LLANELLI has now become a “thriving market for drugs” due to a surge in “county lines” gangs, Swansea Crown Court heard last week.
Locals are being targeted by gangs from Birmingham and Liverpool selling Class A drugs such as crack and heroin.
Organised crime groups have been sending dealers – often youngsters with no criminal records to avoid suspicion to Carmarthenshire to set up shop.
The details emerged at the sentencing of a teenager last week who was sent to Llanelli to sell crack cocaine by a criminal gang.
Cameron Davy, 18, of Duncumb Road, Sutton Coldfield near Birmingham was found in a block of flats at Clos Dewi Medi in Morfa, Llanelli with 29 wraps of the class A drug and £1,132 in cash on 10 January.
Swansea Crown Court heard that police knew the teenager was from the Midlands and believed he may have been linked to a ‘county lines’ operation.
Jim Davis, prosecuting, told the court that when police were able to analyse the defendant’s phone they found numerous texts relating to drug deals over the preceding weeks and messages that showed he had regular contact with a criminal drugs gang known to police as “The Marco Line.”
Davy pleaded guilty to possession of crack cocaine with intent to supply and to possessing criminal property. The court heard he had no previous convictions.
Kate Williams, for Davy, said her client’s dealing had lasted a “couple of weeks” and he had been due to be paid £300 for his trip to Llanelli.
She said the defendant was very much at the bottom of the chain of command of the gang and had declined to name those who had sent him to west Wales. The barrister said when Davy’s mother had received the phone call to say her son was in custody she had no idea where Llanelli was, let alone why he was there.
Williams added that gangs tended to use people with no previous convictions to do their work because they were less likely to come to the attention of police.
Recorder Simon Mills told Davy custody was inevitable for those who dealt in Class A drugs.
Giving the defendant a one-third discount for his guilty pleas he sentenced the teenager to two years four months for the drugs charge, and to eight months for the money laundering charge – the sentences will run concurrently making an overall sentence of two years and four months in youth detention.
Davy will serve half that sentence in custody before being released on licence to serve the remainder in the community.
The judge said the defendant would still be 19 when he was released from the custodial element of the sentence and he then faced a stark choice.
He told the defendant he would still be “a young man with your whole life ahead of you” and could either stay involved in drugs – becoming “a broken addict looking old beyond your years” or a “hardened thug in a gang facing prison sentences in double figures” – or he could turn his back on that lifestyle and lead a “decent life”.
As he sent him down, Recorder Mills added: “I urge him to think about that moment his mother got the phone call from him.”
Speaking after the sentencing Dyfed-Powys Police detective inspector Andrew Griffiths told The Llanelli Herald that tackling the trade in drugs was a priority for the force.
He said: “Illegal drugs cause misery and they need to be taken off the streets.
“Tackling the issue is a top priority, and I encourage anyone with any information or concerns about drug misuse to contact us. As the sentencing of Cameron Davy shows, we will take action.”
Community order for woman who stopped train from proceeding
150-YEAR-OLD law was used to prosecute a Llanelli woman who stood in a train doorway preventing it from leaving the station.
Josie Bridget O’Brien, 34, of High Street was in a train which had arrived at Llanelli railway station on May 21 but following an argument would not leave the train “by placing one foot on the platform and the other on the locomotive”, Llanelli Magistrates’ Court heard on Thursday (Oct 18).
The Crown Prosecution Service used section 36 of the Malicious Damages Act 1861 to successfully prosecute O’Brien.
The offence was laid as follows: At Llanelli, by a wilful omission or neglect, namely failing to alight the train by placing feet on the platform blocking doors from closing, obstructed an engine or carriage using the railway.
O’Brien also pleaded guilty to using threatening or abusive words or behaviour contrary to the Public Order Act 1986.
Taking into account her early guilty pleas the bench at Llanelli Magistrates’ Court decided to make a community order with a rehabilitation activity requirement. O’Brien was also fined £120 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £85.
No action was taken over a charge of commission of a further offence whilst subject to a conditional discharge order imposed at Carmarthenshire Magistrates’ Court on February 1.
Welsh construction sector fares better than UK average
THE PERCENTAGE of Welsh construction firms at heightened risk of insolvency sits comfortably below the UK average, according to the latest research by insolvency and restructuring trade body R3.
With 37.6% of firms at increased risk, the sector sits just over 2% below the UK average of 39.7%.
Only the construction sectors in the North West, London, and Northern Ireland fare better, at 37.4%, 37%, and 34.8% respectively.
However, the March research shows that the percentage of construction firms at heightened risk of insolvency increased by 3.8% from February’s figures, closely matching the construction sector’s UK-wide increase of 3.9%.
