The Pembrokeshire Murders: The remarkable story of how TV show exposed killer
11th January 2021

Police were only able to catch the Pembrokeshire Murders serial killer John Cooper after watching footage from TV show Bullseye 20 years after it was filmed.

The true details of The Pembrokeshire Murders, or the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path murders as they’re otherwise known, will be retold in the three-part series starring Beauty and the Beast actor Luke Evans.

Luke plays Detective Superintendent Steve Wilkins, who decides to reopen two unsolved 1980s murder cases linked with a string of burglaries and sexual assaults.

Murderer John, portrayed by actor Keith Allen, is exposed after Dyfed-Powys Police linked artist impressions of the suspect with a 1989 episode of Bullseye, which John featured in.

Initially, John tried to implicate his son Andrew Cooper, who is played by Oliver Ryan, for his evil crimes.

Speaking about the ‘huge breakthrough’ in the case, executive producer Simon Health told and other press: ‘Although there had been an artist impression done of a potential suspect for the second double murder, what John Cooper had cleverly done was destroy all photos of himself from that era,’ he began.

‘There was no contemporary reference point to put Cooper next to the artist’s impression and that was an ongoing problem for Steve, regardless of the forensic evidence that he was starting to carve out.’

‘He discovered almost at random after his son’s football match that the pub he was at, was the pub that Cooper used to play darts at,’ he added.

‘There was a picture of Cooper on the board. He was the captain of the darts team and the landlord tipped him off that he had been on Bullseye years before.’

After police linked the artist impression to killer John, they were then able to identify John’s shotgun as the murder weapon in 2009, and in 2011 he was charged with the double murders and sexual assaults.

On May 26 2011, John was convicted for the 1985 double murder of siblings Richard and Helen Thomas and the 1989 double murder of Peter and Gwenda Dixon.

He was also charged with the rape of a 16-year-old girl and the sexual assault of a 15-year-old girl, who were both held at gunpoint.

In September 2011, he launched an appeal against his convictions, but it was rejected in November 2012.

The Pembrokeshire Murders airs tonight at 9pm on ITV.

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