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Judge queries rape trial delay

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3416292The Swansea Crown Court trial of a Haverfordwest man ended in a hung jury on Friday afternoon (September 20).
The foreman of the jury informed the court at around 4pm that a verdict could not be agreed, and a majority of ten or eleven jurors could also not be agreed either. The foreman said there was no prospect that further deliberations would help.  Deliberations had lasted for over six and a half hours.
Geraint Walters, prosecuting, was given seven days in which to consult with the CPS over a possible retrial.
Harley Rees, aged 19, was accused of raping a friend in August or September of 2010. The girl had taken a year to come forward with a complaint, and the police and CPS had taken a further year to make a decision to bring charges.
His Honour Judge Thomas asked discharded the jury, thanking them for their service and said that their public duty was “invaluable.”
HH Judge Thomas said “It is difficult in these case of cases when views can be polorised one way or another for jurys to reach a verdict. Please do not think that you have let anyone down by not agreeing. I would like to thank each and every one of you for your sevice today”
After the jury had left the room, and addressing prosecutor Geraint Walters in open court, HH Judge Thomas said: “This trial has been carried out by professionalism and expedition by the barriesters in this court, but what I would like to find out is why did a charging decision take so long?”
The judge added: “It seems to me that problems have been caused by a lack of manpower in the Crown Prosecution Service and that you have not received the logistical back up you needed to do you job. You have been disadvantaged and struggling. In a case of this seriousness you should be given all the support you deserve, no matter what the cost.”
Harley Rees, who had been sobbing and hugging family members whilst the jury was deliberating, was smiling and confident as he walked out of court. With his new girlfriend at his side he spoke to the Herald outside the courtroom.
“I am happy with the outcome of today’s hearing” he said.
Rees added: “Now I want to go home and relax for the next seven days and wait to find out if there is going to be a retrial”
The alleged victim can not be named for legal reasons, and Rees remains on bail pending the possible retrial.

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Conservatives in plea for rate reduction ahead of Small Business Saturday

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WELSH CONSERVATIVES have reiterated their calls for Labour ministers to slash business rates for next year as we work to bounce back from the pandemic.

The party’s renewed plea comes as we mark Small Business Saturday tomorrow (Dec 4) which encourages people to shop local.

The annual event, now in its ninth year, saw 15.4 million people across the UK support their local shops, spending a huge £1.1 billion.

Small Business Saturday is a chance to celebrate the fantastic work they do such as creating jobs for local people and supporting our communities.

The Welsh Conservatives believe this year is more important than ever for people to shop in their local small businesses as they work to bounce back from the pandemic.

There are 265,340 micro, small and medium sized businesses across Wales employing nearly 740,000 people and turning over £46 billion a year.

Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for the Economy, Paul Davies MS, said: “From corner shops to cafes, small businesses are the backbone of our economy and the beating heart of local communities up and down Wales.

“Businesses have taken a huge hit because of the pandemic and with our economy still recovering, it is vital we do all we can to help our traders get back on their feet.

“We can help by shopping local, but Labour ministers in Cardiff Bay can also play their part by matching the UK Government’s pledge to slash business rates by 50% for next year – or even more.

“It is important now more than ever to shop local and help our small businesses bounce back and I hope the Labour government will step up to the plate as well and provide them with much-needed economic support so they can flourish and grow.”

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New funding for Pembroke regeneration scheme welcomed

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL has said it is proud to announce the success of its bid to the UK Government Levelling Up Fund for its regeneration project at South Quay in Pembroke.

This £4.1million LUF award will enable the Council to develop phase 2 of the South Quay plans.

“The announcement has given us a welcome opportunity for a progress update on phase 1, and to share our plans for phase 2 of the project,” said Rachel Moxey, Head of Economic Development and Regeneration.

As part of its wider regeneration work across Pembrokeshire, the County Council embarked on an ambitious programme earlier this year to redevelop the historic and prominent South Quay site next to Pembroke Castle.

The work involves the restoration and re-use of three dilapidated Grade II listed buildings on the site, as well as enhancing the surrounding environment and improving access between the town centre, castle and the waterfront.

