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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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Crime

Recycling company brought before Judge after JCB crushes employee

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A PEMBROKESHIRE-BASED recycling company has been brought before a district judge after an employee was seriously injured by a JCB loading shovel.

TBS Recycling and Skip Hire appeared before Judge Mark Layton at Haverfordwest magistrates court earlier this week when company director, Steven Thomas, pleaded guilty to failing to discharge general health, safety and welfare duties to an employee.

The incident occurred on March 31, 2021, at the TBS recycling and skip hire unit which is situated at the Waterston Industrial Estate, between Neyland and Milford Haven.

“An employee of the company was working on the site when he spotted something caught in the wheel of a four-ton JCB,” commented a lawyer for the Health and Safety Executive.

“He went to clear it and the person who was in the [JCB] driving seat knew he was doing it. But he was distracted and believed the other employee had left. So he lowered the shovel, but it crushed him.”

As a result, the employee sustained crushed ribs and damage to his lungs and breathing.

“But he’s since made a good recovery,” said the Health and Safety Executive lawyer.

Steven Thomas, of Cross Farm, Walwyns Castle Road, Ties Cross, will be sentenced by Judge Layton when he sits at Llanelli Magistrates Court on June 6.

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Crime

Pembrokeshire car salesman caught driving on cocaine

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A PEMBROKESHIRE car salesman has appeared before a District Judge after being caught driving a cream BMW through Kilgetty after taking cocaine.

Fraser Finlay was stopped by police officers on the night of October 3, 2023, as he drove the vehicle along Clayford Road in Wooden.

The officers’ suspicions had been aroused when the trade insurance which covered his vehicle failed to show up on their system.

A roadside breath test was carried out which proved positive and Finlay, 25, was conveyed to a police custody suite where further blood tests were carried out for analysis.

These showed he had 20ug/L of cocaine in his system; the legal threshold limit is 10. He was also found to have 800 ug/L of the cocaine derivative benzoylecgonine in his system; the legal limit is 50.

“This conviction means that my client is most likely to see an end to his job,” his solicitor, David Williams, informed District Judge Mark Layton sitting at Haverfordwest magistrates court earlier this week.

“This is because he works as a car salesman.”

Finlay was disqualified from driving for 17 months. He was fined £450 and ordered to pay a £180 court surcharge and £85 costs.

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Crime

Tenby man admits defecating on floor of mother’s property

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A COURT has heard how a Tenby mother feared for her safety after her son threatened to kill her before defecating on the floor outside her bathroom.

Daniel Preston, 37, arrived at Rhian Thomas’ property on the evening of March 26.

“He was heavily intoxicated and told his mother to f* off and called her a c*,” Crown Prosecutor Abigail Jackson told Haverfordwest magistrates this week.

“A few hours later she was in her bedroom and he tried to enter, kicking the door saying “I will f kill you.”

At this point Preston’s mother began fearing for her safety.

“She became scared and called the police, but the defendant then came into her bedroom and tried to grab her,” continued Ms Jackson. “She screamed at him to stop but he tried to grab the phone off her.

“During her phone call to the officers, the police advised her to find a safe place so she went downstairs to the bathroom and locked the door. “

But Preston tried to gain access to the bathroom by repeatedly kicking the door.

“I thought it was going to break,” Rhian Thomas, told the police during her interview.

Ms Jackson said the defendant then proceeded to defecate on the floor outside the bathroom, before smearing the faeces onto the bathroom door.

“This has left me scared,” Ms Thomas said in a victim impact statement that was read out to the court.

“I can’t live like this anymore. When he comes home he takes over everything, and I’m scared that he will blame me and attack me when he’s released [from custody].”

When police officers arrived at the property they discovered Preston slumped on the floor.

“He then became aggressive and abusive and was making threats to harm himself,” said Ms Jackson. “They officers tried to restrain him but he began shouting and reached out with his right hand, attempting to strike one of the officers [Pc Barry] with his open hand which she managed to block.”

Preston pleaded guilty to the common assault of an emergency worker, the common assault of Rhian Thimas and causing criminal damage to his mother’s property by defecating on the floor. He appeared before Haverfordwest magistrates via a video link from Swansea prison where he has been remanded in custody since the offences were committed last month.

“You have caused your mother a great deal of fear,” commented District Judge Mark Layton when imposing sentence.

Preston was sentenced to eight weeks in custody by District Judge Mark Layton, half of which will be served in prison, the remainder on a post-sentence supervision.

A two-year restraining order was imposed preventing him from having any contact with his mother, not entering her property and not going within 100 metres of her address. He was ordered to pay £85 court costs and a £154 surcharge.

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