The tangled web


This a complicated story, so I advise you to pay attention. I’ve written about Dawnus and Hydro Industries a few times in recent years, but now I want to go back, ten years and more, to the start of this story. I shall use information from a number of sources, primarily Rebecca Television, the greatly missed Cneifiwr blog, and another well-informed source.


We’ll begin in March 2006 when it became clear that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) was winding down its Llangennech site in Llanelli and the prospect was causing some consternation in the locality.

The local Labour MP was Nia Griffith, and of course there was a Labour government in Westminster at the time. Griffith asked a question about Llangennech in the House of Commons. For the government, Don Touhig, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Veterans) Ministry of Defence, confirmed that the Llangennech site would close by mid-2008.

Soon after the closure, early in 2009, the ‘Independent’-Labour-run Carmarthenshire County Council purchased the site and immediately sold it on to a commercial entity. Which raised a number of questions, aired in this report from May of that year.

First, why couldn’t this commercial entity, R & A Properties, have bought the site from the MoD? Second, why wasn’t R & A Properties registered with Companies House? Third, who was behind R & A Properties?

The answer to the first question will be given later.

Question 3 was answered very quickly when we were told that one of those behind the scheme was David Francis Pickering, former captain of the national rugby team and then chairman of the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU). Working with his “lifelong friend” Robert Nigel Lovering.

Not only that, but Pickering is a big supporter of the Labour Party. He got into some trouble in 2010 for using his position at the WRU “to organise a £1,000-a-plate pre-election fundraising event for Welsh Labour.”

So we have The Labour Party in control in Westminster, Cardiff Bay, the Shire Hall (coalition), and a staunch Labour supporter gets handed the deal of his life with the old MoD site in Llangennech. Such serendipity!

But back to the questions.

The second question was answered by David Pickering when he said, “I know some people will find it strange that R & A is not a limited company but we’ve been advised to do it this way by our professional advisers.” So they paid someone to ‘advise’ them to enter into a multi-million pound deal using a non-existent company! Advice like that might explain Pickering’s business record, which we’ll look at in a minute.

Though in fairness, there does seem to have been a company, or rather, a Limited Liability Partnership, called R&A Properties, for it’s mentioned in the accounts of Hydro Industries Ltd for y/e 31/03/2016. (More on Hydro Industries anon.)

I’m at a loss to explain the reference to DFP Properties Ltd, a company whose records show it has never done any business whatsoever. Click to enlarge

There was even a rather forlorn and untended website.

The problem here is that R&A Properties LLP does not exist, or it has certainly never been registered with Companies House. So from what parallel dimension did this creature slip through the Llangennech portal to help Hydro Industries?

A company called R & A Properties Cardiff Limited was eventually Incorporated 5 March 2019, with Pickering, Lovering, and Wayne Preece (of Hydro Industries) as directors. Why it took so long to legitimise R & A is a mystery that might be answered later in this posting. Though why ‘Cardiff’ should be in the name, seeing as the correspondence address given for the company is the Stradey Business Park in Llangennech, remains a mystery.

The deal in 2009 was justified because Pickering and his mates had a ‘blue chip’ company lined up to provide dozens or hundreds of top-notch jobs. The number given seemed to depend on who you spoke to and which way the wind was blowing.

Later in 2009 we learnt that Thales UK, part of the French defence giant, would be adapting the Bronco All Terrain Tracked Carrier built by a Singapore company and re-branding them ‘Warthogs’ for deployment with the British Army in Afghanistan.

Which made sense, for in December 2008, the UK government had agreed to buy over 100 Broncos from Singapore Technologies Kinetics.

The Bronco. Click to enlarge

As you’ve read, the 37-acre site was bought from the MoD by Carmarthenshire County Council and soon sold to the mysterious R & A Properties LLP.

The Land Registry turns up nothing for Stradey Business Park or Stradey Park Business Centre. You have to use the LR map, which produces two separate titles. The first, CYM462190, for ‘Land on the north side of Mwrwg Road, Llangennech’. The second, CYM458189, ‘Land on the south side of Mwrwg Road, Llangennech’.

There is a third title, mentioned on both of these documents, it’s CYM444641, but it seems to be unavailable at the Land Registry website.

Consulting Google Maps tells us that Heol Mwrwg bisects the site. Or check it out on the image below.

Click to enlarge

What we learn from these documents is that Robert Nigel Lovering owns both titles . . . or rather, they were bought with loans from Lloyds Bank Plc and The Secretary of State for Defence, with Carmarthenshire County Council chipping in later.

