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Milford Haven: Former solicitor Simon Griffiths jailed

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Facing charges: Simon Griffiths

Facing charges: Simon Griffiths

A FORMER West Wales solicitor who went bankrupt has been jailed for two years on Friday (Mar 27) after cheating an elderly disabled woman out of her inheritance.

Simon William Griffiths, aged 52, admitted two offences of fraud involving £60,000.

Swansea crown court heard the money came from the estate of Helen Ward Jones, of Pembrokeshire.

Robin Rouch, prosecuting, said that two sisters, Barbara Collins and Christine Sheridan, were to be the beneficiaries and the women put their trust in Griffiths, then running Eaves Solicitors in Milford Haven, to handle the will.

Christine Sheridan was by then disabled and living in sheltered accommodation in the Midlands.

Mr Rouch said Christine Sheridan did not receive the £60,000 she was entitled to.

There was also mystery over the sale of a flat in Aberystwyth for £107,000, added Mr Rouch. When Barbara Collins received a cheque from Griffiths in relation to the sale it bounced and it was still unclear what had happened to the proceeds of the sale.

The court was told that on two occasions Griffiths, of Rose Valley, Lower Lamphey Road, Pembroke, transferred money totalling £60,000 from Helen Ward Jones’ estate to a property company he was in charge of.

The judge, Mr Recorder Chris Clee, told Griffiths, “Christine Sheridan didn’t receive a penny and the question remains what happened to the £107,000 from the sale of the flat?”

Mr Clee said: “Griffiths had told police that he had been in practice for 23 years and had been “well aware that the worst thing he could do was to utilise a client account.”

But that was exactly what he had done, added the judge.

Griffiths maintained that he had used the money to invest in property and he had intended to repay the money in full.

“You don’t need me to tell you that your life’s in ruins. You’ve been struck of the solicitors’ roll, made bankrupt and lost your good character and reputation.

“This was a significant and high degree of breach of trust and you took advantage of Christine Sheridan’s disability. The public expects members of the profession to be above reproach.”

Dyfed Thomas, defending, said his client was remorseful and after police involvement had made it “abundantly clear” he would admit the two offences of fraud, each involving £30,000.

He said Griffiths had no previous convictions and added “he wants me to express to the court his genuine remorse”.

Mr Thomas added,“He was a trusted professional until his spectacular fall from grace.”

Mr Rouch said Griffiths appeared to have any or many assets out of which the women could be repaid.

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Lecture considers the future of war

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INTERNATIONALLY renowned war scholar and military conflict expert, Professor Christopher Coker delivered this year’s Kenneth N. Waltz Annual Lecture on Thursday (Nov 16).

Christopher Coker, Professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science, is a prolific author on all aspects of war. He is a former NATO Fellow, a former twice serving member of the Council of the Royal United Services Institute, and a regular lecturer at Defence Colleges in the UK, US, Rome, Singapore, and Tokyo.

In his lecture entitled ‘Still ‘The Human Thing’? Thucydides, Waltz & the Future of War”, Professor Coker discussed war as a feature of what we call ‘human nature’ or ‘humanity’ in general, while focusing on urgent contemporary issues such as possible changes in the nature of war by the blurring of the distinction between humans and machines.

He also considered how, as Artificial Intelligence becomes ever more a fact of life, the traditional functions and forms of war could change, discussing such questions as: will we still need war and will war still need us?

Talking ahead of the the event, Professor Ken Booth of Aberystwyth University said: “Chris Coker is a very imaginative, interesting, and controversial thinker. Intellectually ambitious, he always addresses the biggest questions. The titles of some of his most recent books attest to this: Future War, Can War be Eliminated?, Warrior Geeks: how 21st Century Technology is Changing the Way We Fight and Think about War, The Improbable War: China, the US, and the Logic of Great Power Conflict and Men at War: what Fiction tells us about Conflict. We can be sure of a fascinating and challenging lecture about a supremely important area of human behaviour.”

