Mon, 12 Sep 2011 Taro Naw


Mon, 12 Sep 2011

Seicolegydd fforensig yn galw am ail agor achos marwolaethau Llangolman.Forensic psychologist calls for the case of a Pembrokeshire brother and sister to be reopened.


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Transcript


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Good evening and welcome to a new series of Taro Naw.

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The summer of 1976 and a brother and sister from Pembrokeshire...

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..are filmed at a chapel service.

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Within a few months, they were both buried in the cemetery.

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Police say the brother killed his sister...

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..before setting himself on fire, but some question that.

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You think someone was in the house.

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There must have been.

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Tonight, a special investigation. Who killed Griff and Patty Thomas?

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In May, John Cooper was jailed for life...

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...for two double murders in Pembrokeshire during the '80s.

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But is it possible that Cooper is also responsible...

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..for the deaths of another brother and sister in 1976?

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Here's Aled Scourfield's report.

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The village of Llangolman in the Preseli mountains.

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Here, in rural Pembrokeshire, was Griff and Martha Thomas' home.

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They had both retired.

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The brother was 73-years-old and the sister was 70.

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Unmarried, they had spent their whole lives at Ffynon Samson.

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I was a bit of a favourite with them.

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They gave me presents at Christmas time and sweets.

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I never left there without sweets.

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Huw Absalom farms in Llangolman.

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He was 15 in 1976 and spent a lot of time with Griff and Martha...

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..or Patty as she was known.

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His father was their first cousin and rented land from the Thomases.

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The farmer still treasures some of the gifts he received...

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..from his relatives.

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I had this from Griff and Patty in 1969.

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We always received nice gifts from them at Christmas.

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It shows here...

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..that...

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It came from Ffynon Samson.

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Patty Thomas and her brother...

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..were born at the start of the 20th Century.

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People living in rural areas had to be frugal.

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They looked after their money.

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There was no cheese and jam on the table.

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It was one or the other.

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They lived on vegetables from the garden...

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..and they shopped locally in the village.

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During the mid '70s...

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..Reverend Peter Thomas was a young minister at Rhydwilym Chapel.

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Griff and Patty Thomas were loyal members of the congregation.

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They were genial, kind and supportive people.

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They were very welcoming.

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I had been to Ffynon Samson more than once during that time...

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..and received a very warm welcome.

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And the conversations were always sweet.

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But the sweet turned sour.

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On Tuesday, December 7th, 1976, Griff Thomas left his home...

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..and walked to the village shop in Llangolman.

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That's where he was last seen alive at around 4.00pm.

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On the morning of Saturday, December 11th...

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..Nigel Rossiter, a 22-year-old postman from Narberth...

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..was driving on his round around Llangolman and Maenclochog.

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He had been to Ffynon Samson on the Thursday...

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..and hadn't seen anyone.

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I returned there about 8.30am or 8.20am.

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I picked up what I thought was post to go...

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..and it was post I'd put there on Thursday.

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I noticed this, so I went back to the house.

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He witnessed an atrocious scene as he entered the house.

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Going into the house, I had to go in a good bit of the room...

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..because there was a big chair or something in the way.

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I could see this charred body in a nest of cushions...

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..and a made-out thing, like, as if it was a nest.

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In a state of shock...

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..he left the farmhouse and ran to a nearby house to call the police.

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35 years later, this is the first time Nigel Rossiter...

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..has spoken publicly about his experiences.

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Despite seeing a man's body in the kitchen...

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..he didn't see the second body.

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When he returned with the police...

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..he saw Patti Thomas's body in the parlour.

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She was sitting on the table. She was slumped over on the table.

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The close-knit community was shocked by the terrible news.

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The local minister was amongst the first to be called to the farmhouse.

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I saw Griff from the porch. I didn't go beyond the porch.

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I saw a black, burnt figure.

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I couldn't believe it was Griff.

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Yet, I had to accept...

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..that something dreadful, rapacious and extremely violent...

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..had happened there.

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The news about the deaths...

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..had spread across the area and beyond within a few hours.

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The farmhand came back to the yard.

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He was terrified after hearing what had happened.

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Dad was out on the farm and my mother had gone to Carmarthen.

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My mother had heard of the incident in Carmarthen.

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Detectives were questioning all locals within an hour or two.

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Television cameras were also there.

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The police had launched a big investigation into a double murder.

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Police officers from all over Dyfed-Powys...

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..had been called to Llangolman.

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My work was going from house to house.

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I had a team looking into the family's background...

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..discovering whether someone had seen anything suspicious.

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We collected information from people within that community.

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We visited every house in Clynderwen, Maenclochog...

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..and the surrounding areas for any information.

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Griff and Patti Thomas' deaths were all over the media.

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Reporters from Wales and London visited Llangolman.

