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Special investigation into Pembrokeshire murders

26/05/2011

Today, at Swansea Crown Court, one of Wales' most notorious criminals was imprisoned for two horrific double murders in Pembrokeshire. Tonight, Y Byd ar Bedwar (S4C, Thursday 26 May 21:00, English subtitles) has a special report on the investigation which led to John Cooper’s arrest, nearly three decades after he killed for the first time.

In the eighties, Richard Thomas and his sister Helen and the married couple Peter and Gwenda Dixon were shot dead in separate bloody attacks. It seemed that no one would ever be prosecuted for the crime, but thanks to developments in forensic science a team of Dyfed-Powys Police detectives managed to catch Cooper, a quarter of a century later.

In 1998, Cooper was sentenced to sixteen years' imprisonment for burglary and theft. On the programme tonight the officer who questioned Cooper at the time speaks for the first time about his frustration in an interview with the villain.

He told Y Byd ar Bedwar: "He didn’t speak to me, he didn’t look at me. He had his face in his hands all the time. He didn’t even acknowledge his name."

While the police suspected that Cooper was responsible for the four murders, Dyfed-Powys Police failed to prove it in 1998. But when questioned by Y Byd ar Bedwar about this failure, Jeff Thomas who was head of CID at the time insisted that he has no regrets about the investigation.

"I have no regrets. During my career [we managed] to secure evidence [which, in the end] ensured that he was put in the dock," said Jeff Thomas.

In 2007, the investigation into the killings was re-opened and this time the police managed to connect John Cooper to the murders and build a strong case against him.

Y Byd ar Bedwar will also talk to the neighbours who lived next door to Cooper in Letterston, and show dramatic footage of the murderer’s last moments as a free man. There is also footage of interviews where the murderer responds to the accusations against him.

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