The jury in the John William Cooper murder trial turned detectives today (Thursday) and unearthed a new piece of evidence.

Swansea crown court had already heard that a scruffy man pushing a bicycle with straight handlebars was seen in Pembroke shortly after holidaymakers Peter and Gwenda Dixon were shot dead on the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path.

The man was seen to approach a cash machine about the time Mr Dixon's card was used to withdraw money.

Former detective Anthony Mattick today told the jury about a major search of Cooper's then home in St Mary's Park, Jordanston, which took place in 1998 after Cooper had been arrested for burglaries and a robbery.

Exhibits found during that investigation are being used in the present trial because, the prosecution claim, new DNA techniques connect them with four murders, a rape and other crimes.

As Mr Mattick was about to leave the witness box the jury passed the judge, Mr Justice John Griffith Williams, a note asking him to ask the witness if officers had found a straight handled bicycle during the search.

Ex-detective Mattick said they had, near a hedge on the property.

Gerard Elias, prosecuting, assured the jury that his team would attempt to discover more evidence about the bicycle for when the trial resumes next Tuesday.

The distinctive, old fashioned bicycle had caught the attention of a man using the cash point in June, 1989.

At that stage the Dixons were missing - it was only later that they were found tied up and shot dead.

The prosecution say the man with the bicycle in 1989 was Cooper, aged 66, now of Spring Gardens, Letterston.

Cooper denies murdering the Dixons, from Oxfordshire, and also the murders of bother and sister Richard and Helen Thomas, aged 58 and 56, at the home, Scoveston Park, in 1985.

Cooper also denies raping a 16 year-old girl in a field close to the Mount Estate, Milford Haven, and indecently assaulting her friend, in March, 1996, as well as five allegations of attempted robbery.

The prosecution argue that all the crimes are linked by fibres, DNA, blood spots and other evidence.

The trial continues.