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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.

Crime

Woman gets payout after boss coughs in her face

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Kevin Davies, the father of British Lions and Wales rugby star Gareth Davies, has been ordered to pay more than £26,000 to a female employee for deliberately coughing in her face during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A tribunal heard that Davies, 62, aimed to “ridicule and intimidate” the woman, who had expressed concerns over her health due to psoriatic arthritis and an autoimmune condition. The incident occurred in the days leading up to the first lockdown in March 2020 at Cawdor Cars, a business where Davies holds significant involvement.

The employment tribunal, presided over by Judge Tobias Vincent Ryan, heard that the woman had requested colleagues to maintain social distance, in line with official recommendations, due to her vulnerable health status. However, Davies mocked her concerns, intentionally coughing in her direction while commenting that she was “being ridiculous.”

The tribunal was informed that the woman, employed at Cawdor Cars between 2017 and 2020, was earning £11 per hour. In addition to car sales, Cawdor Cars has a property rental section where she worked as a property manager overseeing a portfolio including hotels and housing developments.

Judge Ryan condemned Davies’ actions as “gross behaviour,” noting that other members of the firm’s management team, who witnessed the incident, gave evidence that was perceived as defensive and not entirely straightforward. The woman vehemently complained about the incident and resigned from the business in Newcastle Emlyn, Ceredigion, less than three months later.

Judge Ryan stated, “She resigned at least in part because she was victimised; this was a major and significant factor in her decision. She felt that she was being eased out partly because of her complaints. She was correct.”

The tribunal awarded the woman £26,438.84 in total compensation. This includes £18,000 for injury to feelings, £3,841.94 for unfair dismissal, and £4,596.90 in accumulated interest. Cawdor Cars has been ordered to pay the bulk of the damages, with Davies personally liable for the remainder.

Following the hearing, the woman described the impact of Davies’ conduct on her mental health, stating, “I was left a nervous wreck. He knew of my medical condition and that I had no immune protection because of the medication I had to take, and he deliberately coughed in my face. I was shaking. I’m not a silly, fluffy person; I’ve had to put up with a lot in my life, but it really got me.”

This ruling highlights the seriousness with which the tribunal viewed the deliberate intimidation and ridicule of an employee during the pandemic, particularly one with known health vulnerabilities.

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Crime

Ex-mayor gets suspended sentence for child images offences

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A FORMER mayor of Pembroke Dock has been given a suspended jail sentence for the possession and distribution of indecent images of children.

Terry Judkins, 55, from Bush Street, was sentenced at Swansea Crown Court after he admitted the charges.

Judkins pleaded guilty to two offences involving Category C images and possessing a prohibited image of a child between September 2018 and August 2021.

He also admitted making and distributing Category A images of the children, Category A being the most serious classification of indecent images.

The court was informed that 11 unique images had been duplicated numerous times across two digital devices and that 10 of the images in question were of a 17-year old known to Judkins.

Judkin’s defence barrister, David Maunder, told told the court the majority of the imagery involving the 17-year old was “enthusiastically consensual”.

It is a criminal offence to share indecent images of a person under the age of 18.

The other image involved teenage boys aged between 10 and 13 years.

Mr Maunder told the judge that the court was “not dealing with evidence of someone who is a committed pedophile”, however, Judkins had “dipped his toe into this kind of behavior, which he deeply regrets now”.

He added that the Judkins was of “positive good character” and he had subsequently suffered “shame and embarrassment” as a result of the offences.

Judge Catherine Richards informed Judkins that the nature of his case stood in “contrast with the positive reputation you gained”.

She continued that there “was no evidence” that there was large amounts of material associated with young boys other than the the Category A images of the 10-13 year old boys that Judkins possessed.

Richards said Judkins had distributed two images of a 17-year-old and stated that the law was “in place to protect young people.”

Judkins was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment, deciding to give a Judkins a suspended sentence for two years for distributing indecent images.

The former mayor was also given a further six-month sentence, suspended two years, for making indecent images.

Both of the the devices used by Judkins, a computer and a mobile phone are now subject to forfeiture and destruction orders.

Judkins will also be required to attend a programme for people with convictions for downloading indecent images of children and will have his name added to the sex offenders register for 10 years.

He will return to court at a later date to confirm whether he will be subject to a sexual harm prevention order.

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Crime

Not guilty plea after man allegedly attacked in Haverfordwest

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A LAMPETER VELFREY man will face a trial after he denied grievous bodily harm.

Timothy Phillips, 50, was charged with causing GBH with intent, and a lesser alternative offence of unlawful wounding.

The court heard that Phillips attacked a man in Haverfordwest on September 16 last year.

Phillips pleaded not guilty to causing GBH with intent, but admitted unlawful wounding.

Judge Paul Thomas KC set a trial date of November 26, and granted Phillips bail until that date.

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