Prison, driving ban for 21-year-old cannabis seller

Cardiff Crown Court  / © Jordan Howell

Cardiff Crown Court / © Jordan Howell

A man has been jailed for 13 months after pleading guilty to possession with the intent to supply cannabis.

Billy Wait, 21, of Prince Street in Pontypool was sentenced by judge Mr Recorder David Harris at Cardiff Crown Court.

He was also given a driving ban of 18 months and ordered to pay £140 in costs.

Wait was stopped by police in the early hours of April 15th after they became aware that he was driving without insurance. He was followed to the Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport where his car was searched.

Thirteen wraps of cannabis were found under the driver’s seat, with a street value of £130 - they also found £400.

Prosecuting barrister James Evans said: “It’s clear that he has been selling cannabis.”

Defending, Stephen Thomas, asked the judge to give credit for his guilty plea on the day, adding that there were “no aggravating factors, weapons, or targeting of vulnerable people” in the case and that the supply was “quite clearly to associates and friends”.

The sentencing comes after at least three other convictions for intending to supply cannabis, one resulting in a suspended sentence and another a 20-week period in a Young Offenders Institution.

Women Connect First prepare for World Café launch

A group of refugees living in Cardiff have unveiled plans to launch a World Café.

© Niamh Colclough

© Niamh Colclough

Supported by Riverside-based charity Women Connect First, the group cook every week for locals, offering a selection of food from the Middle East. They are now seeking to officially register their space with Cardiff Council so they can set it up as a business.

Up until March 2018 the women raised £5,000 through donations to the café – a proportion of this has been spent on purchasing new equipment.

Overseeing the project is Amal Beyrouty, who has been with the women since it began. She said: “They are still in the process of learning skills, they’ve done starting a business course, but they still need the skills to run a business.”

Women Connect First has helped the women seek advice, socialise with other women and learn new skills including English and IT. The charity’s Operational Director, Maria Mesa, said: “Amal and the women were the brains behind the idea. They came up with the idea. They had a brainwave about what they wanted.

“It was quite an accident that it became such a big thing. Initially, it was just to share food and to raise a little bit of money for activities, but it’s big now. 

“Women Connect First has invested quite a lot of money, and of course the staff have invested lots of time.

“I think it’s been amazing, it’s been very successful.” 

If the World Café is a success, the women are hoping to cater for events and meetings by various organisations. They would also be looking to launch a weekly takeaway lunch service.

"Reclusive" brothers sentenced for growing cannabis

Two “reclusive” brothers have been handed a 12-month community order and ordered to stay inside their house with a curfew for growing cannabis plants.

Thomas Wilkins, 32, and Michael Wilkins, 27, were sentenced at Cardiff Crown Court.

In April a police officer entered their property in Helen Place, Adamsdown, after smelling the class B drug whilst patrolling the area.

On entering the property, the pair admitted that they were growing the plants and led the officer to a first-floor bedroom which contained 10 mature plants. An airing cupboard nearby house 17 smaller plants. They were fed by an irrigation system. Lighting and heat reflectors were also used.

The brothers said that the cannabis was grown for personal use to save money – no evidence was found showing an intent to supply.

Michael Wilkins’ defence barrister, Steven Donoghue, described the pair as being “reclusive in nature”. He said: “They can’t be separated, they live together, they do everything together.”

Before Judge Tracey Lloyd-Clarke sentenced the pair, she acknowledged that Thomas Wilkins had “managed to get to court, albeit with difficulty” and that he “will need support” carrying out the community order.

As the both men had admitted possessing the plants from the outset, the judge granted them a guilty plea discount of one month.

In addition to the community order, the brothers will have to complete 15 days of rehabilitation activities and have an electronically monitored curfew. They were also ordered to pay £300 between them in court costs.

Ready, Steady, Cook!

Women from 17 different communities are being brought together by their love of cooking.

The Cardiff Community Cooking Competition launched last year and was created by South Wales Police in partnership with the Riverside-based charity Women Connect First.

In a bid to break down barriers between the organisations, women from the charity are welcomed into Cardiff Central Police Station to cook a two-course meal for a panel of judges.

The competition – which this year has a tagline of ‘share a cultural dish’ – consists of 10 weekly heats, 3 semi-finals and a grand final. Countries represented this year include Yemen, Iraq and Pakistan.

Organiser and South Wales Police’s Citizens in Policing Inspector Gareth Evans sees the competition as a beneficial thing for everyone involved.

He said: “Last year we ran the competition in a professional kitchen, so having the facilities this year and having 30 ladies of the community come into a police station for a fun event, to walk away with a positive image of the police will only benefit the community. Barriers are lowered and suddenly they’ve seen a police station as not a myth or a perception that it’s a bad place.”

Women Connect First works with Black Minority Ethnic (BME) women that have moved to the Cardiff area, giving them advice and helping them learn skills to improve their lives and employability.

There is no financial profit [from the competition] but the human profit is big.
— Amal Beyrouty, Women Connect First

Project Manager Amal Beyrouty said: “It’s the confidence for them – confidence to approach the police if there is an incident. They are scared, they do not know how to go to the police station. If they must go what they do. I wanted to overcome this.

“There is no financial profit [from the competition] but the human profit is big because we really invest in people, what they’ve got and what they want to be.”

Karen Sanders was cooking alongside the women as part of the competition and has been a PSCO for the past 11 years.

She said: “It’s all about reassurance, building up trust, being seen, being visible and the ladies getting to know us. It’s good community engagement, and that’s what neighbourhood policing is all about.”

The overall winner of the competition will win a trophy, and the top three competitors will win a selection of kitchen gadgets.