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Armed man blackmailed hotel owner

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swansea-crown-courtA LLANELLI hotel owner was blackmailed by an armed man who threatened to make allegations against him.

Andrew Deakin, aged 32, had a gun tucked into the back of his trousers when he forced Paul Francis to count out £300 inside the Half Way hotel in Llanelli.
His brother George Deakin, 40, was outside the hotel as back up and armed with a baseball bat.
Andrew Deakin, of Corner House, Port Talbot Road, Port Talbot, admitted blackmail and was jailed for two and a half years by a judge at Swansea Crown Court last Friday (May 27)
George Deakin, of Dinas Road, Baglan, admitted possessing an offensive weapon and was jailed for 12 months.
Stephen Rees, prosecuting, said Andrew Deakin had been a pupil at Ffynone House School, Swansea, when Mr Francis had been an assistant teacher there.
Years later their paths crossed again.
By then Mr Francis had taken over the Half Way hotel and the pair decided to extract money from him.
Mr Rees said police were able to trace text messages sent by the brothers.
Andrew Deakin to George Deakin, “I feel sick and on top on top of the moon at the same time. We are going to take him for every penny he’s got. He’s inherited the biggest pub in Llanelli from his parents. This is going to be awesome.”
GD to AD:”I have three guns and a baseball bat.”
AD to GD, “I’ll message him to pick me up.”
Mr Rees said Mr Francis was ordered to drive to a cash point while Andrew Deakin sat in the back holding an imitation firearm.  George Deakin followed in a silver Mercedes.
Once there Mr Francis realised he had not taken his debit card and Andrew Deakin told him to drive to the Half Way Hotel “and made various threats during the journey.”
Andrew Deakin told him, “Things could get more sinister if there isn’t money at the hotel.”
Once there Deakin tucked the gun into the back of his trousers and walked Mr Francis into the hotel, where Mr Francis handed over £300.
Meanwhile, said Mr Rees, George Deakin had emerged from the Mercedes holding the baseball bat.
Andrew Deakin seemed to signal to him that there would be no need for violence as he had got some money, but as they left the hotel they warned Mr Francis, “We will be back. Keep your mouth shut.”
The following day, Andrew Deakin sent Mr Francis a message reading, “Are you sorting it out or do we have to come up there?”
Mr Francis contacted the police and the brothers were arrested.
Andrew Deakin said the £300 had been a “pay off” and not the result of blackmailing. He said he armed himself with a gun for self protection.
George Deakin, once a professional jockey and later a chef, said he had followed his brother to the hotel to ensure his safety.
Brian Richardson, the barrister representing Andrew Deakin, said it had always been his case that he had a complaint about Mr Francis dating back to his time at Ffynone House.
James Hartson, for George Deakin, said he had acted as an enforcer “in this very foolish enterprise.”
The judge, Mr Recorder Nicholas Gareth Jones, told the brothers, “This was not a spur of the moment incident. You set him up.”
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Llanelli lockdown looms

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PUBLIC HEALTH WALES have confirmed that Wales’ first town-only lockdown could happen after experts express concern at a spike in the level of positive Coronavirus cases in and around Llanelli.
Dr. Quentin Sandifer, Public Health Wales’ Medical Director confirmed that a ‘high level of concern’ exists at a virtual meeting of the Senedd’s Health, Social Care and Sports Committee this morning (Wednesday, Sept 23).
Dr. Sandifer was questioned by Assembly Member David Rees who asked: “How small an area could you go down to if you wanted local restrictions?”
The Public Health Wales representative replied by stating: “Looking at the position in Carmarthenshire, we do see quite a variation within that county area, with the highest figures of concern in the Llanelli area.
“That is where we are paying particular attention within Carmarthenshire. So we are able to go down to a sub-county, local level in terms of our considerations, and that is what we are actively doing.”
Dr. Sandifer went on to say that local lockdowns imposed early elsewhere, like Caerphilly, are “beginning to demonstrate some effect on infection rates.”
With the threat of a local lockdown hanging over Llanelli, a mobile testing unit has been set up at Parc-Y-Scarlets today and if you require a test, you can e-mail covidenquiries.hdd@wales.nhs.uk or call 0300 333 2222.

