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‘Unscrupulous monster’ stole Pomeranian

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Stolen: Silky the Pomeranian

A PONTYATES man was found guilty of stealing a pedigree dog following a trial at Llanelli Magistrates’ Court today (Jan 13).

Silas Jamie Lee, of Herberdeg Road, pleaded not guilty to a charge of theft by finding when he appeared in court at the start of December. He maintained that plea at his trial.

Magistrates considered Lee’s claim that he was acting in the interest of the dog’s welfare to be ‘difficult to believe and implausible’.

Prosecuting, Sian Vaughan said that the Crown’s position was that the complainant, Sandra Roberts, had her pet Pomeranian bitch, ‘Silky’ stolen from the grounds of her Llanybri house.

Ms Vaughan told the court that Ms Roberts had been at home on the morning of November 1, having returned from taking Silky to the vet in Swansea.

The dog had been scheduled to have an operation on a long-standing leg problem, but this had been cancelled because she had been unwell and had lost weight.

She had answered the door to Lee, who asked if she had any scrap batteries. Lee then noticed Silky ‘running around making herself known’.

Lee said that she was ‘a lovely dog’ before asking Ms Roberts if she bred them for sale. Ms Roberts said she did, and Lee asked her for a contact number so she could get in touch when any pups were ready for sale.

Ms Roberts went into the house at Lee’s request to get a pen and paper. While she was gone, Lee picked up the dog and handed it to the passenger in his pick-up truck.

Ms Roberts did not initially notice that the dog was missing, but after a short while became alarmed and watched cctv footage which clearly showed the theft.

After the complainant and her family ‘bombarded’ social media, the dog was returned at around 8.30pm.

In a police interview, Lee said he was concerned about the dog’s condition and had taken it to a vet in Carmarthen, only to find the practice had closed down. He then worried that if he took it to another vet they might think it was stolen, so returned Silky by dropping her outside her house.

In her statement, Ms Roberts, a registered breeder said that she had become concerned quickly because ‘Silky never leaves my side’.

After viewing the CCTV, Ms Roberts phoned her son, who posted an image of Lee taking the dog on social media.

PC Brown, who arrested Lee, said that when they arrived at his house he said ‘I’ve been waiting for you guys to turn up – I know what this is about’.

Under cross-examination in court, Lee said that he had visited a friend to try and get a waste car battery for an electric fence to protect his chickens. The friend had been out, and on the drive back he had stopped to ask Ms Roberts if she had any scrap batteries. When asked why he didn’t buy a new battery, he said “I’m not paying £80 for a battery for an electric fence”.

Ms Vaughan asked why, if Lee had concerns for the dog’s welfare, he had said nothing to Ms Roberts, he answered that he ‘wasn’t thinking straight.’

When Ms Vaughan asked why Lee was unwilling to pay £80 for a battery but took a dog for treatment which would have cost far more, he admitted that he was going to leave the dog at the vet.

“You were just going to give the dog to a stranger?” Ms Vaughan asked.

“No, I was going to give it to a vet,” he replied.

Ms Vaughan also pointed out that Silky could be seen on the CCTV footage ‘jumping around and wagging her tail’, which contradicted his claim that she was badly injured.

Lee disagreed. His claim that he was aware there was a cctv camera recording his actions was not accepted by the prosecution.

Lee accused Ms Vaughan of not believing what he was saying.

“I don’t believe it because it is a ridiculous story,” she replied.

However, Lee said that on this occasion he had taken the dog with good intentions. “When I have done wrong in the past I have always put my hand up,” he said.

Representing Lee, Richard Morgan said it was ‘important to consider what was going through Lee’s mind when he took the dog’.

He pointed out that Lee’s claim that the animal appeared injured was borne out by Ms Roberts, given that she was due to have had an operation that morning, and asked why Lee would have left his telephone number if he had been committing an offence of dishonesty.

Ms Vaughan pointed out that the mobile number Lee had left did not work.

Magistrates took an hour to find Lee guilty of dishonestly taking Silky. “The CCTV footage was compelling, and we do not accept you were aware of the CCTV,” they added.

“Your account is difficult to believe and implausible”.

A victim impact statement from Ms Roberts was read out, in which she said that ‘I believe that without the social media posts I believe this unscrupulous monster of a man would not have brought my dog back.

Ms Roberts added that she feared Lee or his associates would return and take her dog again.

After hearing a report from the probation service, Lee was given a 12 month community order, with a 15 day rehabilitation activity requirement, fined £120, ordered to pay Ms Roberts £100 compensation for distress caused, along with prosecution costs of £620.

 

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Community

Nearly £50,000 of National Lottery funding for community groups in Carmarthenshire

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FIVE local community organisations across Carmarthenshire are celebrating after being awarded a share of £49,575 of funding from The National Lottery Community Fund over the past month.

One successful project was MolTân Makers who will use their £9,820 grant to provide metal working workshops for people wishing to improve their mental health and well-being. The group will reach out to mental health groups and the wider community and also allow people to reconnect with the community following the pandemic.

