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Happy to avoid jail – Pembroke Castle Novichock hoaxer sentenced

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A MAN who deliberately and maliciously planted bottles claiming to contain nerve agent Novichok at a tourist attraction has been sentenced after a two year investigation.

John ap Evans, of Northgate Street in Pembroke has today been sentenced for five charges under section 114 of the Anti-Terrorism Crime and Security Act.

The 67-year-old was charged after placing bottles containing what he claimed to be Novichok at Pembroke Castle on a number of occasions in 2018.

Dyfed-Powys Police Detective Inspector Phil Kite said: “Dyfed-Powys Police welcomes today’s sentencing of John ap Evans. At a time of heightened concern across the country, following the Novichok poisonings in Salisbury, Evans deliberately and maliciously planted objects to play on people’s fears in an act of terror.

“To this day he has offered no mitigation or explanation for doing what he did.”

The investigation began on July 13, 2018, when a visitor to Pembroke Castle found a plastic bottle containing an unknown liquid in a cavern. On the bottle was written “Instant Death – Novichok – A 232. Do not Touch”. The castle was immediately evacuated, and emergency services were called.

Owing to the physical appearance of the bottle, officers’ working assumption was that the item was homemade and potentially a hoax. However, all possible enquiries were carried out to ensure there was no risk to the public, with a CBRN response initiated and police, fire, HART and explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) attending to assess the bottle.

While the investigation was ongoing, police received further reports of a similar nature. On July 20, 2018, two bottles were thrown into the castle grounds – one bearing the word Novichok in hand writing, and the other saying “deadly virus”. Three days later, a clear plastic bottle containing red fluid was found in a castle cavern.

Emergency services at Pembroke Castle (Pic: Herald)

DI Kite said: “These incidents, while swiftly established to be a hoax, caused immense disruption to Pembroke Castle, and a waste of emergency services resources.

“Along with police, colleagues from the ambulance service, including their Hazardous Area Response Team, and the fire service were called to each incident, and we required specialist forensic examination of the liquid.

“Evans’s actions caused fear and uncertainty in the area, risked diverting emergency services away from those in genuine need, and had a substantial financial impact on the public purse.

”On receiving reports of subsequent incidents, our priority was to establish whether these crimes were linked to the initial offender or were copycat offences, and to bring this action to a swift end.”

Following lengthy CCTV enquiries, John ap Evans was identified as a suspect, having been seen walking in the relevant area at the time of the offences. He was arrested on August 8, and was later charged with five offences under the Anti-Terrorism Crime and Security Act.

He was sentenced at Swansea Crown Court on Monday, February 1 to 21 months in prison, suspended for two years. He must pay compensation of £2,400 to Pembroke Castle, must complete 200 hours of community service, and take part in a 15 hour rehabilitation programme.

Following sentencing, DI Kite said: “It has taken more than two-years of protracted investigations to secure his conviction for the people of Pembroke and West Wales.

“We hope today’s sentence will reassure the public that Dyfed-Powys Police will do all we can to bring those intent on causing fear to their community to justice.”

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Pembroke Dock: Two in hospital following Fort Road car accident

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EMERGENCY SERVICES dealt with what has been described by a witness as a “horrific car accident” in the Pembroke Dock area on Wednesday night (Jun 12).

A 23-year-old woman, driving a black BMW, travelled down Fort Road at speed, hit a low wall, catapulting the vehicle some considerable distance across a picnic area. The vehicle ended up irreparably damaged on the beach – which was luckily not in use at the time – landing next to the old Cambridge Gun Tower.

No other vehicles seem to have been involved, police said.

The driver has been arrested but remains in hospital in Cardiff, one passenger is in a critical but stable condition, again in Cardiff, and a second passenger sustained only minor injuries.

A spokesperson for Welsh Ambulance Service spokesperson said: “We were called at 10.45pm on Wednesday night (Jun 23), to reports of a road traffic accident near the Fort Road car park in Pembroke Dock.

