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Man jailed for life for brutal murder in unprovoked attack

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A MAN who stabbed his victim in the back seven times in a brutal attack has been jailed for life for his murder.

Ashley Keegan will serve a minimum of 20 years for the murder of 37-year-old John Bell in Cardigan on July 21 this year.

The 22-year-old had been drinking outside his home in Golwg y Castell on the afternoon and evening of July 20.

As the day went on, his behaviour became more erratic, including becoming abusive to Mr Bell and his friend Daniel Saunders, when they arrived at the home of his neighbour, Daniel’s mother, Amanda Simpson.

At around 11.40pm, Daniel was taken out and put in a taxi by Amanda, when Keegan once again became abusive.

The taxi pulled off and during the argument that followed Amanda was pushed to the floor.

Keegan then turned on Mr Bell, approaching him and throwing multiple punches to his head.

Mr Bell, the court heard, did not retaliate, instead holding his hands up by his chest trying to calm things down, or his arms up protecting his head and face and moving backwards.

Mr Bell then walked off down the hill.

John Bell (pictured) was murdered in July this year in Cardigan in an unprovoked attack

Instead of leaving him walk away, Keegan was then seen walking to his driveway and picking up a large kitchen knife, before going after his victim.

He approached him from behind, raised his hand high and stabbed Mr Bell repeatedly.

At no point did he turn around – no defensive wounds were found – and instead he walked away from the street.

Keegan was then seen to throw the knife away, before heading to his home, where he told his partner Chloe Phillips: “I’ve stabbed him”. 

Just before midnight, police received several reports of both the incident witnessed on Golwg y Castell and of member of the public who had seen John Bell, injured and bleeding on Cardigan Bridge.

Police attended Castle Street and located Mr Bell seriously injured in a side street adjacent to Fusion restaurant.

Despite efforts to save him, he died at the scene. 

A post-mortem examination revealed seven stab wounds to Mr Bell’s back, which resulted in him losing a significant amount of blood.

Speaking following the sentencing, DCI Gareth Roberts said: “Today’s sentencing of Ashley Keegan to life imprisonment for the brutal murder of John Bell at Cardigan in July 2021 is welcomed.

“Our thoughts are with John’s family at this time. The devastating impact of his tragic, unnecessary loss will be long lasting for this close-knit family.

“John’s family have been respectful and dignified throughout the criminal justice process and no outcome can compensate for their loss, but I hope some comfort will come from the imprisonment of a dangerous, violent offender that will not be able to harm others.   

“Keegan’s actions on the evening of Tuesday, 20th July, 2021 were brutal and cowardly. Neither Keegan nor John were previously known to each other and John’s death was an unnecessary act with no prior motive.

“Keegan was intoxicated with his behaviour deteriorating throughout that afternoon. John came to Golwg y Castell to visit a friend and an altercation instigated by Keegan occurred. John walked away from that altercation and Keegan chose to return to the garden of a premises within the estate and pick up a knife that had been left there. Keegan had an opportunity to walk away but chose to pursue John and in a cowardly act stabbed John Bell seven times to the back area.

“John was unlikely aware of Keegan’s presence and had no defence wounds.

Police have released a photo of the knife used in the fatal assault

“Despite being severely injured, John managed to walk away some 150 yards from Golwg y Castell towards Cardigan Bridge where he later tragically died despite the best efforts of emergency services.

“Ashley Keegan did not raise the alarm or call an ambulance, instead he hid in Cilgerran Wildlife Centre until his capture.

“Our thanks must go to the brave witnesses who saw events and gave crucial information to identify Keegan as the offender and provide the evidence to ensure this successful prosecution.

“The investigative response was swift and effective, with a number of police resources mobilised to ensure that justice was served.

“Nationally, there is an increasing prevalence for individuals to carry knives. We’re fortunate in the Dyfed-Powys area that such violent offences using weapons are rare and infrequent.

“However, the tragic consequences are realised in cases such as this. Dyfed-Powys Police continue to work with our partners to raise awareness of the risks of individuals carrying weapons and remove dangerous weapons from our communities. This case has shown that any person carrying weapons presents a significant risk to the life of others and themselves, if their own weapon is used against them.”Anyone with information around the use of weapons is asked to report it to Dyfed-Powys Police, either online at: https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk, or by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908. Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555111, or visiting crimestoppers-uk.org.

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Scheme to enhance the town of Tregaron for the National Eisteddfod

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THE REGENERATING Rural Towns scheme run by the Cynnal y Cardi LEADER programme has been supporting Tregaron Town Council with a series of marketing techniques and installations to promote and enhance Tregaron in preparation for the historic and cultural event, the National Eisteddfod of Wales 2022.

This work acted as a legacy to the National Eisteddfod at Tregaron following the influx of thousands of people to the town daily for the duration of the festival and subsequently to the surrounding rural communities and local sites of interest.

