Andrew Jones has today been found guilty of murdering Michael O’Leary.
Following a three-week trial at Swansea Crown Court the jury returned a majority verdict, 11-1.
The murder of Mr O’Leary has been a challenging and complex investigation.
When the family of Mr O’Leary called the police to report he hadn’t returned from work on Monday, 27 January, missing person enquiry commenced and a search was launched.
In the days that followed, this developed into a murder investigation, and the days, weeks and months that followed saw officers piece together what had happed in Mr O’Leary’s final moments and how Andrew Jones tried to cover his tracks by trying to make it look like suicide.
Senior investigating officer DCI Paul Jones said his team’s efforts demonstrated how a small and relatively safe force could pull together to conduct an inquiry of such magnitude.
“The team around me have worked tirelessly to get the case ready for court,” he said.
“It took a huge amount of resilience to get through the mental and physical challenges, through the initial search for Mr O’Leary and then as they sifted through material to find each tiny piece of evidence.
“There were so many people involved, teams within teams, and also those not directly involved who kept the force running in the absence of all those who were involved in the case, which shows how strong we are as a force.”
What had happened to Mr O’Leary and the investigation that followed had a significant effect on the tight-knit communities in Nantgaredig and Carmarthen.
“We were well aware of how this case affected the area,” added DCI Jones.
“There was pressure to prove what had happened to Mr O’Leary, to get answers quickly and charge the person responsible so they could be tried.
“Without a body this can be very difficult, you have to build significant evidence to support your theory they had been murdered.
“We were down to the final hours, if we didn’t have the evidence we could not have charged Andrew Jones and we would have had to release him.”
DCI Jones praised the family of Mr O’Leary for their courage and dignity throughout the investigation and murder trial.
He said he hoped today’s result would offer some solace.
“The O’Leary family are, to my mind, gracious,” he said.
“They would ask pertinent questions and raise valid points but they were always dignified and respectful.
“I can’t imagine what they have been through.
“The way they conducted themselves, particularly in such a tight-knit community where everyone knows everyone and there was a lot of speculation doing the rounds, was very humble.
“I hope this helps them deal with the next stage of their grieving process.”
Killer Andrew Jones must spend at least 30 years in jail
A KILLER from Carmarthen will spend at least 30 years in jail.
Andrew Jones, 53, from Bronwydd Road, denied murdering his long-time friend Michael O’Leary but was convicted by a jury.
Mrs Justice Jefford set a minimum term of 30 years which he must serve before he can be considered for parole. She described the killing as ” a planned ambush”.
She told the killer: “Michael O’Leary did something wrong but he did not deserve to pay for that with his life. All accounts of him is of a man who lit up the room and played a central role in the lives of his family.
“Your family stands by you. You are more than fortunate in that. The impact of your actions in their lives has also been devastating. They feel ostracised from the community from where they live.
“Your wife still talks about you as the love of her life and your children talk about you in glowing terms.”
The judge made an order for the forfeiture and destruction of a rifle but not of the other guns in Jones’ possession.
She added: “This was a remarkable investigation by Dyfed-Powys Police.
“The officers and operatives involved are too numerous to mention but they are all to be commended for their efforts.”
Mr Jones’ barrister Karim Khalil QC is now addressing the court.
He said: “The defendant himself is not a highly educated man. He made the best of the talents he had.
“He worked all hours, not in any sense workshy. He built a family life which is now destroyed.
“He is remorseful for what happened. He is not cold-blooded.
“He acknowledges the pain he has caused.”
Two week national ‘Firebreak Lockdown’ announced for Wales from 6pm on Friday
MARK DRAKEFORD, The First Minister of Wales has announced a two week ‘fire break’ lockdown from Friday October 23 at 18:00 HRS, to last until Monday November 9 at 00:01 HRS
Mr Drakeford said: “This firebreak is the shortest we can make it. It must be sharp and deep in order to have the impact we need it to have on the virus.”
All non essential businesses, including tourism businesses will be told to close.
Businesses have been told that they will be given £1000 each automatically to help with the economic impact of the shutdown.
Mr Drakeford added that children will be the priority and that childcare facilities will open as normal. Primary schools will open after half term.
Secondary schools will be closed for a week after half term to help control the virus.
Universities will offer a mixture of face-to-face learning and learning via video link. Students must stay at their university accommodation during the lockdown.
Responding to the Welsh Government’s announcement of a Wales-wide lockdown, Paul Davies MS, the Leader of the Opposition in the Welsh Parliament, has called the lockdown “not-proportionate” and is calling on the Welsh Government to be “open and transparent” on the evidence to support a lockdown and if the First Minister is committing Wales to rolling Wales-wide lockdowns every month.
Paul Davies MS said: “Sadly, the First Minster has failed to get public support for this second Wales-wide lockdown, failing to be open and transparent about the evidence to justify this lockdown and what his actions will entail for the future.
“The Welsh Government also has to be honest that this road they are taking us down is committing Wales to rolling Wales-wide lockdowns. This is not a two-week break to solve the pandemic, it is likely that we will see regular lockdowns across the rest of the year. The Welsh Government must be clear what actions they are taking during the lockdown to prevent further Wales-wide lockdowns which will have a significant impact on people’s lives and livelihoods.
