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BBC Wales Investigates: Death of Two Black Men: Police in the Spotlight

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TONIGHT 24/1/22, 7.30pm, BBC One Wales

THE FAMILIES of two men who died within weeks of each other after incidents involving Welsh police forces have spoken for the first time of their fight for justice.

Mohamud Hassan, 24, and Mouayed Bashir, 29, died within weeks of each other in separate incidents after coming into contact with the police.

Both their deaths sparked protests  – in Cardiff and Newport –  as family, friends and people in their communities expressed concerns about the circumstances of their deaths.

In January last year, police were called to the shared house in Roath, Cardiff, where Mohamud lived in a basement flat. Police arrested him on suspicion of a breach of the peace; he spent the night in a cell at Cardiff Bay police station; and was released the next morning without charge.

He saw his aunt, Zainab Hassan, and uncle, Sulieman Mohamed, after he was released.

“He came over to our house. As soon as I opened the door – literally I was shocked,” said Sulieman.

“His upper lip was completely opened. He had blood all over his top, his track-suit bottoms.”

Zainab added: “He had bruises on his arms. On his torso when he lifted his jumper, all you could see was just marks – red, black even. It was shocking.”

“I said nephew what happened to you? He’s like it’s the police. I said how and why? He said “I dunno uncle”,” said Sulieman.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct is investigating his death and the actions of six officers are being examined for alleged misconduct.

A post mortem examination failed to establish the cause of Mr Hassan’s death. The IOPC says its investigation is nearing completion; and his inquest is due to take place in May 2023.

South Wales Police said it was unable to comment on specific points due to the ongoing IOPC investigation, which it says it is fully co-operating with. It also acknowledged the impact of Mr Hassan’s death on his family, friends and wider community; and said their thoughts and condolences are with them.

Just weeks after Mohamud’s death, another young black man died after coming into contact with the police.

Mouayed Bashir died after police came to his house in Maesglas, Newport, in February 2021. His family say they were trying to get an ambulance to attend because Mouayed was having a mental health crisis – but instead the police arrived.

“He was expecting paramedics, but instead police officers in black uniform with brutal force coming in,” said Mouayed’s brother, Mohannad Bashir.

Mohamud Hassan, 24, and Mouayed Bashir, 29, died within weeks of each other in separate incidents after coming into contact with the police.

Mouayed had been stabbed three weeks before his death; and when police came to his home he still had a large, deep wound to his leg.

Mohannad added: “When the police restrained him they handcuffed him, they bound his legs and thighs. My dad was saying to the police officers “he’s already wounded. He’s bleeding again from his thigh. Please let go of his handcuffs and let go of his legs.”

A post mortem examination failed to establish Mouayed Bashir’s cause of death. The IOPC says it’s finalising its investigation into his death; and its publication will depend on discussions with the coroner. His inquest is due to be held in July.

Gwent Police said it was unable to address specific questions until  the conclusion of the IOPC investigation and inquest. It pointed out that no officers have been served misconduct notices.

The force also said a risk assessment is carried out when receiving a 999 call and police officers may be asked to support paramedics. The ambulance service said it was sorry its response fell below the expectations of the Bashir family.

Mouayed Bashir’s family are planning to mark the anniversary of his death next month in Newport.

Mohannad said: “If we don’t fight and stand up for other people, for what happened to Mouayed, there’s just going to be another case. We want to do our part. We want to do this for the sake of Mouayed as well.”

The family of Mohamud Hassan will have to wait another 16 months to find out the full facts of his death.

“I can’t remember anything else about my nephew. All those lovely memories I had of him, it’s like they’ve gone. They’ve been wiped out. And I don’t have any answers. I don’t think any words can describe the pain.”

Watch BBC Wales Investigates: Death of Two Black Men: Police in the Spotlight on BBC One Wales at 19:30 GMT on Monday 24 January and afterwards on BBC iPlayer.

