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Crime

Lampeter businessman cleared of £148,000 theft from own company

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AT SWANSEA CROWN COURT this week (Feb 9), Andrew Ling, 39, from Cysgod-Y-Coed, Cwmann, Lampeter, has been acquitted of allegations that he stole nearly £150,000 from Perpetual V2G Systems Ltd, a pioneering company he founded.

Mr. Ling faced charges of siphoning off £148,517.78 between March 30, 2016, and June 12, 2018, but steadfastly denied any wrongdoing.

Perpetual V2G Systems Ltd is at the forefront of developing cutting-edge technology for 3.5t home delivery vehicles, which traditionally had to keep their engines running during deliveries to maintain refrigeration systems. This innovation allows for the engine to be turned off, significantly saving fuel costs and reducing carbon emissions. The company’s achievements had already positioned it for international recognition, with plans to pitch its patented carbon reduction systems to major stakeholders in the United States, signaling a massive opportunity for expansion and investment.

The prosecution, led by Jim Davis, contended that Ling illicitly transferred funds from the company’s current account to its reserves and subsequently into his personal account. Despite these accusations, Ling maintained his innocence throughout the investigation and trial, asserting he only took what was rightfully owed to him.

After deliberating for approximately three hours and 40 minutes, the jury reached a unanimous decision, finding Ling not guilty of theft by an employee. Recorder Owen-Casey, addressing Ling, declared, “The jury has found you not guilty. You are now free to go,” marking the end of a week-long trial.

The case shed light on the financial strains and personal sacrifices Ling endured while establishing Perpetual V2G Systems Ltd in 2013, including taking out personal loans to finance the company. Evidence presented in court highlighted Ling’s relentless dedication to his venture, working tirelessly to secure a patent in 2015 and launching the company into operation. Despite not drawing a salary until 2016, Ling believed the company owed him around £195,000 in total for his contributions.

Defence counsel Dyfed Thomas argued that Ling’s invoicing against the company for work he had completed was deemed lawful by an accountant, emphasising the transparency of the company’s accountancy software. The defence also countered claims that Ling was motivated by grievances over his lack of recognition within the company, suggesting instead that disputes over investment terms and subsequent boardroom conflicts led to his leaving the firm, and the dilution of his shares.

The trial revealed underlying tensions within the company, particularly concerning the terms of a second round of investment from Finance Wales, which precipitated a heated exchange between Ling and other board members. This confrontation ultimately led to scrutiny of Ling’s director’s loan account and his removal from the company he had worked so hard to build, a company on the brink of international expansion and innovation in the green technology sector.

Crime

If you have a drink problem, you need to address it’ blasts judge

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A NORTH Pembrokeshire motorist has been banned from driving for three years after admitting his second drink-driving offence in ten years.

Trystan Davies, 34, was stopped by officers as he drove his Vauxhall Corsa on the A476 at Cardigan on the evening of June 1.

When spoken to by officers, Davies admitted drinking half a bottle of red wine prior to driving.  However his breath tests showed he was over twice the prescribed drink-drive limit, with a reading of 76 mcg.  The legal limit is 35.

This week Crown Prosecutor Abigail Jackson informed district judge Mark Layton sitting at Haverfordwest magistrates court that Davies, of Parceithin, Blaenffos, was convicted of a previous drink-driving offence in 2019.

After Davies pleaded guilty to the charge of drink-driving his solicitor, Michael Kelleher, claimed the reading was high as his client had been on a drinking spree the night prior to the offence,

However District Judge Mark Layton questioned whether the alcohol would have remained in his system for this length of time.

“The fact that you’ve done it before makes this offence more serious,” commented Judge Layton when passing sentence.

“You should understand that when you drive after consuming alcohol, you don’t just risk your own life but the lives of everyone else.  If you have a drink problem, you need to address it.”

Davies was disqualified from driving for three years.  He was fined £120 and ordered to pay £85 court costs and a £48 surcharge.