Moving on . . . early in 2009 the MoD sold the Llangennech site to Mark James, aka Carmarthenshire County Council, and he quickly sold it on to his mates, Dai Pickering and Robert Lovering.

And that answers the first question we left hanging earlier – why couldn’t R & A Properties have bought the site directly from the MoD? Answer: R & A couldn’t buy directly from the MoD because Lovering was getting a loan from the MoD to make the purchase. So it had to go through Carmarthenshire County Council.

For a very similar reason, the loan from the council in December 2012, was made not for the purchase of the site but to improve it.

You’ll have noticed that only Lovering’s name appears on the title documents. So why is that?

One answer might be Pickering’s financial status. For according to Paddy French at Rebecca Television Pickering had outstanding debts, both against companies he was involved with and also against him personally.

We read of one such debt: “In July 2009 Lloyds TSB obtained judgment against him for an unpaid bill of £10,232. The bank has taken him to court – and secured the debt against his Cardiff home.” 

Rebecca Television estimates HMRC lost around £4 million in unpaid National Insurance, VAT and other taxes from the collapse of assorted Pickering companies.

Cneifiwr used the Rebecca Television article in an interesting update, Warthogs and a man with a van, in April 2014. It’s worth a read.

If we look at the companies David Pickering has been involved with, most are dissolved. The only ones still standing fall into three categories: 1/ Companies he left, 2/ Companies associated with the WRU, 3/ Companies Pickering has joined or formed in recent years. We’ll look at this final category in a minute.

It’s difficult to escape the conclusion that Pickering is a failed businessman whose public profile and many contacts can still get his size 12s under boardroom tables.


One hypothesis to explain this remarkable deal in Llangennech must be . . .

The MoD had agreed the Warthog deal with Thales in 2008, but was reluctant to invite Thales to do the work at Llangennech themselves because politicians and media might view that as too close a relationship between the British Ministry of Defence and what was after all a French company.

With the added advantage of Llangennech being well off the beaten track for the London redtops.

So I make no apologies for again using this scene from the Godfather, in which Willie Cicci gives evidence to a Congressional hearing. For just like the Corleone family the MoD needed ‘buffers’ between them and Thales.

It’s difficult to explain the convoluted sale in any other way.

Let’s focus now on Wayne Preece, who doesn’t seem to have been a director of any company before 2011 (unless it was R&A Properties LLP), when he joined an obscure Swansea outfit called Brightley Ltd. Where he was in partnership with Mark Batty, another with a glittering business career.

One of the companies with which Batty was involved – one of the few still afloat – is the Langland Bay Golf Club Ltd. One of Swansea’s better golf clubs in an up-market suburb. In fact, this part of the city figures more than once in this narrative.

For not only does Lovering live in Langland Bay, but Preece is also a resident. And among the previous directors of the Langland Bay Golf Club I see Huw Wyn Price. Price and his wife were the founding directors of Lancehawk Ltd in 1986. Lovering joined on 1 July 1999 and seems to have taken over, to the extent that he is now the only director.

I assume the company is doing well because I see 12 satisfied charges over the years, some with lenders I’ve never heard of. The accounts, unaudited and abridged, show Total Net Assets of £872,709.

‘Lancehawk’ has a certain martial ring to it. And so I wouldn’t be surprised if it has done work for the Ministry of Defence. The address given for Lancehawk used to be Lovering’s Langland Bay home, but now it’s relocated to – where else? – the Stradey Business Park.

Maybe someone else thought Lancehawk sounded a bit too ‘Up yours!’ which might explain the company trading as the rather blander European Telecom Solutions (ETS).

Though the ETS website doesn’t seem to be maintained very well. For example, the latest ‘News’ is for September 2018. Has nothing happened in the last year and a half? Why is there no mention of Covid-19 such as I find on every other website I visit these days? Don’t tell me ETS is another ‘buffer’!

Another Lovering company to add to the line-up is R & A Secure Services Ltd, formed 6 September 2012. That ‘R & A’ again. But it can’t be the ethereal company we seek because Lovering is the sole director. Its correspondence address was in central Swansea, but last September it moved. You have one guess!

