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Father talks about son's death from cjd

Jan 6 2005
Gareth Morga

A FATHER has spoken of his heartbreak at his son's devastating decline and 'horrendous' death from the killer brain disease CJD.

Two years ago the Roberts family of Carmarthen lost 18-year-old Richard to the 'human mad cow disease' which has been linked to the consumption of unfit meat.

Terry Roberts, Richard's father, is now convinced that Richard died as a result of eating unfit meat as a young child.

He has spoken about the shocking disease that saw his son's health deteriorate at a frightening pace.

Richard was a sporty teenager whose sudden lapses of memory and co-ordination shocked Mr Roberts and his wife Julie.

The first sign that something was wrong came when Mr Roberts went to the shop where Richard worked and found he could not remember more than a couple of items he had asked for.

"Later on we found that this loss of memory had been going on for sometime, as his girlfriend had been writing notes for him to remind him what to do," said Mr Roberts.

"He couldn't walk in a straight line and it was then that we took him to doctors. He had numerous blood tests but nothing showed up."

Further tests done privately in Cardiff did suggest that he was suffering from CJD, but the family had to contact the national base in Edinburgh to confirm early in 2002.

"I knew then that we had trouble," said Mr Roberts.

"They told us when he was diagnosed around May that he may live until November, but his

condition deteriorated so badly that it was quite obvious that he was not going to last that long.

"It was a horrendous death and we were all with him when he passed away."

Mr Roberts remembers him as being much the same as any other teenage lad.

"Every father says that he has got a lovely son but he was a very nice lad. He'd do anything for anybody, help anybody out," he said.

"He played a bit of rugby for the school and for Carmarthen Quins under-16s, so he was quite fit. I used to go and watch him play rugby and we generally enjoyed each other's company."

But the former police officer believes that unfit meat somehow found the way on to his son's dinner plate.

"It is quite obvious that variant CJD doesn't happen on its own," he said.

"Research indicates that the way that you catch it is by eating infected meat and I think that's what happened in this case."

He condemns the men and women in the illegal meat trade, as part of an investigation by ITV Wales to be broadcast tonight.

Wales This Week looks at a practice which is potentially putting lives at risk while making bandit farmers rich.

Dr Yunes Teinaz, who works in the frontline in the war against illegal meat, has criticised Welsh local authorities for not doing enough to stem exports of meat unfit for human consumption from rural Wales to urban areas like London and Cardiff.

A pillar of the Muslim community in London, Dr Teinaz is particular concerned with illegal meat called Smokies.

These are old sheep carcasses blow torched to give them a barbecue flavour and are a popular delicacy in African communities.

Last year, as a result of tip-offs, Dr Teinaz intercepted two van loads of Smokies on route from Wales to London.

A Welsh farmer was caught driving and pleaded guilty in a London court to possessing meat which was unfit for human consumption.

"If the Government does not take action, then I don't want to be alarmist, but another outbreak of disease will happen," said Dr Teinaz.

• Wales This Week is broadcast tonight at 11pm on ITV1 Wales.

THE black market in sheep and cattle has become so bad that the Welsh Assembly Government has funded a new intelligence unit to fight it.

Housed in Ceredigion County Council offices in Aberaeron, the Food Fraud Co-Ordination Unit will build a database on the trade.

That information will be shared among Wales's 22 local authorities and law enforcement agencies, and their counterparts across the border in England.

The unit's two staff started operations last summer, but it will be officially launched at the end of this month.

It was organised by the Food Standards Agency for Wales and is funded by the agriculture and health departments.

It is hoped that the unit will help prevent problems caused by unfit meat entering the food chain.

[ Article Courtesy of ICWales ]

courtesy of Dr. Yunes Teinaz, Chartered Environmental Health Practitioner

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