By Jon Clarke

WHEN detectives at Scotland Yard issued a list of suspects they wanted to apprehend in Spain two years ago, it was certainly nothing more than a wish list.

Now, incredibly, there are only 15 of the original 50 suspects potentially at large in the country, following the dramatic high-octane arrest of James Tomkins, 61, in Puerto Banus.

Both police and the mother of his murdered victim Rocky Dawson have thanked the Olive Press for keeping the case in the public eye here in Spain.

“The arrest is wonderful news,” said mother Candy Dawson, 60, this week.

“Thank you for keeping the story in the public eye on the Costa del Sol.”

Her son Rocky, 24, had been shot in front of his children for no apparent reason as he got out of his car in Hornchurch, London, four years ago.

While his murderer Christopher Pearlman, 56, was found guilty of the shooting in 2007, his alleged accomplice Tomkins, who is said to have driven the escape car, fled to Spain.

Spain is definitely no longer a hiding place for criminals

“There is no doubt that the press has done its best, keeping people aware,” said DI Mark Lawson, who led the investigation into Tomkins’ whereabouts.

While refusing to divulge “at this stage” the exact source of the tipoffs that led to his arrest, he added: “We are grateful for the help we got.”

He continued: “We are very very pleased about his arrest and Spain is well rid of him.”

He added that the Spanish authorities were now working increasingly closely with the English authorities to apprehend wanted fugitives in the country.

While there are still “an awful lot of hurdles” before getting to the arrest phrase, there is much more political will to round them up.

“There is now a genuine de-sire to get away from the days of the Costa del Crime. It takes time, but there has been a lot of excellent work down there on the ground,” he said.

“The Spanish authorities are suddenly seeing the value of getting undesirables away from their shores.

“It has been turned on its head. Spain is definitely no longer a hiding place for criminals. People should really think twice about going over to Spain to hide.”

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