“However, the main concern is that this national lockdown is not proportionate. The impact on businesses in areas such as Powys, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion, who have the lowest rate of Covid-19 cases in Wales, will be severe at a time when they are desperately struggling to recover from the pandemic so far this year.
“The First Minister needs to urgently come to the Welsh Parliament and answer these questions, to face effective scrutiny by elected representatives and not run his government by media.”
Preseli Pembrokeshire MP, Stephen Crabb told The Herald: “The evidence to support an all-Wales lockdown is weak and I am sceptical that this so-called ‘fire-break’ will tackle the situation in those parts of Wales where infection rates have been out of control. The key issue for Welsh Government to address is what will be done differently after the firebreak ends in those parts of Wales where infection rates have spiralled out of control. Otherwise the whole of Wales risks being dragged back into a series of rolling lockdowns.
“As we saw earlier in the year, lockdowns come with huge costs in terms of harm to the economy and to people’s emotional and mental wellbeing. With the Welsh Government asking UK Government to fund this lockdown, I hope that as many businesses as possible get support they need quickly. Pembrokeshire’s hospitality businesses will be hit particularly hard by these latest restrictions and I will be fighting hard again to see that they are protected as the lockdown kicks in.”
Concerning rise of Covid-19 cases in Carmarthenshire
THE HEALTH protection zone covering a large part of Llanelli is working well and helping bring down the number of positive Covid-19 cases, however concerns are increasing about the spread of Covid-19 elsewhere in Carmarthenshire.
Residents living in the zone are being thanked for their efforts and asked to keep up the good work for at least another week to help bring numbers down even further.
Carmarthenshire County Council, working with Hywel Dda University Health Board and Welsh Government, is keeping the situation under constant review.
Discussions are also taking place to prepare for a potential ‘circuit breaker’ – a measure being considered by Welsh Government to stop the rapid spread of the virus across Wales.
It would mean a return of stronger national restrictions for two-three weeks.
Welsh Government is due to announce its decision on Monday.
In Carmarthenshire, although cases remain concentrated in Llanelli (currently at 87.4 per 100,000 of the population*), small clusters of the virus are being identified across the county.
The rate of infection for Carmarthenshire, excluding the Llanelli health protection zone, is currently 64.8 per 100,000 of the population.
The rate for the whole county, including the Llanelli health protection zone, currently stands at 71.5 per 100,000 of the population.
All figures quoted are correct as at October 14, 2020 – the most recently available data.
Council Leader, Cllr Emlyn Dole, said: “We are so pleased to see the numbers continue to fall in the Llanelli area – this shows that the extra restrictions put in place are working,” he said.
“We are so very grateful to the people of Llanelli for listening, taking extra care and helping control the spread.
“However there is a note of caution for the rest of the county where we’re seeing figures starting to creep up.
“Largely, these appear to be in small clusters, and not as concentrated as in the Llanelli health protection zone, however it is a cause of concern. It shows that the virus is spreading.
“Contact tracing investigations tell us that many of these cases are linked back to people coming into close contact with eachother whilst socialising in licensed premises or at work, and then sharing the virus with people they live with.
“So we’re asking – please – keep your distance from people you don’t live with, practice good hygiene, wear a face covering, work from home if you can, and self-isolate if you’re asked to or if you have any Covid-19 symptoms.”
Carmarthenshire County Council continues to concentrate resources on supporting licensed premises to provide a safe environment for customers.
Since September 25, when the extra restrictions for Llanelli were announced, over 450 pro-active visits have been made to business premises offering advice and support.
Most are operating well, but there is still a small minority of licensed premises not putting safe systems into place – 12 of those have been served closure notices since September 25, most of them re-opening after making significant improvements.
Director of Public Health for Hywel Dda University Health Board Ros Jervis said: “This is a critical moment for the wider Carmarthenshire population. We can see cases rising and we need everyone to take action. Please do what you can to protect your health and that of your loved ones. Remember – hands, face and space. Wash hands regularly, use a face covering when social distancing isn’t possible and if you live outside of a health protection zone, where extra restrictions apply, then still place keep a two metre distance from people not in your household, whether you are inside or outside. Taking these measures is not only the best way to protect our health, but also the best way to protect the more vulnerable in our local communities.”
Deputy Chief Executive, Medical Director and respiratory consultant for Hywel Dda University Health Board Professor Philip Kloer added: “We are seeing a worrying rise in the number of cases of Covid-19 in Carmarthenshire. We are already providing care for Covid-19 patients in our hospitals and we expect these numbers to increase, right at the time of year when our hospitals are getting ready for the busy winter period. Please, in order to protect yourselves and the ability of the NHS to provide you and your families with the care you need, follow the guidelines. Our staff are working incredibly hard and following stringent infection prevention procedures. Please do not mistake this as a message to stay away from hospital or primary care services if you need them. We are here for you and we have made our hospitals and health care provision as safe as possible for you and our staff, using all the expert evidence about how this disease spreads and the infection prevention measures required.”
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