Connect with us
Advertisement
Advertisement

News

West Wales drugs ring – guilty get 61 years

Published

on

Smashed: West Wales drug ring (Stock image)

Smashed: West Wales drug ring (Stock image)

SEVENTEEN people were sentenced to a total of 61 years in jail on Friday (Apri 10)  for their involvement in a cocaine supply ring.

The arrests were the result of Operation Redcliff, which targeted the supply of cocaine into south-west Wales.

Nine of the people sentenced were from the Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire area.

Jail sentences totalling 61 years have been handed down today after a “professional and meticulous” police operation trapped a gang running drugs into Pembrokeshire.

The so called “Liverpool Connection” arranged for large amounts of cocaine to be delivered to Milford Haven, Carmarthen and Pembroke Dock.

One drugs “meet” took place at Carmarthen golf club without the club being aware,Swansea crown court was told.

Robin Rouch, prosecuting, said police used cameras fitted with automatic number plate recognition to track the gang’s movements and bugged conversations as part of Operation Redcliff.

The drugs running was “interrupted” in September, 2012, after John Underwood was arrested at Cwmgwili when police stopped his van and found £4,200 worth of cocaine. He was jailed for 18 months but resumed his criminal activities after his release.

The court heard many of the gang had few or no previous convictions and a leading figure in the West Wales end of the operation, David “Jamie” Evans, was a family man who once won a Welsh cap for water polo.

In March 2014, £50,000 worth of cocaine was seized in a car in West Wales and officers from Operation Redcliff began making a series of arrests.

Mr Rouch said, “Those in the conspiracy used mobile phones which were often unregistered and pre-paid.. Amounts of money were paid into bank accounts in West Wales that was then transferred to people living in Merseyside.”

He said it was impossible to be exact about the amount of cocaine supplied between 2012 and 2014 but it was estimated to be worth at least £200,000.

A total of 17 defendants were sentenced over a two day hearing that ended today.

Judge Paul Thomas told them, “People like you who decide to get involved in dealing with large quantities of cocaine do so in the knowledge that if caught they will get long sentences in jail.

“You all took a calculated risk and now that you have lost that particular gamble you will pay the price.”

The Judge praised the Dyfed Powys police officers involved as being “professional and meticulous.”

Judge Thomas described Jamie Evans, aged 42, of Crud y Wawr, St Clears, as the “lynchpin” of the West Wales part of the drugs operation. He was jailed for eight years.

John Underwood, 30, of Coronation Drive, Prescott, Merseyside, was given eight years.

Peter Cummins, 29, from Byron Avenue, Whiston, Merseyside, was given six and a half years for his “significant role”.

Labourer Jenkin Davies, 55, of Bwlch Newydd, Cynwyl Elfed, was given five and a half years for his role as Jamie Evans’s “right hand man” in West Wales.

Richard Houghton, 32, of Ridings Close, St Helens, described as a courier, was jailed for four and a half years.

David Campbell, 58, of Patterson Street, Birkenhead was jailed for three years. He was caught with cocaine worth £50,000.

Greg Mackenzie, 28, of Blaenwaun, Whitland, was jailed for four years and John Fitzgerald, 44, of Prior Ledge Drive, Milford Haven got four and a half years.

Craig Cann, 34, of Trebannog Road, Porth, and Ross Hutchings, 25, of Gordon Street, Ton Pentre, described by Judge Thomas as being “at the Rhondda Valley end of the operation” were each jailed for three years while Thomas Charles Salmon, 33, from Llanmill, Narberth, was jailed for two years and eight months and Emanuel Handford, 23, of Glannant Road, Carmarthen got two years and four months.

They had all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine.

Daniel Gila, 26, of City Road, Haverfordwest, was found guilty of the charge after a trial and he was jailed for five years.

Rebecca Underwood, 28, of Whiston, Merseyside was jailed for 16 weeks, suspended for 12 months for laundering the gang’s money. Judge Thomas said he appreciated she would be left to bring up a young family alone once he had jailed her husband John Underwood.

Mark Tinsley, 32, of Dennett Road, Prescott was ordered to carry out 240 hours of unpaid work for the community for money laundering.

Both, said Judge Thomas, had provided the gang with a valuable service by allowing “large amounts of money” to pass through their bank accounts.

