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Crime

Chip shop owner in tears as he is cleared of killing his wife with boiling oil

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A CHIP SHOP owner has been cleared of killing his wife after he was accused of pouring scalding hot oil over her.

Geoffrey Bran, 71, was accused of pushing or throwing a deep fat fryer onto Mavis Bran at the Chipoteria in Hermon, Carmarthenshire, on 23 October last year.

Mrs Bran, 69, died six days after suffering “horrific burns” to 46% of her body.

Before her death she told a friend and paramedics that her husband had “flipped” and attacked her with the fryer because she had been “nagging him”.

Mrs Bran: Died of horrific burns

But Mr Bran has been found not guilty of the murder or manslaughter of his wife.

Mr Bran was in tears when the verdict was read out after his week-long trial at Swansea Crown Court, before judge Paul Thomas QC released him from the dock.

His wife of 38 years died from multiple organ failure after developing sepsis, hypothermia and undergoing surgery to remove some of her burned skin.

Gareth Davies, a friend who lived with the couple, told the court Mrs Bran returned home naked from the waist up with “crimson” peeling skin.

He added she was shouting “I’ve been burned” and “I’ve had boiling hot fat all over me”.
Mrs Bran then rang her friend, Caroline Morgan, telling her: “Geoff has thrown boiling oil over me. Please get here, I need you now, help.”

Miss Morgan said she found Mrs Bran “shocked” and “shaking” and told Mr Davies to call for an ambulance, before telling Mr Bran, who was still serving customers, to shut the chip shop.

Mrs Bran: Chipoteria opened in January 2018 in a cabin near couples home

Miss Morgan told the court Mrs Bran said: “I was nagging him and he flipped.”

She was taken by air ambulance to the burns unit at Morriston Hospital in Swansea.

Mr Bran was initially arrested on suspicion of assault and denied attacking his wife, telling police: “She got burned with the chip fryer. She slipped and it came off the top and went over her. Don’t ask.”

The couple, who had no children together, owned around 10 businesses in South Wales, including the Chipoteria which opened in January 2018 in a cabin situated next to their home.

The financial pressures of their various businesses would sometimes put a strain on their marriage, leading to arguments about money, the court heard.

People who knew the couple were said to have described them as having “short tempers” and “always argued, swearing and shouting at each other”.

Mrs Bran was taken by air ambulance to the burns unit at Morriston Hospital

A friend of Mrs Bran had noticed the couple’s relationship had been “deteriorating” in the months leading up to her death, with Mrs Bran phoning friend Miss Morgan in tears saying “he’s getting nasty”.

Mr Bran claimed his wife had previously spread lies about him, and suggested she was “halfway” to being drunk after drinking glasses of red wine on the afternoon she was injured.

Paramedics found she had a blood alcohol reading of 108mg/dl, higher than the drink-drive limit of 80mg/dl.

Mr Bran said his wife must have been “confused” when blaming him but said he “couldn’t find an answer” as to why he then ignored her for more than two hours after she was hurt.

He told the court he loved and missed his wife, despite telling police in an interview: “It’s a miracle we lasted that long.

“But we used to get on OK. We’ve had our ups and downs.”

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Crime

Detectives investigating the death of boy, 15, near Lampeter

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Dyfed-Powys Police is investigating the circumstances surrounding the sudden death of a 15-year-old boy at a location near Lampeter on Friday afternoon (March 1), the force has confirmed.

The family is being supported by specialist officers.

The death is not being treated as suspicious and a report will be prepared for H.M. Coroner.

The police issued a statement saying: “We are aware of concern in the community, however as an investigation is ongoing we would ask that support is given to the family by not speculating on the circumstances surrounding the death.”

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Crime

Thai woman accused of killing own son appears in court

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A THAI woman accused of murdering her seven-year-old son has appeared in court again this week.

Papaipit Linse, 42, has been charged with the murder of Louis Linse who was found dead at a house in Haverfordwest.

