TWO former prisoners have turned their backs on crime after launching their new barbershop near Pontypool.

Business partners Tom Filer, 26, and Leon Morgan, 25, have opened Gents & Co, which is located on Station Road in Abersychan.

The opening was attended by the Mayor of Torfaen, Cllr Jessica Powell, as well as Abersychan ward member Cllr Giles Davies.

The pair were sentenced to a combined term of more than 12 years for different offences earlier this decade.

Mr Filer received a sentence of five years and four months in 2014 for conspiracy to supply cocaine and Mr Morgan for six years and nine months in 2013 for aggravated burglary.

Mr Filer said: "I’ve been through it all and I’ve lost everything - I had to go to my father’s funeral in handcuffs, my child was born while I was in prison.

“When my dad died, I knew that the was final straw. I knew that when I was released, I wouldn’t come back to it.

“I wanted to do something with my life – not spent it all in prison.”

Mr Morgan said: “I was naughty in school and I fell in with the wrong crowd. I ended up going into a house with a gang of lads to beat up another gang."

Mr Morgan said it was in prison that he found his passion for barbering.

“As soon as I had a pair of clippers in my hand, I realised it was what I wanted to do."

The pair met on the prison barbering course, and jokingly discussed their new venture, which has come to fruition.

“I thought it was just jail talk but I bumped into Leon a few days after I was released and it went from there," said Mr Filer.

“If we can do it, anyone can. I wanted an easy lifestyle with easy money. All that’s changed now.”

Mr Morgan said: “We both met on the barbering course and we talked about this, just having laugh but now it has happened.

“We want to be honest with people – we’ve made a mistake in our lives and we want to show that people can change.

“We want to work and barbering has given us that chance.

“Barbershops can be the heart of a community and we want to give something back.”

The barbers see this as a brand new opportunity to make improvements in their lives.

Mr Filer, of Abersychan, said “This is something that will change our lives. It is going from a life of crime into a legitimate lifestyle.

“My business partner and I saw an opportunity to make a new life for ourselves and we’re going to take it.

“People often choose the easy path in life but that’s not what it’s about. We want to make something of ourselves.”

Mr Morgan, originally from Swindon, added: “We want to show people that there is such a thing as a second chance.

“It is not just about coming out of jail, but we are keen to show off our skills as barbers.”