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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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Antisocial behaviour falls as police operation continues

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POLICE said that they saw a reduction in antisocial behaviour involving young people in Carmarthenshire over the weekend, following weeks of increased activity.

Dyfed-Powys Police officers proactively patrolled areas which have recently become hot spots for teenagers to gather and drink alcohol as part of an ongoing operation.

A police presence was also maintained on trains between Llanelli and Carmarthen to identify how many youngsters were travelling in the area and where they were getting off.

Sergeant Gemma Davies said: “Over the weekend we continued our work to target, deter and deal with antisocial behaviour and underage drinking in hot spots identified primarily in Llanelli and Burry Port.

“Section 34 dispersal orders had been put in place ahead of the weekend, meaning we could move on anyone likely to cause antisocial behaviour, but thankfully they were not required. This is an improvement on previous weekends when we have had to exercise these powers.

“A significant number of young people were spoken to, with the vast majority being pleasant, not under the influence of alcohol, and not causing any trouble.

“Members of the public acknowledged the high police presence, as did the young people, and this might have deterred underage drinking.

“We are very pleased to have seen the change in attitudes and behaviour this weekend.”

The force received just one call reporting youngsters gathering at Burry Port harbour, with no offences or antisocial behaviour identified by attending officers.

Of the young people spoken two over the weekend, two were found with alcohol which was seized. Follow-up antisocial behaviour letters will be issued, and home visits will take place shortly.

Groups were also reminded of the dangers of swimming near the harbour and were encouraged to take their rubbish home.

Officers on the rail network removed one drunk adult from a train.

Sgt Davies said: “I would like to thank all officers involved in the operation over the weekend, as well as the young people who made sure they stayed within the law while enjoying the weather.

“We will be out and about again next weekend and throughout the summer, making sure the area is enjoyable for all who visit.”

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Lord Lieutenant visits Mass Vaccination Centre

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Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Dyfed, Miss Sarah Edwards, has paid tribute to all those involved in the COVID-19 vaccination programme during a visit to the Y Ffwrness Mass Vaccination Centre in Llanelli.

During the visit on Wednesday 9th June she was joined by the Vice Lord-Lieutenant, Lt Col David Mathias, and the High Sheriff of Dyfed, Mr.Jonathan Gravell. They met and spoke to the centre’s vaccinators, NHS staff, security staff and volunteers.

To date, the collective efforts of mass vaccination centres, GP practices and community pharmacies in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire, have resulted in the Hywel Dda University Health Board delivering over 431,850 vaccinations. This means 266,785 of the eligible population have now received a first vaccine, and 165,056 have received both doses.

The Lord-Lieutenant of Dyfed said: “It was wonderful to see first-hand the incredible work being undertaken by the vaccinators, NHS staff and volunteers. They have played a crucial role in the success of the vaccine rollout programme. I would also pay tribute to the public for their overwhelmingly positive response to getting vaccinated.”

Maria Battle, Chair of Hywel Dda University Health Board, added: “On behalf of the health board, I was delighted to welcome Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Dyfed, Miss Sara Edwards, the Vice Lord-Lieutenant, Lt Col David Mathias, and the High Sheriff of Dyfed, Mr Jonathan Gravell. I am deeply proud of everyone involved in the vaccination programme and I’m glad they got to see for themselves the incredibly work being undertaken to help get us through this pandemic.”

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Alcohol seized and teenager arrested as police deal with antisocial behaviour

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POLICE seized large amounts of alcohol and arrested a teenager as they continued to deal with antisocial behaviour over the weekend.

Dyfed-Powys Police had proactive plans in place to deal with ongoing issues of groups of youngsters gathering in Carmarthenshire following rising reports of alcohol-related antisocial behaviour over the past two months.

Dispersal orders were in place across Llanelli and Burry Port, giving police the powers to move anyone believed to be causing a nuisance, harassment or distress out of the area.

Officers patrolling the rail network in Carmarthenshire on Saturday noticed a large amount of young people getting off the train at Ferryside, where an additional dispersal order was put in place and alcohol was seized.

Officers were also required to deal with children trespassing on the railway tracks.

Sergeant Gemma Davies said: “We had received reports of children with alcohol running across the tracks, which posed a huge danger to themselves and others, and had to be stopped as a priority.

“One boy who was detained became abusive towards officers and could not be reasoned with. Officers had no choice but to arrest him for his own safety and to prevent further offences from being committed.

“This incident goes to show that the kind of behaviour we are dealing with goes beyond groups of young people meeting to have a good time, and is putting people in highly dangerous situations.”

A 17-year-old boy was arrested on suspicion of trespassing on the railway and using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour to cause harassment, alarm or distress.

He has been released under investigation pending further enquiries by British Transport Police.

Early intervention was taken in the Trostre area of Llanelli, where officers noticed groups of children meeting on Saturday.

Sgt Davies said: “More than 60 young people were moved on from both locations and a large amount of alcohol was seized.

“Out of these groups, four notices were issued to those causing the most trouble in the Trostre area which prevented them from returning, and each of these youngsters were taken home.

“This swift action was a deterrent to other young people who were planning on joining the groups and were still travelling to the area.”

“We will continue to put plans in place each weekend and over the summer holidays to deal with antisocial behaviour, using all powers available to us to put a stop to it.”

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