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Swan killer narrowly avoids jail



Swans: The family in Withybush Woods (pic. The Herald)

A MAN who pleaded not guilty to killing swans in Withybush Woods in Haverfordwest appeared in court today (Apr 19) facing charges of being in possession of an air weapon and intentionally killing a wild bird.

However, Gareth George Mattson, aged 32 of Goshawk Road in Haverfordwest, pleaded guilty before the trial went ahead.

Prosecutor, Megan Gilcrest, told the court that Mattson is jointly charged with co-defendants, one of which is a youth, who all pleaded guilty at first hearing except Mattson, who pleaded not guilty and a trial date was set.

She said: “A member of the public attended at All Pets Vet Care in Milford Haven on October 21, 2016, and brought a swan (cygnet) in to the practice, saying it had been shot. X-rays were taken, and due to the damage to the bird, the decidion was taken to euthanise it.

“Two swans recovered on October 24, and a male swan was brought in, but was deceased. It was brought in by a swan rescuse and its body was x-rayed. Two pellets were found inside the bird: One in its abdomen and one in leg. This would have been primary cause of death.

“A second cygnet brought into practice, but no pellets found within the body of the swan, however it did have an injury to it’s wing, and euthanised some time later.”

She explained that Mattson was arrested on January 14, 2017, and in his interview he stated: “I haven’t shot no bird. I wear glasses and couldn’t see the bird.”

When asked if he could have shot it accidentally, he said: “Probably, I don’t know.”

However, evidence from the youth suggested that he did in fact know that he had shot a swan, and had intended to do so.

Probation officer, Julie Norman, said: “I have a high knowledge of this case, having prepared reports on Lawson and Phillips, and they received suspended sentences.
“He has never been in any trouble before – no cautions or convictions.”
She continued: “He knew Phillips. He was an old neighbour of his, but he didn’t know Lawson. Phillips went to his address with Lawson, and Lawson had purchased an air rifle a few days before. Mattson knew of a farm where they could go shooting, and they went to Withybush Woods carpark, and walked through the woods onto private land where he had permission to go shooting.
“It was about 10pm, so it was dark. There were no rabbits to be shot on the land, so they decided to leave and go back to the car. As they were walking back to the pond, Lawson suggested they shoot at the pond. That’s what he did.
“He said he wasn’t the first, but after the first shot was fired he noticed some swans come out. Mattson shot at them and they all took turns. It was dark and didn’t really know where he was shooting, but it is likely he shot one of the swans.”
Ms Norman said Mattson is deeply remorseful, and it not something he would ever ‘normally’ do.
She said: “He knew as soon as one of the shots were fired that it was wrong and could potentially get in a lot of trouble. He is aware he could go into custody today and he is afraid of that.”
Defence solicitor, Jonathan Webb, said: “This is clearly a very emotive case. I’m sure you [the bench] are very well aware yourselves of the outcry. Many people have voiced their opinions.”
The chair of the bench told Mattson that they had listened ‘very carefully’ to what had been said, and sentenced him for five months in prison.
The reason for such an onerous sentence, was to ‘reflect seriousness of offence’ and the delay of a guilty plea.
However, the chair of the bench said: “We have taken into account your previous clean character and the remorse you have shown here today, and have decided to suspend this for 12 months.”
He must also complete 150 hours of unpaid work, and must pay £115 victim surcharge, £60 compensation toward All Pets Vet Care for the veterinary costs, and £350 prosecution costs.
The chair added: “I haven’t got to say how upset the community is about this offence, because you know very well.”
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Former Haverfordwest keeper investigated after racism claims



FORMER Haverfordwest County goalkeeper Lee Kendall is being investigated by the FA for racist comments he allegedly made towards Eni Aluko.

The current England Women’s Goalkeeping Coach is the latest person to be caught up in the FA’s racism row after former England Coach Mark Samspon was found to have made a racist remark towards her.

Aluko had been giving evidence at a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee hearing, held on Wednesday (Oct 18).

She said that the England women’s goalkeeping coach, Lee Kendall, used to speak to her in a fake Caribbean accent.

Eni Aluko: Claims racist comments were made

Eni Aluko said that Sampson had made a ‘racist joke’ to her about Ebola and her family which was later revealed to be him allegedly telling her to be careful her Nigerian relatives did not bring the virus to Wembley.

The FA has also issued an apology to Aluko for the comments made.

A spokesperson for the FA told the Herald: “The FA can confirm we are investigating England Women goalkeeping coach Lee Kendall following new evidence that came to light on Wednesday alleging unacceptable behaviour towards Eniola Aluko during an England camp.”

Kendall made 136 appearance for Haverfordwest County between 2003-2007.

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Pembroke: Wheelchair-bound man jailed for repeatedly attacking woman



A WHEELCHAIR-BOUND Pembroke Dock man left a woman with scars and injuries after he attacked her on four different occasions.

Lewis Laville, aged 23, threw heavy objects at the woman, twice striking her on her head causing serious bleeding and permanent scars.

On another occasion he caused her such serious leg injuries that she could not get up off the floor. But Laville ignored her pleas for an ambulance and left her on the floor for an hour.

In the final incident, Laville knocked out a front tooth.

Laville, of Powell Close, admitted four offences of assault causing actual bodily harm and was jailed for 18 months.

In one incident, Laville had begun insulting her and, after a row, through a can of hairspray at her. It struck her head, causing two cuts and scars.

Shortly afterwards he threw a glass ashtray at her, again hitting her on the head. Later, he through a heavy metal horseshoe at her, striking her leg, and finally a glass photo frame, which knocked out one tooth and cut another in half.

The victim had to attend a wedding with a missing tooth, the court heard.

In a victim impact statement the woman said she still had nightmares about Laville.

Laville, who wept throughout the hearing, had previous convictions for assaulting a partner.

Jon Tarrant, the barrister representing the victim, said he had had issues with alcohol but had been taking steps to deal with them.

And there had been fears about his mental stability, but he was also receiving treatment for that.

Mr Tarrant said he was now in a relationship and his partner was pregnant.

Judge Geraint Walters said he noted that Laville had not entered a guilty plea until the day of his trial.

He told Laville: “You subjected her to some very real violence and routinely and systematically abused her, causing not insignificant injuries.

“You were quite sadistic towards her.

“It is true you had your own difficulties as a result of an accident that left you confined to a wheelchair.

“The court has shown you considerable leniency in the past and has bent over backwards to see if you could be helped. But you rewarded that leniency by reoffending and breaching orders.”

Judge Walters issued a 10 year restraining order preventing Laville from contacting the woman after his release from prison.

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Storm Brian set to hit Pembrokeshire this weekend



A YELLOW storm warning has been issued for Saturday (Oct 21) as Storm Brian is set to hit the UK.

A warning issued by the Met Office reads: “A spell of strong southwesterly winds is expected.

“Some coastal routes and communities are likely to be affected by large waves, with potential for flooding of properties. Some transport disruption is likely across the warning area, with delays to road, rail, air and ferry transport. Short term loss of power and other services is also possible.”

Winds of up to 50mph are anticipated to hit Pembrokeshire, which is enough to cause damage, however it is significantly less than the gusts experienced during Storm Ophelia on Monday (Oct 16).

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