Adam Evans, 27, of Queen Road, Llanelli, got a nine month sentence suspended for a year for the lesser charge of being concerned in the supply of cocaine and Louise Thornton, 27, of Whitemill, Lampeter Velfrey was given 16 months suspended for a year with both being given unpaid work orders.

Detective Inspector Huw Davies of the Serious and Organised Crime team welcomed the sentences.

“They send a clear signal out to the criminal fraternity that drug offences will not be tolerated in the Dyfed-Powys area and officers will do their utmost to bring cases to court,” he said.

“Today’s outcome is the result of a complex and protracted operation conducted by Dyfed-Powys Police into the trafficking of substantial quantities of Class A drugs, namely Cocaine, into the force area, in this case 1 kilo of the drug was recovered.”

“I would encourage anyone who has concerns over the trafficking of drugs to contact local police.”

[soliloquy id="15630"]

The full list of those convicted is as follows:

David James Lloyd Evans b. 01/03/1973 Carmarthen – Conspiracy to supply cocaine – 7 years

Jenkin Anthony Davies b.27/03/1959 Carmarthen – Conspiracy to supply cocaine – 5 ½ years

Greg Ian Mackenzie b.23/02/1986 Narberth – Conspiracy to supply cocaine – 4 years

Thomas Charles Salmon b.18/03/1981 Narberth – Conspiracy to supply cocaine – 32 months

Louise Thornton b.25/04/1986 Narberth – Being concerned in the supply of cocaine – 16 months suspended for 2 years

Richard Houghton b.04/04/1983 St Helens – Conspiracy to supply cocaine – 4 ½ years

David Campbell b. 27/04/1956 Merseyside – Conspiracy to supply cocaine – 3 years

John William Fitzgerald b.23/12/1969 Milford Haven – Conspiracy to supply cocaine – 4 ½ years

John Paul Underwood b.06/07/1983 Merseyside – Conspiracy to supply cocaine – 8 years

Peter Cummins b.14/11/1984 Merseyside – Conspiracy to supply cocaine – 6 ½ years

Daniel Alexander Gila b.134/02/1988Haverfordwest – Conspiracy to supply cocaine – 5 years

Emanuel Lee Hanford b.13/11/1990 – Carmarthen – Conspiracy to supply cocaine – 28 months

Craig Cann b.08/11/1980 Porth – Conspiracy to supply cocaine – 3 years

Ross Hutchings b.30/07/1989 Ton Pentre – Conspiracy to supply cocaine – 3 years

Adam John Evans b.19/08/1988 Treorchy  – Being concerned in the supply of cocaine – 9 months suspended for 2 years

Mark Tinsley b.21/03/1982 Merseyside – Money laundering – converting criminal property – 240 hours community service

Rebecca Jade Underwood b.20/07/1986 – Merseyside – Money laundering – converting criminal property – 4 months suspended for 1 year

 

 

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

News

Aberporth mum praised by police following sea rescue

Published

on

POLICE have praised the quick-thinking and immense bravery of an Aberporth woman who saved an injured man from the sea.

Dyfed-Powys Police Inspector Owen Williams has commended mother-of-three Cora Thomas for her actions when she feared a man was in trouble off the coast at Ogof Llidw.

Cora was walking along the coastal path with her family on January 9, when she saw a group of people she suspected to have been drinking jumping from the rocks into the sea.

Immediately sensing the danger of the situation due to the combination of extremely cold weather, the possibility that they were drunk, and the fact it was getting dark, Cora stayed back from her family to keep an eye on the group.

But when they left, she feared someone had been left behind.

“It looked like they were having a party on the rocks, and when they saw me watching them they must have been worried I was going to report them,” Cora said.

“They walked off, but this one man had gone to the Ogof rocks, and the only way to get there and back is to swim – they had left him behind.

“I decided to stand there and watch, and I saw him get into the water, but he didn’t come back up.”

As Cora headed down the coastal path to get a closer look, she bumped into two men she knew, and explained what had happed.

The pair had not seen anyone, but as they looked down the cliff, they could see a pile of clothes on the rocks.

“I started screaming down to ask if anyone was there,” Cora said. “I did panic, but I thought I was going to see a body washing past us.

“After a minute or so, we saw him coming out of the water and he was clinging onto the cliff.

“He was so cold he was slurring, and couldn’t tell us his name.”

