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Judge hammers police ‘dereliction of duty’

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Matthew Thomas: Freed to offend over and over again by Police

A PREDATORY sex offender was twice released on Police bail to offend again and again, even after making clear admissions of guilt to similar offences in interviews by Dyfed Powys Police officers.

Matthew Thomas, aged 21, moved from the north-east of England to Llanelli in an effort to dodge responsibility for offences relating to online grooming of vulnerable victims.

Cleveland Police, which was investigating Thomas for grooming a young girl with learning difficulties, contacted Dyfed Powys Police about him in December 2017.

Interviewed in Wales in January 2018, Thomas made clear and frank admissions about his conduct in grooming the vulnerable girl. When Police recovered data from his mobile phone, they recovered images of adults engaged in bestiality.

Thomas’ evil criminal method was consistent.

Prosecuting barrister Paul Hobson told the Court, that Thomas combined initial charm towards his victims with abuse. If his victims refused to comply with his perverted demands he would threaten to harm himself and tell his victims’ families what was going on.

After Dyfed Powys Police bailed Thomas, he stalked a further three young girls on social media using the same blend of threats and blackmail to get them to send indecent photos to him.

One of his victims was 13 years old.

Thomas sent the girl videos of him masturbating. He tried to persuade her to engage in a live video chat with him before threatening to rape her.

In August last year, Thomas was again arrested by Dyfed Powys Police after being caught in a sting by a paedophile hunter group.

Despite the admissions they already had from January and evidence relating to further offending, Police released him again.

He resumed offending almost immediately and in November 2018 was brought before Llanelli Magistrates Court and made the subject of an interim sexual harm order.

He continued offending.

He sent a photo of one of his victims to her own mother and encouraged another to self-harm.

When he was finally charged in January 2019, Police found he had groomed yet another 15-year-old victim and persuaded her to send him intimate photos which he threatened to distribute across social media.

The Court was told that, by the time he was charged, Thomas was the focus of eleven different Police investigations into the online grooming of vulnerable and under-age girls.

Thomas, of Nightingale Court, Llanelli, pleaded guilty to multiple counts of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, causing a child to watch a sexual act, possession and distribution of indecent images, and possession of extreme pornography.

Sentencing Thomas to a ten-year sentence, six in custody and a further four on an extended licence, HHJ Paul Thomas QC was savage in his criticism of the Police’s handling of the case.

HHJ Thomas said that the way in which the Police dealt with a persistent and dangerous offender was tantamount to ‘dereliction of duty’.

The Judge continued to demand a report from a senior officer of or above the rank of Assistant Chief Constable within three weeks to explain how Police had allowed Thomas to remain at liberty to offend.

Judge Thomas added: “It is disgraceful that this defendant was allowed to commit these offences which still under investigation.”

The Judge said Matthew Thomas’ behaviour towards the girls was “vicious and callous”.

Having concluded that Thomas posed a significant and continuing risk to the public, he passed an extended public protection sentence of ten years.

He ordered that Thomas register as a sexual offender for the rest of his life. The Judge also made Thomas the subject of an indefinite sexual harm prevention order to curtail his online access and protect young girls from his vile behaviour.

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Everything you need to know about the current coronavirus restrictions in Wales

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THE GOVERNMENT guidelines in Wales are changing today (Apr 12).

There are major changes coming into force today across the country as the government coronavirus guidelines are starting to relax.

The changes affect household bubbles, non-essential retail, education and travel.

As of Monday, April 12, the following changes have come into force:

  • Six people from two different households (not counting children under 11) can meet and exercise outdoors and in private gardens
  • Households or support bubbles can holiday in self-contained accommodation – including hotels with en-suite facilities
  • All pupils and students can now return to school, college and other education
  • All shops and close-contact services can open
  • The ban on travelling in and out of Wales has ended
  • Driving lessons can resume and some driving tests (Remainder on April 22)

Non-essential retail are able to open up today for the first time since the country was put into a national lockdown with non-essential retail ordered to close in December of last year.

With infection rates falling and the national vaccine rollout success, the Welsh Government have set out a road map of restriction easing.

Unlike England, the hospitality industry in Wales will have to wait until April 26 to open their doors to customers, but only for those who can operate in an outdoor space such as beer gardens.

The current guidelines in force for Wales are as follows:

Meeting friends and family

From May 3:

  • Two families can once again form an “extended household” and meet indoors.

The following rules currently apply:

  • Six people from two different households (not counting children under 11) can meet up outdoors, including gardens.
  • If you are an adult living alone or you’re a single responsible adult in a household (a single parent, for instance), you can form a support bubble with one other household.
  • You can also end it and form another support bubble with a different household, as long as you leave a 10-day gap between.

Going to work

  • You must work from home if you can. The only exceptions will be critical workers and jobs where working from home is not possible.
  • Tradespeople can work in someone else’s private home, as long as it is managed in a safe way and both the worker and household members are well and have no symptoms of coronavirus.

Schools and nurseries

  • All pupils will return to face-to-face teaching at school from 12 April.
  • From that date all students can return to further education and training centres.
  • University campuses will be able to open for blended (face-to face and online) learning for all students.
  • Internal GCSE, A-level and AS-level assessments have been cancelled.

