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Former Cardigan Castle director gets suspended sentence for £40,000 fraud

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THE FORMER director of Cardigan Castle has been sentenced to 21 months in prison suspended for two years, after stealing and defrauding the restoration project out of more than £40,000.

Jac Owen Davies, of Dol Dintir in Cardigan, admitted two counts of fraud and two counts of theft from The Cadwgan Building Preservation Trust over two years.

The 34-year-old gained £40,624.02 from the castle between December 2017 and August 2019.

Suspicions were raised by the trust in the summer of 2019, when contact was made with Dyfed-Powys Police to report that £6,024.79 had been stolen from the safe.

Inspector Owen Williams said: “We were told that the money should have been banked in three separate amounts, and should have been banked at the time, but it is believed it was put in the safe.

“The director of the castle, Jac Davies was responsible for the banking of this cash, but did not bring the missing money to the trustees’ attention.

“This report sparked an in depth fraud investigation which spanned 12 months and resulted in the discovery that far more money had gone missing from the trust’s accounts.”

In August 2019 Davies was voluntary interviewed at Cardigan Police Station, during which he denied taking the money. He offered several possible scenarios which could have led to the funds going missing, including an envelope being taken out with the rubbish, or an “opportunist” thief gaining access to his office.

The force’s Economic Crime Team was tasked with investigating accounts linked to the castle – and to look into claims that the suspect had merged the trust’s credit card with his own account.

Officers also searched Davies’s home prior to a second interview, uncovering cheques made out to the castle.

Insp Williams said: “This time, following three months of enquiries, Davies admitted fraudulently gaining funds from the trust.

“He claimed he had ‘fallen on hard times’ and used the trust’s credit card for personal use, making withdrawals and transactions totalling over £28,000 and altering paperwork to cover up his actions.

“However, due to further allegations being made by the trust, officers continued with their investigations to ensure all potential offences had been looked into before any charges were brought.”

Based on evidence acquired by the team, the CPS authorised two charges of fraud and two of theft against Davies in March 2021, which he admitted at court.

He was sentenced to 21 months in prison suspended for two years, and ordered to complete 200 hours of unpaid work and a rehabilitation course at Swansea Crown Court on June 3.

Insp Williams said: “This was a very complex enquiry which saw officers from a number of teams working over the course of a year to bring Jac Davies to justice.

“Offences such as these can often be seen as a victimless crimes, however it is recognised that they cause emotional as well as financial harm to those involved. I can reassure the public that we will take the necessary action to bring offenders to justice.”

The Cadwgan Building Preservation Trust has thanked Dyfed-Powys Police for undertaking a thorough investigation, and looks forward to moving on.

(Image: Wales News Service)

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Monkton: One person flown to Cardiff following incident

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THERE was a large emergency services presence in Monkton last night (May 25).

At around 7.30pm, emergency services were called to a report of an incident.

Back Terrace was temporarily closed off while officers dealt with the situation.

An Air Ambulance was dispatched and flew one person to The University Hospital of Wales.

A Welsh Ambulance Service spokesperson said: “We were called at approximately 7.30pm yesterday, Wednesday 25 May, to an incident in the Monkton area of Pembroke.

“We sent a rapid response car, an emergency ambulance and an air ambulance to the scene, where the crew were also supported by a duty operations manager.

“One person was flown to the University Hospital of Wales.”

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Community

Nature is blooming at Withybush Woods three years after enhancement project

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THREE years after the launch of a project to enhance Withybush Woods, there are abundant signs that biodiversity is thriving.

Swathes of early purple orchid – a scarce wild flower – have been spotted in shadier parts of the tranquil woodlands while a pair of rare breeding stock doves have made the woods their home for the second year.

Song thrushes can be heard everywhere on the 1.5km accessible footpath together with chiffchaffs, willow warblers, nuthatch, woodpeckers, blackbirds, blue tits and many other woodland birds.

Mallards and moorhens and their young can be seen on the restored lower pond, together with the resident swans, and a new wetland area nearby is providing a new habitat for other species of invertebrates and pollinators.

The EU-funded improvement project was led by Pembrokeshire County Council, which owns the woods on the outskirts of Haverfordwest.

Dr Steven Jones, Director of Community Services, said: “Withybush Woods has always been a beautiful and special place to visit and even more so now, thanks to its increasing range of species and biodiversity habitats.

The enhancement work received funding through the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014 – 2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government. 

The scheme also received funding through the Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme, through the WCVA.

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Education

Top of the stops: Llangwm lollipop lady wins national award

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LLANGWM school crossing patrol officer Lisa Brock has won a Road Safety Wales award for 25 years of dedication to helping children cross the road to the village primary school.
To celebrate her achievement, a giant walk to school event took place this week with hundreds of pupils and parents taking part – much to Mrs Brock’s surprise!
The walk was followed by the presentation of a plaque in assembly, where Cleddau Reach VC headteacher Rhys Buckley thanked her for ‘keeping children safe and making a difference to their day with a smile and a kind word’.
“Lisa is someone who does her job because she cares,” said Mr Buckley. “She cares about the children, their families and her community deeply and you only need to look at the work produced by our pupils in tribute to her to see that this level of care and affection is very much reciprocated.
“Every community needs a ‘Mrs Brock’ and we’re very grateful that she’s ours!”

Mrs Brock receiving her award from Helen Luff from the Council’s Road Safety Team, with pupils Lottie, Leo, Tilly, and Mrs Brock’s grandsons Jacob and Oliver. Jacob and Oliver said they were very proud of their grannie. Also pictured are (left to right) Headteacher Rhys Buckley, Ziggy the Zebra – Pembrokeshire’s road safety mascot – and Chair of Governors Barry Childs.


Some of the tributes by the children included:
‘Mrs Brock is always smiling and happy even in the wind, rain, hail and even heat. You are the reasons we are not flat pancakes on the road. Thank you, Mrs Brock.’

‘We all love Mrs Brock. She is the best lollipop lady in the world!’
‘I will never forget when my sister dropped all of her things in the middle of the road and you stopped the cars from coming. Thank you for always being there.’

Mrs Brock started as school crossing patrol officer as her two boys were nearing the end of their primary education. She has since become a huge fixture at the school, also taking on roles as a higher level teaching assistant in the junior classes and lunchtime supervisor.

“It is the children that give me the most pleasure,” she said. “They are all so polite and keen to have a chat with me. It’s not just the current pupils either; past pupils and many of the local families all come and say hello to me too when they see me on the crossing.”
Chairman of Governors Barry Childs said Mrs Brock’s relationship with the children was ‘outstanding’.

“Every child past and present speaks of her with tremendous affection,” he said. “She has time and a smile for everyone. She is credit to the school.”

Kirstie Donoghue, Road Safety Officer for Pembrokeshire County Council, describes her as ‘one of the many unsung heroes guiding Pembrokeshire’s children safely across our roads”.
“Lisa has been a devoted school crossing patrol for 25 years,” she said.
“She is reliable, hard-working and a true asset of our team, and we are hugely appreciative of her commitment over the years.
“We are delighted and proud that Lisa has won this award for her service and contribution to road safety in Pembrokeshire.”

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