A wide range of installations could be seen in Tregaron during the Eisteddfod following town branding design work, which included a giant deckchair, lamp post flags, banners, bunting, tiered flower planters, benches & picnic tables, monument conservation improvements, and a prominent Tregaron sign overlooking the ‘Maes’. Many of these features will remain in place for the summer months and can be utilised by the town in the future. Further town development work is due to commence to maintain and enhance the attractiveness and vibrancy of the town.

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New Quay RNLI assists boy with broken ankle

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LAST week New Quay RNLI volunteers had a busy week with two training sessions, two call outs and crew attending a local agricultural show in Caerwedros.

With the inshore lifeboat training on Wednesday night and the all-weather lifeboat training on Thursday night, the crew then proceeded to launch on service twice over the weekend.

On Saturday 6 August at 5.50pm New Quay RNLI’s inshore lifeboat was tasked by HM Coastguard to provide first aid and assist the local New Quay Coastguard team with a medical evacuation on Traeth Gwyn, New Quay.

Huw Williams, one of New Quay RNLI’s helm said, “Unfortunately one of our crew members’ son had injured his ankle while playing on Traeth Gwyn. He urgently needed medical care but unfortunately there was a long wait for an ambulance. We arrived quickly on scene and administered pain relief. The casualty was in a lot of pain and we assisted the local Coastguard team to carry the casualty off the beach, up the steep path to their car.”

Father of the injured boy, Wayne Slawson added, “We would like to say a huge thank to everyone involved in this on Saturday and to both organisations as a whole, the level of service you all provide is first class.

“Our son is doing ok, following a few tough days in and out of hospital. He had to have a scan to determine whether or not he needed an operation as he had fractured his growth plate in his ankle. Luckily, they were able to manipulate the ankle into position while in theatre and now he has a full leg plaster. We can’t thank you all enough.”

The second callout was late on Sunday night at 11.50pm when New Quay RNLI’s inshore lifeboat was tasked by HM Coastguard to assist Dyfed Powys Police in searching for a missing person.

Pete Yates, one of New Quay RNLI’s helm said, “After a thorough search of New Quay bay in glass calm conditions, and with nothing found, we were stood down and back at station by 1.30am. Another great example of our emergency services working together with the local Coastguard Rescue Team and police officers involved.”

Roger Couch, New Quay RNLI’s Lifeboat Operations Manager said, “We have been busy over the past few months keeping up with training and with many launches on service. Remember if you see anyone in trouble in the sea on the coast call 999 and ask for the Coastguard. Our volunteers are on call 24/7 to help.”

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Health

Possible super-hospital plans released as Pembrokeshire site ruled out

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HYWEL Dda Health Board have reduced the number of potential sites for the new “super-hospital” in West Wales from five to three. 

The new site has been narrowed down to two possible locations in Whitland or one in St Clears.

According to the plans provided in Hywel Dda’s technical appraisal reports, all sites will include a main building divided into planned and urgent care, as well as a separate facility for mental health services. Parking, administrative facilities, and a helipad are also planned.

Site 12 in Whitland
Travel time analysis for population to site 12

The potential Narberth site is no longer being considered, meaning that the new hospital would be built outside of Pembrokeshire.

Hywel Dda presented the findings of a “transport infrastructure analysis,” stating that both sites had bus services that are “infrequent” and “short,” making shift work difficult.

Plan for ‘site C’ in Whitland
Travel time analysis for population to ‘site C’

For Whitland, it noted that there was an approximate 750m walking distance from the train station to the hospital site, with recommended walking distance of 400m, and that local roads do ‘not appear’ to suffer from significant congestion during a typical weekday. 

In St Clears, the report highlighted the impact a planned new railway station – expected to open in 2024 – could have on the town, saying it would be a ‘major boost’ to the area providing viable alternative car travel, with it being understood there is a commitment to increase the frequency of services at some stations along the west Wales line from two hourly to hourly.

Plans for ‘site 17’ in St Clears
Travel time analysis for population ‘site 17’ in St Clears

After it was announced that Narberth would not be the site of the new hospital, Hywel Dda University Health Board Chair, Maria Battle, assured the residents of Pembrokeshire that their concerns would be taken into account.

“Our programme business case to the Welsh Government is seeking the greatest investment west Wales will have ever seen,” said Ms Battle.

Ambulance times to Whitland, Bronglais Hospital and Morriston Hospital (Welsh Ambulance Service travel time analysis June 2022)
Ambulance times to St Clears, Bronglais Hospital and Morriston Hospital (Welsh Ambulance Service travel time analysis June 2022)

“We have listened to and continue to listen to the fears and voices of the public we serve and our staff who understand the frontline challenges of trying to deliver services across so many sites and spread so thinly.

“Recognising the fragility of our services and the risk this poses every day, we do not intend to make changes at Glangwili or Withybush hospitals before a new hospital is built. And afterwards, they will continue to provide valuable health services to our communities.”

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