Click to enlarge

Preece, as I’ve said, seems to have been involved in no company before 2011, with the exception of the rather odd Brightley, but then in 2012 and 2013 Preece joined a number of companies under the ‘Hydro’ banner, all based on the Stradey Business Park. In chronological order they were:

  • Hydro Industries Marine Ltd Formed 29 November 2012 with Preece, Lovering and Philip Graeme Morgan as directors. The company seemed to do nothing and was dissolved via compulsory strike-off 14 July 2014.
  • Hydro Industries Ltd Formed 2 September 2010 by Janine Morgan, who I assume is the wife of Philip Morgan, who joined her 1 April 2011. Next came Christopher Lewis 27 June 2011, and then Pickering, Preece and Lovering 2 January 2013. More recently we have seen a number of luminaries climb aboard. One of those new arrivals is Robert Brooks, who I’m told lives or lived just around the headland from Langland Bay in Caswell Bay. The Morgans left 6 August 2014.
  • Hydro Strata Ltd (formerly Hydro Mining Ltd). Formed 11 March 2013 with Preece and Morgan as directors. Never more than a dormant company and it was dissolved via voluntary strike-off 25 April 2017.
  • Hydro Utilities Ltd Formed 4 April 2013 with Morgan and Preece as directors. Morgan left 5 August 2014 and the company drifted towards voluntary strike-off 25 April 2017.
  • Hydro Environmental Systems Ltd Wayne Preece was in on the ground floor with Morgan 3 May 2013. Morgan left 5 August 2014 and Pickering joined 19 June 2019. Accounts and confirmation statement are overdue.
  • Hydro Marine & Salvage Ltd Preece and Morgan were there at the kick-off 7 October 2013 but Morgan left 5 August 2014. Dissolved by voluntary strike-off 25 April 2017.
  • Hydro Oil & Gas Ltd Preece and Morgan from the start 7 October 2013, Morgan left 5 August 2014 and Preece called it a day with voluntary strike-off 25 April 2017.

What I find strange here is that the late Philip Morgan (he died suddenly in the early part of 2018) was an expert in his field, academically recognised. Morgan’s departure from the Hydro companies in August 2014 can be explained by him setting up KP2M Ltd in April 2014, which trades as Power & Water from its Llansamlet base.

Yet what knowledge of water did Preece bring to the party, with his background in Sony televisions and Thales?

And yet despite Preece’s apparent lack of knowledge of H2O Hydro Industries thrives. For as we read recently, the company has been awarded two lucrative contracts in the Middle East. One is in Saudi Arabia, and then there’s a £150m gig in Egypt.

Things are certainly looking up at Hydro Industries. Just compare the balance sheets below, covering a 4-year period. What you see represents quite a turnaround in just a few years. Did they find a Fairy Godmother?

Click to enlarge

For remember, this impressive improvement preceded the Middle East contracts!

Here, in pdf format is the latest distribution of shares, dated 2 September 2019. Note that although Robert Lovering ceased to be a director 1 July 2019 he retains his share holding.

Let’s now go back to the time before Preece joined Morgan at the Hydro companies.


After losing his managerial job with Sony in Bridgend – the plant finally closed in early March 2006 – Preece found himself doing fixed-term contracts for Thales UK. This gave him a foot in the door.

And tells me that by late 2008 Preece knew about the deal Thales had struck with the MoD to convert the 100+ Singapore-built Broncos into Warthogs. He now used whatever influence he had to get Thales to bring the work to Wales.

But he needed help.

If they didn’t already know each other then this is when the troika formed. Preece had the contacts with Thales (possibly also the MoD); I believe Lovering certainly had the MoD contacts (which is why the site was ‘sold’ to him); and then there was Dai Pickering, with his Labour Party contacts, and his rugby anecdotes guaranteeing him the best biscuits in Mark James’ private suite.

This explains why, in defence of the deal, the council said the sale had been agreed with persons “known to some officers”. For Mark James, then the county CEO, is a big rugby fan, and has used council money and sweetheart deals to benefit the local Scarlets.

And the generosity was reciprocated. For as Cneifiwr reports: “Shortly after the council approved the purchase and simultaneous resale of the site in February 2009, the chief executive of Carmarthenshire County Council accepted an invitation from David Pickering to a rugby international.” 

The Ministry of Defence was quite happy to sell the Llangennech site to the county council on the understanding that the council immediately sold it on to Preece, Lovering and Pickering. This may be the reason that the partnership back in 2009 had to be kept under wraps.

Despite all the hype, the brass bands and the kids waving flags to welcome Thales, the French outfit didn’t stay very long. So, why did Thales pull out? Well, here’s what I’ve been told . . .

Thales signed the lease agreement with Lovering, or Lovering and Pickering, or all three, before the site had actually been bought. Which of course made the agreement invalid. Possibly illegal.