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Murders in rural parts of the country were very rare.

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Many locals were concerned a murderer was on the loose.

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People were more apprehensive and careful.

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They would lock doors and use door bolts.

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People were aware of some sort of fear...

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..that existed due to these murders.

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The owner of the local garage in Llangolman has always lived locally.

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Denley Absalom remembers the local opinion...

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..that someone had broken into the Thomases home.

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The house is isolated and as in a very lonely spot.

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You're not in the village itself.

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You're lucky if you see two or three houses within a quarter of a mile.

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It was a lonely spot.

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According to police investigations, the brother and sister died ...

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..sometime during the evening of Tuesday December 7th, 1976.

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How and why remained a mystery.

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Locals believed they kept substantial amounts of money in the house.

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Dad would buy cattle from them and it would always be in cash.

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Dad rented the land and it would always have to be in cash.

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Dad would sometimes find it difficult to get the cash...

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..but they wouldn't accept a cheque.

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The investigation intensified...

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..after the police discovered over £2,600.

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The police started to doubt whether this was a robbery after all.

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There was money left in the house. Miss Thomas' purse was on the bench.

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If someone wanted to steal...

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..the purse is the first thing they'd have taken.

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There was also more money in the house.

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That doesn't mean that nothing else was stolen.

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We couldn't find anything that had disappeared...

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..but the person might have been scared after what happened...

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..and killed them without stealing anything.

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You couldn't close the book and say that's exactly what happened.

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The post-mortem report on Griff Thomas' body...

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..showed he had died due to burns.

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His sister died due to head injury. She'd been struck by a weapon.

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The police examined a fountain next to the house.

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They examined everything within a two-mile radius of the farmhouse...

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..but they never discovered a weapon.

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Don't forget there was a fire. A wooden weapon could have burnt.

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It was part of a big jigsaw in which some small pieces were missing.

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By trawling through old newspapers...

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..we discovered the investigation had changed direction.

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Within a few weeks, the police had solved the msytery.

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A double-murder investigation was launched.

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Griff and Patti Thomas' bodies were discovered in December 1976.

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Three weeks later in the local newspaper, Tivyside...

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..Pat Molloy, the detective leading the investigation, says this...

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"What I am hoping to be able to do is to persuade a coroner's jury..."

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"..that no third party was involved."

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Within a few weeks, the investiagtion's focus had changed.

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Griff Thomas was now being accused of killing his sister.

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Why would Griff Thomas kill a sister he'd lived with for 70 years?

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For some reason, they'd argued.

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Mr Thomas killed Miss Thomas and tried to eradicate all evidence...

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..and his own body by killing himself and starting a fire.

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According to those who knew them best...

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..the brother and sister had lived happily throughout their lives.

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They wouldn't argue.

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Not at all. Never.

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Not in the time that my father and I were there.

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My father had always known them. Never.

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It's fair to say the majority of people we've spoken to...

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..disagree that Griff Thomas...

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..killed his sister in the home they'd shared for 70 years.

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Other locals believe they need to keep an open mind...

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..and Patti Thomas could've been killed by her brother...

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..during a family dispute.

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Pat Molloy and his team questioned over 1,200 people.

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Many believe the investiagtion was ended too soon.

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It had all happened, been cleared and the inquest had been closed...

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..in very little time.

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If this sort of thing had happened in Liverpool or London...

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..the inquiry would have gone on for ages.

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This all passed in little time.

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The police removed 174 items from the house for examination.

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They took over 150 statements. They were satisfied with the evidence.

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The inquest into their deathh was held in Haverfordwest.

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On February 17th, 1977, two months after their deaths...

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..a jury decided that Patti Thomas had died due to manslaughter.

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An open verdict was recorded in the case of her brother, Griff.

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Following the inquest, auctioneer Richard Sykes and his colleagues...

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..cleared the house before putting it for sale.

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He says the state of the house, even after the police had cleaned it...

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..makes him believe the inquest didn't reach the truth.

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It doesn't relate to the circumstances we saw there.

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I don't believe that...

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I think it was more of an acknowledgement...

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..that they failed to find evidence of a third party.

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He raises the question...

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..that someone else could have visited Ffynnon Samson that evening.

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Do you think there was an intruder there?

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I think that's my conclusion, my belief.

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That was just a feeling I had.

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I think it was shared pretty generally among the community.

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Griff Thomas was last seen alive in the village shop...

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..late on Tuesday afternoon, December 7th.

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The man who discovered his body has told Taro Naw...

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..that the police told him the cheese and newspaper the pensioner bought...

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..were still in his coat pocket when his body was discovered.

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The police told me they found them in his pocket.

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He hadn't even taken them out.

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The fact that the Western Mail and cheese were in his pocket...

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The first thing you usually do is put the items on the table or chair.

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You wouldn't attack someone straight away.

