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Two-year-old was ‘singing’ moments prior to death, inquest hears

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A TWO-YEAR-OLD who died when the car she was in rolled into the River Teifi was ‘singing’ just moments before, an inquest has heard.

Kiara Moore, who drowned on March 19 in the River Teifi, Cardigan, was left alone for just two minutes prior to the car entering the water.

Ceredigion coroner, Peter Brunton, opened the inquest this morning (Nov 27) in Aberystwyth.

The inquest heard that Kiara’s mother, Kim, had snapped her credit card and had to leave the car to re-enter the family business, owned by Kiara’s father, Jet.

In this short period of time, Kiara was left in the car.

Kim said that the car was left in reverse on the slope where she always parks with the handbrake on. The car was recovered in third gear with the handbrake disengaged.

The car was reported as stolen and a police search was launched. It was later spotted in the river, with Kiara’s body inside. She had tragically drowned.

Experts told the inquest that Kiara moving around in the car may have been enough to start the car rolling.

The car was tested and found to be in good condition with no defects.

When asked if Kiara could have knocked the handbrake, Sgt Shane Davies, Dyfed-Powys Police’s Senior Forensic Officer, said ‘I don’t know is the honest answer’.

He added: “I can’t say with any degree of certainty how it went from the handbrake being on at the slipway to not being on in the water.

“You could release the handbrake by pressing the button at the front of it.”

No charges were brought by Dyfed-Powys Police, and the inquest was formally closed with a judgement of death via misadventure.

Kim Rowlands said in a prepared statement: “Jet owns and managed Adventure Beyond in Cardigan. I work with the company and normally go there to work in the office.

“Since Kiara was a baby she has been coming with me to the office.

“On the day there was nothing unusual. I got up, called Kiara, and got her ready. She asked me what I was going to be doing. I said going to work and she asked if she could come with me.

“I’m not on any medication. I was feeling tired but not unusually so. I parked on the slipway. Monday was only the second day I’d been there that year.

“I checked the handbrake which I always do. I left it in reverse. I parked so that the back of the car was level with the scout hut.

“I didn’t go back to the car all day. During the day we stayed in the office.

“We did walk into Cardigan town centre to go to the bank. Sometime around 3pm I got ready to leave. I unlocked the car and walked round to the passenger side and loaded all Kiara’s things. I then put her in the car seat but didn’t fasten her seat.

“I closed her door and walked round to the driver’s door which I opened and as I did I realised my bank card had snapped. I took the card out and knew I didn’t have any food at home. I gave the card to Kiara and told her I would be two secs.

“The keys were either in the driver’s door or in the ignition. I told Kiara I would be two seconds. I opened the padlock and went into the office. I could hear Kiara in the car.

“When I left there was singing and shouting. I knelt down by the safe in the office. I got a £10 note out and shut the door.

“I went out of the office and put the padlock on. I could see that my car was gone.

“I was gone for about three minutes. I went down to the river and couldn’t see anything. My next thought was that the car had been taken. I asked people if they’d seen anything.

“I dialled 999 and told them my car had been taken with daughter inside. I looked everywhere. I phoned my mum as I was panicking.

“We bought the car second-hand and to my knowledge there were no handbrake issues.

“Kiara normally sits in the front passenger seat of the car. Her seat is for zero to four years. She’s used to travelling in the car and she liked to play with the radio controls but I never saw her playing with any other controls.”

The inquest also heard from PCSO Carol Griffith, who jumped into the river and smashed a window to pull Kiara out of the car.

A statement was read on her behalf. It said:  “On Monday, March 19, I was on call at Crymych police station. I started at 9am. I had just arrived at Cardigan police station when I heard that a car had been stolen with a three-year-old girl inside.

“I began searching for the car and was directed by inspector Gareth Jones to make CCTV inquiries in the area.

“I was walking to the right-hand side of the scout hut and I was notified that a car had been located in the river. I ran back towards the river and the ARV drove past heading in the same direction.

“As I reached the bank I looked to the water. I could see a small bit of the car above the surface.

“I was stood next to PC Harvey and I said I was going to go into the water. I took off my vest and boots and dived headfirst into the river. The river was freezing cold and you could tell the current was really strong.

“I put my head underwater and I could not see anything underwater. The car was fully immersed in the water and was facing towards the main bridge in Cardigan.

“I swam towards the middle of the car and managed to climb onto the roof.

“I went under the water by the front passenger window. The water was so cold I couldn’t keep under for very long.

“I went down to the window and could not see inside the car.

“I was able to put both arms inside a small opening of the window. I could not see anything.

“I tried the handle on the outside but could not.

“I felt something when I put my arms through the window. I came to the surface and said that someone needed to smash the window.

“Myself and Nick managed to smash the glass after several hits and it broke. I immediately felt Kiara’s body. Both of us held her little body.

“I knew it was her because the coat she was wearing matched the description. I swam to the shoreline and Nick carried her out onto the river bank.

“Other officers started to conduct CPR but I can’t remember who that was.

“All I remember was looking at her body and her face was purple.

“I remember hearing the noise of a defib (defibrillator) and then I was taken back to the police station as I had blood on my hands. I hadn’t realised that I had cut myself.”

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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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