Commenting on the research, Louise Durkan, Chair of R3 in Wales and a director at Deloitte, told The Llanelli Herald: “Resting just below the UK average, while rising at the same rate, will come as encouraging news for many Welsh construction firms, and signals a hopeful outlook for the region after a challenging start to the year.
“According to recent figures from the Office for National Statistics, January saw the UK’s construction sector contract for the ninth month in a row, fuelled in part by increases to the cost of imports, a fall in the number of new homes being built, and the strain on the sector’s supply chains.
“However, for Wales at least, a number of new projects in the pipeline, and a rapidly rising Cardiff skyline, look to be helping the construction sector weather the storm.
The wider Welsh picture
Of all 10 key industry sectors monitored by R3 in Wales, construction had the 7th highest percentage of firms at heightened risk of insolvency, followed by agriculture (43.2%), technology and IT (47.7%), and the professional services sector (49.5%).
The restaurant sector saw the lowest percentage of firms at heightened risk of insolvency of all sectors in Wales at 31.9%.
However, the sector remains notably above the UK average of 30.2%, and is only surpassed by the East of England and the South West, at 32.1% and 33.8%, respectively.
Louise continues: “It is unfortunate but unsurprising to see the restaurant sector struggling. Consumer habits are shifting, and while there is a trend for increasing ‘leisure’ spending, this is coming at the expense of eating out in restaurants. Poor real wage growth is limiting what people can spend overall, so more spending in one area means less in another.”
Louise adds: “For any businesses in Wales who are starting to feel financial pressure, as always, R3 suggest seeking professional and qualified advice at the earliest possible opportunity, as this will only increase the chances of successful business rescue.”
Police say safeguarding children is ‘everybody’s business’
DYFED-POWYS POLICE is urging people to speak out if they spot signs of adults developing inappropriate relationships with children in their community.
Sunday, March 18, is the national awareness day for Child Sexual Exploitation led by the charity National Working Group.
Safeguarding children is everybody’s business. Any child can be sexually exploited no matter what culture, ethnicity, religion, background or gender.
To support this day, all this week officers and staff from the force’s child sexual exploitation investigators team, Police On-Line Investigation Team (POLIT), school officers and frontline officers have been targeting suspects and children identified as potential victims as well as visiting hotspot areas, schools and groups to encourage the public to think, spot and speak out about child sexual exploitation.
Dyfed-Powys police will be supporting the campaign through social media. Look out for the hashtags on Twitter: #CSE #CSEDay18 #HelpingHands.
Child Sexual Exploitation Coordinator for Dyfed-Powys Police, Linda Elias, said: “Child sexual exploitation is everybody’s business and is happening in our communities. This is not an issue isolated to more urban areas of the UK, we know it is happening locally and we are working hard to identify and protect those children who are vulnerable and also deal with the adults who are taking advantage of children.
“We have police officers trained to recognise the early signs of CSE that can identify children at risk, but we all have a role to play in ensuring our children are safe. Please, if you suspect someone in your family, social group of wider community is being exploited by any adult report it immediately to police by calling 101.
“Exploited children are almost always too frightened or ashamed to ask for help themselves, and members of the community including hoteliers, restaurant owners, community shops or youth facility leaders, are urged to speak out if they see when someone or something suspicious.
“By passing their concerns on to the police they could potentially save a child from the nightmare of CSE.”
Regional Dyfed-Powys SchoolBeat Programme Manager, Bethan James, said: “It is vital that we raise awareness of CSE with our children and the staff working in our schools. Designated school officers have been trained to deliver these sessions. School Community Police are delivering targeted age appropriate CSE sessions in schools as part of the wider SchoolBeat Cymru Programme.
They have the current, up to date knowledge and understanding in order to inform, prevent and protect our children.”
Detective Sergeant at the Police On-Line Investigation Team (POLIT), Mathew Davies, said: “Our team of specialist staff and officers, consisting of Detectives, Digital Media Investigators, Forensic Examiners and analytical staff, are targeting those who exploit children, carrying out warrants across the whole Dyfed-Powys force area. The work of POLIT is helping to speed up the investigation of offences and bring more offenders to justice.”
Nichola Rance, Coordinator for witness and victim service Goleudy, said: “Sadly, it is a fact that CSE is occurring in the counties of Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Powys. I fully support the national CSE awareness day as it helps to raise awareness of abuse of children that should not be ignored. I would urge anyone who has witnessed CSE or is a victim of CSE to contact Goleudy for support. We are an independent service for victims and witnesses of crime and we have highly skilled advisors who can listen and support people through distressing times in their lives.”
Spot the signs of CSE:
- Being secretive
- He or she stops engaging with their usual friends
- Associating with older men or women
- Going missing
- Being defensive about where they are and what they are doing
- Receiving odd calls or messages
- Possessing new, expensive items that they may have received as gifts
To report CSE in your community call 101 today.
For more information on CSE Awareness Day visit: www.stop-cse.org.
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