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Crime

Call for boost to policing as over 9,231 car thefts go unsolved across Wales

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A STAGGERING 9,231 car thefts have gone unsolved in England and Wales since the last election, new Liberal Democrat analysis of Home Office statistics has uncovered.

The figures reveal that 65% of motor vehicle theft cases recorded between 2020 and 2023 were closed without a suspect even being identified. Meanwhile, just 7% of cases during this period resulted in a suspect being charged or summoned.

The number of unsolved car thefts has soared during this period, with a 29% rise from 2,100 in 2020 to 2,713 last year.

The Liberal Democrats are calling for Police and Crime Commissioners to be abolished and the savings invested into frontline policing instead – a move that could generate around £170 million over the course of the next Parliament. 

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds stated that more money needs to be directed away from bureaucratic roles and into allowing the police to investigate and solve crime.

South Wales Police recorded the worst outcomes in Wales, with a staggering 7,905 car thefts going unsolved in that time period – accounting for 71% of all cases.

Commenting, Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS said: “We are seeing a car theft epidemic after years of Conservative chaos and failing Home Secretaries who have decimated frontline policing. 

“People want to know that if their car is stolen, the police will catch the culprit. But instead, the Conservatives have totally failed to get a grip on crime and let criminals get away with it. 

“The Welsh Liberal Democrats would abolish Police and Crime Commissioners and invest the savings in frontline policing instead, giving officers the resources they need to bring criminals to justice.” 

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Crime

Carmarthenshire leads in seizures of dangerous and illegal vapes

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A RECENT study by Vape Superstore has revealed alarming figures about the prevalence of illegal vape products across the UK, with Carmarthenshire emerging as a significant hotspot for illicit cigarette seizures. The investigation, leveraging Freedom of Information (FOI) requests, ranked UK councils by the volume of illegal vapes and cigarettes seized, shedding light on the widespread issue of non-compliant vape products infiltrating the market.

Carmarthenshire County Council stands out as the authority with the highest number of illegal cigarette packets seized, totalling 160,000. This is a stark reminder of the county’s ongoing battle against the distribution of non-compliant tobacco products. While Carmarthenshire did not top the list for illegal vapes, with 7,500 units seized, its role in tackling illegal cigarettes remains critical.

Illegal vapes pose significant health risks, often containing nicotine levels that do not match the labelling and potentially harmful chemicals like lead, nickel, and chromium. The Vape Superstore survey of 1,381 disposable vape users highlighted a concerning gap in consumer knowledge:

  • 50.3% of users were unfamiliar with the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) regulations.
  • 83% were unaware of the health risks associated with illicit vapes.
  • 36.4% believed black-market vapes offered better value for money.
  • 34.1% did not recognise the difference between illicit and regulated devices.

These statistics underscore the need for increased public awareness and stricter enforcement of vaping regulations.

The future of vaping regulation

With the upcoming ban on disposable vapes in 2025, the market for illegal vapes is likely to expand. This necessitates proactive measures from councils and regulatory bodies to prevent a surge in black-market activities. The Vape Superstore’s study calls for heightened awareness and vigilance among consumers to ensure they purchase only compliant and safe vape products.

Ensuring compliance

To avoid the risks associated with illegal vapes, consumers are advised to:

  • Verify the authenticity of vape products.
  • Purchase from well-known brands.
  • Be sceptical of unusually low prices.
  • Request proof of TPD compliance from retailers.
  • Stay updated with the latest regulations and safety guidelines.

David Phillips from Vape Superstore emphasised the importance of informed purchasing decisions, stating, “With raised awareness about the dangers of these products, we believe that consumers will be able to make better-informed purchasing decisions in the future.”

The findings from Vape Superstore’s investigation highlight the urgent need for robust regulatory enforcement and consumer education to combat the illegal vape market. Carmarthenshire’s efforts in seizing a substantial number of illegal cigarettes demonstrate the critical role local authorities play in this ongoing battle. As the UK prepares for stricter vaping regulations, both consumers and retailers must remain vigilant to ensure a safe and compliant market.

For more detailed information on TPD regulations and the dangers of black-market vaping products, visit Vape Superstore’s comprehensive report.

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