This cock-up was perhaps attributable to the fact that the agreement had not been concluded by Thales’ Properties Department, as would have been normal, but by another arm under some Urgent Operational Requirement (UOR) measure.

Image from Google Maps taken in August 2011, with time running out. Click to enlarge

In an attempt to cover up le désastre I’m told that the final page of the lease agreement, with signatures and dates, ‘went missing’. When it ‘reappeared’ the time lords had worked their magic – for now it showed that the site had been purchased before the lease agreement was concluded between the mysterious R & A Properties and Thales.


But this was only a short-term measure. Once Thales held one of its regular checks on lease agreements, which would examine all documentation, the feline would be free of the encumbering sack.

And so Thales pulled out and took the work elsewhere. Search for ‘Llangennech’ or ‘Llanelli’ on the Thales website and nothing comes up. It’s as if this chapter never happened.

Which was a great pity. For while it lasted Thales provided good jobs and the workforce repaid the company by making big profits on each vehicle. A million pounds per vehicle has been quoted to me.

But Thales upped sticks and took the work away to less favourable locations, with inferior facilities, and more expensive premises. A ‘lean-to’ in Glasgow that could barely accommodate the vehicles was mentioned, as was a much more expensive venue in Sussex that lacked a decent crane.

So everyone lost out  . . . except perhaps those who had screwed up.


The incentive for the three amigos to legitimise themselves with R & A Properties Cardiff Ltd in March last year may have come from the publicity being generated by the collapse of Dawnus.

Because I am convinced that the British government stepped in when it became obvious that Dawnus was on the ropes and going down for the count.

I say that because a) Dawnus was operating in Sierra Leone and other ‘sensitive’ areas of West Africa where China is extending its influence; b) because expensive plant and machinery was shipped out to West Africa – out of reach of liquidators and creditors – before the collapse; c) because administrators reports have been delayed for another year; and d) because the two phoenix that rose from the Dawnus flames, DIG International Group Ltd and DIG Civil Engineering Ltd, moved in March from the old Dawnus depot in Clydach to . . . go on, have a guess!

In addition to the main depot and yard at the old Players Tinplate works site in Clydach, Dawnus also had a presence in the Ashmount Business Park in Llansamlet. Very close to where Hydro Industries began life in 2010 as Watertec Solutions Ltd. And where today we find Power & Water.

Are these coincidences?

Click to enlarge

I’m not a conspiracy theorist, I just know enough about how the world works to know that the UK government, or the MoD, or certain other agencies, don’t open offices abroad and put up a brass plate reading ‘Spies ‘R’ Us’. It’s done subtly, often using phoney companies as fronts.

Or recruiting genuine companies already operating in an area of interest. There might be an approach along the lines of, ‘As you’re out there, old boy, we were wondering . . . ‘. Nothing 007 about it, just keep your eyes and ears open and we’ll have the occasional chat.

Or it might just be supporting British companies in Africa and elsewhere in order to counter the influence of rivals. Today, in Africa, that means China.

This table was produced by McKinsey & Company for a June 2017 report. Chinese investment, and influence, has increased since then, both in sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East. Click to enlarge

Those who’ve seen the wonderful film, Our Man in Havana, will recall that Alec Guinness’s character, James Wormold, is a vacuum cleaner retailer recruited by MI6. It may have been a piss-take by writer Graham Greene, but he knew what he was writing about, he’d been recruited by MI6 himself. And posted to – of all places! – Sierra Leone.

The different trajectories of the Dawnus group and Hydro Industries, and the Thales debacle, all link through a number of factors.

First, we have various arms of the UK government treating Wales as a colony, and interfering in our political and economic life. Then there’s the lack of openness and accountability at local government level. The ‘pliability’ of those elected to Corruption Bay. The cupidity of certain BritNat businessmen. And finally, good old-fashioned Labour Party cronyism.

And I haven’t even mentioned the drones, but that can wait.

Do you still want to know what’s wrong with Wales?

♦ end ♦

P.S. The British military has always directed operations at Llangennech and that is still the case. Which is why I should have mentioned Rick Libbey, a 30-year-service man who is Chief Operating Officer for Hydro Industries.

It’s pretty clear who really calls the shots at Hydro.

