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Captain jailed after Castlemartin death



AN ARMY CAPTAIN has been sentenced to 18 months in prison after a Ranger was killed during a live firing exercise at the Castlemartin range.

The Army has also dismissed Captain Jonathan Price by the court martial, for the gross negligence manslaughter of Ranger Michael Maguire.

Lieutenant colonel Richard Bell and Warrant Officer Class 2 Stuart Pankhurst were also convicted of negligently performing a duty, after Maguire, 21, was hit by a straight bullet.

Col Bell has lost one year’s seniority as a Lieutenant colonel, which could affect the prospect of future promotion, while WO2 Pankhurst was fined £3,000 for his involvement in the incident.

The court martial at Bulford were told that the soldiers on one range were firing directly at those on the adjacent range, roughly 0.6 miles (1km) away, and so visible to each other. Ranger Maguire, of the 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment, was one of many soldiers to come under machine gun fire, before being killed by a shot in the forehead.

Nigel Lickley QC, prosecuting, told the hearing that such was Price’s ‘total disregard for the safety of his men that a public beach 3km away and anyone on it was put at risk of being hit, such was the range of the weapons being used’.

Mr Lickley added that: “It’s fortunate there were not more casualties.”

Lt Col Bell and WO2 Pankhurst helped organise the May 2012 drill, and in an 2013 inquest it was ruled that Ranger Maguire was unlawfully killed.

Both were convicted, after it was heard that they had not been present at the range reconnaissance when preparing a Range Action Safety Plan and went on to place targets too close together.

Ranger Maguire was educated at St Goban’s College near Bantry, County Cork in the Republic of Ireland. He joined the Royal Irish Regiment in May 2010, and went on to serve in Afghanistan, having the nickname ‘High Tower’ on account of being 6ft 7in (2m) tall.

In a victim impact statement, Jimmy Maguire, brother of the Ranger, said Michael ‘should still be alive’.
He went on to say: “We did not want someone to go to prison or lose their careers…. we take no comfort in the verdicts no matter what they are. It will not bring Mike back.”

The Maguire family, of Bantry, were said to be still coming to terms with the loss and its ‘needlessness’.

Mathew Sherratt QC, representing Price, explained that the officer had recently married and had a 10-year-old stepson, and so urged the court to impose a suspended sentence.

Mr Sherratt said: “It was his dream to be in the regiment. He accepts that is finished and that is huge punishment.”

After the hearing, Puneet Rai, representing Bell, said the Ministry of Defence accepted that there were failings in the system which contributed to Maguire’s death.

She said: “Since the day of this incident Col Bell has made it his personal crusade to make sure that the failings within the system are challenged.”

Speaking after the hearing, Col Marcus Simson, of the Army Personnel Services Group, offered his condolences to Ranger Maguire’s family.

Simson said: “What happened in May 2012 at Castlemartin ranges should not have occurred.”

The colonel added that training procedures at the time had been ‘fit for purpose’, but that they ‘must always look to improve and we have learned from the tragic and unnecessary incident and have tightened them further’.


Ongoing incident closes busy Haverfordwest road



A MAJOR road in Haverfordwest has been closed due to a police incident this afternoon (May 5)

A man was seen holding onto the outside railings of a bridge, talking to police officers.

The police said: “We are dealing with an ongoing incident, with concern for the welfare of a male, which has meant the A487 between Cartlett Road and Thomas Parry Way in Haverfordwest has been closed.

“Motorists are asked to avoid the area and find alternative routes.

There are reports of long queues for motorists in and around Haverfordwest with some drivers messaging The Herald saying “Town is gridlocked.”

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James Oulton found not guilty of 30 counts of sexual assault against 11 ex-pupils



JAMES OULTON, 34, the primary school teacher who was accused of 30 charges of sexual assault against pupils has been found not guilty of all charges at Swansea Crown court today, following a lengthy trial (May 4).

The charges, now dismissed, had related to his time as a Haverfordwest primary school teacher, between 2012 and 2018.

Mr Oulton had described the accusations as a “witch-hunt”.

He confirmed he had made a formal complaint against one officer involved.

Speaking after the verdict, James Oulton said: “I am glad two years and eight months of hell for my family, colleagues and friends has come to an end.”

“I’m just glad it’s over and that the jury came to the right verdict.”

The press was only able to report on the prosecution case, but not the defence case – because Oulton him self via his barrister had made an application to the court for a press restriction.

The Herald feels that this press restriction on the reporting of both sides of the case, once granted, was unlawful, and is appealing to the Court of Appeal on a point of law.


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Nineteen arrests and weapons seized during knife crime action week



NINETEEN people were arrested and a number of weapons were seized as police took part in a national week of action against knife crime, police have said.

Dyfed-Powys Police has released its results from Op Sceptre, which ran from April 26 to May 2, during which officers across the force took part in activity to crack down on crime involving blades.

The week was led by the force’s roads policing units (RPU), with a focus on targeting operations in key areas throughout the four divisions.

Neighbourhood policing teams were instrumental in engaging with shopkeepers, creating educational videos for communities on social media, and working with RPU on joint patrols in crime hotspots.

Inspector Andrew Williams said: “There have been some excellent results forcewide  from this year’s Op Sceptre, and as a result of the increased proactivity in key areas, there has also been a vast amount of other offences detected.

“This was thanks to some outstanding work by roads policing units, neighbourhood policing teams, the joint firearms unit and response officers.

“Our approach was to educate our communities on the laws around carrying and selling knives, and the dangers associated with having a blade on your possession, which was backed up with operational activity across the force.

“This has been very well received, and will be continued during the next operation.”

During the week 20 stop searches were carried out, resulting in seven arrests and numerous weapons being seized.

Twelve people were arrested for drug driving following stop checks on vehicles, one of which led to the discovery of a cannabis cultivation in the Cardigan area.

Traffic offence reports were issued to 41 drivers, and two people will be dealt with for failing to stop for officers when requested.

Neighbourhood policing activity saw engagement with 95 shop owners and community leaders, with officers and PCSOs reassured to find that most businesses were complying with the Challenge 25 policy. Those who were not will be dealt with accordingly.

Insp Williams said: “Our work to tackle knife crime will continue as we consider intelligence logs that were submitted during the operation and develop targeted plans to deal with concerns in our communities.

“We would also like to remind people that while our knife amnesty has now concluded, the best way to dispose of an unwanted blade is to take it to your local recycling centre.”

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