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Gemma runs 50 miles for air medics who attended her Dad

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A GRATEFUL Ammanford mum has raised £350 by running 50 miles for the Wales Air Ambulance after the Charity’s medics tried to save her dad’s life last year.

The air medics were first on the scene after Gemma Pritchard’s dad Gerry, suffered a major heart attack in February 2019. He sadly passed away in intensive care two days later.

Speaking of the care her dad received, the mum-of-one said: “The service they provided was out of this world. Every member of the crew kept us updated every chance they could. They worked tirelessly to save my dad and despite all efforts from the crew he sadly passed away a few days later. I will forever owe them my life for all the efforts that evening.

“Losing our dad was so hard after already losing my mother in 2011. We had to go through all the heartache of losing another parent.” 

Gemma, 30, who works in Jenkins Bakery and as a cleaner, completed the 50-mile challenge in 13 days. Running wasn’t something that came naturally to Gemma before the fundraiser. She was supported by her husband Owain and daughter Lillie-May, 5, to complete the challenge.

Owain did the last run with Gemma, which was 10 miles. She added: “I couldn’t run 10 seconds before the challenge he pushed me massively to achieve my goal.

“My first run I managed 3 miles then I upped it to 5 miles, then 6 and then I went straight in for the 10 miles. My poor feet still feel it now. I knew this would be a massive challenge to myself.”

This is Gemma’s first fundraiser and she is already thinking of different ways she can raise funds for the charity in future.

She said: “I’m overwhelmed at the funds I did raise, although I would’ve loved to raise a lot. I’m still very happy with what I have raised for my first of many fundraisers for such an amazing crew.

“I’d like to thank everyone who donated.  I’m so proud of completing my challenge.”

Mark Stevens, Wales Air Ambulance Fundraising Manager, said: “We are extremely grateful for the support Gemma has shown our charity. It is incredible to hear that despite Gemma’s loss she still wanted to show her support to our medics. It’s inspirational to hear that she picked a 50-mile fundraiser even though she couldn’t previously run before the challenge.

“Thank you to Gemma and everyone who has supported her. We’re delighted to hear that Gemma hopes to raise more funds in the future for our Charity.”

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The latest increase in coronavirus in Wales is ‘sobering’ says First Minister

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THE FIRST MINISTER, Mark Drakeford has criticised the lack of communication with the UK government as he gave a briefing on what he described as the “sobering” increase in coronavirus cases and hospitalisation in Wales.

The infection rate in Wales has risen to 23.6 infections for every 100k people as cases have spiked in areas including Merthyr, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Caerphilly and Newport.

Hospitalisations remain low but are rising, with five people currently in intensive care with Covid-19 and and 53 Covid patients on all hospital wards, according to the latest data from Public Health Wales from Sunday, September 13.

Mr Drakeford said that the number of people in hospital with coronavirus had risen to 41 with four people in intensive care.

He also said that the R number in Wales was almost certainly now above one – meaning the virus is spreading exponentially again. The latest estimate, he said, was between 0.7 and 1.2.

Mr Drakeford said: “In this most difficult week, there has been no meeting offered to First Ministers of any sort. Since the 28 May, there has been just one brief telephone call from the Prime Minister.

“This is simply unacceptable to anyone who believes that we ought to be facing the coronavirus crisis together.

“We need a regular, reliable, rhythm of engagement: a reliable meeting even once a week would be a start. I make this argument not because we should all do the same things, but because being round the same table allows each of us to make the best decisions for the nations we represent.

“There is a vacancy at the heart of the United Kingdom, and it needs urgently to be filled, so we can talk to each other, share information, pool ideas and demonstrate a determination that the whole of the country can face these challenges together at this most difficult time.”

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