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What happened behind these lonely doors on a December evening in 1976?

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The police said nothing had been stolen, but was that accurate?

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Ipswich in Suffolk.

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Five prostitutes were murdered here five years ago.

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Forensic psychologist Dr Clive Sims assisted in profiling the murderer.

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He's looked at the evidence from Llangolman.

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He believes someone went there to steal.

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There was an empty cash box.

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The bureau appears to have been broken in.

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The back door is unlocked.

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And certain aspects of it simply do not make sense.

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No-one can be certain that someone had searched through the bureau...

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..but the police report noted they never discovered the bureau's key.

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John Cooper was imprisoned for life back in May...

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..for two double murders in Pembrokeshire in the '80s.

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A huge collection of keys from houses he'd broken into...

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..were discovered in his home.

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We'll be questioning whether John Cooper has the key to these murders?

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.

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888

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In 1976, a police investigation concluded...

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..that Griff Thomas had killed his sister, Patti...

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..at their home in Llangolman, Pembrokeshire.

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Is that what really happened?

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After murderer John Cooper was jailed in May...

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..for murdering siblings Richard and Helen Thomas in 1985...

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..and Peter and Gwenda Dixon in 1989...

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..there is growing suspicion that Griff Thomas was wrongly accused.

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The police believe Griff killed his sister in the kitchen...

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..and carried her into the parlour.

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The 73-year-old suffered from rheumatism and had a bad back.

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According to many, it's impossible he murdered his sister.

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He could never have destroyed the house.

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I used to sit next to Griff in the chapel.

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He had such bad arthritis in his fingers...

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..that he could never find the right page in the hymn book.

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I would have to find the right page for him.

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In the mid-80s, Crimewatch appealed for information...

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..following the murders of siblings Richard and Helen Thomas...

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..at Scoveston Park in Pembrokeshire in December, 1985.

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25 years later, John Cooper was jailed for life for the muders.

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Dad said at the time he thought the same person had done it...

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..because it was a similar incident.

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Another lonely farmhouse...

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..and another brother and sister who kept money in the house.

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A fire had also been started.

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Is there a connection between Scoveston and Llangolman?

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There are so many similar factors.

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Is that the missing piece in the jigsaw?

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You think it is and then you think it isn't.

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There wasn't a robbery, no gun.

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There was a gun at Scoveston, but there wasn't in Llangolman.

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Why did he use a gun in one place?

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Some factors are very different, yet some bring it all together.

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The police failed to find any forensic evidence...

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..to prove that another person was at Ffynnon Samson...

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..the night Griff and Patti Thomas died.

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We discovered documents that show how John Cooper targeted places to rob.

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He also ensured he didn't leave any traces of a crime.

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We've seen a list of burglaries associated with John Cooper...

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..between 1983 and 1996.

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They all share many common factors.

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He often targeted isolated, rural houses...

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..and there was very little forensic evidence.

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The police collected 430 fingerprints at Ffynnon Samson.

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All apart from two belonged to Griff and Patti Thomas.

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The other two couldn't be proven.

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It could have been Mr Thomas as his hand was injured in the fire.

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It could be someone...

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There was one on the sewing machine.

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That could be someone who'd helped Miss Thomas sew something.

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It could be that simple. We don't know.

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If someone was arrested and that was their fingerprint...

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..I'd accept it was them.

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Based on the evidence at the time...

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..I think the correct conclusion was reached.

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The police believed Griff Thomas burnt to death...

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..but there was a pool of blood next to him and he had a cracked skull.

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Griff Thomas' blood was also found on the sewing machine.

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According to the expert who looked at the case for Taro Naw...

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..there are other significant clues relating to the sewing machine.

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Mr Thomas' blood was found on the sewing machine...

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..and yet the cover was put on the sewing machine.

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This suggests someone else was at the scene of the crime.

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If someone else was there, who was it?

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Is there room to believe there's a connection between John Cooper...

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..the man responsible for murdering Richard and Helen Thomas...

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..and the deaths of Griff and Patti Thomas?

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There are enough similarities between the crimes...

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..which would suggest...

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..that he may be at least considered to be a suspect in this case.

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In 1965, 20-year-old John Cooper was jailed for six months...

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..for trampling over a man on the ground.

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He attacked a police officer the previous year.

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He didn't have a criminal record between 1965 and 1983.

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Cooper was 40 years old at he time of the Scoveston murders in 1985.

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What about the previous years?

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It's quite probable, in fact...

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..that he would have been offending earlier...

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..because it would be extremely unusual...

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..for someone to start that late in life on a criminal career...

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..and that they would start with that level of violence.

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The inquest into Griff and Patti Thomas' deaths at Ffynnon Samson...

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..concluded a dispute lead to their deaths.

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The police also recognised there was a suspicious element to the case.

