers. Further enquiries revealed he had also sexually assaulted a child on three occasions.

The 51-year-old, formerly of Pembrokeshire, now of Princess Way Road, Hackney, was brought to Dyfed-Powys Police’s attention by two separate police officers who were working on an operation targeting people involved in online sexual exploitation. The operation deploys undercover officers with specialist online training on a range of social media sites to identify people with a sexual interest in children.

Information provided by the undercover team showed Ford had been communicating with officers on social networks for between four and six months.

Dyfed-Powys Police Detective Constable Joe Hartnell said: “One of the officers purported to be a woman with a 13-year-old daughter, while the other said they were a man with an 11-year-old adopted son, and a seven-year-old foster daughter.

“Believing the officers to be adults with a sexual interest in children, Ford took part in sexualised chat, asking to meet the officers and their children with the intention of carrying out sexual acts.

“Thankfully Ford was in contact with undercover officers at this point, and not members of the public with real children who could have come to serious harm. It is believed he had been talking to at least one other adult online, however it’s not known who this was.”

Dyfed-Powys Police’s Police Online Investigation Team (POLIT) and Criminal Investigation Department (CID) attended Ford’s home, where they seized 19 digital devices. During an in-depth forensic investigation, 913 indecent images of children were found – with more than 250 classified as Category A, the most serious.

It was established that Ford was interested in girls aged between 7 and 14, and had made comments online about ‘groping’ girls.

DC Hartnell said: “This is a man who clearly has criminal thoughts about children, and as our enquiries continued a young girl disclosed that she had been inappropriately touched by Ford on three occasions.

“She was incredibly brave in coming forward, and provided us with valuable evidence which allowed us to secure further charges against Ford.”

Ford was charged with 10 offences:

  • Possessing indecent photographs/pseudo photographs of a child (x4)
  • Distributing indecent photographs/pseudo photographs of a child
  • Attempting to cause a child aged between 13 and 15 to watch or look at an image of sexual activity
  • Attempt to arrange/facilitate the commission of child sex offence
  • Three counts of sexual assault

He appeared at Swansea Crown Court on Monday, February 26, where he was sentenced to five years in prison.

DC Hartnell added: “This has been a lengthy investigation into the actions of a man in a position of trust as a senior social worker, who in fact could not be trusted around children.

“I would like to commend the bravery of the victim in coming forward and talking to officers, as well as acknowledging the work of various departments across Dyfed-Powys Police in gathering strong evidence to convict Ford, and the support of Pembrokeshire County Council.

“We are committed to pursuing those intent on committing harm against the most vulnerable in our society, and would like to assure victims that they will be treated with compassion and dignity when they choose to report crimes to us.”

A Pembrokeshire County Council spokesperson added: “We are aware that an individual formerly employed by the council has been sentenced for several child sex offences.

“These offences were not committed by the individual in the course of their employment with the council, and as with any investigation into child sexual abuse, the local authority cooperated with the criminal investigation, and took all steps to ensure that any children impacted by such offences are identified and supported.

“Anyone who has a concern about the welfare of a child can contact police on 101, the child care assessment team on 01437 764551, or in an emergency, dial 999.”

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Community

Pop up museum opens in Haverfordwest whilst Castle works continue

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WITH Haverfordwest Castle closed for the next couple years due to building works for the Heart of Pembrokeshire project the Haverfordwest Town Museum has had to relocate to the town centre.

Last September, plans to move temporarily Haverfordwest’s museum to the town’s Riverside Quay while levelling-up works in the town are ongoing were given the thumbs-up.

An application for a change of use of the former GAME electronic games store at 24-25 Riverside Quay to the temporary home for the ‘pop-up’ museum was submitted to county planners by historian and council presiding member Dr Simon Hancock.

The museum itself is moving from its current site at the Governor’s Office next to Haverfordwest Castle due to ongoing works connected with the £24m Heart of Pembrokeshire levelling-up redevelopment of that part of the county town, which is expected to last until Spring 2026.

Work is ongoing to set up displays and create a museum shop and the new Riverside home is hoped to open to the public on March 25.

Museum Curator Dr Hancock said: “We want to make the pop-up museum an informative and entertaining space. We will have models of the castle and Tudor Merchant’s house, displays on the Llewellin churnworks, the Port of Haverfordwest, items made in the town during the Victorian period, David Lindley paintings and the People of Haverfordwest panels.

“We will be open all year round in our new premises and so we will ensure there will be regular changes of content. We would like to hear from anyone who would be interested in volunteering for us.

“The pop-up museum would only be possible thanks to the stalwart support of the county council with funding from the Shared Prosperity Fund for which we are extremely grateful.”

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News

Vandal-blighted house cannot be demolished without application

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AN OFFICIAL application needs to be made before a deteriorated vandal-blighted house in Haverfordwest may be demolished by a social housing provider, county planners have said.

Social housing provider Ateb Group Limited recently gave county planners prior notification of its plans to demolish The Grove, St Thomas Green.

In its application, it stated: “The building has been unoccupied for several years and its physical condition has deteriorated significantly over that time. It has become prone to vandalism and trespass and is becoming difficult to manage and secure.

“Its demolition will allow the structure and resultant debris to be removed, improving the visual amenities of the locality. It will also enable the site to become readily available for a sensitive redevelopment in association with the adjacent Meyler House.”

It added: “The cleared site will become part of the adjoining Meyler House site, with proposals being prepared to redevelop and construct affordable elderly persons apartments and associated parking facilities.”

Ateb has said it expected the demolition works to take several weeks, starting this April.

Agent Evans Banks Planning Limited, in a supporting statement said The Grove, adjoining Ateb’s head offices at Meyler House, received permission back in 2009 for the “Demolition of existing dwelling and replacement with apartments, houses and landscaped grounds.”

Conservation Area Consent was also granted at that time.

“Those permissions were not implemented and have long since lapsed, but nevertheless indicate that the principle of demolishing The Grove was deemed acceptable at that time to the local planning authority,” said Evans Banks Planning Limited.

“A pre-application enquiry has recently been presented before the local planning authority which seeks to reignite such redevelopment proposals but on a much larger site, incorporating Meyler House and its grounds into a comprehensive redevelopment scheme to create elderly persons apartments.”

It added: “This current submission seeks to renew that 2009 Conservation Area Consent given that the existing former dwellinghouse has now reached a physical state where its deterioration is causing concern.”

County planners determined that prior approval is needed before any demolition works take place, with details of tree protection while the works take place needed, along with a suitable method statement to minimise noise, dust and a strategy for dealing with hazardous materials should they arise during the demolition.

A similar application by Ateb, for demolition works at the town’s former learning centre, near to the former county library, was recently made subject to broadly similar conditions.

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