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Farmer’s suspended jail sentence for horse cruelty

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PalominoHorseA PEMBROKESHIRE farmer has narrowly avoided a custodial sentence after admitting cruelty to animals.
Gwilym Gilmour Thomas, 42, of Lodor Fach, Maenclochog, sat with his head bowed, as the three charges of causing unnecessary suffering under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 were read out.
Thomas pleaded guilty at the first opportunity to failing to adequately care for a Palomino Stallion, a Strawberry Roan mare and a Strawberry Roan horse.
There were emotional scenes in the court room as the defendant, from the dock, and his wife, from the public gallery, sobbed uncontrollably throughout the proceedings. His wife was comforted by a member of court staff.
Prosecutor Jon Tarrant told Haverfordwest Magistrates that this was the worst case of neglect of horses that the informing RSPCA officer, Mr. Abbott, had ever come across in all his years of experience.
Jon Tarrant told the court: “On April 11 the RSPCA visited a parcel of land in the vicinity of Rosebush, south of the Preseli’s. An officer photographed and videoed three horses, and a pony.”
“One animal had already died, while another was close to death, and the other two were severely malnourished; being 50-60% underweight” he added.
John Tarrant continued: “The first field the officer entered was extremely bare, and there appeared to be an area where a bail of hay had been put out previously. In that field the officer saw one horse which was struggling to lift its head and looking disorientated”
“He also found an empty bath tub which had barbed wire in the bottom of it, which had previously been used for water for the animals” he said.
John Tarrant continued: “On attempts to recover the surviving animals, one of those horses tried to evade capture – but it had to stop every so often as a result of its poor condition.”
“The fourth horse, found in another field, was estimated to have died 24 to 48 hours previously.
In a recorded interview with RSPCA officers, Thomas simply said: “I’ve failed them, I can’t forgive myself – I never realised they were struggling, I failed them.”
Defence solicitor Richard Griffiths asked “whose responsibility is it in the main to look after the horses?”
Mr Thomas’ father owns the field and the horses but generally asks his son to feed the animals.
In interview, Thomas senior said: “If I had any idea they were going down, I would have done something”.
Defending, Richard Griffiths, told the court: “My client has admitted his guilt. In interviews he was extremely sorry for what had happened to the horses.
“However, whilst admitting responsibility, you will notice from the bundle that there were two people interviewed under caution,” he said.
Mr Griffiths continued: “The defendant’s father also admitted he was at fault, but because of his age and ill health, it was decided not to be in the public interest to prosecute him.”
Mr Griffiths read out extracts of the interview between the RSPCA and the defendant’s father, Thomas senior. Mr Griffiths told the court: “It seems that the defendant’s duty was to bring food to the horses on an ‘as and when’ basis, on the instructions of his father.”
“His father suffered from chest pains and was unable to walk the length of the paddocks,” he added.
“A lady, who also had horses in the paddock, had been helping as well with the care of the animals,” he said.
“Once the lady had taken her horses away Thomas senior had forgotten to inform anyone including the defendant. This is the reason why the animals became malnourished,” Mr Griffiths explained.
“Despite viewing the animals daily, Thomas senior could only do so from a distance because he was unable to walk far. It seems that the majority of the responsibility rests with someone who is not before the court, and the defendant only played a minor role,” he said.
Mr Griffiths went on to say: “In fact, the defendant is in charge of a thousand livestock and has an excellent record.
“Last winter, one of the worst on record, he did not lose a single animal. This is testament to his attention and care of the animals he is fully responsible for.
‘’My client lives in a static caravan with his wife on the farm,” he said.
“He shares the facilities of the main house, but only receives £25 per week allowance from the business, despite working up to 17-hour days,” he told the court.
The clerk of the court told the magistrates: “This is an offence where you have to impose a custodial sentence. You have to follow your guidelines, you have no option
“However, it is within your powers to suspend the sentence,” he added.
Thomas was given a one year suspended jail sentence, ordered to undertake 300 hours of unpaid work and was disqualified from keeping horses for five years. He was ordered to pay prosecution costs of £1102.60.
Speaking after the hearing Richard Abbot said “The decision to prosecute Gwilym Thomas was one which was made by a case management officer at RSPCA headquarters.”
“It is my view that he should not have been prosecuted without his father being before the court as well.”
“Animals have suffered over a long period of time. Usually in cases like this people deserve to go to prison.
I was however, worried in court that William Thomas would get a prison sentence as this is not what he deserves.”
Speaking to The Herald, John Tarrant said: “The RSPCA is stuck between a rock and a hard place. They would be criticised for prosecuting and they would have been criticised for not prosecuting this case.”

CAPTION: One of the surviving horses, two died. Some of the photos are too shocking to publish.

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Primary school teacher described as ‘touchy-feely’ on day two of trial

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A HAVERFORDWEST primary school teacher, accused of sexually assaulting his pupils was “very touchy-feely”, Swansea Crown Court heard on the second day of his trial.