35 thoughts on “The tangled web

  1. Neil Singleton

    Nice to reminisce over the Thales story. I was a Welsh Assembly employee at the time and accompanied Rhodri Morgan on an official visit to the Thales facility at Llangennech. We were only allowed to approach to within 15 feet of the rear of the vehicles and have a peek at all the flashing lights and computers within. Top secret see! There was also a bit and fuss and bother with the locals at the time, because these huge, noisy troop carriers were being road tested on the estate roads around the buildings, also chewing up the tarmac with their tracks. Even inside the Assembly at the time, there was puzzlement as to why a “back to back” purchase was undertaken, but no one could get a squeak out of Mark James. Top secret see!

    1. As I explain, the ‘back to back’ purchase was done to clear the way for the MoD to lend Lovering and his gang the money to buy the site. They could not have done this if Lovering had been buying directly from the MoD. So Mark James helped out. Though I’m surprised no one pressed him to explain it, because he would have had difficulty doing so.

    2. Brychan

      Was there any Klingons or Ferengi around these vehicles, Neil, or was it Rob Howleys day off?

      At the time there was a rush to get the MoD to generate cash by liquidating of land value from its estate. It was Labour in power in the Westminster House and the cost of foreign wars was creating unease in their ranks. Keep the taxpayer budget down by selling off land as quickly as possible. When Mark James got the circular from London, he must have dusted off his dinner jacket and dug out the WRU tie. I seem to remember councils in provincial England getting into fights over sites that became earmarked for social housing development being gazumped by London boroughs. Lots of strange dealings lubricated by spooks in blazers.

      1. Brychan

        I suspect planet Borehamwood. It may indicate that the Swansea property has been disposed of, or a deal fell through, in the Llamau acquisition process with this outfit..

        They have lots of spare cash. Or it just could be a mischievous agent provocateur given their operational niche.

  2. Concerned!

    This awful incident is extremely upsetting for all concerned, injured parties, family, friends, ‘the so called perpetrator’s friends and families and professional bodies concerned, police, relevant health bodies and previous school bullies. I, myself have been heavily involved for many years with mental health services in Wales and know, partly due to the dreadful underfunding, mental health services across Wales fall woefully short of what is needed. Here in Cardiff and Vale, being quite involved as a service user rep., I am aware that new services are being put in place such as a Primary Care Liaison services and a Recovery College but, then came the ‘unprecedented ‘Coronavirus! I, unfortunately, am not surprised at what happened in the Rhondda valley, neither that there could very well be more very sad, such incidents. Yes, mental health services have had to regroup, due to the pandemic but, at the same time, in some circumstances, it has left extremely vulnerable people without the vital support they need. Some community mental health teams, CMHTs, have operated a traffic light system, but whatever the mental health diagnoses, we are all individual, and and obviously people are going to fall through the net! In some cases, community psychiatric nurses,CPN’s, were pulled from the CMHT’s, to be redeployed to the psychiatric hospital wards and the rest of the CPNs redirected to work out of one or two CMHTs. In other words an extremely vulnerable service user in crisis would find themselves talking to a mental health professional who, to them, was a complete stranger, when previously a rapport of trust and respect, going both ways, would have gradually been built up, in some cases, taking a good number of years. I hope, when we reflect on this terrible time for all of us, that we can see the positives and negatives and hopefully learn from the mistakes and that this will help inform on ‘best practice’ in the future, though I know that will be of no solace to the victims of this incident and those let down by the system!

  3. Dafis

    Way off topic but picking up on your tweet about redundant or damaged turbine blades – It is Interesting that the Daily Mail has finally found an article about the massive and growing problem of disposing of redundant and clapped out turbine blades because of the nature of their fabric. I vaguely recall mailing you a copy of a Bloomberg article homing in on the same issue way back earlier this year. Unfortunately the link to that article appears to be lapsed, but Bloomberg is cited in this DM piece.

    No doubt green apostles will cling to the ray of hope in Veolia’s attempts to reuse dead blades into the secondary products mentioned but I suspect that granulating those turbine blades is quite expensive in terms of hardware.

    1. Brychan

      There’s a letter that has emerged from Lesley Griffiths MS, Minister for Environment to Rebecca Evans MS, Finance Minister, about recycling wind turbine blades. It’s bullshit. Wind turbine blades are made of composite glass fibre infused with epoxy resin (building up layers like making a canoe) or glass fibre infused with polyester (baked in a huge oven).

      It is possible to burn off the plastic content to leave the glass fibre, but the suggestion that this glass fibre can be used in concrete is fraught with problems as concrete is alkaline and it reacts with glass to make any tensile strands it too brittle for any practical use. To stop this it is possible to ‘metalise’ the glass by introducing zirconium oxides (expensive) and even this is only used to enhance the optical properties of non-load bearing cladding as it makes concrete temporarily look whiter.