The Kenneth N. Waltz Annual Lecture brings distinguished scholars to Aberystwyth to talk about issues that were central to the concerns of the late Ken Waltz, the leading theorist of international relations over many decades.
Hosted by the David Davies Memorial Institute and the Department of International Politics, this year’s lecture was held in the Main Hall in the International Politics Building on the Penglais Campus.

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Youth Service invited to international training event

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TWO Youth Workers from Ceredigion Youth Service have been selected to represent the UK on a week’s training opportunity in Horažd’ovice in the Czech Republic.

‘The danger of a Single Story’ is a training course funded by Erasmus+, that combines stories, media, global education and active citizenship to empower trainers, educators and youth workers with the tools to educate young people on issues such as cyberbullying, hate speech, and online harassment.

Elen James, Head of Youth Engagement and Continuing Education​,​ said​:​ “We are extremely proud of both Rebeca Davies and Guto Crompton, 270 people had applied, for 24 places, 2 were allocated for the UK and both places have been assigned to Ceredigion Youth Service staff.

“This is an excellent training opportunity for them, which will inform them and encourage them to reflect on the evolution of media and the consequences that it has on the formation of stereotypes and prejudices. We wish them all the best in Prague!​”​

Rebeca Davies and Guto Crompton will join 22 other Youth Workers from Cyprus, Czech Republic, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain and Turkey. The week will be hosted at the PROUD Environmental Centre approximately 120km from Prague, from ​Sunday (Nov 19) for a week.

Rebeca Davies, School Based Youth Worker said​:​ “I’m really looking forward to visiting Prague, and meeting other Youth Workers from across the World. It will be a fantastic opportunity to learn new tools and techniques to encourage and empower young people back here in Ceredigion.”

Guto Crompton, School Based Youth Worker ​added​:​ “I’m looking forward to learning more about different Youth Work methods and approaches. I’m also eager to develop a greater awareness around education, active citizenship and democracy.”

Cabinet member for Learning Services, Children and Young People’s Partnership, Councillor Catrin Miles, ​commented: “As a Council, we are very proud of the hard work of our Youth Service to the young people of the county. This will be a very important and worthwhile opportunity for Rebeca and Guto to represent Ceredigion and Wales and we wish them all the best at the event.”

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Pot Noodles bought with theft proceeds

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ON WEDNESDAY (Nov 15), Aberystwyth Magistrates’ Court heard that a 23-year-old man stole an HDMI cable from a store and sold it for a tenner to buy ten Pot Noodles.

Joel Alexander Owens, of Portland Street in Aberystwyth, pleaded guilty to stealing alcohol to the value of £24.96 belonging to his hometown’s B&M Bargains on June 29. He also admitted stealing an HDMI cable to the value of £14 belonging to Tesco in Aberystwyth on September 24.

Prosecuting, Helen Tench said a staff member at B&M was notified by a member of the public about a male who left the store without paying for items.

CCTV footage was checked, which showed Owens select a number of alcoholic items and leaving the store without making any payments.

Police officers later viewed the footage and identified the defendant.

On October 14, a member of staff at Tesco was informed of the incident at B&M. The Tesco CCTV footage was viewed as a result and the defendant was seen removing an HDMI cable from its box on September 24 and leaving without paying.

Ms Tench said Owens was interviewed on October 19, where he admitted committing the offences in his personal statement.

The defendant also admitted he sold the HDMI cable for £10 in order to buy ten Pot Noodles.

Defending, Katy Hanson said Owens pleaded guilty at the first opportunity and admitted to stealing beer and cider from B&M.

Probation officer Julian Davies stated that the defendant was currently serving a 12-month community order for two previous offences of theft and a breach of a conditional discharge.

Aberystwyth magistrates revoked Owens community order and imposed a 12-month community order with 20 rehabilitation activity requirement days and a four-week curfew.

Owens was told to pay prosecution costs of £85, compensation of £14 to Tesco and compensation of £24.96 to B&M Bargains.

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