Leisure time

From April 26:

  • Outdoor attractions, including funfairs and theme parks, will be allowed to reopen.
  • Outdoor hospitality can resume, including at cafes, pubs and restaurants, but indoor hospitality will remain restricted.

From May 3:

  • Organised outdoor activities for up to 30 people can again take place.
  • Gyms, leisure centres and fitness facilities can reopen. This will include individual or one-to-one training but not exercise classes.

The following rules currently apply:

  • Self-contained holiday accommodation, including hotels with en-suite facilities and room service, can open to people from the same household or support bubble.
  • Outdoor sports facilities such as golf, tennis and basketball are open. A maximum of six people from two households can take part.
  • Organised outdoor sport for under-18s can now take place.
  • All gyms and leisure centres are closed.
  • Professional sports will continue but stadiums are closed to fans.
  • Bars, restaurants, cafes and pubs are closed – except for takeaway and delivery.
  • The outdoor areas of some historic places and gardens can reopen in a limited way.
  • Libraries and archives can reopen

Shopping

From April 12:

  • All shops can reopen.
  • All close contact services such as hairdressers or beauty salons can open, including mobile services.

The following rules currently apply:

  • Hairdressers and barbers are open for business – by appointment only.
  • Non-essential shops remain closed.
  • Garden centres are now open.
  • Alcohol cannot be sold in shops between 22:00 and 06:00 BST.
  • Face coverings must be worn by customers and staff.
  • Indoor shopping should be done alone, or with people in your household.

Other

From April 12:

  • You can travel anywhere in the UK or the Common Travel Area (Ireland, Isle of Man and the Channel Islands)
  • Outdoor canvassing for the Welsh elections can begin.
  • Driving lessons can resume and some driving tests (remainder on 22 April).

From April 26:

  • Weddings receptions can take place outdoors, but will be limited to 30 people.

The following rules currently apply:

  • Weddings and civil partnerships can take place at licensed venues, but receptions are not allowed.
  • Care home residents can receive one designated visitor.
  • You can travel anywhere within Wales.
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Police on scene of alleged armed robbery in Llanelli

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POLICE are at the scene of a reported armed robbery in Llanelli.

A large police presence has been seen at Dillwyn Street, Llanelli this morning (April 12).

Image credit: D Harries/Herald

Eyewitnesses at the scene have told this newspaper that there are ten police vehicles and armed response present.

It is reported that an armed robbery has taken place at a Premier Store.

Image credit: D Harries/Herald

Dyfed-Powys Police have been asked to comment, we await their response.

This story is updating, more to follow…

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Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh, dies aged 99

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The Duke of Edinburgh, the Queen’s ‘strength and stay’ for 73 years, has died aged 99.

Prince Philip’s health had been slowly deteriorating for some time. He announced he was stepping down from royal engagements in May 2017, joking that he could no longer stand up. He made a final official public appearance later that year during a Royal Marines parade on the forecourt of Buckingham Palace.

Since then, he was rarely seen in public, spending most of his time on the Queen’s Sandringham estate in Norfolk, though moving to be with her at Windsor Castle during the lockdown periods throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and where the couple quietly celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary in November 2020. He also celebrated his 99th birthday in lockdown at Windsor Castle.

The duke spent four nights at King Edward VII hospital in London before Christmas 2019 for observation and treatment in relation to a “pre-existing condition”.

Despite having hip surgery in April 2018, he attended the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle a month later and was seen sitting beside the Queen at a polo match at Windsor Great Park in June. He and the Queen missed Prince Louis of Cambridge’s christening in July 2018, but he was seen attending Crathie Kirk near Balmoral in August, and driving his Land Rover in the surrounding Scottish countryside in September.

It is expected that flags on landmark buildings in Britain will be lowered to half-mast as a period of mourning is announced.

The First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford has expressed his sadness on the news of the death of His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh and offered condolences to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the Royal family on behalf of the Welsh Government.

He said: “It is with sadness that we mourn the death of His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh. Throughout his long and distinguished life, he served the crown with selfless devotion and generosity of spirit.

We offer our sincere condolences to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, his children and their families on this sad occasion.

He will be missed by the many organisations that he supported as Patron or President over many decades of service”.Andrew RT Davies, the Leader of the Welsh Conservatives in the Senedd, has led tributes to Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, whose death was announced today.

In light of the sad news from Buckingham Palace, campaigning has been paused with immediate effect.

Mr Davies said: “This is a very sad day for the United Kingdom.
“The Duke of Edinburgh led a remarkable life, excelled himself with his career in the Royal Navy, was the strength and stay to Her Majesty The Queen, and has left a legacy to the nation through the Duke of Edinburgh Award.

“Dutiful, devoted, and diligent, his like will never be seen again, and Welsh Conservatives offer their deepest condolences to The Queen, and the rest of the Royal Family.”

Adam Price, leader of Plaid Cymru said: “On behalf of Plaid Cymru, I send my condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and her family. Many young people in Wales will have benefited from the Duke of Edinburgh’s award scheme, a reflection of many decades of his public service. Thoughts are with the Royal Family at this time.”

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