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Former RAF sergeant jailed for historical sexual offences against junior officer

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A FORMER RAF sergeant has been jailed for sexual offences more than 40 years after abusing a junior officer.

Kenneth John Preston, formerly of Crundale in Haverfordwest, was found guilty of indecently assaulting a young recruit at a former RAF base in Pembrokeshire, following a three year investigation by Dyfed-Powys Police.

Despite more than 40 years having passed since the offences took place, detectives successfully overcame challenges in the investigation to secure charges against the now 77-year-old.

He was found guilty of five charges following a trial at Swansea Crown Court.

Officer in case Detective Constable Ben Staniforth said: “This case was brought to our attention by another police force after the victim reported non-recent sexual offences which took place in Pembrokeshire.

“He had reported being assaulted on numerous occasions while stationed at an RAF base in the 1970s by Kenneth Preston, who was an officer senior to him.

“He had carried the weight of these incidents for 40 years, and had found the strength and confidence to come forward and report what had happened to him.”

Officers learned that Preston had targeted the victim while he was a teenager, taking him to secluded areas to sexually abuse him, and threatening to ‘make his life hell’ if he reported the assaults.

Both the suspect and the victim were discharged from the military, but no allegations were made to police until 2017.

CID officers immediately commenced enquiries, but with no CCTV, no forensic opportunities, and military documents no longer available, the scope for investigation was narrow.

DC Staniforth explained: “There are many reasons victims do not come forward until many years have passed. In this case, going against the military rank system and accusing a senior officer.

“Allegations of non-recent offences require a different approach to recent incidents as the passing of time means many routes of enquiry are unavailable.

“Before our investigation could fully get underway, we had to establish if the suspect was alive, as we were aware he would be in his late 70s. While we can investigate complaints against people who are deceased, no charges can be made against them.

“We discovered that Preston was indeed alive and living in the Cornwall area, and arrangements were made to interview him.”

He provided a prepared statement admitting to sexual activity with the victim, but stating it was with consent. This prepared statement – along with consistent disclosures made by the victim to family, friends and a GP in the years before reporting to police – was a key factor in the defendant being charged.

Preston was summonsed to appear at court charged with five counts of indecent assault in May 2019, however delays meant the trial did not take place until September 2020, when he was found guilty of all charges.

He was sentenced on September 18 at Swansea Crown Court, where he was handed an 18-month prison sentence, must continue to register as a sex offender – he is registered after admitting to offences in a separate case – and will be subject to a sexual harm prevention order.

DC Staniforth said: “I hope this conviction gives confidence to other victims of sexual abuse that they can still come forward and report offences many years after they have taken place, and encourages them to take the first step.

“There are people who have struggled to cope with this kind of abuse for many years, but times have changed and there are a number of support networks out there for people who feel it is time to speak – whether they report the matter to police or not.

“I would like to commend the victim for his bravery in speaking out against a senior who abused his position and caused him to lose his military career, and for his patience and cooperation during the investigation.”

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Police Tasered teenager in Hakin following car theft

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A SEVENTEEN-YEAR-OLD boy who resisted arrest after stealing a vehicle and driving it around Glebelands in Hakin in the middle of the night had to be Tasered, police have said.

The Herald understands that police were called after the teenager took a white car at 3am and started doing loops around the estate. Police units moved in blocking off side roads to keep the vehicle within a confined area, and finally he was arrested and taken into custody.

Some residents in the street who had been woken up by the incident contacted this newspaper.
The boy was not hurt.

A witness said: “The police wanted him detained but he was having none of it, chopsing the police. Next minute they fired and he fell straight to the floor like a log, but not before he had been chased through someone’s garden.”

“He was acting extremely aggressively and I think the police had no option.”

A spokesperson for Dyfed Powys Police told The Pembrokeshire Herald in a prepared statement: A 17-year-old male was arrested in Glebelands in Hakin on suspicion of aggravated taking a vehicle without owner’s consent, driving without a licence and driving without insurance, at around 3.35am on Friday, 16 October.

The male resisted arrest and was Tasered to prevent him causing any injury to himself or members of the public.

He did not require any medical attention.

He has been charged to appear at Haverfordwest Magistrates Court on November 6.

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Vulnerable man targeted by rogue trader

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A ROGUE trader has been ordered to pay almost £2,000 by a court after carrying out shocking DIY work for a vulnerable Jameston man.

Pembrokeshire Trading Standards prosecuted 20-year-old Douggie James Whitbread who traded as Wales and West Property Solution.