Dazed and confused, the man was wearing just underwear, had cut his foot and was struggling to speak, such was the cold he had been exposed to.

Realising they needed to warm him up as quickly as possible, Cora and the two men got him dressed, giving him a jacket to keep out the cold.

“He was slipping and sliding all over the place – we had to drag him up the cliff,” Cora said.

“He kept saying he was tired, and I was really worried if he fell asleep he could have fallen into a hypothermic coma. We had to try and keep him calm, and stop him from walking away or he could have slipped back into the sea.”

Police and Coastguard arrived at the scene shortly after, carrying the man by stretcher to an ambulance.

After hospital treatment, he was discharged and is understood to have recovered.

Looking back, Cora described the incident as “totally unexpected”.

“I’ve never been in that sort of situation before, and it was one of the scariest things I have ever been through,” she said.

“I’m glad I stopped when I did – I genuinely think that would have been the end of him if we hadn’t been there.”

Praising the emergency services for their response, Cora also highlighted the use of the WhatThreeWords app, which pinpointed her location to the police.

“Even though I’m local, I couldn’t explain where we were,” she said.

“It was a mixture of panic and not knowing how to describe it. We downloaded the app, which gives you three words to tell the call handler – when they said ‘we’ve got your location and we’re on our way’ it was a huge sense of relief.

“Everyone should download it – you never know when you might need it, and it could save valuable time in an emergency.”

Inspector Owen Williams, of Cardigan police station, commended Cora and the two men for their actions.

“Had Cora not kept a close eye on the group jumping in the water, the man would have been left behind and in severe danger of being swept out to sea or suffering from hypothermia.

“Undoubtedly, her concern and prompt actions – as well as the invaluable help of the two men involved – contributed to preventing a tragedy that evening.”

Continue Reading

News

Conservatives’ lockdown lock-in investigated

Published

on

THE CONSERVATIVE Party is investigating senior Senedd members and staff’s attendance at a lockdown lock-in held on December 8.

The allegations concern a meeting in the Members’ tearoom between Labour backbencher Alun Davies and Conservative group members and their support staff.

Conservative Chief of Staff Paul Smith, Darren Millar MS the Conservatives’ Chief Whip, and Preseli Pembrokeshire MS, the Conservative Group Leader Paul Davies attended the meeting.

The incident took place on December 8, barely a week after hospitality businesses in Wales were forced to close.

Those present claim they met in the members’ tea room to discuss legislation for possible inclusion in the Welsh Conservative manifesto with the former Labour Cabinet Minister.

On December 8, the Senedd finished early because of technical issues with webcasting equipment. The record of the adjourned shows the Plenary Session attended by members ended around 5:45 in the evening.

The Sun newspaper alleges that drinking continued until the early hours of the following (Wednesday) morning.

‘WE DIDN’T BREAK THE RULES’

Those attending deny any breach of the lockdown rules.

A joint statement from Paul Davies, Darren Millar, and Paul Smith said: “We are profoundly sorry for our actions.

“While we did not break the rules, we recognise that what was part of a day’s work would not be seen to be following the spirit of them, especially given the tough time the country has been going through.”

Monmouth Conservative MS Nick Ramsay was named among those present in the tearoom at the time. His name was not, however, attached to the joint statement referred to above.

On Wednesday (January 20), Mr Ramsay denied he attended any ‘gathering’ on the day in question

However, his statement is profoundly unhelpful to the others named.

Through his solicitor, Mr Ramsay confirmed he was at the tea room on his own at the Senedd, without an invitation from anyone else, after work.

“He was hungry, and he wanted to get something to eat. He was working on an article for the Argus (his local newspaper). He sat on his own and was socially distanced,” said his solicitor.

“He attended the tea room at approximately 6 pm. He had chicken curry. He left at about 8 pm. Others came in whilst he was there, but it was not a ‘gathering’ Mr Ramsay was part of.”

Taking Mr Ramsay’s words at face value, he spent two hours in the tea room, and there was ’a gathering’, with people coming in and out.

Two hours is a long time to discuss an uncontroversial potential manifesto pledge with a Government backbencher.

Again, taking Mr Ramsay’s words at face value, an inference exists that the ‘gathering’ continued after he left.

If The Sun’s claims that the ‘manifesto discussions’ extended to 2:00 am are accurate – and an internal probe by the Senedd Commission is bound to find out – those involved are doomed.

