The Penfro Book Festival, held last week-end, was the third to be held at Rhosygilwen with some enjoyable and adventurous happenings. One of them which was outstanding was the talk given by Steve Wilkins and Jonathan Hill, on the subject of their new book ‘Pembrokeshire Murders – Catching the Bullsey Killer,’ just out from Seren Press, which relates the exciting, yet painstaking detection work, leading to the capture of the serial killer and rapist John Cooper.
When Detective Chief Superintendant Steve Wilkins headed up a team, to review the two unsolved double murder cases from the 1980s, that of the Dixons on the Coastal Path, and the other of the Thomases of Scoveston Park Farm, Operation Ottawa was born. It did not take long for the team to recognise that they were looking at the work of a dangerous serial killer. Whether he might strike again, or indeed whether there were other cases that might link to those original murders, was something they needed to maintain a constant awareness of. At first the collecting of evidence was slow to come together but John Cooper had already appeared early on in the investigations for a number of reasons, though there had never been sufficient evidence to prove any of the suppositions that hung around him. Thanks however, to the passage of time, forensics, including DNA testing were now available to the investigators, and played an enormous part in the final collecting of the evidence, all pointing to Cooper. The guilty man attempted to throw them off again and again with excuses, and even with physical violence, but in the end he was brought to court and the evidence put before the judge and jury was such that he was convicted for life, on the stern command from the Judge that life would mean life and he would never be released. Steve Wilkins tells the story from his perspective, even giving background on his own career in the police force, and why this case became so important to him. Jonathan Hill, as much an investigative journalist as a newsreader who presented Crime Secrets for ITV Wales, brought his skills to bear on putting the story into book form. He worked on the television version of the Bullseye Killer, for which he won a BAFTA (Wales) for Best Current Affairs and from the first meeting with Steve Wilkins, both men realised how much they could benefit by working together to write the book, telling how a cold case which had haunted Pembrokeshire for decades was solved and justice finally seen to be done.
Pembrokeshire Murders – Catching the Bullseye Killer is published by Seren Books, and for sale in bookshops price 9.99 or from www.serenbooks.com