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Victim speaks out about the impact knifepoint robbery

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Teifion Lewis: Robbed the man at knifepoint

THE VICTIM of a knifepoint robbery has spoken out about the impact the incident has had on his life as Dyfed-Powys Police takes part in a national knife amnesty aiming to get weapons off the streets.

The 24-year-old was approached by a man he didn’t know while walking his dog in Carmarthen on July 20 this year. A knife was held to his chest, and he was forced to hand over the money in his wallet.

His attacker, Teifion Lewis, of Llammas Street, Carmarthen, was arrested and charged with robbery within four days, and was sentenced to 40 months in prison.

Looking back at the incident, the victim, who has asked to remain anonymous, said: “At first, I didn’t realise he had a knife on him. I just assumed he was another man who was out partying, given he was young and it was late on a Friday night.

“Even when he was right in front of me with his hand on my chest, I assumed he must have had too much to drink and just stumbled into me. Once I saw he was brandishing a knife, though, that changed everything. It was at that moment that I realised I was in far more danger than I’d first thought.

“I suppose the only real thing that was going through my mind at the time was to talk to him, do as he says, and get out of there as soon as possible without becoming hysterical. I just had to keep as calm as possible for the time he was blocking my route.”

He explained that it was only when Lewis had taken his money and walked away, that he realised what could have happened had things gone wrong.

“I thought about how easily he could have stabbed me and I’d have been left out in an empty street, cold and alone, bleeding to death, without even a mobile phone on me to call my friends and family to tell them I love them,” he said.

“I’ve never given much thought as to what my inevitable death will be like, but I’d never have thought it could have ended that way.”

The victim had walked his dog every night for two years – using this particular route for seven months – with no issue. Since being robbed, he has become wary of going out at night and hasn’t been able to walk down the lane where he was stopped without suffering flashbacks.

“It’s not necessarily the whole event that comes back to me, but different parts, such as when he started to sob to me about his home life, or when he apologised for ‘having to mug me’,” he said.

“By far, what’s stuck with me the most are the words said to me as I was being mugged. The words ‘I want your money, I don’t want your life’ have been repeating in my mind every day since then, without failure.”

On September 2, at Swansea Crown Court, Teifion Lewis was sentenced for robbery and possessing a knife in a public place. The victim read out a statement directly addressing Lewis, urging him to get his life back on track and forgiving him for what he did.

“You asked me that night to forget that the robbery had ever happened,” he read. “My assumption is because you were fearful as for what might subsequently happen to you. I’m afraid though, that the image of a knife being flicked towards my chest, and the phrase ‘I want your money, I don’t want your life’ is something I will never be able to erase from my mind, no matter how much I wish for it to go.

“I want you, however, to improve. I want you to use your punishment as your wake-up call, and as a doorway to improving both your future and the future of those who you are close to. There is help available for you, even in prison, and even when it seems all hope is lost. If I can get my life back on track after my autism diagnosis, so can you.

“You’re young, you’re able bodied, and you still have time. Use it wisely. I can’t forget what you did, but just this once I will forgive you.”

The victim has spoken out about his experience as Dyfed-Powys Police takes part in Operation Sceptre – a national week of action aimed at cracking down on the illegal possession of knives. A knife amnesty is taking place during the week (Sept 18-24), with people able to bin their knives at specific locations across the force no questions asked.

The 24-year-old has backed the operation, and the chance to get knives out of our communities.

“I’d prefer it if these people who carry knives with them be honest about who they are and why they have them on their person,” he said. “But it’s much more important that it’s an opportunity to get these weapons off the street.

“If the ability to do this anonymously is what gives these people the confidence to rid themselves of their weapons, then so be it.”

Business

First drive-thru Starbucks in Pembrokeshire approved

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PEMBROKESHIRE is to get its first drive-thru Starbucks coffee shop after a scheme was backed by county planners today, May 21.

