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Jury out in chip shop murder trial

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THE JURY has retired to consider its verdict regarding the trial of a man who is charged with murdering his wife with a chip shop fryer.

Geoffrey Bran, aged 70 from Hermon in Carmarthenshire, is accused of murdering his wife Mavis on October 23 last year, and is alleged to have thrown scalding hot oil over her from a deep fat fryer, which gave her widespread burns and lead to her death later in hospital.

He had also burnt his own hand when he tried to help her remove her jumper, which was saturated in the boiling hot oil, by trying to pull it over her head.

Earlier this week, Bran gave evidence to the court in his own defence. He told the court that there would be arguments about nothing after his wife would drink alcohol and have ‘spells of paranoia moments’ in the day, but claimed he had never hit his wife during a confrontation. He said that Mavis would start drinking early, and would consume two and a half bottles of red wine.

Bran told the court they opened the Chipoteria because Mavis was doing some meals for elderly people in the village, and didn’t like retirement because she was always on the go. He said he built a cabin next to the caravan, which took around a year, because Mavis desperately wanted to open in January. He said he would clean and blanch chips, fry them, and clean the equipment after. Mavis would cook fish and pies, and make sauces.

On the day that Mavis died, Bran said Mavis was in a good mood, but had been drinking from around 9.30am that day. He said she consumed a brandy with two neighbours, and he didn’t notice anything different about her behaviour when she had been drinking.

Bran spoke about an order, for which his wife said the fat wasn’t good enough to cook the fish in. He said: “I said you may as well use my friers, I use you for chips, but you have to turn them down because they’re a bit high for fish.”

He claimed that shortly afterwards, she looking into the fryer and told him he had overdone them. He said: “I didn’t know I was meant to look after them. She said she was coming back straight away.”

With that, he said Mavis took the fish out with tongs and tossed them into a tray, resulting in a ‘waterfall of fat’. He told her he had seen worse on plates, and said he believed she wasn’t going to serve them.

He went on to describe that he went to blanch some chips, but happened to turn around to see that Mavis had fallen, and her head was about nine inches away from the floor.

He said: “I hadn’t seen her falling because I wasn’t looking at that point. I turned around and saw her flying to the floor. In the corner of my eye I could see the fat fryer moving on the table as if in slow motion, but it wasn’t slow motion. At the moment I was going to move I could see the legs … instantly the legs fell off the edge and the weight of the oil tipped the whole thing forwards the whole two tubs came out in one whoosh.

“Once the legs got over the edge the weight of the oil must have moved things fast without the tubs coming out and it was like a waterfall and landed on her chest.

“By this time now the whole unit was going through the air and landing on top of her, pulling the sockets out.”

He continued: “I grabbed her arm, grabbed her other arm, pulled her to a sitting position, and lift all her clothes off. I didn’t know whether I was doing the right thing to be honest. I just thought get the clothes off. She was wearing a thick jumper and a t-shirt underneath. Usually she wears a kitchen apron, but because we had guests that day she had forgotten to change.

“I grabbed the bottom of the jumper and pulled it off her head. I think the jumper came into contact with her face.”

When asked if he felt any pain, he said he couldn’t remember, and was trying to get her clothes off her.

He said: “I walk round her, grab her two arms and pull her to a standing condition. I pulled her to the slabs outside. At that point I forgot I didn’t have a phone. I’d forgotten to bring it down in the morning. We always took the mobile phone back to the house in the night to charge it.”

Bran said he told her to run up the house in order to call an ambulance. He said: “She screamed up the path. She was in shock but she knew what was happening. I could see her arms were peeling. That’s about it really because all the rest was quite red.”

When asked why he didn’t go with her or why he didn’t comfort her, she said he didn’t know and was ‘totally stumped’.

The court heard how when a customer came in, Bran told them there had been an accident, but when he said he could go to Newcastle Emlyn, he said he would serve him. He said that Mavis was in a dressing gown shaking, and her face was white.

Bran was kept in custody until October 24. He was asked if he visited Mavis in hospital, but said he was told he was not allowed to.

He said he wanted to see her to say goodbye, and told the court that he misses her every day.

During cross examination, Bran was pressed as to why he didn’t comfort his wife of 30 years and ask about how she was. He told the court he ‘couldn’t face it’, but couldn’t say why.

He claimed that his wife deliberately lied to paramedics and blamed him for burning her. He said ‘they are all lies’, and said that she would always make things up and blamed him for everything.

Bran was asked, if he had helped to remove Mavis’ clothing, why he didn’t have burns on both hands. He couldn’t answer.

The court heard that Mavis suffered 46% burns to her total body area. The burns were both partial and full thickness.

The front of her body mostly suffered from full thickness burns, including her torso, thigh and neck. Her eyes were closed when she suffered the partial thickness burns to her face. Her eyelids were burned, but not her eyes themselves. There were no burns to the back of her hands, her palms or her fingers, but there were to her inner forearms. They were likely secondary burns, caused by the removal of her clothing.

