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Pembrokeshire postmaster cleared of fraud by the Court of Appeal

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A FORMER sub-postmaster from Roch who was part of the Horizon computer system scandal has finally cleared his name after an 11 year battle.

Tim Brentnall from Roach, Pembrokeshire, was one of 736 former Post Office managers who were prosecuted due to the flawed Horizon computer system.

In part of a landmark case, Mr Brentnall was one of 31 cases heard at the court of appeal on Monday (July 19) who had their convictions overturned.

There were 12 sub-postmasters who had their names cleared by the Court of Appeal on Monday (Pic Sky News)

The flawed system wrongly showed shortfalls in sub-postmasters’ accounts leading the prosecution of 736 sub-postmasters between 2000 and 2014.

Mr Brentnall, who took over the post office aged just 22, said it has taken 16 years to clear his name and get his conviction overturned.

After a Post Office audit at his branch in 2009, showing a £22,000 shortfall, Mr Brentnall was then prosecuted in 2010 for false accounting.

Speaking on the ordeal, Tim Brentnall said: “I was immediately suspended and within a few days taken to Haverfordwest police station for interviews,” he said.

“It was horrific. I felt totally alone and helpless.”

Despite protesting his innocence, Tim said he was told to plead guilty to the charge to lessen the sentence.

He was sentenced to an 18-month suspended prison sentence and ordered to undergo 200 hours of unpaid work.

Mr Brentnalls parents even tried to take out a loan to cover the £22,000 shortfall to prove their son’s innocence, but Tim was prosecuted shortly after.

Two years after his prosecution, Tim learned he was not alone and that many other sub-post masters also fell foul to the flawed system.

Flaws that made it seem that money was going missing from Post Office branches.

The scandal is believed to be one of the most widespread miscarriage of justice in UK history.

The Post Office confirmed they would not be contesting the appeal for Mr Bretnall overturned conviction.

An independent inquiry into the scandal has been given extra powers and many are still waiting to find out if they will receive any compensation from the ordeal.

Mr Brentnall told how he faced backlash in his small local community following the conviction and struggled to gain any further employment.

He said: “I didn’t want to go to the village pub because people were talking and saying ‘he says he hasn’t done anything, but he’s pleaded guilty, so there’s no smoke without fire’.

“I lost sleep for a number of years, lost friendships, and all because people didn’t believe what I was saying.”

His father StJohn Brentnall said: “The stigma of a conviction and the character assassination that Tim has had to bear for the last 10 years, it has been horrible to see him lose his self-confidence.

“But he stood it, he got through it and we feel very proud of him.”

Speaking after having his conviction overturned, Mr Bretnall added: “I can stand with my head held high again and say to everyone I was right – I haven’t done anything wrong and it was this system that the Post Office forced on people.”

“There’s still a fight to try to hold the people who did this to account.

“There are people who’ve known what was going on but tried to sweep it under the carpet. I don’t want to rest until people have been brought to account.”

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Police forensics investigation underway at Castle Lake car park, Haverfordwest

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SPECIALIST officers from Dyfed-Powys Police are conducting a forensics investigation following an earlier incident at a Haverfordwest car park.

Scenes of crime officers have been deployed at Castle Lake car park, with the car park currently sealed off by officers.

The investigation involves a silver Peugeot, with officers focussing on the vehicle, located near the entrance to the car park.

The Herald has contacted the police for more a statement.

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Man, 22, charged with murder of John William Bell in Cardigan

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A CARDIGAN man has been charged with murder after a man’s death in Ceredigion.

John Bell, 37, and also from the town, was found on the road to Cardigan Bridge in the early hours of Wednesday.

Dyfed-Powys Police said 22-year-old Ashley Keegan, of Golwg y Castell, Cardigan, has been charged with his murder.

A Dyfed-Powys Police spokesperson said: “Dyfed-Powys Police can confirm that Ashley Keegan, aged 22, of Golwg y Castell, Cardigan, has been charged with the murder of John William Bell.

Victim: John Bell

“Keegan will appear at Swansea magistrates court on Saturday 24th July 2021.

“John’s family continue to be supported by specialist officers and the investigation is grateful for the support of the community whilst enquiries were conducted.”

This is the second major incident in the same area this month.

Another man was charged with making threats with a knife, he is again from Golwg y Castell.

Dyfed-Powys Police said they received a number of calls reporting a man brandishing a knife towards another man in Maesyfelin, Cardigan, at around 4.20pm on Wednesday (July 14).

Several police units swiftly made their way to the area, but the suspect had fled.

Dean Thomas, aged 25, was quickly located at his home in Golwg y Castell, where he was arrested on suspicion of affray and taken to custody.

Mobile phone footage was gathered from people at the scene, and statements were taken from witnesses.

Cardigan Inspector Owen Williams said: “Thanks to the swift attendance of officers, there were a number of people present who were able to provide evidence to assist with our enquiries.
“Thomas also made a significant statement linking himself with the incident, and was charged within hours of being arrested.

“I hope the speed with which we carried out enquiries into this incident reassures people living in Maesyfelin, who were naturally very concerned by what had happened.”

Thomas was charged with threatening a person with a blade or sharply pointed article in a public place and appeared at Aberystwyth Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, July 15 where he admitted the offence.

He will be sentenced on July 29 at Swansea Crown Court.

In relation to the murder, anyone with information that could help officers with their investigation is asked to report it to Dyfed-Powys Police, either online at: https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk, or by calling 101 and quoting Op Reedham. If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908. Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555111, or visiting crimestoppers-uk.org.

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‘Plan ahead this summer’, says Leader of Pembrokeshire County Council

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THE FOLLOWING is a message from the Leader of Pembrokeshire County Council, Cllr David Simpson:

Hello everyone, I hope you are well and enjoying this lovely weather.

My key message this week is about planning ahead.

This week we have experienced very hot and sunny days and beaches have been full and everyone is enjoying the outdoors.

We are experiencing a high volume of visitors to the county which can at times add additional pressures on our services.

This week, for example, we have seen high demand for car parking spaces, beach clean ups, litter picking and toilet cleaning.

Due to the high footfall please consider where you are going and what you will do when you are there. Some coastal car parks on nice sunny days are filing by mid-morning.

We all also need to be patient when out and about. We are all working together to move forward after the lockdowns, businesses still have to work differently and some are struggling with staff shortages, so please be patient.

As many of us will be staying local for our time off why not consider doing a ‘not visited yet list’.

Consider places in Pembrokeshire you have not explored but would like to – make this the year you go to those places you have always wanted to go to but not had a chance.

Our front line teams are working hard to support our communities and ensure we deliver key services. I would ask for your support to help us to keep Pembrokeshire open and welcoming to all.

I’m aware of issues reported to us regarding litter being left on beaches and grass verges. Leaving litter behind is not acceptable – we have adequate litter bins out and about. Please help us keep Pembrokeshire clean.

Another issue being reported to us is fires being lit in the countryside and beauty spots while people eat and drink in the warm weather.

It goes without saying how dangerous a fire could be given the exceptionally dry weather we have had recently.

If you are thinking about lighting a fire while you are out I would just appeal to you to please think again. The potential consequences are just not worth it.

As you will know, this week we have had an Amber weather warning for heat, so just a gentle reminder to take care when out and about and please take care of your pets.

Our furry friends need extra attention in the heat. Please do not leave dogs unattended in cars and remember the walkways will be hot on their feet.

I’d like to finish this week by thanking everyone involved in our education teams and wish them all a well-deserved summer break.

I hope all our children enjoy the summer – the weather is definitely helping!

Stay safe everyone.

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