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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 and they were never 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 journey to Charing Cross Stores a short drive 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 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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Pembroke Dock: Two in hospital following Fort Road car accident

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EMERGENCY SERVICES dealt with what has been described by a witness as a “horrific car accident” in the Pembroke Dock area on Wednesday night (Jun 12).

A 23-year-old woman, driving a black BMW, travelled down Fort Road at speed, hit a low wall, catapulting the vehicle some considerable distance across a picnic area. The vehicle ended up irreparably damaged on the beach – which was luckily not in use at the time – landing next to the old Cambridge Gun Tower.

No other vehicles seem to have been involved, police said.

The driver has been arrested but remains in hospital, one passenger is in a critical but stable condition, in Cardiff, and a second passenger sustained only minor injuries.

A spokesperson for Welsh Ambulance Service spokesperson said: “We were called at 10.45pm on Wednesday night (Jun 23), to reports of a road traffic accident near the Fort Road car park in Pembroke Dock.

“We attended the scene with one rapid response vehicle, two emergency ambulances and our Emergency Medical Retrieval and Transfer Service.

“Two people were taken to University Hospital Wales, Cardiff for further treatment.”

The police are appealing in the media for information following the crash.

An official statement from the police reads as follows: “We were called to Fort Road, Pembroke Dock, at around 10.45pm on Wednesday night to reports of a single-vehicle collision. Ambulance and fire service also attended.

“A 19-year-old man was taken to the Heath Hospital in Cardiff and remains in a critical but stable condition.

“A second passenger attended hospital for minor injuries but has since been discharged. A 23-year-old woman was arrested, and currently remains in hospital.

“Anyone who witnessed the collision but who has not yet spoken to us should get in touch by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk, visiting our website, or calling 101.

UPDATE: 24.06.2021, 15:47HRS

On Thursday (Jun 24) said that the female who was arrested was de-arrested because of the need for medical treatment, and is “no longer under arrest at this time.”

The police also added that their investigation was “still active”.

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Pembrokeshire call handler helps deliver Llanelli couple’s new baby

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A 999 CALL HANDLER from Pembrokeshire has helped deliver a Llanelli couple’s baby.

Father-of-two Chris Bassett, from Hook, answered the call from the Trust’s Clinical Contact Centre in Carmarthen, and whose instructions on loudspeaker enabled the pair to deliver their 8lb 1oz new arrival safely.

Thanks to Chris, Troy Smith, 34, and partner Abigail Jones, 33, delivered baby Arabella Dilys Smith in the bedroom of their Llanelli home.

Troy said: “I’ve never felt adrenaline like it but I knew I had to focus on the situation for Abigail and the baby’s sake.

“It all happened so quickly, but Chris’ voice on the other end of the phone kept us calm.”

Abigail, a teacher at Ysgol Carreg Hir in Briton Ferry, went into labour at around 10.00pm on Thursday, June 3, and made a trip to hospital, where nurses confirmed she was in the early stages.

The couple returned to their Pwll home, but their soon-to-be daughter had other ideas.

Troy said: “At around 4.30am, Abigail developed a lot of pain and said she had an urge to push.

“I thought, ‘Right, this is happening’ and phoned an ambulance because I knew I’d be delivering the baby right there and then.”

It was Chris, a former RAF Aerospace Systems Operator, who picked up the call in the early hours of Friday, June 4.

The 29-year-old, who has been with the Welsh Ambulance Service for 18 months, said: “As soon as I answered the call, it was obvious that Troy and Abigail were in distress, as anyone would be in that situation.

“The priority was to get Abigail in a comfortable position to deliver the baby safely.

“For me, it was about giving them clear instructions while trying to keep them both calm.”

Troy added: “I just did what came naturally. When you’re in that situation, you just do it.

“As soon as Arabella came, I felt this wave of relief and I just couldn’t believe how gorgeous she was.

“Chris was so professional and handled the situation really well.

“He gave us all the information and kept us calm.”

Ambulance crews arrived soon after, and took Abigail to Carmarthen’s Glangwili General Hospital, where she was treated for shock before being discharged the following day.

Abigail said: “The whole thing was petrifying because I just never expected to be having the baby at home, but we’re so grateful to Chris for helping us to deliver Arabella safely.”

Chris added: “In your role as a 999 call handler, you’re helping people in their darkest hour, but I’m just glad this call had a happy ending.

“This is the third baby I’ve helped to deliver during my time at the ambulance service, but the first one I’ve had the pleasure of meeting.”

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Covid causes partial school closure at Haverfordwest High VC

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A PARTIAL school closure is in force today at Haverfordwest High VC school after a pupil in year 9 has tested positive for coronavirus.

All students in year 9 must stay at home , isolate and await further instruction while the school completes all of the necessary Track and Trace processes.

In a statement released by the school, they said: “We have been informed that a Year 9 pupil has tested positive for COVID-19.

“We wish them a speedy recovery.

“As a precautionary measure and to enable us to complete all of the necessary Track and Trace processes, the school will be closed to Year 9 Pupils today.

“The school remains open to all other year groups.

“Until further notice, Year 9 students should stay at home and isolate until further instructions are given. Lessons for all other year groups will continue as usual. Unless your child is in Year 9 they should attend school.”

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