Review of the Year 2013: July and August

July 18

CARL Mills began three life sentences with a minimum of 30 years, after being found guilty of the murder of his girlfriend, their baby daughter, and his girlfriend's mother.

Kayleigh Buckley, 17, her daughter Kimberley Mills, six months, and Kayleigh's mother Kim, 46, died when a fire started by Mills ripped through their home at Tillsland, Coed Eva, Cwmbran, in the early hours of September 18 2012.

Mills, 28, who showed no emotion as the jury read out three guilty verdicts after a three-week trial at Newport Crown Court, had sent threatening messages to Kim and Kayleigh Buckley, including threats to kill and to burn the house down.

The jury took just four-and-a-half hours to convict Mills, of no fixed abode, of the murders.

Family and friends of the victims hugged and cried in the public gallery.

Sentencing Mills, Judge Mr Justice Wyn Williams said he had condemned Kim and Kayleigh in particularl to a "terrifying and agonising death."

He imposed a life sentence for each of the three murders, with the minimum term of 30 years, but said a minimum means just that, and this was not to say Mills would ever be released.

He said Mills had "devastated" the family and shown "no remorse", setting a fire at 15 Tillsland in the middle of the night knowing Kim, Kayleigh and the baby would very likely be upstairs.

He added that he was satisfied Mills must have known that once the fire took hold there would be virtually no chance of escape.

During the trial the court had been told how Mills formed a relationship with Kayleigh Buckley after meeting her on the social media site Facebook in August 2010.

Originally form Bolton, near Manchester, he had travelled down to see Kayleigh before moving down permanently in summer 2011.

Mills was described as "controlling" and "possessive" and Kayleigh had become "infatuated" by him, playing truant from school to be with him, and losing contact with friends.

She fell pregnant with twins to Mills but both were born prematurely in March 2012, one - Angel - being stillborn. Kimberley spent six months in hospital with problems including a heart defect and breathing difficulties. She was taken home just the day before the fire.

Mills, the court was told, had a drink problem and had turned up drunk to the hospital, and after damaging items in the Buckley home, he was not allowed inside, but had been sleeping in a tent nearby.

Other threatening messages included one to Kayleigh telling her he was going on a "murder mission."

He had also threatened Kim Buckley that he was going to "cut her up" and burn her house down.

July 2

MUSLIM graves at a Newport cemetery were desecrated with racist graffiti.

Mubarak Ali, secretary of the Islamic Society for Wales, appealed for calm in the aftermath of the incident, in Christchurch cemetery.

It followed the killing of soldier Lee Rigby on a London street, and his name, along with other slogans and swastikas, were drawn and painted onto gravestones.

"I've lived in Newport for 47 years. I've never seen or heard of this kind of thing before," said said Mr Ali.

"Obviously people are really angry and upset, but we must remember it is a small minority of idiots who did this."

The attack was condemned as "shameful" and "disgraceful" by Gwent Police.

July 2

WALES entered a brave new world for organ donation after AMs voted to bring in an opt-out system, the first of its kind in the UK, after debating the issue late into the night.

The system, enshrined in the Human Transplantation (Wales) Bill, and which will come into force on December 1 2015, is based on the idea of presumed consent.

People will be deemed to have consented to donate their organs after death unless they have previously stated otherwise.

The aim is to increase the number of donor organs available to people awaiting a transplant.

Health minister Mark Drakeford said the decision was an historic one, "a progressive policy for a progressive nation."

We continue to revisit some of year’s biggest stories by glancing at July and August.

Tomorrow we focus on September and October

July 3

GWENT'S former chief constable told an influential group of MPs that she felt bullied and threatened by Gwent's Police and Crime Commissioner Ian Johnston in a document that laid out his concerns about her performance.

Mrs Napier told the home affairs select committee that she had faced a clear threat - retire or face humiliation.

She claimed that at no time before the May 23 meeting when he requested that she leave, had he expressed to her any concerns over her performance or behaviour.

She told the MPs she did not believe his behaviour had been appropriate or fair.

July 4

ONE in eight four- and five-year-olds in Gwent is obese, shock new figures revealed.

Public Health Wales' child measurement programme showed that more than a quarter of children in this age group are either overweight or obese.

The first report for an annual programme recording the weight of reception children in schools across Wales, painted a worrying picture of obesity and excess weight among younger children, in Gwent and across Wales.

But the burden is heavier in areas of high deprivation, which means Valleys communities are hit particularly hard, said the report accompanying the figures.

July 15

A FIVE-year-old boy's dream of walking touched the hearts of people across the world and a fund to help him reached its target of £60,000 in a matter of weeks.

The Argus' sister paper the Free Press first published details of Brecon Vaughan's plight on June 26 and agreed to support his family's appeal to raise funds for the surgery he needed.

The youngster, from Mathern, needs surgery for spastic diplegia cerebral palsy , which is only available in the US.