      Pollution. Obviously, the other component, polyester a type of nylon, degrades into micro-plastic particles that pollute the oceans. It’s toxic to the eco-system. It is best disposed of in landfill or burnt, giving off poisonous vapours, unless full oxidation is done in a pressurised oven, at temperatures where you lose the glass fibre.

      There is a very expensive alternative to the glass fibre in the composite, to use carbon fibre. This is much stronger and lighter, but this is not currently used in making wind turbine blades due to cost. It’s mainly used in fuselage for high specification aeroplanes or formula one racing cars. It cannot be recycled, only burnt.

      Of course, there are opportunities for ‘downcycling’. This is where wind turbine blades are shipped to the coast of India along with scrapped ships. This is where they are chopped up and put through a grinder (liberating deadly particles into the air like asbestos) and the resulting fibrous mass is compressed into insulation blocks. These substandard insulation blocks still have the remaining polyester content it is flammable, even when encased in aluminium panels as used at Greenwell Tower in London.

      There is a current ‘waiting list’ for new turbine blades. This is because China has cornered the manufacture and has recently been subject to trade tariffs. If this is a concern for the Lesley, perhaps she would ask Rebecca to make available for loan guarantees to make some in Wales, but her idea of dumping second hand ones in ‘Eastern Europe’ is pure racism.

        1. Dafis

          Makes me want to laugh. This letter is so fuckin’ corny, like one idiot writing to another. Or at least the prick working in Lesley’s office who drafted that letter thinks Rebecca is an idiot. Lesley lets letters like that out because she hasn’t a clue what is being done on her watch and the shifty bastards behind it all have a sense that they can do whatever they wish and get away with it. Accountability ? Just a concept, not really relevant in the parallel universe that governs us.

          1. Letter says ‘Welsh Government’ to end landfill by 2025. So an alternative plan for waste disposal is in place, is it? Or course it is – we’re gonna dump it all in Eastern Europe.

            1. Dafis

              “..growing market for second hand turbines…. ” sounds like a quote from a broker looking for new, or nearly new, products to peddle. There again who on earth is going to remove turbine blades while the entire assembly is up and running ? So they only become available to a market when the entire turbine & tower assembly reaches “end of life” i.e knackered !

              Shame there isn’t a market for failed colonial government ministers…… silly me, most likely there are spaces for them in the ever growing Third Sector !

  4. Dafis

    Welsh4Israel complains that Plaid use a solicitor based in London. Has it occurred to him that maybe, just maybe, there are no solicitors left in Wales who find the prospect of dealing with Plaid at all appealing, more like appalling ! I appreciate that it’s a bit of a long shot but they do have their professional reputations to guard.

    1. I wondered about that. My next post will be on this very issue, so I should be able to name the solicitor and give some information.

  5. Brychan

    Off topic – Not on the BBC.

    Zara Radcliffe is the daughter of Wayne and Elaine Radcliffe of Cymmer, Rhondda. In 2004, Zara being a pupil of Porth County Comprehensive School complained of bullying at the school, and by fellow pupils who had formed a ‘gang culture’ in Porth. At the time, Zara was ‘unusual’ in that she was a ‘born again’ Christian. It is likely that this was early indications of mental health problems and she was bullied because she was ‘different’.

    Zara, by now the single mother of a young son, had spent over five months in a mental health unit at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital but was discharged at the start of the Coronavirus lockdown, despite “hearing voices” in her head. It rapidly became known to her friends and associates that her mental condition was deteriorating. She had made a ‘complaint’ to South Wales Police relating to their handling of a previous alleged assault upon her, and had spoken to police earlier in the day.

    People who were in touch with Zara in the day prior to her attack say she was ‘verbally incoherent’ and ‘hearing voices’. She then went into the Co-op in Penygraig, armed with a knife and having spotted a person known to her, John Rees from Trealaw, a warden of All Saints Church, and stabbed him in the neck. He succumbed to his wound. Zara then continued her escapade to those who rushed to assist Mr Rees, and she subsequently also stabbed an elderly female known to Mr Rees, a nurse, and another bystander who came to his aid.

    Obviously, the courts system will deliberate on the murder charge and South Wales Police has referred itself to their professional standards body. However, questions that are not being asked is..

    (a) Under what medical conditions did Cwm Taf Health Board discharge a patient with evident mental health issues? Was it just bed clearing for Coronavirus?

    (b) What motive did Zara have to attack a person of the Christian faith previously known to her?

