Welsh island records its first ever crime

Police officers had to travel to the island by lifeboat to make the arrest

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The Independent Online

A tiny Welsh island has recorded its first crime in living memory.

Police were called to the holy Island of Caldey, off the coast of Pembrokeshire, when a visitor assaulted his seven-year-old son at the chocolate makers. 

The island, which is known for its order of Cistercian monks who make perfume, chocolate and shortbread to flog to visitors, has a population of just 40 people and no resident police officer. 

Police officers from the mainland had to be ferried by RNLI lifeboat to the small settlement, 2 miles off the resort town of Tenby, to make the arrest.

The incident came to light when a day-tripper, from Dudley in the West Midlands, appeared in Haverfordwest magistrates court on the mainland to plead guilty to assault.

The court heard the man was visiting the island when he struck his “misbehaving” seven-year-old son during a visit to the “chocolate factory”, a large kitchen where some of the monks produce handmade treats.

John Cattini, 65, the island’s commercial manager, told the Guardian: “This is the first crime in court I can recall and I’ve been here more than 40 years.

“I’m glad to say I didn’t witness it but I’m sorry to say I was told about it. It is very sad. We are happy to say we live here very peacefully. This person was a visitor and is a sign of the modern world, I expect.”

The monks were described as being concerned by the assault.

Caldey, which is a mile and a half long, has been a religious retreat since the first monastery was set up there 1,500 years ago. The monks take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience and observe a rule of silence between the hours of 7pm to 7am.

Before the assault, the crime rate was zero. 

During the court hearing, Dennis Davies, prosecuting, said other visitors told police that the father attacked the boy as they stood outside the chocolate factory.

“The man was said to be shouting at the boy before lifting him up with an outstretched arm by the throat.” He then put him down, slapped him on the back of the head and “frogmarched” him away.

The court heard that another visitor shouted: “That’s child abuse.”

The father, 45, told police his son was “being naughty and wouldn’t listen”, and almost fell down the steps at the chocolate factory. Davies said: “He told police that in no way did he intend to hurt him, but accepted that he had been unreasonable.”

The defence solicitor, Mike Kelleher, said: “The boy said that his daddy hadn’t put his hands around his throat and that he was really good to him. The father is deeply upset and didn’t want to hurt his son.” The father was released on bail until next month.

After the hearing, a spokesman for Dyfed-Powys police said: “We acknowledge that the crime rate on Caldey Island is very low, but we take all reports of crime seriously and as such investigate them thoroughly.”

The island is home to 18 monks in the monastery and a handful of farmers. It hosts more than 3,000 tourists between April and October, who come to visit the monks and see the wildlife.