The fund was given a huge boost with a £22,000 donation from Dan Black, of Llanvair Discoed, the money he gave having originally been intended to help him overcome disabilities that left him wheelchair-bound after an accident in 2009.

It was after Mr Black's extraordinary act of selflessness that the appeal went global.

Rob and Ann Vaughan, Brecon's parents, said the success of the appeal meant a weight had been lifted from their shoulders.

July 22

AS well as sharing his birthday with Britain's future king, Ethan Tapper was his mum Sabrina O'Brien's little miracle.

By the time the Duchess of Cambridge gave birth to her first child - unnamed at the time - and third in line to throne, Ethan was four hours old and in the care of the neonatal unit at the Royal Gwent Hospital.

And his mum was still coming to terms with the reality of a successful pregnancy after enduring years of heartbreak through 11 miscarriages, triggered by a condition that means her blood is too thick.

Early intervention with a blood thinning agent proved successful this time around and Ethan arrived three weeks early, weighing 4lb 11oz, almost half that of the new Royal arrival (8lb 6oz).

August 3

NEWPORT County returned to the Football League in style with a thumping 4-1 home victory over Accrington Stanley in the club's opening League Two fixture.

Twenty-five years after dropping out of the league, and just three months after earning their return with a Wembley play-off victory against Wrexham, the Exiles finally 'came home', in front of a 4,641-strong crowd.

Christian Jolley, the hero of heroes at Wembley, scored another cracking goal, but this was a true team display.

Copies of a souvenir programme sold out long before the kick-off, and Rodney Parade was a sea of amber.

And the good vibes continued with a victory over championship side Brighton in the first round of the Capital One Cup. County were well and truly back.

August 8

Police closed off several streets in Newport after a double shooting which left a 46-year-old woman dead and a 49-year-old man seriously injured.

The incident occurred at around 8.45am on Seabreeze Avenue, off Corporation Road, and within minutes armed police were securing the scene and emergency services were on site.

The dead woman was later named as Caroline Parry, from Newport.

Her estranged husband Christopher Colin Parry appeared in court in December charged with her murder.

August 19

A TERRIFIED mum was forced to throw her baby from the window of her first floor flat after a fire on the floor below trapped them inside.

Amy Peterson, 19, opened the front door to her home on Aberthaw Road, Alway , Newport, at around 10.50pm, to find the corridor filled with thick smoke.

She called for help at her bedroom window and ended up dropping her 11-month-old daughter Faye into the arms of Luke Crawley, 26, who rushed barefoot to the scene after his girlfriend told him she had heard screaming outside.

"I'm just really grateful to him," said Miss Peterson, who had to wait upstairs for 50 minutes while firefighters tackled the blaze below, which had been started deliberately.

August 24

PLANS for a £250 million motorsports complex north of Ebbw Vale moved a step closer after the Welsh Government decided not to call in the planning application.

It paved the way for Blaenau Gwent council to issue permission for the Circuit of Wales project once it completed a legal agreement with the Heads of theValleys Development Company.

The latter's chief executive Michael Carrick said the decision was the right one, as the project had support in the community and it had demonstrated that concerns could be addressed.

It has been claimed the project could generate 6,000 jobs.

August 26

A GROUP of war heroes marched through Newport and called for a Welsh centre to provide specialist help for traumatised service personnel.

Paul Conlon, from Newport, was among ex-servicemen from Newport and Cardiff on the first leg of a fundraising walk around Wales.

Mr Conlon, from High Cross, who served in the army for 11 years and later suffered post traumatic stress disorder, said: "We should have our own centre here in Wales for ex-servicemen to be able to speak to someone.

"It's important to be able to get things off your chest and speak about what you've been through. It's a three-and-a-half hour drive up to Shropshire (the nearest centre), and that isn't right."

August 28

TRIBUTES flooded in for stalwart Newport councillor Ron Jones, who died aged 78.

The Pill Labour councillor, who served for almost 50 years, died the day after attending Pill Carnival, an event during which he had judged the floats.

A governor of Pillgwenlly primary school, and St Michael's RC primary school, and chairman of the council's planning committee, councillor Jones was on the waiting list for a heart bypass at the time of his death.

Friends and colleagues from across the political spectrum praised him as an inspiration and a great servant to Pill, Newport, and Gwent.

August 31

NEWPORT council's chief executive Will Godfrey set out a radical vision of the future of the authority, as it began to face up to the prospect of possible budget cuts of £4 million by 2017.

Fewer staff, buildings and services were likely by then, he told the Argus, but he wanted to start a conversation with city residents about the type of public services they want, and about what can be delivered in an age of austerity.

"I don't pretend it is going to be easy. I don't pretend there are some decisions the council will have to consider that will have to be unpopular," he said.

"There will be different views and we want to understand what those views are. But we want to solicit those views with people understanding the challenge that we've got."

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