    (c) How many other people with mental health issues have been ‘dropped’ by NHS Wales due to Coronavirus, and how many of these are considered a danger to themselves, or others, and what monitoring and support is being provided to them?

    Note to editor – All of the above detail is already in the public domain.

    Valid questions.

    1. The report I read said that John Rees had been killed trying to intervene, suggesting the initial attack was on someone else.

    2. Dafis

      Sad episode all round especially as it now becomes known that this young lady had been discharged from the system at a time when “The Crisis” seems to prohibit attending to other illnesses and conditions especially in those early weeks.

      The NHS gets a lot of praise, mostly deserved, but it makes a lot of mistakes too and there are always pleas in mitigation, platitudes mouthed like the “lessons learned” mantra, and sweet F.A done by way of lasting corrective actions. Even the Tories, bless them, now find it convenient to elevate the service and its employees onto some level of sainthood. Indiscriminate praise is just as poisonous as intemperate criticism. Maybe a more grown up, less emotive approach is needed but there again that calls for decision makers with those characteristics. So nothing much will change.

      1. Dafis

        Guardian says : Leanne Wood, Plaid Cymru member of the Senedd for Rhondda, has written to the Cwm Taf Morgannwg University health board asking that specialist support services are made available for those who witnessed the incident.

        Guardian does not report Leanne asking CTMU why their MH unit saw fit to discharge this young lady while she was still displaying symptoms of an extreme nature. There again, perhaps she didn’t ask.

        1. Brychan

          There’s too much emphasis these days on ‘medicalising’ trivial differences and peoples diversity. It results in those who do need help and critical mental health intervention are ignored. I wonder where she was in the ‘stabbing down the shop spectrum’? Good on South Wales Police to start the talking therapy session with the well-used phrase “now drop the knife”.

          Cure for Bethan Sayed AMs eating disorders legislation.

          The reality is that ‘care in the community’ in Wales is provided by a hopelessly incompetent and bloated third sector with little clinical expertise. This, while the Wales NHS mental health provision, even outside of the current pandemic, is severely lacking. Of course, this incident hits the headlines because it’s good video. Most just kill themselves.

          1. Dafis

            M&S food ads are a form of food-porn. M&S food is a soft kind of chemical warfare on unsuspecting punters with too much money.

            Back to that young lady Zara. No matter how well she was deemed to be on the day of her discharge someone took their eyes off the ball. Too keen to tick a box and move her on. Maybe she need more attention in the form of low key interaction and less of the formal stuff with medicinal additives. Don’t know but this is evidence of the worst kind that she was left to face whatever troubled her with little or no relevant support. The “experts” are in so many ways little better than us, maybe just a bit better at explaining it all after the event.

              1. Brychan

                Good question Jac.

                There are no NHS secure residential facilities for women in Wales especially for those that are sectioned. Some, with children, are shipped out to Brighton or Stoke. Maybe the penultimate contact with SWP resulted in no assistance provided because of coronavirus lockdown. She may have been resident or ‘assisted’ by monitoring by non-secure third sector facility after discharge from hospital. In the last few days prior to the Penygraig stabbings she’d been sofa surfing.


                Anyone remember the Cannibal murderer, Matthew Williams, at the Sirhowy Arms Hotel (used as a homeless hostel, some ex-offenders) near Blackwood? He had previous mental health issues. He murdered and started to eat Cerys Yemm. The offender died in police custody after being tasered.

                Both are a very particular MO. Frenzied, up-close, of extreme violence.

  6. Patience

    Jac – you and your readers and expert in calling out conflicts of interest. Here’s an off the park question. If a client makes a formal complaint against a solicitor for unprofessional conduct, and the complaints handler at the firm is the solicitor’s brother or father or mother or sister, should the complaints handler pass on the complaint to someone else in the firm? I can give details if you wish.

  7. Dafis

    excellent summary of what a party “offers” the electorate.

    PC can be bought with peerages and other ‘honours’.
    PC is more concerned with gesture politics, identity politics and virtue signalling than with the real Wales.
    PC believes in open borders – so will not challenge the colonisation of Wales.
    PC is not interested in independence.

    Shame there’s nothing in there of value to the people of Wales, unless of course one happens to be a scammer, a spiv, a schemer, opportunist, career obsessed……

  8. Steffan

    You’re quite right to enthuse about the 1959 film of ‘Our Man in Havana’, Jac. One of the few highlights of lockdown in this household was the screening of it a fortnight ago on the ever-dependable ‘Talking Pictures’ TV channel, with Messrs. Guinness, Coward and Richardson in fine form. But the plot from pre-Castro Cuba was a simple one compared with the picture you paint of goings-on in deepest east Carmarthenshire.

