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Vulnerable pensioner pressured to withdraw cash



A VULNERABLE pensioner was subjected to a frightening ordeal after two men supposed to be carrying out work on his house forced him to get into their van, before driving him to three towns in an attempt to withdraw money to pay them for work not yet carried out.

36-year-old Edmund Lee, of Ty Gwyn, Whitland, pleaded guilty to engaging in an aggressive commercial practice when he appeared before magistrates in Haverfordwest this week. He also pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to provide the complainant – a man in his sixties – with notice of his right to cancel their contract.

His cousin Benjamin Lee, 21, of St Clears, pleaded guilty to a charge of contravening the requirements of professional diligence. The offences were all committed between March 31 and April 10 of last year.

Prosecuting on behalf of Pembrokeshire County Council, Jeff Harries explained that complainant lived alone in the Tenby area. He required daily care as a result of ongoing medical issues, and was unable to read or write.

The court heard that the money was ostensibly to pay for power-washing garden paths and guttering and a garden clearance, and the total sum involved was £732.

The complainant’s bank records showed that, in addition to his regular weekly cash withdrawal, he took out sums of money on three occasions – £182 in Tenby on March 31, £450 from the same bank on April 6, and £100 from the Carmarthen branch of HSBC on April 8. Due to his literacy issues, the complainant was only able to withdraw money with help from bank staff.

“He states that he was approached on a number of occasions between March 31 and April 10,” Mr Harries added.

On April 8, he was standing at a bus stop waiting to visit family when the Lees pulled up in a van. He was told to get in and made of trips to banks in the Tenby, Haverfordwest and Carmarthen areas. The first two were closed, and he eventually managed to withdraw £100 from Carmarthen HSBC – the maximum he could take out due to lack of id. He was told to meet the complainants at the former Playhouse with more money, or they would visit him at a later date to collect it.

The police received a complaint from a member of the victim’s family on April 8 after he told them about the money. Police spoke to him on April 9, and he ‘appeared anxious and concerned’ that the men could return.

As a result, when Benjamin Lee knocked on the complainant’s door on April to it was answered by a police officer. Lee then ran away, but returned after answering a phone call from police on the complainant’s phone.

In interview, Edmund Lee said that he had been posting flyers advertising his business in the area on March 31 when he saw the defendant walking near his house. They then agreed a price to do some work.

Benjamin Lee made no comment except to confirm that he had not been present when his cousin agreed the contract with the complainant on March 31.

“There are no mitigating features, only aggravating ones,” Mr Harries commented.

“The complainant would simply obey their orders, jump in the van and go to the nearest bank.

“He would sit in the middle between the two defendants – I can only imagine how intimidating that must have been.”

Representing Edmund Lee, Gavin Rofer said that the defendant had ‘simply been unaware’ that he had to provide written cancellation rights, and added that due to his own inability to read or write, Lee was unaware of many small trader regulations.

Mr Rofer said that Lee had been insistent on checking that the complainant had the money because customers had failed to pay him before. “Perhaps in an abundance of caution he offered to take him to the bank for the money,” he added, stressing that Lee was unaware at the time that this could have appeared aggressive to a person in the complainant’s situation.

Representing Benjamin Lee, Mike Kelleher drew attention to his minor role in events, as someone in effect hired by his cousin to clean the guttering, and pointed out that had he not run a similar business of his own he would not have been liable for prosecution.

Edmund Lee was fined £900, and ordered to pay a total of £1,840 in costs and compensation.

Benjamin Lee was given a £250 fine and ordered to pay £250 compensation and £780 towards costs.


Cold temperatures likely to lead to icy conditions



A YELLOW weather warning is in place over Wales from 10pm tonight (Jan 16) and 11am tomorrow morning (Jan 17).

As temperatures drop, there is a strong chance of ice patches causing dangerous conditions for motorists.

Icy patches developing with wintry showers also affecting some areas.

What to expect

  • Some injuries from slips and falls on icy surfaces
  • Probably some ice on some untreated roads, pavements and cycle paths
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Next stage of works to clear Cwmduad landslide



PHASE two of the works to stabilise a landslide in Cwmduad has begun following the recovery of a lorry from the river below.

Carmarthenshire County Council is leading the operation to clear the site and re-open the A484 for traffic travelling between Carmarthen and Newcastle Emlyn, following the landslide in October.

Phase one, which commenced before Christmas, created a safe zone for the recovery of a lorry that was swept in to the river during the storm.

That recovery took place earlier today (Monday, January 14, 2019).

Phase two, to permanently stabilise the embankment, involves complex drainage and geotechnical works.

The highway structure will then be assessed before any indication can be given as to when the road will re-open.

The council has thanked the community, and affected commuters, for their patience whilst site assessments and works have been underway.

Ruth Mullen, Director of Environment for Carmarthenshire County Council, said: “We are now making progress in what has been a highly complex operation and legal process between the council, partner agencies and the landowner.

“We fully appreciate the impact this has had on the community, and we wish to reiterate that we have worked without delay to undertake site investigations in the immediate aftermath of the landslide, along with clearance and construction works to make the area safe.

“We are working as quickly as we can to re-open the road as soon as possible, and would like to thank those affected most sincerely for their patience.”

Until the road is re-opened, traffic will continue to be diverted along the B4333 Carmarthen – Newcastle Emlyn.

Additional bus services remain in place:

  • A shuttle service currently runs from Cwmduad to Tycoch to catch the 460 service at 7.25am, 9.35am and 10.55am. Return journeys are at 2.25pm and 4.45pm.
  • The 460 service is currently operating on a diversion route
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Three seriously injured in A40 crash



DYFED-POWYS POLICE is appealing for information about a collision which resulted in serious injuries.

The collision which happened on Sunday afternoon (Jan 13) involved a silver Ford Fiesta and a Silver BMW 120 and at approximately 4pm on the A40 between Pont-y-fenny and Whitland roundabout.

The Silver Fiesta was travelling towards Whitland and the BMW was travelling towards Carmarthen.

A 67-year-old woman has been taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries.

A 71-year-old man and a 68-year-old woman were also taken to hospital suffering serious injuries.

Anyone who witnessed the collision, or was driving along the road around the time or with dash cam footage, is asked to contact the Serious Collision Investigation Unit by calling 101.

If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired, please text 07811311908. Please quote reference DP-20190113-199.

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