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Five jailed for supplying heroin



TWO people who were ‘jointly responsible for saturating Llanelli with heroin’ over a three-year period were jailed for a total of 29 years in Swansea Crown Court today (Mar 12).

The court heard that Jonathan Thorne and Frances Powell, 42, effectively controlled the supply of the class A drug for the west and east sides of Llanelli respectively, as part of a ‘sophisticated’ criminal operation based in North Wales.

During the period that the pair were dealing heroin in Llanelli, there were 38 recorded fatal overdoses, and while Judge Paul Thomas QC ruled that these could not be attributed to their actions, the number of fatal overdoses reduced dramatically following their arrest as part of Operation Ulysses last year.

Thorne was jailed for 17 years after being responsible for bringing over 8kg of heroin to Llanelli, and Powell was given a 12 year sentence.

Also in court were Thorne’s partner, 29-year-old Natalie Wilson, who was jailed for 5 years and 8 months, and convicted heroin dealer Robert Williams, who was given 7 ½ years for his ‘lesser’ role. Former serviceman Ryan Mercer, 25, was given a sentence of 5 years and 4 months.

Sentencing, Judge Thomas said that while Llanelli had changed in recent years, it remained a small Welsh town with a sense of civic pride.

“Between you, you have brought a large quantity of heroin – around 10kg – into your home town,” he said.
“With it came misery, degradation, debt and deaths.

“While you were plying your trade, 38 people died of heroin-related deaths in the Carmarthenshire area where Llanelli is the biggest town. Many were probably known to you, some were customers, and two were described as friends of one or more of you.

“Even when people you knew died as a result of heroin you continued to supply it.”


Police investigate after shed fire



POLICE in Llanelli are investigating after a garden shed caught fire on Saturday night (Mar 17).

The fire, which happened between 10pm and 10.30pm in Llys y Drindod, is currently being treated as suspicious.

A fire crew from Llanelli Fire Station tackled the blaze.

Anyone with information that can help officers with their investigation is asked to report it by calling 101. If you are Deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

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Llanelli AM sets out bold metro vision for west Wales



SHOULD the Swansea Bay area have its own driver-less metro system?

That is the view of Llanelli Assembly Member Lee Waters, who appeared on the BBC’s Sunday Politics show this week (Mar 18),

Lee Waters outlined his vision for the world’s first fully automated metro system, and he says it should serve our local area.

Interviewed by Arwyn Jones earlier today, Mr Waters said: “The key for getting people to replace car journeys with public transport is having what we call a turn up and go public transport system. And that’s clearly not the case in Wales. In parts of Llanelli, the last bus leaves at 4pm – you’re just not going to persuade people to give up their cars under those circumstances. The question then is, how can we realistically create a turn up and go public transport system in Swansea Bay?

“We need to think imaginatively.

“The UK government expect automated vehicles to be on sale in three years time. This is happening quickly. Let’s not try and create a Manchester or a Sheffield type tram system – we’re thirty years behind the curve on that. Let’s try and leapfrog and establish the Swansea Bay Region as a test bed for this new technology.”

The driver-less system proposed by Lee Waters would employ fast-emerging technologies, including driver-less, low carbon bus transit systems. Maps and timetables would be replaced with public transport apps, with vehicles ‘learning’ over the time the most efficient routes to take. And door-to-door services could even feature.

Cautioning against a carbon-copy of the Cardiff and the Valleys Metro, the Llanelli AM called on those tasked with drafting the initial plan to match the boldness of the Swansea Bay City Region bid.

 “The Cardiff and Valleys Metro is moving very slowly, because it’s so complex. For the next five years, you’re not going to see many additional services because of the time it takes to convert track to light rail. All prerequisites to getting a rail system working in a different way. I think what driver-less technology offers us, is a chance to not bother with that and instead having these car-sharing, lift-sharing pods taking us where we want to go.”

Similar plan: A driver-less metro system proposed for Moscow

The Welsh Government have recently agreed to fund the development of a ‘strategic outline case’ for improving public transport provision across the region. The budget allocation is the first step in deciding whether or not to pursue the 10-20 year vision for a Swansea Bay Metro.

Mr Waters welcomed the funding provision, but warned against fixating on journey time savings to London – stating:

 “There’s a broader economic point to this – I don’t want Llanelli and the Swansea Bay area to be a commuting pad to Cardiff. Instead of sending people out of our area, we need a public transport system that creates viable and vibrant communities.”

 In appealing for an ambitious approach to be taken, the Assembly Member contended: “For too long we’ve played catch up. We take ages, and too often the result is pretty shoddy.

 “So let’s not do that again. We’re starting from an almost blank sheet of paper, let’s go straight to the future solution.

 “This change is happening at pace and we need to be all over it.”

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18-year-old arrested on suspicion of robbery



POLICE in Burry Port have arrested and interviewed an 18-year-old man, from the Llanelli area, in connection to a reported robbery outside Co-Op, Station Road, Burry Port.

A man was attacked and his bicycle stolen during the incident, which happened at around 9pm on Tuesday (March 13).

The suspect has since been bailed with conditions which prevent him entering the Burry Port area, while the investigation continues.

The victim is being supported by specially trained officers and his bike has since been returned.

Anyone with information about the incident is urged to contact police by calling 101. If you are Deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908. Quote reference 32 of March 14.

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