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Chairman of Fishguard Sports AFC made fraudulent claim to council for Covid funds

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THE CHAIRMAN of a Pembrokeshire of a football club tried to con the council out of a Covid grant by claiming a derelict and tumbledown shed was actually a gym.

Owen Duggan, 41, falsely made a bid for £4,000 in pandemic support by claiming the shed was a facility used by players of the club but a visit to the site by a suspicious inspector revealed the truth – Swansea Crown Court heard.

After a council investigation the police were called in and the defendant found himself charged with fraud.

The court was informed that Duggan was perceived as a pillar of the community, who was deeply ashamed of his false claim for his club.

During the trial, prosecutor Jim Davis informed the court that Duggan was the chairman of Fishguard Sports AFC in Pembrokeshire at the time.

The club, which had played its home games at St Mary’s Field owned by the Diocese of St. David’s for 80 years until 2017, was established for 80 years.

He said under the terms of an oral agreement struck in 1947 the club would pay a “small amount for rent” annually for use of the field. The court heard that in 2017 the club moved to a new home at Tregroes Park and at that point it emerged it had not paid any rent on St Mary’s for the last decade.

The court heard that after the changing rooms at St Mary’s were demolished, a shed was left in place and access to the field was closed due to insurance liability issues. In June and October of 2020, Duggan, who was the chairman of Fishguard Sports AFC, applied for Covid funds from Pembrokeshire Council on behalf of the club to support its operations during the pandemic restrictions.

He received grants of £10,000 and £1,000, respectively. However, in January of the following year, he made a third application for £4,000, claiming that the shed was a gym used by the club.

Mr Davis said an inspection of the site was carried out and it was found the shed was “very dilapidated and had not been used for some considerable time” and no evidence could be found it had been used as gym.

An internal investigation was carried out and then the police were alerted to what appeared to be a fraudulent application.

The prosecution’s case was that Duggan’s claim about the shed being used as a gym was false, and he was arrested and questioned but denied any wrongdoing. Duggan, of Heol Dewi in Fishguard, Pembrokeshire, had previously pleaded guilty to one count of fraud and was appearing in court for sentencing, with no prior convictions.

Duggan’s barrister portrayed him as a respected community member who greatly contributed to the local area, and pointed out that the case was unusual as the defendant would not have personally benefited from the money even if the application was successful.

He also noted that the club’s financial records showed they were not in difficulty at the time of the fraudulent claim.

The defence stated that Duggan, a loving father of two, was filled with regret and shame for his actions and the negative impact it had on his family and the club.

He had voluntarily resigned from his job at Pembrokeshire County Council as a result of the charge.

Judge Paul Hobson told the defendant: “You are not being sentenced for getting into a muddle or for making an honest mistake. You are being sentenced for fraud. Your actions were thoroughly dishonest”.

The judge said in his view the fact the fraud involved Covid funds was an aggravating factor and he said people who abused those funds could ordinarily expect a prison sentence. Judge Hobson said he accepted Duggan was remorseful for his actions and that the loss of his good character would be a punishment in itself for him.

He also noted the motivation had not been personal gain but he told the defendant he had been “risking the club’s good name” by what he did. Duggan was sentenced to a 12-month community order and must complete 100 hours of unpaid work and pay £1,000 towards prosecution costs.

The court heard the football club tried to return the money from the fist two grants even though they had been properly obtained but that proved impossible and the money ended up in some sort of leisure fund at the local authority.

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Charity

RNLI prepare for summer with medical training exercise in Pembrokeshire

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RNLI lifeguards from the north Pembrokeshire team, volunteers from St Davids RNLI and St Davids Coastguard Rescue Team came together at Whitesands beach on Thursday (18 April), for a multi-agency medical training exercise. Pembrokeshire RNLI lifeguards and St Davids volunteer lifeboat crew took part in a multi-agency medical training exercise alongside St Davids Coastguard Rescue Team in preparation for the upcoming summer season.

The Coastal Medicine programme was set up six years ago at the suggestion of clinicians from Hywel Dda University Health Board. The aim of the programme is train lifeguards, lifeboat crews and HM Coastguard teams in working collaboratively when responding to medical incidents on the coast.

Clinicians from Hywel Dda work with RNLI staff to design exercises simulating mass-casualty incidents on land and afloat. The exercises allow lifeguards, lifeboat crews and Coastguard teams to practise and test their rescue response and casualty care.

The simulated incident at Whitesands involved a medical incident at sea leading to a boat going out of control and ploughing through a group of swimmers causing multiple injuries. RNLI lifeguards responded to casualties on the beach while St Davids inshore and all-weather lifeboat crews dealt with the situation at sea. St Davids Coastguard Rescue supported RNLI colleagues as they would in a real-life scenario.

In total there were six casualties to treat, all of whom were given the immediate medical care by the teams on scene. As in a real-life scenario, they were then prepared to be handed over to the care of the Ambulance Service.