MILLAR’S WORDS HAUNT TORIES

Darren Millar’s presence intensifies the Conservatives’ embarrassment at talking the talk but not walking the walk.

In May, Mr Millar led calls for Wales’ Health Minister Vaughan Gething to be sacked for eating a bag of chips in a park with one of his own children.

When it comes to words a speaker might regret in the future, Darren Millar’s video demand for Vaughan Gething’s dismissal is one hell of a hill to choose to die upon.

It doesn’t help when your party leader doubles down on the same issue, by alluding to it in a television interview months later.

“I don’t think anybody should break the rules,” Paul Davies said, seizing the moral high ground in an ITV Wales interview from September.

“The rules were there whether you were travelling to Barnard Castle or you were travelling to buy some chips. No one should have been breaking the rules.”

Suppose the Conservative Party follows the logic of their previously stated positions. In that case, Mr Millar’s and Mr Davies’ futures look bleak indeed.

Number 10’s response was less than a ringing endorsement.

Speaking at a lobby briefing, Boris Johnson’s press secretary, said she had not spoken to the prime minister about whether Paul Davies should stay.

She added: “The prime minister needs everybody – no matter their status, no matter their position in life – to be going above and beyond in following the rules on Covid.”

To his credit, Vaughan Gething rejected the opportunity to knife Mr Millar when asked about the lockdown lock-in.

CONSPIRACY THEORIES

With a Senedd election only months away, the revelations have thrown the Conservatives into disarray.

Bitter recriminations have whistled around the media, involving briefing and counter-briefing from within the Conservative Party’s own ranks.

Candidates who are justifiably angry and at the sharp end of voters’ reactions have been told to shut up. Meanwhile, the hunt is on for who leaked the story.

This writer can confirm he was told about an unspecified issue involving chief whip Darren Millar before Christmas. Supposing it referred to Mr Millar’s personal life, he shelved it.

Just after the New Year, he was told Central Office was examining an issue concerning the Chief Whip and Chief of Staff.

More details emerged about an alleged party in the Senedd during lockdown which involved Senedd Members and their staff. At this stage, ten days ago at the time of writing, the story’s bones were in place. Shortly afterwards, we discovered national media already had much of the same information.

We probed further and, this Tuesday afternoon decided we had enough to publish. We invited the Conservative group press office to respond.

With the Welsh Government under increasing criticism after Mark Drakeford’s disastrous appearance on Radio Four on Monday, an opportunity to spike the Conservative guns was desperately needed.

One theory runs that Alun Davies, the Labour Member concerned, was turned in by another member of the Labour group – a Regional Member of the Senedd – who dislikes him.

It is not going too far to suppose that throwing Alun Davies under the bus to get at the Conservatives’ big guns was a price Labour thought worth paying.

The Labour press office’s statement and Alun Davies’ carefully-phrased appeared in Cardiff-based media minutes after we broke the story online.

We hadn’t even requested a comment from Labour before publishing our original article.

Having a statement ready, showed remarkable foresight by Labour’s spin machine.

None of the above distracts from the embarrassment the Conservatives have suffered.

That has not prevented a certain amount of gallows humour.

Among the tarter observations made to The Herald by one insider was that after going so aggressively at Vaughan Gething over ‘Chipgate’, things couldn’t have rebounded on a more deserving Welsh Conservative than Darren Millar.

LEADERSHIP QUESTIONS

Paul Davies is widely respected as a decent man whose own moderate and constructive instincts were pushed aside in favour of more combative and aggressive messaging.

The Conservatives’ tone in their media statements and appearances has notably calmed down in the last couple of months.

Some insiders claim Paul Davies’ failure to clamp down on his candidates’ anti-devolution rhetoric is a sign of weak leadership. They say failing to be upbeat about devolution could reap the whirlwind at elections to the Senedd.

However, the blame doesn’t all lie with Paul Davies; the nonsensically fractured leadership model the Conservatives have in Wales is also to blame.

Conservative MS David Melding wrote that an alien landing at the Conservatives’ annual conference in Llandudno who asked to be taken to the leader, would have three possible candidates: Simon Hart MP, Lord Davies of Gower (the Party Chair), or Paul Davies MS.

Where there are three centres of power, there are competing interests and egos. That causes friction. And friction produces a lot of heat and not much light.

