Page last updated at 15:28 GMT, Wednesday, 13 May 2009 16:28 UK

Arrest over 1980s double murders

Gwenda and Peter Dixon (top) and brother and sister Richard and Helen Thomas (bottom)
The two double murders came four years apart in the late 1980s

A 64-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of committing two double murders in Pembrokeshire in the 1980s.

Holidaymakers Peter and Gwenda Dixon, of Witney, Oxfordshire, were killed on the Pembrokeshire coastal path in 1989.

Police have also been reviewing the unsolved killings of Richard Thomas and his sister Helen at their burnt-out mansion near Milford Haven in 1985.

The man, named locally as John Cooper, has also been arrested on suspicion of a sex assault and attempted robbery.

Detectives said he was arrested at Letterston near Fishguard at 0830 BST.

The serious sex assault and attempted robbery cases happened in Milford Haven in 1996.

For 20 years, mystery has surrounded the murders.

A BBC Wales archive news report on the Dixons' murder from 6 July 1989

Dyfed-Powys Police announced in 2007 they were reviewing the cases and evidence, using new DNA techniques, and did not rule out a connection.

The bodies of Peter and Gwenda Dixon, from Oxfordshire, were found hidden near the cliff path near Little Haven, six days after their disappearance in June 1989.

The couple, who were in their 50s and who were on holiday in the area, had been killed with a shotgun.

When an explosives cache was found nearby six months later, police investigated possible links with an IRA smuggling operation, as well as another unsolved double murder at nearby Milford Haven four years earlier.

Location map
Police made an arrest in Letterston on Wednesday morning

In that incident in December 1985, brother and sister Richard and Helen Thomas were found murdered at their burned-out mansion home, Scoveston Manor, near Milford Haven.

Police investigating the killing of the Dixons found their cash card had been used at a cash machine in Haverfordwest in Pembrokeshire shortly after the killings.

Detectives had a description of a man who was believed to have used it.

However, none of the leads led to an arrest at the time.

The Dixons, who were keen walkers, had been shot at close range in what appeared to be execution-style killings with Mr Dixon's hands tied behind his back.

Their son Tim, now in his 40s, and daughter Julie, now aged in her 30s, both have their own families and were not willing to comment on the latest developments.

Peter Dixon's youngest brother Keith, said the couple's children were still haunted by what had happened to their parents.

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