Operation Pebble - Pembrokeshire

The_Gremlin

Old-Salt
Not sure if this is the right forum. Anyway,

30 years ago this week two innocent tourists (The Dixons) were killed with a shotgun on a Pembrokeshire coastal path.
The killer turned out to be a local psychopath / burgler / rapist, who happened to appear on Bullseye and also won £90k in a spot the ball competition. Name John William Cooper.

Interestingly, at the same time this local psycho was roaming the coastal path area, a PIRA ASU was hiding rather large stashes of weapons, in pretty much the same area. According to local reports, the IRA men were bringing the weapons onshore to the St Brides Bay area and taking them up to the coastal path area to bury them.

The IRA men were caught when workmen replacing a signpost found some wires and switches. Then a bird watcher told police he'd noticed some disturbed ground. The police (Dyfed Powys / Special Branch / Anti Terror?) laid in wait for months and caught the 2 IRA guys. They were imprisoned, but refused to discuss the Dixons killing.

Now, so what?
Well, there were a few points I found interesting about this story.:

I know this area and lugging weapons up to the coastal path and burying them would be quite a job. I can't imagine the PIRA were the fittest of men. Presumably this was done at night, to avoid tourists. Even so, in my experience farmers etc in these areas are very observant. I am very surprised the IRA managed to do this task undiscovered.

The local killer (Cooper) was a real night prowler. Always roaming the dark for victims and hiding items in hedgerows etc. I'd be very surprised if he and the IRA men hadn't noticed each others activities. Also, the IRA seem to have been busy hiding weapons in the area at the same time that the police were looking for Cooper, using dogs etc. Now as Cooper was armed with a shotgun, presumably these tracker dogs would have been trained to find explosive scent? Yet the dogs tracking Cooper never came across the IRA weapons cache?

The policeman who discovered the Dixons' bodies noted that they had been covered with vegetation in the same manner that the police had been trained to use to construct covert rural OPs, by the SAS.
 

Daxx

MIA
Book Reviewer
When is your book out?
 

chimera

LE
Moderator
And your point is.....?
 

The_Gremlin

Old-Salt
When is your book out?
Well there is a video on Youtube about the case already. Plus a book I read a bit of on Google Books.
But perhaps an updated book would be good one day. If more facts come out.
Not sure if the IRA guys are out of jail now.
Perhaps with the ceasefire etc, they would contribute more in the future?
Who knows?
 

chimera

LE
Moderator
Who knows indeed.

The public has a right to know.

Just as the public has a right to know that this is at least the third identity you have used on ARRSE so far.
 

Daxx

MIA
Book Reviewer
Can I have a signed copy of the book?
 

The_Gremlin

Old-Salt
Maybe some people on here know more, or were even involved?
Something about this case happened in November. Close to 9th (fall of Berlin wall) or 5th (Guy Faulks Night).
I can't remember now, but something is significant in November 1989 to this case.

Also, the local press (The Western Telegraph) did actually leak the story that the switches and wires had been found by the signpost. But then the police stopped any further media coverage. As this was pre-internet, the IRA didn't read the local paper (presumably), because they were caught when they went back in December.

I've been on holiday to this place a few times, but I'd like to know for certain the exact spots where the bodies were found and where the main arms cache was buried.

Interesting that it seems the two IRA men did not deny killing the Dixons - why not?
Would denying that murder perhaps have helped the police investigation into the IRA weapons find in some way?
 

The_Gremlin

Old-Salt
The last time I went to this area, I asked a few people about the case.
Apparently the police (Dyfed-Powys?) were trained to set up covert OPs to look for drug smugglers, bringing in drugs via fishing boats. Then onwards to sell in Swansea etc.
But the police weren't suspecting IRA smugglers? Even so, you'd think they would spot something suspicious.
Also would this not be the job of the Customs and Excise (at that time?)
Did Customs set up covert OPs like this? Or would they ask the army to do it for them?

Anyway, some locals told me that caves and coves were used for hiding drugs and weapons.
I've seen people there with metal detectors. Strange the police didn't use the metal detectors back then to find the jewellery and weapons hidden by Cooper (and the IRA weapons)?

Peter Dixon was an amateur radio operator with a radio in his car.
It was suspected he was overheard talking to a boat via radio.
Also, he had business contacts who sold mercury tilt switches in Ireland, so that lead to further IRA suspicions.
 

Slime

LE
The last time I went to this area, I asked a few people about the case.
Apparently the police (Dyfed-Powys?) were trained to set up covert OPs to look for drug smugglers, bringing in drugs via fishing boats. Then onwards to sell in Swansea etc.
But the police weren't suspecting IRA smugglers? Even so, you'd think they would spot something suspicious.
Also would this not be the job of the Customs and Excise (at that time?)
Did Customs set up covert OPs like this? Or would they ask the army to do it for them?

Anyway, some locals told me that caves and coves were used for hiding drugs and weapons.
I've seen people there with metal detectors. Strange the police didn't use the metal detectors back then to find the jewellery and weapons hidden by Cooper (and the IRA weapons)?

Peter Dixon was an amateur radio operator with a radio in his car.
It was suspected he was overheard talking to a boat via radio.
Also, he had business contacts who sold mercury tilt switches in Ireland, so that lead to further IRA suspicions.
As this isn’t your first avatar on this site who were you previously.
It saves starting conversations twice if we know who you were.
 
Why would farmers be 'observant' regarding things that weren't on their land (both incidents occurred well off farmland, on sheer and wooded slopes)? Pembrokeshire farmers didn't notice drug-smugglers building a sodding great fibreglass 'cave' UNDER a beach and stuffing it with outboard motors, fuel and drugs, either...

People walking on the coast path with large rucksacks full of kit are NOT unusual.

There is easy access to that bit of the path from a small lay-by, which is right next to the coast-path. There is also another style about 250m further up the road, with a short walk of 250m or so along a hedgeline to reach the path very close to the location of both incidents.

Dyfed-Powys were not mounting general anti-smuggling OPs. They had however, mounted OPs in relation to specific intelligence (e.g. their big bust Op JULIE, which related to the 'cave').

I thankfully didn't know him, but know and work with people who knew him very well. Aside from committing two opportunistic double-murders (in most people's opinions his ex-wife's death could be considered a fifth murder) was/is a total moron who indulged in petty criminality (burglary and assault with a side-order of rape) with absolutely no connection whatsoever to Ireland or PIRA.
 
Just in case this is another attempt by a lawyer to blame squaddies for something historic then " I don't remember the incident"
 

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