Entertainment

Fishguard and West Wales International Music Festival tickets go on sale today

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TICKETS go on sale today (Monday 16 May) for this year’s Fishguard and West Wales International Music Festival concerts. The full programme is available to view on the Festival website www.fishguardmusicfestival.com and features the largest number of performances in the Festival’s history extending over three weeks in August and September.

The events will be staged at thirteen venues across Pembrokeshire from 20 August to 10 September, with a launch concert by the National Youth Brass Band of Wales at St David’s Cathedral on 5th August.

Artists performing at this year’s festival include Dame Sarah Conolly who appears as soloist with the Orchestra of Welsh National Opera, and Welsh pianist Llŷr Williams. There will be song recitals by renowned Welsh soprano Rebecca Evans with pianist Andrew Matthews-Owen, and tenor Stuart Jackson with Jocelyn Freeman. Chamber music concerts include performances by the Sacconi Quartet, Peter Donohoe, Harriet Mackenzie and Morgan Szymanski. The European Union Chamber Orchestra and WNO Chamber Orchestra make welcome return visits, and The Marian Consort performs ‘Music from the Sistine Chapel’ at St David’s Cathedral as well as taking part in the ‘Saints and Stones’ tour of historic churches and chapels. Folk group Vrȉ will perform alongside Pedair, and Khamira will close the Festival on Saturday September 10th with a fusion of Welsh and Indian music at the Merlin Theatre, Haverfordwest.

Tickets will be on sale from 9.00am on Monday 16th of May and can be booked via the Festival website at www.fishguardmusicfestival.com

Gillian Green MBE, Artistic Director of the Fishguard and West Wales Music Festival, said: “I am very excited about the variety of events in this year’s Festival which comprise a feast of world-class music covering six centuries as well as new commissions by Welsh composers Nathan James Dearden and Geraint Lewis. Pembrokeshire will greet musicians from across the UK, Mexico and India and there will be a talk by Professor Michael Spitzer whose book The Musical Human was a recent Radio 4 ‘Book of the Week’.

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Entertainment

Jess Gillam to perform in St Davids Cathedral

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Jess Gillam

HAILING from Ulverston in Cumbria, Jess Gillam is animating the music world with her outstanding talent and infectious personality. 

She has been forging her own adventurous path since she shot to fame becoming the first saxophonist to reach the finals of BBC Young Musician and the youngest ever soloist to perform at the Last Night of the Proms. 

Passionate about inspiring and bringing joy to people through music, Jess invites audiences on journeys of musical discovery through her electrifying performances and eclectic programming.

As well as performing around the world, Jess is a presenter on TV and Radio. She became the youngest ever presenter for BBC Radio 3 with the launch of her own weekly show, This Classical Life. 

The show is in its third year now and in 2020 won the prestigious ARIA Award for Best Specialist Music Show. She has also been a guest presenter for BBC Radio 2 and co-hosted a miniseries for BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme. 

Keen to explore the creative output of her home county, Jess presented a series of Cumbrian Chats on BBC Radio Cumbria.  TV presenting includes the BBC Proms and BBC Young Musician.

Jess is the first ever saxophonist to be signed exclusively to Decca Classics and both of her albums shot to No.1 in the UK Classical Music Charts. Her debut album was listed in The Times Top 100 albums of 2019. Jess’ second album – TIME – is out now and went straight in at No.1 in the Official Classical Album Chart. 

She has been the recipient of a Classic BRIT Award, has been nominated for The Times Breakthrough Award and was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list 2021 for Services to Music.

A free spirit in style and character, Jess is an advocate for the power of music in society. She is passionate about inspiring and bringing joy to people through music and during lockdown, she formed her ‘Virtual Scratch Orchestra’, inviting musicians of any standard to come together to play music virtually with her. 

The orchestra played music by David Bowie and The Beatles as well as a Christmas special of Leroy Anderson’s ‘Sleigh Ride’. Over 2,000 people from around 30 different countries took part across the two projects, aged 2-94, playing a huge range of instruments. 

