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Fishguard: Two men admit importing 750kg of cocaine

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TWO Liverpool men have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import cocaine after one of the largest hauls of the drug in UK history was found on board a boat.

About 750kg of cocaine was recovered from the boat in Pembrokeshire in August.

The National Crime Agency, working closely with the Spanish National Police, identified the SY Atrevido as carrying the large cocaine shipment.

British nationals, Gary Swift, 53, and Scott Kilgour, 41, both from Liverpool, were stopped in the early hours of Tuesday 27 August 2019 on board the yacht, after Border Force cutter HMC Protector was dispatched and intercepted it approximately half a mile off the coast of Wales.

They will return to court for sentencing on 20 December.

The intelligence-led investigation resulted in the interception of the Sy Atrevido yacht.

As a result, officers from Border Force cutter HMC Protector boarded the sailing yacht approximately half a mile off the coast of Wales on Tuesday.

The vessel was escorted into Fishguard port and a search by Border Force’s Deep Rummage team began.

83% PURITY

The vessel was escorted into Fishguard port where NCA officers and Border Force’s Deep Rummage team searched it, and discovered 751 kilos of cocaine with a purity of up to 83%. The quantity found would have a wholesale value of around £24 million and a potential street value of £60 million.

Upon arrest, Swift said to officers: “I just want to say that I am guilty. I have got something substantial on the boat and they will find it.”

He later admitted “I’m the bad one here,” and asked custody officers to pass a message to the NCA revealing the number of packages on board the yacht.

In December 2018, Kilgour had bought the vessel, paying €50,000 for it from a seller in Mallorca, Spain.

Swift and Kilgour pleaded guilty to importing class A drugs into the UK when they appeared at Swansea Crown Court on Friday 27 September.

Four others – three men aged 23, 31, 47, and a woman aged 30 – arrested in Liverpool and Loughborough in connection with the seizure remain on bail until November 2019.

Craig Naylor, NCA Deputy Director of Investigations, said: “Seizing this large quantity of cocaine will have had a huge impact on the organised crime group – damaging their reputation amongst other criminals, and ultimately stripping them of their assets.

“We believe Swift spearheaded this attempt to flood the streets of Britain with potentially deadly drugs – the NCA is relentless in pursuing and disrupting offenders who operate at the highest end of criminality.

“This seizure will have also had a significant impact on the availability of cocaine in drug markets across the UK, including County Lines networks.

“Drugs fuel violence and exploitation, damaging communities and leaving destruction in their wake. Thanks to the work of the NCA, Border Force officers, and the Spanish National Police, these drugs have not made their way to their intended destination.

“NCA officers on the front line play a vital role in tackling the criminals who pay no heed to the damage they cause, and we’ll continue to work with our partners to make sure that crime doesn’t pay.”

Deputy Director Steve Whitton, from Border Force’s Maritime Command, said: “The superb efforts of the crew of HMC Protector, and officers from our specialist deep rummage team, helped prevent Yacht Atrivedo’s dangerous cargo of Class A drugs from reaching our streets. It has put a serious dent in the profits of the criminals involved in this type of smuggling.

“Border Force will continue to work with our law enforcement partners at the NCA to bring offenders like Gary Swift and Scott Kilgour to justice and to disrupt the workings of organised criminal groups in the UK.”

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Tesco shoppers asked to check bank statements after some charged three times

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ANYONE who has shopped in Tesco since Friday, June 11 has been urged to check their bank account and make sure they have been charged the correct amount.

The advice comes as some Tesco customers paid up to three times more for their shopping this weekend after a payment software glitch affected some card payments.

Shoppers who paid via online bank Monzo were charged twice on Friday, according to consumer website MoneySavingExpert.

However, another payment problem struck over the weekend when some shoppers tried to pay for their purchases using contactless payments, only to be told it had been declined.

They then tried to pay again, which worked, only to find that they had been charged twice – or even three times. Some customers on social media said they had to spend “endless time” on their day off talking to their bank.

Following the news that, Libby James, co-founder of www.merchantadviceservice.co.uk, commented: “This software glitch customers experienced in Tesco over the weekend could be down to a host of technical issues varying from an intermittent internet connection, to too many transactions being processed at once – it’s hard to pinpoint the problem. However, shoppers who purchased goods from Tesco over the weekend should thoroughly check their online bank transactions to ensure they have not been overcharged. For those who were affected, they should directly contact the merchant for a refund. Although technology has failed Tesco customers on this occasion, to avoid this where possible in future instances, try not be too hasty when it comes to contactless payments and wait for the transaction to be authorised, rather than tapping again to be safe.”