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There were some missing pieces to the jigsaw.

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Yes, but you never get a complete jigsaw in any investigation.

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There were one or two more missing pieces here.

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I think that was highlighted to the jury at the inquest.

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They were told the evidence was incinsistent.

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Pat Molloy, who lead the investigation...

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..was completely satisfied he had reached the right conclusion.

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Will the police reopen the case following John Cooper's imprisonment?

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Dyfed-Powys Police refused to be interviewed.

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In a statement, they said they're in contact with the family.

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They added that they have assessed various documents...

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..and there currently isn't a clear connection with John Cooper.

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The man who discovered Griff Thomas' burnt body...

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..in his kitchen back in December 1976 has many questions.

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Nigel Rossiter believes the case should be reopened.

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I would say yes, definitely now, because no murder weapon was found.

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I can't see myself or anyboby...

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Your mind must be absolutely a blank...

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..if you think you can burn yourself at 70, 73.

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A youngster wouldn't burn himself and lie in a fire.

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Taro Naw has spoken to many forensic experts...

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..who've said it's highly unusual...

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..for someone to commit suicide by burning themself.

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Clive Sims says he doubts the credibility of the inquest's jury.

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I would think they're unsafe.

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I feel that there would be a substantial case...

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..for looking at this particular crime again as a cold case.

0:24:240:24:28

This is the spot where...

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Griff and Patti Thomas' minister was shocked by their deaths.

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For many in Llangolman...

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..the scars of the past are still very much alive in their memories.

0:24:380:24:43

It was very difficult for me as a new, young minster back then...

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..to undertake the work and officiate the funeral.

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Above everything else...

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..there was a sense of sadness and loss.

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Griff Thomas was buried...

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..with an investigation concluding he'd killed the sister...

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..he'd lived with for 70 years.

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For many who knew him well, that was impossible.

0:25:120:25:16

He was wrongly blamed.

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Everyone who knew them has never believed that.

0:25:190:25:22

He was someone I'd known throughout my life.

0:25:230:25:27

He'd lived a quiet life.

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He could never have done it.

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That's all for tonight. Taro Naw will be back next Monday.

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Thanks for watching, good night.

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S4C Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

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Materion cyfoes o Gymru a'r byd. Current affairs from Wales and the world.Seicolegydd fforensig yn galw am ail agor achos marwolaethau Llangolman.Mae seicolegydd fforensig amlwg wedi galw am ail agor yr ymchwiliad i farwolaethau brawd a chwaer oedrannus yn sir Benfro. Ar y rhaglen gyntaf o'r gyfres newydd o Taro Naw, (Medi 12 2011), mae arbenigwr amlwg ym myd seicoleg fforensig, Dr Clive Sims, yn cwestiynu'r rheithfarn, gan ddweud ei bod hi'n "anniogel".Daethpwyd o hyd i Griff a Patti Thomas, oedd yn 73 a 70, yn farw yn eu ffermdy anghysbell yn Llangolman, Sir Benfro, yn Rhagfyr 1976. Er i Heddlu Dyfed Powys lansio ymchwiliad i lofruddiaeth ddwbl, o fewn ychydig wythnosau ro'n nhw wedi dod i'r casgliad bod Griff Thomas wedi lladd y chwaer roedd e' wedi byw gyda hi ers saithdeg mlynedd, yn dilyn ffrae, ac yna wedi rhoi ei hun ar d�n.Er gwaetha' chwilio dyfal, ddaeth yr heddlu fyth o hyd i'r arf a ddefnyddiwyd i ladd Patti Thomas. Yn Chwefror 1977, ddeufis ar �l y marwolaethau, dyfarnodd y cwest fod Patti Thomas wedi marw o ganlyniad i ddynladdiad a chafwyd dyfarniad agored ar gyfer ei brawd, Griff.Gofynnodd Taro Naw i'r proffilydd troseddol, Dr Clive Sims, edrych eto ar y dystiolaeth a gyflwynwyd i reithgor y cwest ar y pryd."Rwy'n teimlo bod tystiolaeth sylweddol dros edrych ar yr achos hwn eto," meddai Dr Sims ar y rhaglen, gan gyfeirio at yr anghysondebau niferus yn yr achos.Ym marn Dr Sims mae lle i gredu fod y brawd a'r chwaer gael eu llofruddio gan leidr wedi i ladrad fynd o chwith.Ym mis Mai, dedfrydwyd y llofrudd, John Cooper, i garchar am oes am ddwy lofruddiaeth dwbl yn sir Benfro yn yr 1980au.Yn y rhaglen, mae Taro Naw yn gofyn a oes posibilrwydd y gallai Cooper hefyd fod yn gysylltiedig gyda'r marwolaethau yn Llangolman?Taro Naw, S4C nos Lun, 12 Medi am 9.30pm.


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