Haverfordwest Magistrates were told on Friday (Oct 23) that a joint investigation with Dyfed-Powys Police discovered that Whitbread of 8 Coldwell Terrace, Pembroke, first approached the 66-year-old victim in the summer of 2019.

After agreeing to cut the man’s grass, Whitbread made regular accompanied visits looking for other jobs and pressurising the pensioner to have them done.

The victim did not know him as Douggie Whitbread as the defendant gave a false name.

Whitbread offered to fit new floor lino in the toilet and small adjoining passageway of the victim’s home, saying he would do a good job. Instead, the court heard, he and a fellow worker spent less than an hour and charged £300.

The standard of the work was shocking and showed Whitbread’s inept ability. Jagged edges and numerous gaps were left where it had not been fitted correctly, exposing the existing floor underneath.

Despite there being enough lino on the two metre by two metre roll, Whitbread told the victim he needed more to finish the job.

A few weeks later the victim was approached by Whitbread at a bus stop near his home. He said he would return the next day to finish the work and that he wanted another £300.

The victim informed a neighbour and Pembrokeshire County Council’s Trading Standards team and when Whitbread returned he was arrested by police.

Whitbread was also questioned about another incident involving hedge-cutting for an elderly lady and admitted taking away the waste as advertised on his business flyer. However, he did not hold a Waste Carrier Licence at the time.

Whitbread admitted four offences under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. These were: carrying out work not fit for purpose; trading without professional diligence; omitting to give required information for doorstep contracts and advertising and conducting waste removal services when not licensed.

A £200 fine was imposed for each offence together with £1,000 costs plus a £110 victim surcharge. A compensation order for £300 was also awarded to the victim and a restraining order imposed prohibiting Whitbread from approaching the pensioner indefinitely.

“I am appalled by the standard of work and how this vulnerable gentleman has been hounded and taken advantage of” said Sandra McSparron, Lead Trading Standards Officer. She added that the incidents had left the victim anxious and unwell.

The County Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Protection, Cris Tomos, said: “This court case sends a clear warning to rogue traders that targeting the elderly and vulnerable for financial gain will not be tolerated. We will pursue and prosecute all those who commit such despicable crimes.”

Councillor Tomos also said the case showed the great community spirit of Jameston residents looking out for one another and was a fine example of successful partnership work between the police and Trading Standards.

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Drug driver arrested in Milford Haven after driving through stop sign and into roadworks

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A DRUG driver who drove through a stretch of roadworks on the wrong side of the road, before hitting a parked car and trying to hide from police has appeared in court.

Christopher John Brown led Dyfed-Powys Police officers on a pursuit through Milford Haven on Friday afternoon (October 23), putting pedestrians and other road users at risk.

Pembrokeshire Roads Policing Unit have thanked people for their help in tracing the 31-year-old, of Meyler Crescent, after the manner of his driving became so dangerous they could no longer follow him.

A Roads Policing Officer had attempted to stop Brown at around 1pm when he was seen driving out of The Mount estate at speed.

However, he failed to stop when requested and sped away in his BMW.

As police followed, Brown drove on the wrong side of the road, overtook a number of cars waiting at roadworks, and drove through a stop sign, forcing an off duty officer to take evasive action as the defendant drove towards him.

Police deemed the danger level too high to continue the pursuit when Brown drove through a coned area of roadworks where there were a number of people working.

At this point, members of the public pointed out to officers which direction he had driven in.

Brown went on to collide with a parked car, before getting out of his vehicle and attempting to hide behind another. He was found by a PC, who arrested him on suspicion of dangerous driving and administered a drug wipe.

A Pembrokeshire RPU spokesman said: “This was a highly dangerous incident, during which Brown put a number of people’s lives at risk.

“Driving through a stop sign and into a coned area of roadworks was simply beyond comprehension, and could have had a tragic outcome.

“As we decided to end the pursuit, we were assisted by a number of people, and the team would like to thank members of the public in Milford Haven for their help in tracing Brown.

“Your support is greatly appreciated.”

Brown was charged with dangerous driving, driving with no insurance, driving while disqualified, failing to stop when requested by police, and possession of cannabis.

His vehicle, which had no insurance, tax or mot, was also seized.

He was remanded to appear in front of the next available court, and admitted all five offences at Swansea Magistrates’ Court on Saturday, October 24. He also pleaded guilty to an additional charge of driving whilst unfit through drugs, which was laid on at court.

He will be sentenced at Swansea Crown Court on November 16.

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