Linse appeared at Swansea Crown Court on Tuesday via videolink and spoke only to confirm her name.

She was not asked to enter a plea and Judge Paul Thomas KC adjourned the case until the next hearing on June 17.

The police said they were called to an address in Upper Market Street, Haverfordwest shortly before 10.45am on January 10.

It was confirmed, sadly, that a seven-year-old child was confirmed to have died a short time later.

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Crime

Former senior social worker jailed for sexual assault against a child

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A FORMER senior social worker (formerly of Pembrokeshire) who attempted to arrange to meet children for sex, and admitted enjoying ‘caressing’ a young girl, has been jailed for five years.

When police arrested Richard Ford (formerly known as Dale Richard Barker) in September 2022, they discovered more than 900 indecent images of children on his computers. Further enquiries revealed he had also sexually assaulted a child on three occasions.

The 51-year-old, formerly of Pembrokeshire, now of Princess Way Road, Hackney, was brought to Dyfed-Powys Police’s attention by two separate police officers who were working on an operation targeting people involved in online sexual exploitation. The operation deploys undercover officers with specialist online training on a range of social media sites to identify people with a sexual interest in children.

Information provided by the undercover team showed Ford had been communicating with officers on social networks for between four and six months.

Dyfed-Powys Police Detective Constable Joe Hartnell said: “One of the officers purported to be a woman with a 13-year-old daughter, while the other said they were a man with an 11-year-old adopted son, and a seven-year-old foster daughter.

“Believing the officers to be adults with a sexual interest in children, Ford took part in sexualised chat, asking to meet the officers and their children with the intention of carrying out sexual acts.

“Thankfully Ford was in contact with undercover officers at this point, and not members of the public with real children who could have come to serious harm. It is believed he had been talking to at least one other adult online, however it’s not known who this was.”

Dyfed-Powys Police’s Police Online Investigation Team (POLIT) and Criminal Investigation Department (CID) attended Ford’s home, where they seized 19 digital devices. During an in-depth forensic investigation, 913 indecent images of children were found – with more than 250 classified as Category A, the most serious.

It was established that Ford was interested in girls aged between 7 and 14, and had made comments online about ‘groping’ girls.

DC Hartnell said: “This is a man who clearly has criminal thoughts about children, and as our enquiries continued a young girl disclosed that she had been inappropriately touched by Ford on three occasions.

“She was incredibly brave in coming forward, and provided us with valuable evidence which allowed us to secure further charges against Ford.”

Ford was charged with 10 offences:

  • Possessing indecent photographs/pseudo photographs of a child (x4)
  • Distributing indecent photographs/pseudo photographs of a child
  • Attempting to cause a child aged between 13 and 15 to watch or look at an image of sexual activity
  • Attempt to arrange/facilitate the commission of child sex offence
  • Three counts of sexual assault

He appeared at Swansea Crown Court on Monday, February 26, where he was sentenced to five years in prison.

DC Hartnell added: “This has been a lengthy investigation into the actions of a man in a position of trust as a senior social worker, who in fact could not be trusted around children.

“I would like to commend the bravery of the victim in coming forward and talking to officers, as well as acknowledging the work of various departments across Dyfed-Powys Police in gathering strong evidence to convict Ford, and the support of Pembrokeshire County Council.

“We are committed to pursuing those intent on committing harm against the most vulnerable in our society, and would like to assure victims that they will be treated with compassion and dignity when they choose to report crimes to us.”

A Pembrokeshire County Council spokesperson added: “We are aware that an individual formerly employed by the council has been sentenced for several child sex offences.

“These offences were not committed by the individual in the course of their employment with the council, and as with any investigation into child sexual abuse, the local authority cooperated with the criminal investigation, and took all steps to ensure that any children impacted by such offences are identified and supported.

“Anyone who has a concern about the welfare of a child can contact police on 101, the child care assessment team on 01437 764551, or in an emergency, dial 999.”

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