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Editor found guilty but will appeal

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Thomas Sinclair: Editor of The Ceredigion Herald

THE EDITOR of the Ceredigion Herald was today (May 12) found guilty of breaching the Sexual Offences Amendment Act (1992) after a judge ruled that a story published last year ‘includes matters likely to lead members of the public to identify [the complainant] as the person against whom the offence is alleged to have been committed’.

Thomas Hutton Sinclair, 37, had pleaded not guilty to the offence, which was tried at Llanelli Magistrates’ Court last month.

A skeleton argument was put forward by his legal representative, Matthew Paul, which attempted to demonstrate that the information put forward in the article was not sufficient to lead to members of the public identifying the complainant.

However, after reserving judgement, District Judge David Parsons found that the relevant information provided in the article was sufficient to provide a ‘real risk’ of identification.

“The purpose of S1 (2) of the Act is to preserve the dignity and privacy of victims of sexual offences,” he said. “Without this provision victims may well not report crimes for fear of publication of their identity. In my judgement likely in this case includes probable or might well happen. However on the facts of this case I am satisfied that there was a real risk, a real danger, a real chance that members of the public would identify the victim.”

The judgement stated that the CPS did not contend that any identification of the complainant had taken place as a result of the article’s publication.

Speaking in mitigation, Mr Paul noted that in a similar case in 2013, Trinity Mirror had been fined £1,200. He added that The Herald was an independent paper, from which Sinclair did not draw a salary.

“It is regretted by Thomas Sinclair that it ‘slipped through the net’ but there was no considered decision to print,” he added.

Mr Paul noted that this offence pre-dated another matter which came before court last year, and that staff had received training before this matter came to court.

He also added that the ‘gleeful’ reporting of the Ceredigion Herald’s circulation figures as of last June by rival titles had adversely affected advertising revenue, pointing out that the current weekly sales were in the region of 3,300.

Sinclair was fined £1,500, and ordered to pay compensation of £1,500, costs of £500 and a surcharge of £150.

Speaking after the verdict, he said: “District Judge Parsons’ decision was badly wrong. The District Judge reached factual conclusions that were not reasonably available to him, and made errors of law.

“I maintain that there was no likelihood of the information in the report leading members of the public to identify the complainant. I will be appealing against both the conviction and sentence, and fully expect that the District Judge’s decision will be overturned by the higher Courts.”

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Parents saving on average £350 on childcare per month

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Parents in Ceredigion have saved an average of £350 a month on childcare costs after the introduction of the Childcare Offer in September 2018.

Parents and guardians of three and four-year-old children living in Ceredigion can be eligible for the offer if they work the equivalent of 16 hours per week. This includes self-employed parents and seasonal workers.

The Cabinet member responsible for Learning Services, Councillor Catrin Miles said, “It’s great to see that the Childcare Offer is having such an impact across Ceredigion in the first few months. The savings will only increase as more parents register for the scheme. This will have a real positive effect on the lives of many parents. I urge anyone who thinks they are eligible to find out.”

Ceredigion County Council manages the scheme in the county, and will manage the scheme in neighbouring counties as the scheme is rolled out in 2019. The Welsh Government fund the Childcare Offer.

Parents and guardians who want to see if they are eligible can visit the Childcare Offer page on the Council’s website: www.ceredigion.gov.uk/ChildcareOffer.

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Police manhunt now extending beyond Dyfed-Powys region

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POLICE looking for a man who attacked a police officer on Saturday afternoon have evidence to suggest he has now left the Dyfed-Powys force area.

The investigation team is now working with other forces as the operation to find him continues.

The man has been wanted by Dyfed-Powys Police since Saturday, when he attacked a police officer who stopped the car he was travelling in. The officer stopped the car based on information that he was connected with criminal activity in other areas.

Extensive searches have been carried out in Ceredigion, using the armed response unit, dog unit and NPAS helicopter, and officers now have evidence to suggest he is in another area.

A second man who was arrested following the incident has now been charged.

Wayne Dobson, aged 29, has been charged with assault causing actual bodily harm, criminal damage, aggravated vehicle taking and vehicle damage, and two counts of taking a vehicle without the owner’s consent.

Chief Superintendent Peter Roderick said: “This has, and continues to be, a long and intense investigation, which now involves colleagues from other forces as efforts are focussed on locations outside Dyfed-Powys.

“We understand that there has been a high level of concern in our communities since Saturday afternoon, and we would like to thank the public for their patience as operations have been carried out across Ceredigion.

“Due to the nature of the enquiry, and information we have been working from, the level of detail about the wanted man that we have been able to release has been limited, but we have endeavoured to keep our communities updated as best we can.”

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CCTV to return to Aberystwyth

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ABERYSTWYTH is set to have it’s CCTV returned to the town.

The CCTV was scrapped in the town five years ago following a cost-cutting move by Ceredigion council.

Work is due to start this month with 10 state-of-the-art cameras, Dyfed Powys Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn have confirmed. The system was removed in 2014, despite strong opposition.

Rising crime rates and falling conviction rates, has seen a call for the reinstatement of the system ever since its removal.

Ceredig Davies, Aberystwyth Councillor has said: “Switching off the town’s CCTV cameras was a retrograde step, and as the councillor in whose ward all the cameras are located I looked forward to them being reinstated.

“I have had numerous conversations with the Police and Crime Commissioner, Dafydd Llywelyn, on the matter and on behalf of residents and visitors to the town I applaud him on keeping his election pledge.”

When Dafydd Llewelyn took over from Christopher Salmon as Police and Crime Commissioner, he mad a key campaign pledge to return the CCTV to the town. Speaking on the reinstatement he said he was “very pleased” to stick to his promise.

He added “Aberystwyth is a busy town within the Dyfed Powys Police force area where CCTV is required to safeguard communities and assist in investigations.

“Crime mapping analysis has identified 10 locations for cameras for the town that I am delighted that work is to begin there very soon.

“A project of this nature is very intricate and complex. The CCTV project team is working team is working hard to keep the project moving along as swiftly as possible.

“Work starting in Aberystwyth marks the halfway point of the project.”

The removal of the old CCTV system is said to have saved Ceredigion council £150,000 a year.

The new CCTV system set to start in Aberystwyth is part of a larger project, which will see 120 cameras in 17 towns across the region by completion.

The images will be fed directly to a monitoring room at Dyfed Powys Police headquarters Llangunnor, Carmarthenshire where they will be monitored by dedicated staff.

Marie McAvoy, project manager said: “I am grateful to the team I work with for their continued determination to ensure this project is delivered for the benefit of the communities we serve.

“I am also grateful to Ceredigion County Council and North and Mid Wales Trunk Road Agency for their assistance and support in ensuring that this reinvestment in CCTV in Aberystwyth is delivered.”

Mark Collins, Chief Constable said: “I’m confident the system will prove to be an invaluable asset in preventing crime and responding to emerging incidents swiftly before they escalate.

“Evidence from the CCTV cameras will also no doubt prove an important investigative tool for officers.”

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