The first phase of work aims to create a new attraction celebrating the town’s legacy as the birthplace of the Tudor dynasty. The second phase will provide a new community hub for social care, continued education and supported employment. Together, the developments will provide a diverse and sustainable mix of new uses in the town.

Phase 1:

The first phase of works is taking place at numbers 4, 5 and 6 Castle Terrace (the road between Pembroke Castle and the junction to Main Street).

The scheme will provide:

  • a new Henry Tudor visitor centre, library and café
  • landscaping of the medieval ‘burgage’ gardens to provide tranquil and restful areas in the historic heart of the town
  • major improvements to the public realm

“We were under no illusions that this was a very complex scheme, and as is often the case with such projects, a number of challenging issues have arisen as the preparatory works continue,” said Steve Jardine, Regeneration Manager.

Issues have included a roof collapse and clearance of contaminated debris, providing additional support to the existing structure and designing for additional demolition works identified during the enabling stage.

Recent work has included providing a protection system to the vaulted medieval cellars of No.4 Castle Terrace and strengthening the property at basement level, to allow for a safer working area within the front third of the building.

The next stage will attempt to make the building safer, in order to allow further investigation and inspection works to finalise the design of the regeneration scheme. This will include the installation of scaffolding to support the front façade during demolition of some of the walls.

A revised timeline will see the remaining demolition and re-build completed by the end of August next year, followed immediately by the start of the construction of the new heritage centre, café and library, with completion planned for early 2024.

In common with many other schemes taking place at the current time, Brexit and the unforeseen impact of Covid have created time and financial implications for the project. The Council is nonetheless committed to staying on track to deliver on the overall scheme as an essential element of its strategy to breathe new life into Pembrokeshire’s towns.

Phase 1 has benefited from Welsh Government ‘Transforming Towns’ funding and investment from Pembrokeshire County Council.

Cllr Paul Miller, Cabinet Member for Economy, Tourism, Leisure and Culture, said: “Repurposing and transforming our key town centres is one of the core elements of our economic development strategy. We are committed to regenerating the South Quay site into an attractive, sustainable and thriving development, of which Pembroke and Pembrokeshire will be very proud.”

Phase 2:

The second phase of development involves the completion of South Quay’s regeneration scheme and is centred on numbers 7 and 8 Northgate Street. It will provide:

  • a community hub over three storeys, including a space for day opportunities , space for digital media, art and heritage craft activities, and learning and skills areas to support independent living for people of all ages
  • environmental enhancements, including the restoration of the buildings, a new sunken garden and improvements to the parking area at South Quay
  • improved access between the Henry Tudor visitor centre and the waterfront

The development would enable the consolidation of adult social care in South Pembrokeshire, providing a modern, better-integrated, community focussed and more sustainable, inclusive day opportunities model in the heart of the town, and yielding savings to the public sector through the closure of existing, poorer quality facilities.

It will also support employment opportunities, which will be integrated within the operation of the new facility.

Jason Bennett, Head of Adult Social Care, said: “This innovative project is representative of our ambition to modernise social care, by offering inclusive services in the heart of our communities, helping people and families remain connected to their local area.”

Cabinet member for Social Care, Cllr Tessa Hodgson said it was ‘fantastic to see this substantial investment in Pembroke’. 

“South Quay is a really innovative scheme designed to benefit all members of the community and is a result of the ambition and drive of Cabinet and the hard work and vision of the regeneration and social care teams at Pembrokeshire County Council,” she said.

Cllr Aaron Carey, County Councillor for Pembroke St Mary South which includes the South Quay site, added: “By introducing an additional offering to the town we can move towards our full potential and offer people, local and visitors alike, reasons to stay in our beautiful town for longer.”

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Extreme pornographic images case to be dealt with at Swansea Crown Court

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A MILFORD HAVEN man who denies three charges of making indecent images of children and of possessing an extreme pornographic image portraying sexual interference with a corpse, has been sent to Crown Court for trial.

Markus Whatling, 38, of Waterloo Square, denies a further charge of possessing a prohibited image of a child.

The offences are alleged to have occurred between May 2, 2010 and February 25, 2021.

Whatling was released by Haverfordwest magistrates this week on conditional bail, the condition being that he does not have any unsupervised contact with anyone under the age of 18.

The case was heard on Tuesday.

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