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Man sentenced to five years for drug dealing in Aberystwyth

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A MAN who was arrested after being spotted taking drugs in the street in Aberystwyth was found to be an active dealer and has now been jailed for five-and-a-half years.

A member of the public phoned Dyfed-Powys Police to say they had seen two people taking blue pills in Corporation Street with both of them having a blue substance around their mouths on the evening of July 15, 2020.

Officers attended and saw Robert Thomas, aged 41, coming out of his address in Corporation Street, with blue powder around his lips.

He was stopped and searched, with several white and blue tablets found in his possession, leading to his arrest.

Officers then searched Thomas’ home where they found a bag containing 3g of herbal cannabis, as well as a small set of weighing scales and 0.77g of cannabis under his bed.

Officers then found 101,000 blue and white tablets in various containers, including two large buckets, each containing thousands of the pills.

While being checked into custody, a further search of Thomas resulted in more blue tablets in a snap bag between his buttocks, £480 in cash and a Motorola mobile phone.

It is believed Thomas had bulk-bought what he thought was Diazepam tablets on the internet to sell on.

However, forensic testing of the tablets revealed that 3,211 of them were Flualprazolam which fall within the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016, while the other 97,814 were paracetamol that had been dyed blue.

The street value of the tablets seized, if sold as Diazepam, would be between £101,000 and £202,000 if sold singularly or £40,000 if sold wholesale.

On the scales, officers also found traces of cocaine.

During interview, Thomas confirmed he had paid £12,000 for each of the large tubs, but claimed he had received more than he had ordered and that he wasn’t selling them on.

However, when officers looked into Thomas’ phone they found significant evidence of drug dealing, offering to sell cocaine, MDMA, amphetamines, cannabis and Diazepam.

DS Steven Jones said: “Following the good work from our officers who attended the initial call through to the thorough investigation that followed, we were able to show Thomas was an active dealer who was selling drugs on a large scale in Ceredigion.

“This case shows that we can prosecute those involved in drug supply even without them being caught in possession of the drugs.

“We would like to thank the person who reported Thomas taking drugs in the street, and we hope this convection helps to reassure the public that we will act on their concerns to secure convictions.”

Thomas was convicted following trial at Swansea Crown Court where he returned to be sentenced on Friday, 20 January.

For offering to supply cocaine and MDMA he was sentenced to five-and-a-half years for each, amphetamine and cannabis he was sentenced to 12 months each and Diazepam six months.

All sentences will run concurrently, meaning his total sentence is five-and-a-half years.

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Milford Haven: Police investigating sexual assault

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POLICE are investigating an incident of sexual assault which occurred in Hakin, Milford Haven.

Milford Haven Police say that the alleged incident took place in Croft Avenue on February 7, 2023 at around 19:50hrs.

If anyone is able to give any information regarding this incident please ring 101 quoting reference DPP/0956/07/02/2023/02/C.

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Pembrokeshire County Council faces less bleak finances than previously expected

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL faces a less bleak financial position than had previously been expected, to the tune of nearly £10m, members of a schools committee have heard.

At the February 6 meeting of the Schools and Learning Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Cabinet Member for Corporate Finance Cllr Alec Cormack, presented outline draft 2023-’24 budget proposals to members.

He told members an updated draft budget was to be reported to the February meeting of the council’s Cabinet after a previously feared funding gap of £28m was now smaller, at £18.6m, due to a higher settlement from Welsh Government.

An expected 3.5 per cent settlement ended up being 7.9 per cent, which meant some expected cuts were now unlikely to happen, he told committee members.

“A large number of the most severe cuts are now very, very unlikely; we’re now looking at a deficit of £18.6m, it’s not as severe as it was.

“The officer team is looking at how that funding gap could be closed with budget savings and with different levels of council tax.”

Members heard the budget is expected to be addressed through an increase in council tax – potentially in the area of 7.5 per cent – along with significant cost reductions.

Director of Resources John Haswell said: “It was a better settlement, but still an £18.6m gap; this isn’t a one-year issue, this is an issue over the medium-term plan, over £50m over the four-year period.”

He said that Pembrokeshire, having the lowest council tax rates in Wales, meant that each potential percentage increase returned less than other local authorities.

Members heard papers listing the latest budget proposals for Cabinet discussion are expected to be released soon, in advance of the February 13 meeting.

Members agreed to defer making any recommendations to Cabinet, pending the release of the revised papers.

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Welsh Freeport competition heats up with Senedd vote

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ON WEDNESDAY, the Senedd will hold a debate regarding freeports as the competition for UK and Welsh Government funding nears its conclusion.

Currently, three bids are in from across Wales for a chance to benefit from £26 million of direct UK Government funding, as well as reduced taxes for businesses in the freeport area. A Welsh freeport could see up to 16,000 jobs created and further investment or the local area into the billions.

Speaking ahead of the debate, Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for the Economy, Paul Davies MS said:

“Benefits of a freeport cannot be understated, bringing much needed jobs and investment into some of the most deprived areas of Wales.

“The UK Government put the challenge to Wales to submit exceptional bids, and Wales has delivered.

“All three bids would help to transform their local communities in different ways. It’s essential that the UK and Welsh Governments work together to deliver that second freeport for Wales, maximising the opportunities that these bids have to offer.”

The three Welsh Freeport bids are:

  • The Celtic Freeport (covering Pembrokeshire to Neath) which has estimated that it would create over 16,000 new jobs and up to £5.5 billion in new investment.
  • The Anglesey Freeport would support up to a £1 billion contribution to UK GDP by 2030, while also creating up to 13,000 new, high salary jobs in Ynys Môn.
  • The Newport Freeport (including Cardiff Airport) is aiming to increase non-passenger revenues to 50%, ending their reliance of passenger generated income.

The UK Government stated that “if a truly exceptional proposal were presented at the bidding stage” than a second freeport would be funded.

The Welsh Conservative debate reads:

To propose that the Senedd:

1. Recognises the opportunities for freeports to energise the Welsh economy, create high quality jobs, promote regeneration and investment.

2. Notes that three bids from Wales have been submitted for consideration by the UK and Welsh Governments.

3. Calls on the Welsh Government to work with the UK Government to deliver two freeports in Wales, recognising the truly exceptional proposals submitted and the transformational benefits they can deliver for the Welsh economy.

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