“We attended the scene with one rapid response vehicle, two emergency ambulances and our Emergency Medical Retrieval and Transfer Service.

“Two people were taken to University Hospital Wales, Cardiff for further treatment.”

The police are appealing in the media for information following the crash.

An official statement from the police reads as follows: “We were called to Fort Road, Pembroke Dock, at around 10.45pm on Wednesday night to reports of a single-vehicle collision. Ambulance and fire service also attended.

“A 19-year-old man was taken to the Heath Hospital in Cardiff and remains in a critical but stable condition.

“A second passenger attended hospital for minor injuries but has since been discharged. A 23-year-old woman was arrested, and currently remains in hospital.

“Anyone who witnessed the collision but who has not yet spoken to us should get in touch by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk, visiting our website, or calling 101.

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Pembrokeshire call handler helps deliver Llanelli couple’s new baby

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A 999 CALL HANDLER from Pembrokeshire has helped deliver a Llanelli couple’s baby.

Father-of-two Chris Bassett, from Hook, answered the call from the Trust’s Clinical Contact Centre in Carmarthen, and whose instructions on loudspeaker enabled the pair to deliver their 8lb 1oz new arrival safely.

Thanks to Chris, Troy Smith, 34, and partner Abigail Jones, 33, delivered baby Arabella Dilys Smith in the bedroom of their Llanelli home.

Troy said: “I’ve never felt adrenaline like it but I knew I had to focus on the situation for Abigail and the baby’s sake.

“It all happened so quickly, but Chris’ voice on the other end of the phone kept us calm.”

Abigail, a teacher at Ysgol Carreg Hir in Briton Ferry, went into labour at around 10.00pm on Thursday, June 3, and made a trip to hospital, where nurses confirmed she was in the early stages.

The couple returned to their Pwll home, but their soon-to-be daughter had other ideas.

Troy said: “At around 4.30am, Abigail developed a lot of pain and said she had an urge to push.

“I thought, ‘Right, this is happening’ and phoned an ambulance because I knew I’d be delivering the baby right there and then.”

It was Chris, a former RAF Aerospace Systems Operator, who picked up the call in the early hours of Friday, June 4.

The 29-year-old, who has been with the Welsh Ambulance Service for 18 months, said: “As soon as I answered the call, it was obvious that Troy and Abigail were in distress, as anyone would be in that situation.

“The priority was to get Abigail in a comfortable position to deliver the baby safely.

“For me, it was about giving them clear instructions while trying to keep them both calm.”

Troy added: “I just did what came naturally. When you’re in that situation, you just do it.

“As soon as Arabella came, I felt this wave of relief and I just couldn’t believe how gorgeous she was.

“Chris was so professional and handled the situation really well.

“He gave us all the information and kept us calm.”

Ambulance crews arrived soon after, and took Abigail to Carmarthen’s Glangwili General Hospital, where she was treated for shock before being discharged the following day.

Abigail said: “The whole thing was petrifying because I just never expected to be having the baby at home, but we’re so grateful to Chris for helping us to deliver Arabella safely.”

Chris added: “In your role as a 999 call handler, you’re helping people in their darkest hour, but I’m just glad this call had a happy ending.

“This is the third baby I’ve helped to deliver during my time at the ambulance service, but the first one I’ve had the pleasure of meeting.”

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Covid causes partial school closure at Haverfordwest High VC

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A PARTIAL school closure is in force today at Haverfordwest High VC school after a pupil in year 9 has tested positive for coronavirus.

All students in year 9 must stay at home , isolate and await further instruction while the school completes all of the necessary Track and Trace processes.

In a statement released by the school, they said: “We have been informed that a Year 9 pupil has tested positive for COVID-19.

“We wish them a speedy recovery.

“As a precautionary measure and to enable us to complete all of the necessary Track and Trace processes, the school will be closed to Year 9 Pupils today.

“The school remains open to all other year groups.

“Until further notice, Year 9 students should stay at home and isolate until further instructions are given. Lessons for all other year groups will continue as usual. Unless your child is in Year 9 they should attend school.”

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