    You did a not dissimilar forensic exercise on Llanbedr airfield a few months ago. Your emphasis in both cases is, as with many of your other pieces, to try and expose questionable business practice and uncertain provenance – you are admirably consistent in that respect. Should we not have further questions about these two particular examples of ‘defence’ (sic) activity and procurement, though – relating to what is acceptable continued militarisation of our nation by the UK’s armed forces and their related industries?

    1. I used that film to point out that the world of ‘espionage’ (in its loosest sense) has very little to do with James Bond types. Most of the time it’s grubby little men scratching around for something interesting to report back so as to get a bit of cash, because very few are ‘on the books’.

  9. Sian Caiach

    I was a pretty new Carmarthenshire Councillor in 2009 but the narrative we were fed by Mark James, I could see, had excrement all over it. There was just a minor technical reason why these trusted business men could not buy the valuable site for very reasonable price of £600k from the MOD. I asked some questions What was the site going to be used for, why didn’t we keep it and rent it out, were we charging a fee for helping with the sale?

    Mark James reminded me sternly that .my party {at the time}, Plaid, supported the deal. It was true, they had been seduced by the promise of jobs, new houses, and a free football pitch, little of which actually materialised. He gave the Plaid leader, Peter Hughes Griffiths, a look of disgust as he obviously had no control over this embarrassing woman. The first of many.

    Both local county councillors were Plaid, and supported the scheme There was an overspend on the local new community hall, and they were apparently advised to allow as many new homes to be built as possible around the village to increase the numbers of homes paying the community council share (precept) of the council tax so the local community council would get out of debt..The Plaid Councillors in the main, were simply continuously” played” by the officers who probably still do run that Council.

    I’m told Llangennech used to be a very Welsh place and its a shame that its overwhelmingly a dormitory for commuters to Cardiff and Swansea. as its so conveniently near to the M4 .and property relatively cheap. . From the number of cars around the old MOD site I doubt the workforce is large and also doubt that many who do work there are local.

  10. Brychan

    Thales is the company you phone up in a panic to install a control system for a cock-up. If you buy a perfectly serviceable tracked articulated vehicle and weld on too much armour, stick some mortar launchers on the side, make it so heavy it’s range is so reduced you have to use half the fleet to recover the other ones stuck in the desert, and then expect it to be driven by a gorilla, then Thales are the chaps you need to get any fucked-up concoction to work.

    Thales always work by keeping the skills in-house, train and retain the best techies for themselves, and always walk away once the contract is over. Just keep a small lockup to sell a bit of consultancy. I wonder if anyone who served in Afghanistan wondered what the ‘swimming’ button on the Warthog dash panel was for? The chassis was designed in Singapore, – to float.

    The “Urgent Operational Requirement” of the MoD which bought the fit-out yard of Warthogs to Llangennech only happened because in the rush to invade Afghanistan they suddenly discovered snatch land-rovers kept being blown up. The Brits didn’t want to opt for the more sensible option to buy off-the-shelf from the United States, so a kind of Union Jack waving exercise ensued by New Labour. They discovered that good old blighty had no industrial capability left to make their own, so cobbled up something.

    The ‘buffer’ is the way Thales, and all arms companies work.

    They have pre-installed arrangements to kick in all over the world, helps avoid the politics of arms embargos. The question arises as to whether the MoD who are very aware of their limitations deliberately arranged the Llangennech ‘slight of hand’ with CCC for this very eventuality. £800k is peanuts. It won’t buy you a drawing from BAE systems, but Wales is so desperate for proper jobs all is forgiven, cause we’re British innit.

    I also suspect Pickering and Lovering were just laced with a fine Bordeaux and the plan, and how to do it, was passed under a dinner table. This promtpted a call to James. Un homme fraude est toujours en mauvaise compagnie. I bet the Llangennech redundancies were the statutory minimum.

    1. This episode exposes a major problem with the British military. Combat vehicles have to be bought from Singapore and modified by a French company.

      The British military is now defined by extremes; by which I mean that on the one hand there are nuclear weapons, and on the other hand special forces – with very little in between. If Britain had to fight a war against a medium-sized power with good conventional forces – say, Turkey – the UK would be in trouble. Conscription might solve one problem but the capacity to build what those squaddies would need is gone.

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