An application – expected to create 20 jobs – by Magic Bean Company Ltd to site an Electric Vehicle (EV) charging station and drive through Starbucks coffee shop on land adjoining Days Garage, Fishguard Road, Haverfordwest, was recommended for conditional approval when it came before the May meeting of Pembrokeshire County Council’s planning committee.

A report for planners said: “There are two principal elements to the proposed development. The provision of an EV charging station with eight charging points and a drive through coffee shop, which will provide 20 full time jobs.

“A further 13 parking spaces are provided to serve the development, including two spaces for people with disabilities. The coffee shop will be situated at the western end of the site opposite the proposed EV charging station, which is centrally located within the site. “

It added: “The coffee shop building will be single storey with a ‘tower’ feature in the west elevation where the customer collection point will be located beneath a timber finished pergola.”

The report said the proposal represented a more effective use of the application site than its current car parking use.

10 representations from members of the public raised concerns about the proposal, issues including: no need for additional coffee shops locally, adverse impact on existing small local coffee shops and that the planning authority should not be supporting “multinational businesses,” and littering and highway issues.

While Starbucks was not mentioned in the planning documents, Magic Bean Company Ltd, on its website, says: “Established in 2014, The Magic Bean Company opened our first store and became the first licensee to open a Starbucks Drive Thru.

“Since then, we have gone on to become Starbuck’s only national growth partner covering England and Wales, developing our green electric vehicle Starbucks platform.”

Speaking at the May 21 meeting, Magic Bean Company Ltd agent Matthew Gray said the drive-thru coffee shop would be a Starbucks, adding: “The application is driven by the requirement for Days to diversify, following a slowing of vehicle sales across the UK.”

He added: “It’s pretty well reported that car sales are slow in the UK in the past few years, this is an opportunity to boost the viability of their [Days’] own operation.”

He said the eight EV charging units would be provided by Ionity, one of Europe’s largest charging providers, with a need for more such facilities in west Wales.

After Cllr Alistair Cameron raised concerns from members of the public about potential littering, Mr Gray said Starbucks had a standard approach to litter management, with staff maintaining the area, and coffee outlets having a lower level of litter than some other drive-thrus.

Concerns were raised by Councillor John Cole on highways grounds, fearing the combination of the drive-thru and a nearby school, along with the nearby annual County Show, could create “havoc” with parents stopping off for a coffee.

Following an approval call by Cllr Brian Hall, members unanimously backed the application.

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Lifeboat crew rescues stranded yacht following gearbox and engine failure

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THE ANGLE RNLI lifeboat crew sprang into action after two yachts were stranded due to gearbox and engine issues.

At 6:47 am on Monday, May 13, the crew responded to a Pan-Pan call – a distress signal indicating a serious issue that is not immediately life-threatening – from a yacht experiencing gearbox failure just north of Thorn Island.

Concerns arose that the disabled yacht might drift into the shipping channel, prompting the swift launch of Angle’s lifeboat. Upon arrival, the crew conversed with the yacht’s skipper and subsequently towed the vessel to safety. The yacht was secured at Milford Marina, and the lifeboat was back at the station and ready for further service by 9:00 am.

A day earlier, on Sunday, the lifeboat crew received a call from the coastguard regarding a yacht with engine failure south of Skokholm Island. The lifeboat was promptly launched and reached the scene within approximately 20 minutes.

After assessing the situation, it was determined that the best course of action was to tow the 12-metre yacht back to Milford Marina. Once the yacht was safely docked, the lifeboat crew returned to base, preparing the vessel for future missions by 11:00 am.

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Crime

Suspended sentence for Llandeilo man who neglected five horses and foxhound

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A WEST WALES man has been handed a suspended sentence after he was found to have neglected five horses and a foxhound.

Gregory Edward Baker, 43, of Rhydcymerau, Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire, appeared at Llanelli Magistrates’ Court for a two-day trial on Thursday 18 and Friday 19 April, and faced five offences under the Animal Welfare Act.