The burns proved to be fatal when her condition deteriorated. As a result, the burns she suffered caused her death.

The jury retired at 12.51pm on Monday (Nov 18) to consider the case. Judge Paul Thomas QC, said: “Members of the jury I am now going to ask you to retire and consider your verdict in this case. There is no pressure of time. Take as short or as long time as needs be. As far as today is concerned, if you have reached a verdict that is well and good; if you haven’t you will be sent home and return tomorrow.”

The jury has since retired and the court awaits a verdict.

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Farmer moved cows illegally

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A WEST Wales farmer has been ordered to pay £5,500 for moving cows without passports from England and abandoning them on a farm near Carmarthen.

Paul Taylor, of Wheel Farm, Worfield in Shropshire, admitted five charges of cattle offences when he appeared before Llanelli Magistrates Court.Carmarthenshire County Council was first made aware of the offences when they were alerted by a farmer who woke up to discover eight cows had appeared on his land.

Council investigations soon established they had belonged to a former owner of the farm who had sold them on.In a prosecution led by Carmarthenshire County Council, the court heard that Taylor had purchased 11 bovines that came from a farm in Carmarthen – only three had passports. It is illegal for cattle to be moved without a passport or licence.He then arranged for HF Pugh and Sons hauliers to transport them from the farm in Llanddarog onto his farm in Shropshire.

Further investigations by animal welfare officers revealed the cows were owned by Taylor. Taylor panicked and moved the cows back to the farm where they came from. He was then approached by council officers and tried to cover up by giving false information claiming the cows were never dropped off at his farm.In mitigation Taylor said he had been duped by a 3rd person and that he bought the cattle in good faith and was told they all had passports. He panicked when he found out they didn’t have passports and should not have been moved off the farm at Llanddarog. He decided it would be best if the animals were returned to the farm from where they had come.

He also accepted that he had lied to the officer in a telephone call and email but he felt he was between a rock and a hard place as the regulatory offences had been committed and he didn’t know what to do. He accepted he should not have lied and was remorseful for this.

He was of clean character and a number of character references were placed before the court for consideration.For moving the eight cows from his farm that was on a six-day stand still period for disease control purposes was fined £300; for moving eight cows without passports to a Llanddarog Farm, and not being tested for TB prior to been moved, £500; providing false information to a council animal health officer, £300; failing to produce registration documents for the eight cows, £300; failing to notify the secretary of state the movement of three bovines on to Wheel farm, Bridgenorth, Shropshire, £300 and failing to notify the secretary of state of the movement of three bovines off Wheel Farm £300. He must also pay £3,418 costs and £50 victim surcharge.John Herbert Pugh, of Wood View, Craven Arms, Newcastle in Shropshire admitted providing a false transport document to a council animal health officer.

He was fined £500 and told to pay £3,418 costs and £15 victim surcharge.

In mitigation, Pugh said he moved the animals as he had been informed by a 3rd party that the bovines had passports. When he found out they hadn’t and shouldn’t have been moved, he panicked and produced a false transport document.

He accepted that he should not have done this and admitted lying after he was asked for a formal statement off a council animal welfare officer.

Pugh had not been before a court previously and had worked in the industry for a number of years.

Character references were also produced on his behalf.

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Beware of unlicensed taxi drivers this Christmas party season

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A WARNING has been sounded about rogue taxi drivers as the Christmas party season approaches.
Carmarthenshire County Council licensing officers are urging people to stay safe when they use a cab.
They fear unlicensed drivers will be cashing in as growing numbers of people need taxis over the busy festive period.
Cabbies will be in high demand over the coming weeks as partygoers decide to drink and not drive. More people are also out shopping and the cold and wet weather means less will be inclined to walk home or wait at bus stops.
Licensing officers at Carmarthenshire Council have joined forces with the police to raise awareness of the problem and to carry out joint enforcement across the county during this busy period.
Residents are being warned they are not insured if they travel in an unlicensed cab, and people are being urged to check out cars and their drivers before they get in.
Licensed drivers will have been DBS checked, trained on how to safeguard members of the public, and should always wear identification badges.
Taxis are usually parked at known ranks, or their numbers can be found in various directories online.
Hackney carriages, which can be flagged down by the roadside, always have a roof sign, which is illuminated when they are available for hire.
They also display two identifying white door stickers and a white plate on the back bumper.
Taxis should display a list of fares for passengers and be fitted with meters, which should always begin with an initial charge of £2.20 before 10pm and £2.40 afterwards.
Private hire vehicles can only be pre-booked and not stopped in the street.
They carry two identifying yellow door stickers and a yellow plate on the back bumper.

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People trapped in cars after multi-vehicle accident

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A SERIOUS multi-vehicle crash has caused a Carmarthenshire road to close.

The accident happened at around 6.10pm on Tuesday (Dec 10) on the A476 at Heol Morlais.

The A476 Swiss Valley to Llannon road is currently closed in both directions

Emergency services remain at the scene.

BBC Wwles Today said three people were trapped in their vehicles.

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