Roger Smith, RNLI Area Lifesaving Manager said: ‘The scenario was based on a real-life incident, it’s so important that we train in dealing with challenging situations.

‘The RNLI lifeguards, lifeboat crew, and the Coastguard rescue team worked really well together collaborating together to achieve the best possible result.

‘The feedback from all the participants was really positive, and our medical colleagues were very complimentary about the competence shown and the inter-agency co-operation.

‘This scenario training gives confidence to our lifeguards and lifeboat crews, and ensures the teamwork and communication is already in place ready for real-life incidents.’

Martin Charlton, an RNLI lifeguard in north Pembrokeshire said:

‘Last night’s exercise was a great opportunity for me and my colleagues on the lifeguard team to upskill ahead of the summer season.

‘We regularly attend incidents in the season that require a multi-agency response. These scenarios are a brilliant opportunity to prepare for the the most challenging situations.

‘The team and I thoroughly enjoyed the exercise and feel better prepared for the season as a result.

‘It’s always a pleasure working alongside the Coastguard rescue team and the lifeboat as one crew.’

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Crime

Brian Davis: Wanted on suspicion of commercial burglary

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POLICE are appealing for information to find Brian Davis, from the Pembroke Dock area.
The 53-year-old is wanted on suspicion of commercial burglary and fail to appear at court.
Have you seen Brian, or do you have information that might help us find him? Please, let the police know:
🖥️ | https://orlo.uk/wr13X
📧 | [email protected]
💬 | Direct message us on social media
📞 | 101
Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555111, or visiting crimestoppers-uk.org.
Quote reference: BRC818624

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Business

1,000 thefts a day: Labour calls for more support for high streets

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SHOCK analysis by the Labour Party has revealed more than 1,000 shoplifting offences are being committed across England and Wales every day – equating to an offence almost every minute of the day.

Yet separate Freedom of Information requests submitted by the party to police forces suggest that charges have fallen by a quarter over the past five years.

Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Mid and South Pembrokeshire, Henry Tufnell, was out visiting local businesses in Tenby last week (April 19) to hear about the challenges presented by shoplifting and anti-social behaviour.

Henry Tufnell, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Mid and South Pembrokeshire, said: “Pembrokeshire relies upon local businesses to grow our local economy, support jobs, and drive tourism. Today’s stats are clear: the Conservatives have lost control.

“Labour has a plan to ensure our town centres are a safe, enjoyable place for Pembrokeshire residents to spend time in. Coupled with the Welsh Labour Government’s Transforming Towns scheme, which will provide £27 million by 2025 in South West Wales towards funding projects to regenerate and support our town centres, Labour’s priority is breathing life back into our high streets.”

Philippa Thompson, Labour’s Police and Crime Commissioner candidate for Dyfed Powys Police, joined with members of the Co-operative Party and USDAW, the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers, to campaign for stronger protections for retail workers.

Today’s announcement comes shortly after the UK government finally committed to introduce a new offence for assault of a retail worker, which Labour, the Co-op and USDAW have called for, for more than a decade.

Labour’s Police and Crime Commissioner candidate for Dyfed Powys Police, Philippa Thompson, said:

“A Labour Government in Westminster means we’ll see more police on the streets, a crackdown on anti-social behaviour, and on retail crime. As a Labour & Co-operative Party candidate, today I am campaigning with USDAW to strengthen protections for retail workers against the assault and abuse they face at work.

It has taken the Conservatives ten years to heed what Labour, the Co-operative Party and USDAW have been saying, and introduce a specific offence for assault of a retail worker. The Tories have run out of steam and run out of ideas, and it’s time for a change. Only Labour can deliver that change.”

Since September, Labour has been calling for the Tories to scrap their Shoplifter’s Charter, which is leaving criminals to steal with impunity.

The rule, brought in by Theresa May in 2014, introduced a new category of ‘low-value shoplifting’ to describe theft of goods worth under £200 and has led to police deprioritising enforcement in these cases – even where there are repeat offences or organised shoplifting. This has left businesses and retail workers at the mercy of criminals.
 
Alongside removing the Tories’ £200 rule, Labour has vowed to put 13,000 more neighbourhood police and PCSOs back on the streets and introduce a Community Policing Guarantee to tackle shoplifting.

Yvette Cooper MP, Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary, said: “Under the Tories too many communities and high streets are being blighted by staggering increases in shoplifting, but charge rates are going down. That means more criminals are getting away with it and more local businesses are paying the price.
 
“The Conservative government has decimated neighbourhood policing, leaving our town centres unprotected, and they are still refusing to get rid of the £200 rule, which is encouraging repeat offending and organised gangs of shoplifters.
 
“Labour will scrap the Tories’ Shoplifter’s Charter and bring in a Community Policing Guarantee, with 13,000 more neighbourhood police and PCSOs to crackdown on shoplifting and keep the public safe.”

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