They were that he caused unnecessary suffering to five equines by failing to adequately investigate or address the causes of their poor or underweight bodily conditions along with skin diseases namely rain scald, mud fever and lice infestation, and also did not meet their needs.

He also caused further unnecessary suffering to one of these equines – a chestnut mare – relating to her lameness of her left foreleg and unnecessary suffering to a foxhound by failing to provide prompt or effective professional veterinary care and attention for his paraphimosis (unretracted penis) with associated ulceration and fracture.

Following a two-day trial Baker was found guilty for all offences and on Thursday 16 May he was sentenced to 20 weeks imprisonment which has been suspended for 24 months. 

This included a 20 week sentence for the first offence, 20 weeks for the second offence, 12 weeks for the third offence, eight weeks for the fourth offence and 12 weeks for the fifth offence – which will all run concurrently. 

He was also ordered to undertake 150 hours of unpaid work in the next 12 months. One of the horses – which had been placed in another person’s care – was also transferred to the care of the RSPCA. 

In a witness statement, provided to the court, RSPCA Inspector Neill Manley said he attended the location with RSPCA Animal Rescue Officer (ARO) Rohan Barker on 19 April 2023.

As permission was not granted by the owner to access the land, police were called along with a vet. Inspector Manley and ARO Barker inspected a large number of horses and dogs at the location with serious concern raised for five horses and one foxhound. 

Firstly they saw the chestnut mare who was in the top field and was lame on the front leg.

He said she was “in very poor body condition with her ribs, spine and hip bones prominent and her coat covered in mud and patchy in places” which  looked like rain scald.

In the lower field which was steeply sloping there was a grey/cream colt with a dark mane and tail and was in “very poor body condition with a muddy and unkempt winter coat”. 

He said: “Even through the winter coat you could see her ribs, spine and hip bones protruding. The field was overgrown in patches with bramble and in one bramble patch was  the decomposing carcass of a horse.”

Another horse – a grey gelding with a rug on was also “in very poor body condition with its rib hip and spine bones clearly visible”.

Whilst another horse, a grey/palomino yearling colt, was found to be in very poor body condition and a black Shetland pony mare was found to be in very poor body condition.

Inspector Manley said the pony “was quite weak and unsteady on its feet” and when they along with the vet caught her the pony collapsed and needed help to get back on her feet.

At the dog kennels there were a number of female hounds – and advice was given to the owner about one of them who was lame on her front leg to get the dog checked by a vet.

A male hound was found with a prolapsed penis. Inspector Manley said: “He was a white entire male in reasonable body condition, but had what appeared to me to be a prolapsed penis that looked infected and misshapen.”

In a witness statement – provided to the court – by the vet who examined the foxhound, they said that there were two ulcers on the penis and the “smell of the area was of rotting flesh”. Suggested options were partial penile amputation and castrate, urethrostomy or for the dog to be put to sleep. The vet added the owner “elected for the dog to be put to sleep”.

Two of the horses were transferred to a family member but sadly one of these – the chestnut mare who was found to be severely lame – was put to sleep on advice from an independent vet on welfare grounds to prevent further suffering.

In a witness statement – provided to the court – by the vet who examined and monitored the horses they said the mare had a “discharging abscess on her left fore”, she had a body score of two out of five, rain scald and lice and was heavy in foal. Treatment was given but sadly she lost her foal and failed to improve.

The vet added: “I radiographed her left fore food and sadly but unsurprisingly found a sequestrum (infected fragment of bone) and osteomyelitis (bone infection). Enthanasia was recommend on humane grounds as there was a hopeless prognosis of successful treatment.”

The other three horses – who were placed in the care of the RSPCA – were taken to a boarding establishment.

The vet added: “All three ponies had put on a considerable amount of weight in just under a month – this was only attributable to the provision of appropriate nutrition.”

Inspector Manley also issued the owner an improvement notice advising him of the improvements that needed to be made. In mitigation the court heard that there has been no criticism since with any of the animals in his care and a disqualification order was not imposed.

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