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Crime

Ex-South Wales Police officer found guilty of misuse of power

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A former South Wales Police officer, Richard Helling, was recently brought to court following an investigation that exposed his corrupt activities.

The Anti-Corruption Unit’s vigilance led to concerns about Helling. It was revealed that he misused his position as a police constable, reaching out to four victims of crime he encountered in his line of duty using his personal phone. Not only did he attempt to foster a relationship with two of these victims, but he also engaged in sexual relationships with two others.

Upon his arrest, Helling, in a bid to cover his tracks, reached out to one of the victims, urging them to erase their message exchanges. This further led to his arrest for attempting to obstruct a criminal investigation and destroy incriminating evidence.

The enquiry also brought to light Helling’s unauthorised access to police computer systems for personal purposes. He conducted searches without any policing intent and disclosed confidential information to the public.

Helling faced trial at Swansea Crown Court in July. He entered a guilty plea to four counts of corrupt or improper exercise of police powers and privileges as outlined under section 26 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015. Furthermore, he pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice and two counts of computer misuse as described in sections 1 and 3 of the Computer Misuse Act 1990. The court handed him a 15-month prison sentence.

Shortly after his conviction, Helling, having joined the force in 2018, tendered his resignation just days ahead of an Accelerated Misconduct Hearing on 3rd August, presided over by Chief Constable Jeremy Vaughan.

The hearing concluded that Helling’s actions amounted to gross misconduct. Had he still been in service, an immediate dismissal would have been the verdict.

Chief Constable Vaughan remarked at the hearing, “The trust vested in police officers should be absolute. It’s deeply regrettable that former PC Helling abused this trust. While most of our 5,500 officers and staff of South Wales Police are dedicated and uphold the highest standards, there is absolutely no place for those who choose to forsake their duties.”

In 2019, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary released a report titled “Shining a Light on Betrayal: Abuse of Position for a Sexual Purpose”. One key recommendation was that police forces implement monitoring software to detect system misuse effectively. Additionally, forces were advised to frequently review data about their staff’s usage of force systems and communication devices.

Last year’s inspection identified South Wales Police as one of two forces recognised for its outstanding approach to handling corruption and vetting officers and staff. The assessment reviewed the force’s vetting processes, information protection measures, and corruption management.

Chief Superintendent Mark Lenihan, Head of Professional Standards, emphasised the significance of the Anti-Corruption Unit’s diligent monitoring and investigative methods. He stated, “Without these tools and techniques, this misconduct would have gone unnoticed, leaving a corrupt officer in our midst.”

Lenihan concluded by reiterating that the majority of police officers and staff are committed public servants who would never engage in such reprehensible actions.

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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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