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Carmarthen Bay Film Festival returns to Llanelli

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THERE’S just four weeks to go to the start of the prestigious Carmarthen Bay Film Festival in Llanelli.

The festival is now in its seventh year and continues to go from strength to strength.

A total of 699 entries were received for this year’s festival award categories, from film-makers worldwide.

The festival is being staged at Llanelli’s Stradey Park Hotel, from May 14-17.

All of the film-based events are free to the public.

“It is astonishing how the festival has grown in popularity from very small beginnings,” said Festival CEO and organiser Kelvin Guy.

“They say great things grow from little acorns and that is very true of the film festival.”

The Welsh fourth channel S4C will be sponsoring the awards dinner at this years’ festival.

“That just shows how much importance is being attached to the festival,” said Mr Guy.

“In recent years we’ve had added glitz and status as the event is on the approved list for BAFTA Cymru Wales.”

Mr Guy added: “The BAFTA abbreviation is pretty special in the world of film. The British Academy of Film and Television Arts is recognised as a hugely prestigious organisation worldwide. To get this recognition from BAFTA Cymru Wales is a huge honour and is a great achievement when you consider what the festival has achieved since it launched in 2011.

“Being on the list of approved BAFTA Cymru Wales festivals helps give added prestige and stardust to the festival, with entrants now being eligible for BAFTA awards as well as the ones on offer at the festival.”

Mr Guy added: “We hope the festival really catches the imagination of the public in Llanelli, Carmarthenshire and the rest of South Wales. It’s free. The only ‘pay’ part of the event is the awards dinner at the end.

“The festival will follow closely on the heels of the Celtic Media Festival at Ffwrnes Theatre, Llanelli, so it’s clear that Llanelli and Carmarthenshire is making headway in terms of being recognised for film, television and digital media.”

Entries for this year’s festival have come from all corners of the globe, including Syria, Hong Kong, China, Korea, Taiwan, Iran, Iraq, Israel and North and South America.

Mr Guy said: “The global response has been fantastic and I’d like to think that the festival is doing its best to put Llanelli and Carmarthenshire on the world map for film-makers.”

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Victim speaks out about the impact knifepoint robbery

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Teifion Lewis: Robbed the man at knifepoint

THE VICTIM of a knifepoint robbery has spoken out about the impact the incident has had on his life as Dyfed-Powys Police takes part in a national knife amnesty aiming to get weapons off the streets.

The 24-year-old was approached by a man he didn’t know while walking his dog in Carmarthen on July 20 this year. A knife was held to his chest, and he was forced to hand over the money in his wallet.

His attacker, Teifion Lewis, of Llammas Street, Carmarthen, was arrested and charged with robbery within four days, and was sentenced to 40 months in prison.

Looking back at the incident, the victim, who has asked to remain anonymous, said: “At first, I didn’t realise he had a knife on him. I just assumed he was another man who was out partying, given he was young and it was late on a Friday night.

“Even when he was right in front of me with his hand on my chest, I assumed he must have had too much to drink and just stumbled into me. Once I saw he was brandishing a knife, though, that changed everything. It was at that moment that I realised I was in far more danger than I’d first thought.

“I suppose the only real thing that was going through my mind at the time was to talk to him, do as he says, and get out of there as soon as possible without becoming hysterical. I just had to keep as calm as possible for the time he was blocking my route.”

He explained that it was only when Lewis had taken his money and walked away, that he realised what could have happened had things gone wrong.

“I thought about how easily he could have stabbed me and I’d have been left out in an empty street, cold and alone, bleeding to death, without even a mobile phone on me to call my friends and family to tell them I love them,” he said.

“I’ve never given much thought as to what my inevitable death will be like, but I’d never have thought it could have ended that way.”

The victim had walked his dog every night for two years – using this particular route for seven months – with no issue. Since being robbed, he has become wary of going out at night and hasn’t been able to walk down the lane where he was stopped without suffering flashbacks.

“It’s not necessarily the whole event that comes back to me, but different parts, such as when he started to sob to me about his home life, or when he apologised for ‘having to mug me’,” he said.

“By far, what’s stuck with me the most are the words said to me as I was being mugged. The words ‘I want your money, I don’t want your life’ have been repeating in my mind every day since then, without failure.”

On September 2, at Swansea Crown Court, Teifion Lewis was sentenced for robbery and possessing a knife in a public place. The victim read out a statement directly addressing Lewis, urging him to get his life back on track and forgiving him for what he did.

“You asked me that night to forget that the robbery had ever happened,” he read. “My assumption is because you were fearful as for what might subsequently happen to you. I’m afraid though, that the image of a knife being flicked towards my chest, and the phrase ‘I want your money, I don’t want your life’ is something I will never be able to erase from my mind, no matter how much I wish for it to go.

“I want you, however, to improve. I want you to use your punishment as your wake-up call, and as a doorway to improving both your future and the future of those who you are close to. There is help available for you, even in prison, and even when it seems all hope is lost. If I can get my life back on track after my autism diagnosis, so can you.

“You’re young, you’re able bodied, and you still have time. Use it wisely. I can’t forget what you did, but just this once I will forgive you.”

The victim has spoken out about his experience as Dyfed-Powys Police takes part in Operation Sceptre – a national week of action aimed at cracking down on the illegal possession of knives. A knife amnesty is taking place during the week (Sept 18-24), with people able to bin their knives at specific locations across the force no questions asked.

The 24-year-old has backed the operation, and the chance to get knives out of our communities.

“I’d prefer it if these people who carry knives with them be honest about who they are and why they have them on their person,” he said. “But it’s much more important that it’s an opportunity to get these weapons off the street.

“If the ability to do this anonymously is what gives these people the confidence to rid themselves of their weapons, then so be it.”

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Jailed for spate of car fires

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AN ARSONIST hid behind a tree so he could watch cars and vans going up in flames.

Benn Gary Davies, aged 26, set fires at three locations in Llanelli and was jailed for three years after admitting three offences of arson.

Brian Simpson, prosecuting, told Swansea crown court how fires broke out in three different places in the early hours of July 6 this year.

They all involved cars and vans.

The duty manager at the Premier Inn, Llanelli, saw in horror that four vehicles in the car park were on fire.

When he went to investigate he noticed Davies hiding behind a tree and apparently watching the flames take hold.

In all, said Mr Simpson, Davies caused £25,000 worth of damage.

The court heard that Davies had a previous conviction for arson.

His barrister, James Hartson, said he had drunk an enormous quantity of alcohol.

Judge Peter Heywood told Davies, of Bynea, Llanelli, he had an underlying problem with alcohol.

“You have a bad record for damaging property and a conviction for arson.

“Arson is always viewed seriously by the courts.

“Cars can explode. Indeed, one of the vans concerned was used to transport calor gas,” he added.

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Sports photographer found after four months

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DYFED-POWYS POLICE have confirmed that a sports photographer has been found, having been missing for four months.

Gareth Davies, 45, was last seen on May 14 at Llanelli train station having visited family in the town.

Mr Davies was described as having professional links across the UK and France, and was living and working in Versailles, France at the time.

He was due to return there, but concerns were raised when he did not arrive.

Yet, last Friday (Sept 14) Dyfed-Powys Police confirmed that he was found in the UK safe and well.

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