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Holidaymaker injured in Pembrkoeshire suing dog owner for £5m

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A DUTCH holidaymaker who was injured while visiting Pembrokeshire is suing in the High Court for financial compensation.

The man was left needing a wheelchair after a local’s Westie terrier ran at his horse during a ride on a Druidston Haven Beach – and how he is suing the dog owner for up to £5million.

Financial advisor Lourens Koetsier, 63, suffered a severe spinal injury when he was thrown from his horse during a guide-led ride-out June 2018.

Financial advisor: Lourens Koetsier, 63, suffered a severe spinal injury when he was thrown from his horse (Image: Facebook)

Mr Koetsier claims the accident occurred because an unleashed West Highland Terrier named Max ran under his horse, spooking it into bucking and throwing him to the ground.

The tourist, who was holidaying in Pembrokeshire with his wife, is now suing for up to £5million at the High Court, saying Max’s owner, David Clifford Thomas, should have had him on a lead.

But Mr Thomas, who had had Max since he was a puppy, says there is no reason to blame his ‘small, elderly and gentle’ Westie for the accident, and denies liability.

And he insists there was no reason why he should have had to leash Max while walking him on a beach where local bylaws allow pet owners to let their dogs run freely.

According to documents filed at the London court, the financial advisor Mr Koetsier and his wife Monique were on holiday in Wales when he decided to go on the ride in June 2018.

He is an experienced horseman, having owned a pony as a child and competed as an adult, riding Dutch warmblood sport horses from his teens until he was in his forties.

On the day of the accident, he paid for a guide-led canter along the mile-long Druidston Haven beach through ride providers Nolton Stables, in nearby Haverfordwest.

Mr Thomas’s dog was spotted by the riders running off its leash on the sand, as the horses took an initial canter, his lawyers say.

Then as the riders set off for a second canter Max began running towards Mr Koetsier’s group from behind, barking as it approached.

Bonfire the horse bucked in fear and threw Mr Koetsier off and to the ground.  

Mr Koetsier was evacuated by air ambulance, having sustained a central spinal cord injury, which required fusion of some of his vertebrae, leaving him with incomplete tetraplegia.

He now experiences spasms and has impaired hand function, while his ability to care for himself, get around and work have been ‘substantially impaired,’ says his barrister.

He uses a wheelchair when outside, although he can walk short distances with a walking frame, and his home has had to be specially adapted to be suitable for his needs.

Mr Chapman claims that Max’s owner Mr Thomas is liable to pay compensation because he should have had the dog under control, which would have prevented the accident happening.

He also blames LJP Owen Ltd, trading as Nolton Stables, for allowing the group to canter a second time after Max had first been seen running off his lead.

For Mr Thomas, barrister Andrew Arentsen said there was no reason why Max should have been on his lead, since Druidston beach is regularly used by dog walkers to exercise their pets freely.

He also denied that Max was an aggressive dog, having been with Mr Thomas’ family since he was a puppy and, by the time of the accident, already ‘elderly’ at nearly 14 years old.

He says Max had shown initially only a ‘mild interest’ in the horses that day and he only ran after them when they cantered a second time.

‘Perhaps because the horses had passed at speed, perhaps out of curiosity or perhaps out of a sense of fun, Max turned and ran towards the group of horses who had just passed him,’ says Mr Arentsen.

He adds: ‘The accident occurred because the group of horses stopped, having cantered past Max, and because the claimant lost control of his horse and lost his seat upon the same.’

For LJP Owen Ltd, which operates as Nolton Stables, barrister Charles Woodhouse denies that it was at fault for Mr Koetsier’s accident, since the horse in question was perfectly comfortable around dogs.

The company, which serves 6,000 customers a year, keeps dogs loose at the stables so horses can acclimatise to them, and any which are not comfortable around dogs would be sold, he says.

He says the company does not know precisely what the horse did when the dog ran to him, but that one staff member thought he may have attempted to jump over the Westie.

‘The risk of a horse bucking, jumping, rearing or otherwise moving in such a way as to unseat its rider is an ordinary risk of riding horses of which the claimant was well aware and which he voluntarily accepted in choosing to ride Bonfire,’ he says.

The case reached court last week for a preparatory hearing ahead of a full trial of the claim at a later date. Lawyers for Mr Koetsier said they would be seeking a damages payout of up to £5million.

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New mobile visitor centre ready to help visitors gear up for the Pembrokeshire Coast

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Park Authority Ranger Richard Vaughan and Summer Ranger Megan Holt with the new information van at Poppit Sands.

PEOPLE visiting some of Pembrokeshire’s top beaches and events may soon encounter a new mobile information centre, with a specially converted van ready to hit the road and help people enjoy their visit.

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority’s new information van will be set up at seaside locations and popular local events, with Rangers on hand to give advice to those who need help and suggest free activities for those looking to discover the area’s wildlife.

National Park Authority Ranger Service Manager, Libby Taylor said: “This new vehicle will help our staff provide a range of information at locations where we know many people head to enjoy the National Park.

“As well as helping people learn more about the area and the different ways they can make the most of their visit, people can also find out how they can make the least impact on the Park during their stay.

“As well as having an awning to provide shelter, the van also includes space for magnetic panels that can be changed so the information that’s most relevant to the location or event can be provided.”

The vehicle, which has been converted by local company Poppit Campers, also includes a solar panel, which will help to power two iPads, which will give members of the public a chance to find further information on subjects such as nearby walks and wildlife identification.

The purchase and conversion of the vehicle was made possible through the support of the Welsh Government.

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Community

Deadline approaching for £500 payment to unpaid carers

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THE DEADLINE to apply for a one-off £500 payment to eligible unpaid carers in Wales is rapidly approaching.

The Welsh Government scheme, administered by Pembrokeshire County Council, is open to all unpaid carers in Wales who were in receipt of Carers Allowance on 31 March 2022.

The deadline to apply is 5pm on 15th July 2022 and those who believe they are eligible are urged not to miss out.

The Council is also sending out 400 letters this week to those they believe may be eligible and who have not yet applied.

The payment is in recognition of the increased financial pressures many unpaid carers experienced during the Covid-19 pandemic and to help with some of the additional costs they have incurred. 

The payment is targeted towards those individuals who care for someone for at least 35 hours a week and have low incomes.

You will not be eligible for the payment if:

  • You have an underlying entitlement to Carers Allowance but do not receive a payment because you are in receipt of another benefit at the same or higher rate; or
  • You only receive the carer premium  

If you have already applied please be assured the Council is working its way through the applications as quickly as possible.

How to apply

Applicants (this should be the person in receipt of carer’s allowance)

are required to complete the online form at: https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/grants/unpaid-carers-500-pound-payment

Required information is:

  • Your name, address, telephone number and email address
  • Date of Birth
  • National Insurance Number
  • Post code
  • A bank statement showing your name, address, account number and sort code

If you are having problems completing the on-line application form please email: UnpaidCarers@pembrokeshire.gov.uk alternatively call 01437 764551 for assistance.

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Crime

Lola James: Two people have denied charges in connection of the death of 2-year-old

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TWO people who have been charged in connection with the death of a Haverfordwest toddler have denied charges.

30-year-old Kyle Bevan of Aberystwyth, denied a charge of murder at Swansea Crown Court.

Lola’s mum Sinead James, 29, denied a charge of causing or allowing the death of a child.

Lola died in Hospital on July 21, 2020, four days after sustaining a severe head injury at her home address in Princess Royal Way, Haverfordwest.

Bevan was remanded into custody.

James was released on conditional bail.

The trial will take place in 2023 and Judge Thomas said it is expected to last four weeks.

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