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Llangolman: A double-murder Cooper didn’t do?

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THE MYSTERY over the 1976 deaths of Griff and Patti Thomas deepened this week.

The Herald received intriguing new information which counters the long-held belief in John Cooper’s involvement in the siblings’ death.

Rumour, gossip and convenience placed Cooper in the Llangolman area around December of 1976 doing work for a fencing contractor.

We spoke with a source who has an intimate knowledge of the area and community. Vitally, they know about the fencing contractors and workers active in the Llangolman area at the time. They dismissed the suggestion John Cooper was in the area as ‘nonsense’.

They said contractors from outside the area would’ve ‘stuck out like a sore thumb’. The presence of an outsider, they continued, would’ve been remembered by the remote, close-knit, Welsh-speaking community. In 1976, they added, anyone coming to the area from further south than Haverfordwest would’ve been seen as ‘down-below-ers’.

Our source told us that supply runs by ‘outsiders’ to local merchants for things like nails or timber for fencing posts did not occur. It would’ve been improbable, they added, that ‘boys from Milford’ would come to the area with every item to complete a job.

As for the possibility that Cooper might’ve been ‘hobbling’, our source told us that Cooper’s accent alone would’ve been considered ‘exotic’. So incongruous that if Cooper went to a pub for a pint and a game of darts or visited the local shop, he would’ve been remembered at the time of the original inquiry.

Large jobs would’ve meant working alongside local workers. We were told none of them recalled working with John Cooper. Even when directly and repeatedly asked over the years since Cooper’s conviction for the Scoveston Manor and Coast Path killings, no local workers placed him in the area.

Poor weather during November and December meant that large jobs would not have been planned for those months. In context, this was just after the long and hot summer of 1976.

Any emergency fencing work would’ve been done by locals as, in those days, ‘boys from Milford’ would’ve taken too long to get there.

Another source claimed that John Cooper’s connection stems from a local, unrelated family with the same surname and vivid imaginations.

Whatever you choose to believe, no eyewitness testimony placing John Cooper in the Llangolman area in the weeks or months leading up to the deaths has been seen by anyone with even a passing interest in the bizarre deaths of the Thomas siblings.

We will, of course, keep an open mind and if anyone has information that definitively proves Cooper was there and when, we’d be very eager to see it.
Whilst we might be able to cross off Cooper’s name for the deaths of Griff and Patti Thomas. Indeed, those we spoke to this week were clear that we could. However, that leaves a terrifying alternative. Someone local, someone who knew Griff and Patti, was capable of a double murder. They were never caught or even questioned by the Police.

Griff Thomas (background lady unknown)

The Herald has heard enough information that, we believe, whittles down the list of possible suspects to just two individuals. Both lived in the area at the time and knew the victims well enough. Both, it seems, knew of Griff’s daily walk to Charing Cross Stores some 20 minutes away.

Our sources sketch out an alternative scenario. Someone known by both Thomas siblings entered Ffynnon Samson, knowing Patti would be on her own. They planned to steal the money they believed was kept in the house bureau by the ‘tight’ brother and sister.

When Griff returned, nothing would’ve seemed amiss until he entered the parlour. There he found his younger sister critically injured. A confrontation followed, during which the thief struck Griff fracturing his skull and Griff’s blood ended up on the doorframe.

With Griff incapacitated, the settle was pulled down on top of him, and a fire started to cover the killer’s tracks. The murderer then fled the property through the back door. They took enough money to ‘sort Christmas out’ but not so much to raise others’ suspicions with them.

They left the Thomas siblings to die. Patti died first from her injuries, her body showed signs of smoke inhalation from the burning settle, but not enough to end her life.

Griff died second, the post-mortem discovered that he died primarily from burns and the contemporaneous description of the crime scene supports that scenario.

Martha/Patti Thomas: Griff’s younger sister

It is at least as likely as the one advanced at the subsequent inquest.

For the account given to the inquest to work, belief needs to be suspended. A profoundly religious elderly man, known to be a timid personality, and who had arthritis of the spine, slew his sister by picking up heavy furniture and striking her with it. Repeatedly.

Somehow, he fractured his own skull in the process. He then covered up a bloody thumbprint from an unknown third party by replacing the cover on a sewing machine, staggered to the kitchen and set fire to himself whether by accident or design.

Or a third party committed the offence and got away with it in a scenario similar to the one presented to us.

If that wasn’t enough, there are other details which raise questions.

Specifically Griff’s coat, which was found hung up with the cheese he’d brought from the shop still in his pocket, had Griff come home to an argument, he’d surely still be wearing his coat and had the killer not arrived until later, Griff and Patti would’ve eaten the cheese discovered in Griff’s coat pocket as they had planned to have it with dinner.

The Sewing Machine. Who put the cover back on it? Whose finger-print was found, alongside Griff’s blood, under the replaced cover?

Why, according to locals, were the footprints in the snow around the farmhouse not properly investigated until after police had thoroughly inspected the property and the footprints had started melting?

We hesitate to describe the Police investigation as ‘botched’. No matter how unlikely the inquest verdict, we cannot say it’s ‘unsafe’. We can say the case looks as though a theory was formed and the evidence made to fit its frame.

