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Coroner raises need for anti-bullying law following 14-year-old’s death

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A PRELIMINARY hearing into the death of St John Lloyd student Bradley John was adjourned last Friday (Nov 30) to allow further information to be gathered.

Carmarthenshire coroner Mark Layton said that while preliminary enquiries were making progress, he thought it would be a further four months before he had the information needed to proceed to a final inquest hearing.

“The police are doing an awful amount of work and really are on top of this,” Mr Layton said.

Bradley’s family attended the pre-inquest review hearing, during which the Court heard Police had recovered CCTV footage from the school’s cameras for the day of his death.

The Police will examine Bradley’s movements around the school and in class on the morning of September 12.

Mr Layton said: “We will be going through that evidence with a fine-toothed comb.”

Bradley John was found at St John Lloyd Roman Catholic Secondary School in Llanelli on September 12. He subsequently died at Morriston Hospital.

Bradley’s father, Byron, handed in a letter calling for members of staff to resign in the wake of Bradley’s death.

Byron John said that Bradley’s ADHD made him a victim of bullying at the school. He accused staff of doing little to address the alleged bullying in spite of previous assurances that it was on top of the issue.

Speaking to The Herald, Mr John said that his presence at the school to hand in the letter was not a protest, but ‘a show of feeling and show of support and strength for what has happened and events which need looking into concerning the death of my son’.

“It seems like the entire nation knew Bradley – I would like to thank the people who were there for him during his short life and have been there after his passing,” he added.

“Bradley was a very special individual to me, and I feel that failings have led to his death.”

Neither Carmarthenshire County Council nor Dyfed-Powys Police has commented on the allegations of bullying at this stage.

A Facebook group set up to support staff and pupils at St John Lloyd following the incident currently has over 700 members.

Speaking at the time, Inspector Chris Neve said: “We are following up all possible lines of enquiry to establish a picture of what happened in the lead-up to Bradley’s death.”

At Friday’s hearing, Coroner Mark Layton said he wondered whether a specific law should be introduced to tackle bullying behaviours.

Mr Layton said he had used the inquest as an opportunity to discuss with Dyfed Powys Police whether more action is needed over bullying and cyber-bullying.

“I have asked the police to look at existing legislation covering bullying,” he said.

“At the moment there is no statutory offence of bullying. Is there a need for any formal legislative procedures to cover bullying and cyber-bullying, which is very much in the public domain at the moment?”

Speaking on behalf of Carmarthenshire council, Edward Ramsay confirmed the option of a child death review had been put forward for consultation last week and would be considered at the next board meeting in December.

Mr Ramsay confirmed the local education authority would be represented separately at the inquest.

Following the claims that Bradley was bullied, Dafen County Councillor Rob Evans suggested that volunteer bullying protection officers be appointed by schools.

“In schools, we have child protection officers. Why can’t a bullying protection officer be officially appointed?” he asked.

“This person could be contacted by telephone and the help number extended for every child through Carmarthenshire. This way bullies will be unaware that the child affected has triggered a call for an emergency response.

“The authorities could then take immediate action to protect that child. This position doesn’t have to be a paid position. I would volunteer as would others. I know there are children’s helplines but this could be unique in Carmarthenshire.”

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Llanelli ‘Banksy’: Mayor covers graffiti rat in protective plastic

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LLANELLI Mayor David Darkin believes graffiti found on charity shop wall could potentially be a Banksy.

The piece has been covered with protective plastic by the council while they determine the authenticity of the piece.

David Darkin, Mayor of Llanelli told this newspaper: “I was approached by a local artist Roz Moreton, who believes the artwork is a Banksy in an attempt to preserve the piece.

Roz who studied art in Bristol and lived in London has said she has been exposed to numerous Banksy works including his rats on Westminster Bridge, and spotted the ‘rat’ straight away.

Darkin added “She first spotted the graffiti around ten years ago, but she kept her findings to herself so that she could go back and visit the work.

“It was only after the recent news of the incident in Swansea, where part of a suspected piece of Banksy artwork was stolen, that she decided to approach me to ask for help to protect the piece”.

The art dealer who bought Banksy’s ‘Season’s Greetings’ which appeared on a garage in Port Talbot in December, has met with the mayor in Neath to view images of the artwork.

John Bradner, Essex based gallery owner, paid six figures for the Port Talbot addition, is planning on visiting the site to see the piece for himself.

Mr Darkin added “After showing John Bradner the images he is fairly confident that the piece is Banksy’s work, the fact it was spotted ten years ago ties in with ‘Banksy’s rats’ which was his theme at the time when they appeared across industrial towns.

“Mr Bradner called me yesterday and asked if there was anything else I can do to preserve the piece until he comes to view it in a few weeks to check its authenticity.”

Speaking on the piece Councillor John Jenkins said “Fingers crossed it is a Banksy, but worst-case scenario it isn’t and is still a talking point and people still come and see him.”

Speaking to Mr Darkin he said no attempts have been made yet to contact Banksy to confirm the piece as far as he is aware.

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36 charges relating to chemicals and components for making bombs

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A 33-YEAR-OLD male  is facing 36 charges relating to chemicals and components which can be used to make bombs.

He was remanded in custody at Llanelli Magistrates’ Court on Friday (Feb 15)

The man, from Port Talbot, was arrested in October 2017 in an operation between counter terrorism officers, South Wales Fire and Rescue and The Welsh Ambulance Service.

Detective Superintendent James Hall said no known links to terrorist offences or groups were found. The man will appear in court again at a date to be fixed.

He has also been charged with possessing a taser and manufacturing and possessing class A drugs.

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University makes formal criminal complaint

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A FORMAL criminal complaint has been by made by Swansea University, as part of the ongoing investigation into the issues surrounding the recent suspension of four members of staff.

South Wales Police said: “Dyfed-Powys Police and South Wales Police can confirm that they have received a complaint which is currently subject of consideration by both forces.”

Last November, the university’s Vice-Chancellor Prof Richard B Davies, Dean of the School of Management Prof Marc Clement, as well as two other members of staff, who have not been named, were suspended.

Prof Davies has been suspended for alleged gross negligence whilst Prof Clement was suspended for alleged gross misconduct. Both individuals have denied any wrongdoing. Registrar Andrew Rhodes confirmed at the time that this action was taken after an internal investigation.

In a statement, the university said: “Swansea University has been in regular dialogue with the authorities since November 2018 based on the findings of our initial investigation. A formal criminal complaint has been made and the matter is with South Wales Police and Dyfed Powys Police. We will of course continue to co-operate fully with them. Our processes, which are being carried out by an independent investigating manager, are ongoing.”

The investigation has looked into the academics’ involvement in both the £200m Life Science and Wellbeing Village project in Llanelli, and a £600m plan for a private medical university and hospital in Kuwait.

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