James Oulton, 34, of Haverfordwest would put his hands around students’ waists and touch their bottoms, an ex-female pupil said in a video interview played to Swansea Crown Court.

The defendant denies 30 charges of sexual assault at a primary school in Haverfordwest. The alleged offences took place between 2012 and 2018.

On the opening day of the trial, court heard that Oulton said the case was a “witch-hunt” and that he always behaved appropriately with children.

On Tuesday, the jury watched the video interview with one of Oulton’s former pupils, who said he was a “friendly person, very chatty and sociable and quite outgoing and wanted to know everything that was going on.”

She added: “Mr Oulton often wanted to know a lot of details on what we had done over the weekend, where we had been, and also who they had been with.”

“At the time I just thought he was trying to be really friendly but now when I look back at it now, it does seem odd.”

The witness also described the defendant as a “very touchy-feely teacher”.

She added: “If he was marking your work or if you approached him to ask him a question, he would put his hands around your waist or around your bum”.

“If he was standing by his desk, he would, like, motion to his knee, so he wouldn’t ask you directly to sit on his lap but he would tap his knee.”

Swansea Crown Court heard that the witness eventually came forward and told her parents parents after she heard them speaking about Mr Oulton being suspended from his job.

“Did you feel under pressure to say something had happened to you?” asked Mr Clee.

The witness answered “No”

Oulton, of Richmond Crescent, Haverfordwest, previously told the court he had behaved appropriately.

He also believed letters were sent by Pembrokeshire County Council to parents which encouraged “deliberately false evidence” and collusion between pupils.

The trial continues.

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‘We don’t want it’: councillors object to HGV tanker park plans

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PEMBROKE DOCK town councillors have objected strongly to plans to build a HGV tanker park in the town.

The tanker park would be located on the south-western side of Criterion Way, behind the ASDA petrol station.

However, at a meeting of the town council’s Planning Committee on Tuesday, April 13, councillors were in agreement that it would create more problems for the town.

Councillor Jonathan George said: “I’ve noted the public input on this and they don’t seem very happy about where it’s going to be put.

“It is close to a small park area and I don’t think it’s suitable to put this here. I won’t be supporting this.”

Cllr George Manning added: “There are many aspects of this which are totally inappropriate for Pembroke Dock. There are many other sites available but they haven’t looked at any of them.

“This does not do anything for the Future Generations act and it will bring more disruption to the town.

“This does not bring about any improvements to the existing transport infrastructure. There are lots of things about this, we don’t want it. I don’t think they have looked into it in enough detail.”

Cllr Gordon Goff said that the impact it would have on the public and wildlife would be ‘astronomical’.

He went on to say he was not happy with one of the statements in the application and said they ‘don’t want to be blackmailed’.

One of the documents submitted with the application states that if the development was not approved it would mean that the applicants, Certas, ‘will either have to find a different site’ or ‘will have to cease operating in the area’.

Cllr Terry Judkins said that the Port Authority wanted to ‘use Pembroke Dock as a dumping ground’ and added that he could not support it.

Cllr Maureen Colgan added that she was ‘totally against’ the application and said that the area should be kept for leisure and be developed as an area where people can sit and enjoy themselves.

The application is due to be decided by Pembrokeshire County Council at a later date.

Cllr Paul Dowson has already called in the application for it to be debated by the County Council’s Planning Committee.

In his request he states that it is too near habitation, it is within the Pembroke Dock conservation area and that children have been using the area near the bandstand as play area for over 20 years.

The area had also previously been the subject of an application for a marina and other leisure facilities but that investment was written off in 2017.

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Trial of Haverfordwest primary school teacher starts at Swansea Crown Court

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A HAVERFORDWEST primary school teacher who is accused of sexually abusing eleven children thinks he is a victim of a witch hunt by the police, a jury has heard.

But at Swansea Crown Court on Monday (Apr 12), the Clare Wilks for the prosecution said that the defendant had “abused the trust of parents and staff” by sexually touching children in his care.

James Oulton, denies 30 charges of sexual assault against the eleven children who were aged eight or nine years old at the time.

The alleged offences took place between 2012 and 2018.

The jury heard how the pupils, now aged between 11 and 17, claimed he touched them sexually.

But the court was also told that Mr Oulton claimed he received cards at the end of term, and he believed letters sent by Pembrokeshire council to parents encouraged false complaints and collusion between pupils.

Oulton, 34, of Richmond Crescent, Haverfordwest, told the court he had behaved appropriately.

The jury heard how the alleged abuse occurred while Mr Oulton was working at a primary school in Haverfordwest.

Clare Wilks, prosecuting, said some of the children alleged that they had been assaulted on a daily basis, while others had had given statements to say it only happened the one time.

The trial continues.

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