One participant with MolTân Makers explained, “ The course was professionally run by four hard-working people who helped us with one to one tuition when needed. They were so welcoming and adaptable to individual needs and allowed me to attend the course at different hours due to health reasons.

“They were great company and created an interesting and positive atmosphere to help people with mental and physical health problems feel included and understood and we all took home what we made in the course.”

The Hangout received £10,000 and will help young people improve their mental health and wellbeing through structured outdoor activity programmes. The project will build on a previous pilot project that led to more young people becoming re-engaged in school following the pandemic and continuing to volunteer with the group after the initial sessions finished.

The Alternative Learning Company in Llanelli were awarded £9,955 and will recycle plastic bottles to build full size greenhouses. They will propagate plants for growing schemes in local schools and communities. The project will reduce the levels of plastic sent to landfill or polluting open spaces, and give young people an understanding of the impact of climate change.

Newcastle Emlyn Town Council will build an outdoor structure in collaboration with the community, to mark Her Majesty the Queen’s Jubilee. This £10,000 grant will fund building and design materials, and a water harvesting kit.

Messy Projects will use their £9,800 grant to run the activities and events they missed due to the pandemic. Activities will include celebrating the Queens platinum jubilee, a BBQ, and a Bonfire party.

John Rose, Wales Director at The National Lottery Community Fund, said “These groups play a vital role in supporting their communities and these grants will allow them to continue being there for people in future. 

 ”National Lottery players raise more than £30 million each week for good causes across the UK and the projects funded over the past month show the crucial difference players make through their tickets. I look forward to following all of their progress.”  

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Family of power station worker calls on former colleagues to help with asbestos claim

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THE WIFE of a Carmarthenshire man, who was just 66 when he died of an asbestos-related cancer, is calling on colleagues who worked with him in the 1970s to help understand where and how he contracted the disease.

Peter Colton, from Llanelli, died in July 2021 after being diagnosed with the asbestos-related disease, mesothelioma.

He worked as a conveyor and weighbridge operator for the CEGB at Carmarthen Bay Power Station. During his time at the power station, his duties included offloading coal wagons and conveying coal to the boilers.

It is possible that Mr Colton was exposed to asbestos during those years and now his family has sought the help of local asbestos specialists J.M Parsons, to investigate a claim for compensation.

Ann Colton, Mr Colton’s wife, wants answers. She said: “Peter was diagnosed with mesothelioma and died just six weeks later. He had been suffering from shortness of breath and just had no quality of life.

“It was devastating to see someone who had been so healthy and active slowly get worse and worse. We just want to know where and how he was exposed to asbestos and hope someone out there can help us.”

According to data from the Health and Safety Executive, annual mesothelioma deaths in Britain increased steeply over the last 50 years, a consequence of mainly occupational asbestos exposures that occurred because of the widespread industrial use of asbestos during 1950-1980.

Amanda Jones is one of the specialists at J.M Parsons, which is owned by Thompsons Solicitors. Thompsons has paved the way for asbestos litigation in the UK ever since it brought about the first successful asbestos disease claim to the House of Lords in 1972, 50 years ago.

She said: “We would be grateful to hear from anyone who remembers working with Peter Colton in Carmarthen Bay Power Station in the 1970s or anyone who worked in the same field as Peter beyond the 1970s.

“Such individuals will be invaluable to Mr Colton’s family as they may be able to add important information that will assist us in building a civil claim. We hope that we will then be able to answer questions about the conditions that Mr Colton worked in during his working life.”

Anyone with information should contact Amanda Jones on 01554 779940, or via email at amanda@jmplaw.co.uk.

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Business

Carmarthenshire cheese maker secures Co-op listing

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Caws Cenarth award

A CHEESEMAKER from Carmarthenshire has secured its first listing with the Co-op as part of the retailer’s continued focus on local and community sourcing.

Family-owned Caws Cenarth, which has cheese making in the family dating back to 1903, will now see two of its cheeses listed in more than 20 Co-op stores across the region.

Made on farm in Glyneithinog, Caws Cenarth will supply Co-op with its Organic Caerffili – which has a light and lemony taste with hints of sea salt – and, one of its best known cheeses the Organic Perl Las Mini – which is described as a blue cheese, golden in colour, with a creamy, gently salty taste that grows stronger with maturity.

Carwyn Adams, whose parents rekindled the family tradition for cheese making in 1987 with the creation of Caws Cenarth, said: “We are absolutely thrilled. I shop in our local Co-op and regularly thought how nice it would be to see our cheese on the shelf and, now that is to become a reality. Working with Co-op will support our business development, and raise awareness of our cheeses, not only across the region, but also further afield as visitors to the area often look for local produce to take back home with them as gifts or to remind them of their stay in the area.”

Jo Wadsworth, Co-op’s Community Buying Manager, said: “We are delighted to welcome Caws Cenarth onto our shelves. We know that our Members and customers value the quality and provenance of locally produced food and drink and, here at the Co-op we are focussed on supporting local suppliers as part of our commitment to creating value and making a difference in our local communities.”

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