An unlikely link to John Cooper has prevented a full view of the facts. Dyfed-Powys Police’s refusal to re-investigate ‘based on speculation’ prevents any final resolution being reached anytime soon.

However, once lockdown is over, we’ll be back on the case going through the records to see how close we can get to the answers.

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Launch of Haverfordwest Castle Conservation Management Plan

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MEMBERS of the public are being asked to help shape the future of Haverfordwest Castle as a draft Conservation Management Plan (CMP) is launched.

One of Pembrokeshire’s most important historical assets, the Castle is owned by Pembrokeshire County Council, which has produced the CMP.

The plan:

▪ sets out the significance of the castle and describes how the building will be protected with any new use, alteration, repair or management; 

▪ will help with the planning of maintenance, conservation and repair work and adaptation of the site to meet new or changing uses; 

▪ will help promote understanding of the site and look at improving public access and activities for local people and visitors; 

▪ will support proposals to conserve the castle and adaptations of the site in response to climate change; 

▪ and underpin funding applications to support improvements

An engagement exercise has been launched alongside the Plan, giving members of the public with an interest in the historic and/or environmental significance of the castle an opportunity to comment on the document and share their views.

To take part in the engagement exercise, please click on the following link: 

https://haveyoursay.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/regeneration-communities

The deadline for responses is Sunday, March 28, 2021.

 

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Business

Natural Resources Wales approves Ireland-UK interconnector licence

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GREENLINK INTERCONNECTOR LIMITED says it welcomes the decision by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) to approve its application for a Marine Licence for the Greenlink electricity interconnector project, which will link the power markets of Great Britain and Ireland.

An important project for Pembrokeshire, and the UK as a whole, NRW’s go-ahead is one of several consents required for the construction of the project and covers installation of the marine cable in UK waters.

The approval is a major milestone for Greenlink and joins the onshore planning consents granted unanimously in July last year by Pembrokeshire County Council and Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority.

Greenlink’s proposed 190km subsea and underground electricity cable will run beneath the Irish Sea to connect National Grid’s Pembroke Power Station in Wales and EirGrid’s Great Island substation in County Wexford, Ireland. It will have a nominal capacity of 500 MW.

The Wales-Ireland link is just one of four interconnectors being installed

Nigel Beresford, CEO for Greenlink Interconnector Limited, said: “We are delighted by Natural Resources Wales’s decision to grant this licence. This marks a significant milestone for Greenlink and another important step towards project construction, which we expect to commence later this year.

“The Greenlink team has worked constructively with Natural Resources Wales and Welsh marine stakeholders to find workable solutions to the many technical and environmental challenges facing a large infrastructure project like this, and this has been reflected in the quality of the final proposal.

“The thorough environmental and technical assessments we have undertaken, supported by the practical and value-adding feedback we have received from key marine stakeholders, have ensured that we move forward confident that we are delivering a well-designed project with the interests of the Welsh marine habitat at its core.”

The subsea section of the cable will be approximately 160km in length and uses high voltage direct current (HVDC) technology. The preferred route and installation methods were chosen following the conclusion of subsea surveys and consultation with key stakeholders.

In Ireland, a Foreshore Licence application was submitted to the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (Foreshore Unit) in 2019 and the onshore planning application was submitted to An Bord Pleanála in December 2020.

Greenlink is one of Europe’s most important energy infrastructure projects and brings benefits on both sides of the Irish Sea for energy security, regional investment, jobs and the cost-effective integration of low carbon energy. The project will offer important local supply chain opportunities and plans are being drawn up for ‘meet-the-buyer’ events in the local area prior to construction.

Once fully consented, Greenlink is expected to have a three-year construction programme, with commissioning planned by the end of 2023.

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Appeal from Fire and Rescue Service to install working smoke alarms

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AT 01:17am this morning, Tuesday, March 2, 2021, crews from Milford Haven were called to a property fire in the Hakin area of Milford Haven.

The fire was confined to a pan on a stove in the kitchen area and extinguished by firefighters using two breathing apparatus, a hose reel jet and a thermal imaging camera.

Crews also ventilated the property and fitted smoke alarms within the property.

The Fire Service left the incident at 02:00am.

Watch Manager Alun Griffiths, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, said “This fire was the result of cooking left unattended. It is so important to remove all pots and pans from a heat source when you are called away from the cooker.

“Thankfully, the occupiers of the property managed to exit the property before our firefighters arrived, but it could have ended very differently as there were no smoke alarms fitted in the property.
“I cannot stress enough the importance of installing working smoke alarms in your homes and testing them regularly. In the dreadful event of a fire, they can alert you to the danger sooner and could mean the difference between life and death.

“As a Fire and Rescue Service, we provide Home Fire Safety advice which is free of charge. We also offer Safe and Well Visits which you can arrange by phoning us on 0800 169 1234 or by visiting the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service website.”

For further Home Fire Safety advice or to talk about the possibility of a Safe and Well Visit by Fire and Rescue Service personnel, please phone us on 0800 169 1234.​​​ Alternatively please complete an online Request a Safe and Well Visit​ form on the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service website: https://www.mawwfire.gov.uk/eng/your-safety/in-your-home/

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