If Paul Davies stood down, there are not many options to replace him.

David Melding and Angela Burns (the most moderate and most politically able respectively) are standing down.

Darren Millar would be out of the running.

Nick Ramsay’s problems with his Monmouthshire constituency rule him out.

Laura Anne Jones succeeded the late Oscar Ashgar last year, although she has previously been an Assembly Member.

In the last leadership election, Suzy Davies, runner up to Paul Davies, finished eighth in her party’s list primary in South Wales West. She faces a ferocious constituency contest in Bridgend.

That does not leave a vast pool from which to draw a leader: Russell George, Janet Finch-Saunders, Mark Isherwood and the elephant in every room, former leader Andrew RT Davies.

Andrew RT Davies failed to command the backing of the Senedd group and left in a huff. The composition of the Senedd group has not much changed since then. However, Andrew RT Davies’ former Chief of Staff and devoted Senedd abolitionist Chris Thorne is head of campaigns for the Conservatives in Wales. It’s a combination that may play well with the faithful but repel the voters and the Senedd group.

The lack of an obvious alternative could play to Paul Davies’ advantage. Besides, any new leader’s appointment would, necessarily, be interim. If the Senedd election goes badly, they become a footnote. If it goes well, they might still be picked off in a subsequent poll of party members favouring another candidate more appealing to them.

Such an approach went well with Jeremy Corbyn.

And, of course, the Senedd election could be delayed, leaving any interim leader in limbo as party members whinge at not having had a say in electing them.

Whatever – or whoever – happens next, the Conservatives will need good luck and a following wind to cling onto their current relative strength in Wales’ opinion polls.

Continue Reading

News

Ceredigion Museum to Display Rare Roman Cut Glass

Published

on

A PARTNERSHIP between Ceredigion Museum and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales has attracted £1,000 funding from the Association for Roman Archaeology to display fragments of a unique Roman glass vessel, found at Abermagwr Romano-British villa.

The villa at Abermagwr was discovered during aerial photography in 2006 and excavated by Dr Jeffrey L. Davies and Dr Toby Driver between 2010 and 2015, in a volunteer-led community project. It remains the only known Roman villa in the county and the most remote Roman villa in Wales. The finds have been researched over time and the best have been put on public display at Ceredigion Museum. The finds include parts of Ceredigion’s earliest known slate roof, just one of the innovations discovered at the villa.

The most recent Roman finds handed to the museum are the cut glass fragments. The ARA grant will fund a bespoke mount, made by a museum specialist, to enable the delicate glass fragments to take pride of place in the Museum’s archaeology gallery. Roman cut glass is rare; only one cut glass beaker is on permanent display in the British Museum and the design on the Abermagwr vessel is unparalleled in Roman Britain. Professor Jennifer Price was struck by the rarity and quality of the glass vessel describing it as ‘of outstandingly high quality….[which] must have been an extraordinary item of luxury. Its quality is vastly superior to the rest of the glass vessels found at the villa’

Abermagwr Roman cut glass vessel

Prof. Barry Burnham of University Trinity Saint David, Lampeter, said “Its discovery so far west in Wales is all the more significant because it is vastly superior to the general range of glass material found anywhere in Wales. This raises interesting questions about how it came to be here, who owned it, and what it signifies in terms of social status and economic links.”

Carrie Canham, Curator, said “When I was at school we were taught that the Roman’s didn’t have a significant presence in West Wales, but local excavation results have overturned that assumption. This extraordinary object shows that the villa at Abermagwr was the home of comparatively wealthy Romans enjoying the good things in life. I’m extremely grateful to the ARA for the funding that will enable visitors to the museum to see it displayed to its best advantage.”

Councillor Catherine Hughes, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Porth Ceredigion, Early Intervention, Well-being Hubs and Culture said: “It is a delight to hear the history of the rare Roman cut glass here in Ceredigion. Thanks to Carrie and the team at Ceredigion Museum and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales for their work, and the Roman Archaeology Society. We look forward to the day when we can see the pieces in all their glory.”

The Covid-19 pandemic is delaying the work to make the mount until later in 2021. The glass fragments are too delicate to courier to the craftsperson making the mount, so he will have to come to Aberystwyth and set up a temporary workshop at the museum. Then the fragments will go straight on display.

Continue Reading

Popular This Week