Jess is a patron for Awards for Young Musicians and London Music Fund and enjoys working and performing with young musicians.  

Her infectious enthusiasm and passion for classical and non-classical music lights up every stage and she has performed in prestigious concert halls and with world-class orchestras around the globe including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, NDR Hannover, Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Munich Philharmonic,  Lahti Symphony Orchestra and the BBC Philharmonic. 

She also enjoys touring with her newly-formed Jess Gillam Ensemble bringing together a group of brilliant musicians who share her bold, uplifting and open-minded approach. Jess has performed live at the BAFTAs to millions of viewers at home.

Jess is an Artist in Residence at the Wigmore Hall and an associate artist at the Royal Albert Hall, and she continues to promote her own concert series, bringing international talent to her hometown of Ulverston.

Jess is a Vandoren UK Artist and became the youngest ever endorsee for Yanagisawa Saxophones aged just 13.

You can find out more about Jess here www.jessgillamsax.co.uk

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Pembrokeshire film gets public premiere in Theatre Gwaun, Fishguard

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Cate Lovett as Diane

FOLLOWING a successful private premiere, Pembrokeshire-shot film will have its first public premiere this week. 

“Scam” is a neo-noir crime thriller feature, which follows the story of a family of scammers. It explores interdependence and abuse via a claustrophobic mother-daughter relationship, and illustrates how social media platforms provide an easily-accessible global reach for scam artists. 

The film also follows the story of Ella, the youngest daughter in the family. After learning the truth behind her father’s death, Ella is determined to avenge her beloved dad and finally set herself free by devising the greatest scam of them all. 

A desire for an easy buck may challenge our morality and brutalise our sensibilities, but how malicious must someone become to escape exploitation?

SCAM poster

‘Scam’ is a women-centred narrative that explores themes of interdependence and abuse, and touches on other issues such as ageing, grief, loyalty, entitlement, greed and ego. 

The film dramatises the challenge of living alongside someone with an undiagnosed mental health condition; in this case, Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NCP). 

Through its depiction of the exponential growth and pervasive reach of social media scams, it also poses the question of how much criminals are victims and vice versa.

Pembrokeshire-based filmmakers, Nick Swannell and Alison Rayner, joined together in early 2021. The pair credit most of the film’s success to the help of generous locals. 

It was shot on a very limited budget, across several Pembrokeshire locations over 16 days during lockdown.

Megan Lote-Williams and Bibi MacDougall as Ella and Evie

When discussing the challenges faced when shooting a no-budget feature, director and co-producer, Nick Swannell, said: “The biggest thing was lack of personnel; when you can’t afford crew everyone has to do multiple jobs and it can get pretty hectic. 

“We bought props and costumes from charity shops, built sets, blagged locations, borrowed vehicles and lighting equipment.

“Yes, it limits the scope of your story and constrains what you can show on-screen, but that forces you to think more creatively.”

When asked how they met, and their experiences as co-producers, Alison Rayner said: “Both of us had experience writing and producing short films and in late 2019 Nick hosted a ‘Thriller Night’ of his short films in Narberth, Pembrokeshire. I’d been on the lookout for a local director to help me tell my stories and Nick was the only filmmaker I could find in Pembrokeshire (and his films were impressive)!”

Diane, Evie and Ella

Cate Lovett, an experienced actor, is joined by newcomers Megan Lote-Williams, a singer/songwriter, and actor Bibi MacDougall.

The public premiere will take place in Theatr Gwaun on Saturday, May 14. Tickets will be available at a discounted price.

There will also be a screening at the Torch Theatre, Milford Haven at 7:30 on Friday, July 8, as well as a screening at Queen’s Hall Narberth at a date yet to be confirmed. 

The film will then be screened around the UK as well as being streamed internationally. 

To book tickets please visit www.theatrgwaun.com/cinema or telephone 01348 873421.

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