If you do require more information from Merchant Advice Service, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

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Public urged to have say on second homes and empty properties policies

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL has begun a consultation exercise on the authority’s policies relating to second homes and long term empty properties.

Reducing the number of second homes and long term empty homes is seen as desirable as increasing the supply of affordable housing across Pembrokeshire is a priority.

Second homes and empty properties reduce the number of houses available to local residents.

Pembrokeshire currently has the second highest rate of second or empty homes in Wales and in 2017 the Council introduced a 50% Council Tax premium on second homes and a premium of up to 100% on long term empty homes.

The money raised in Pembrokeshire is used to support the development of affordable housing, such as a long-term housing project in Solva, as well as providing grants to local projects through the Enhancing Pembrokeshire Grant fund.

The consultation asks respondents to give their views on potential options from April 1, 2022, which include varying the Council Tax premium for second homes and long term empty properties.

The consultation is available here: https://haveyoursay.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/review-of-second-and-long-term-empty-homes

The closing date for responses is Monday 26th July.

If you are unable to complete the survey online, please call 01437 764 551 to request a hard copy response form.

The responses provided will be compiled into a report to be considered by Cabinet before a final decision on the options will be made by full Council on 14th October 2021.

Cllr Bob Kilmister, the Cabinet Member for Finance, urged Pembrokeshire residents to take part in the consultation.

He added: “The more feedback we get on this matter the better. The issue of second homes and empty properties is one that cannot be ignored.

“While people from elsewhere in the UK find it relatively easy to afford property in Pembrokeshire, it is much more difficult for those living and earning locally.

“A high proportion of second homes in a community also poses a threat to the viability of local schools and opportunities to nurture and grow the Welsh language.

“While further possible actions on second homes and long term empty properties are being considered by the Welsh Government, the Council is currently only able to consider the level of Council Tax premium.

“I would ask all Pembrokeshire residents to provide feedback on the options for Council Tax premiums on second homes and empty properties so we have as many viewpoints as possible to consider ahead of future decisions.” 

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Tributes to victim as police confirm fatal workshop fire in Sageston

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POLICE have confirmed that a workshop fire in Sageston over the weekend was sadly fatal and is now being investigated by the Health and Safety Executive.

A spokesperson for the force said: “Dyfed-Powys Police was called to a fire at a workshop at a property in Sageston at shortly after 10am on Saturday, 12 June.

“Sadly, a male was pronounced dead at the scene.

“The Health and Safety Executive and HM Coroner has been informed.”

Mr Scourfield, 56, was in his workshop in the grounds of his home at Sageston on Saturday morning when a fire broke out.

Four fire crews rushed to the south Pembrokeshire village and brought the blaze under control, but sadly, Mr Scourfield died at the scene.

A spokesman for the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service said: “On Saturday June 12 at 10.02am, Joint Fire Control received reports of a fire in a workshop in the village of Sageston in Pembrokeshire and crews from Pembroke Dock, Tenby, Milford Haven and Haverfordwest were mobilised to the incident.

“A total of four appliances and a water bowser were in attendance of the incident.

“The fire was brought under control swiftly by the action of the initial attending crews and a joint investigation has already begun between the Service’s fire investigators and colleagues from Dyfed-Powys police to establish the cause of the fire.

“Due to the unstable nature of the building, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service’s Urban Search and Rescue Team (USAR) were deployed to the incident to provide support in securing the scene as part of the investigation.

“The fire service left the incident at 06.11pm.

Tributes have poured in for Mike.

He was a great supporter of Carew’s sports teams and all three of the club’s cricket games were cancelled on Saturday.

Carew Cricket Club posted on Twitter on Sunday: “The thoughts of everyone associated with the club are with the Scourfield after yesterday’s tragic news.

“Michael was an integral part of the club for decades and his support and sponsorship played a major role in helping the club get to where we are today.

“Over the years he held pretty much every role within the club, from scorer to chairman, and cared deeply about the club.

“There are no words to express the shock and sorrow felt around the club yesterday.

“His loss leaves a massive hole, and he will always be remembered.”

Other clubs also sent their condolences to Carew and to the Scourfield family.

Cresselly Cricket Club posted: “Such devastating news, our thoughts and condolences to all of the family and everyone connected in the community from everyone at Cresselly CC.”

Neyland Cricket club added: “Condolences from all at Neyland CC to the Scourfield family and to all at Carew Cricket Club on this devastating news. Mike epitomised all that was good about cricket. Our thoughts to all at this incredibly sad time.”

Kilgetty Cricket Club also posted: “We’re really saddened to hear the news about Michael. All our thoughts go out to the Scourfield family, Carew Cricket Club and the whole of the Carew community.”

Cresselly seconds also held a minute’s silence for Mike before their game with Laugharne on Saturday.

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