South West Wales

John Cooper murder trial: TV's Bullseye shown to jury

A man accused of murdering four people more than 20 years ago appeared on TV's Bullseye shortly before two of them died, a court has heard.

The Swansea Crown Court jury was shown footage of John Cooper appearing on the ITV darts quiz in 1989.

A freeze frame of the defendant was shown next to an artist's impression released shortly after Peter and Gwenda Dixon were shot.

Mr Cooper denies the killings.

Mrs and Mrs Dixon from Oxfordshire, were killed while on holiday in Pembrokeshire, west Wales, in 1989.

Richard and Helen Thomas were found dead at their house Scoveston Park, near Milford Haven in 1985. They had been shot.

The jury was shown a freeze frame of Mr Cooper appearing on Bullseye, recorded on 30 May 1989.

The jury was then played around five minutes of clips from the show which had not been broadcast at the time of the Dixons' death.

Although most of the footage was played without sound Mr Cooper did tell host Jim Bowen his hobby was scuba diving.

Image caption The Dixons' bank card was used between the time they were last seen and the discovery of their bodies.

Tina Williams, a graphic designer working for ITV, told the court that in October 2009 she was asked to find an image from the programme which showed Mr Cooper in the same profile as the artist's impression.

The jury was shown two artist's impressions of a man drawn-up by police after the Dixons' murder.

The couple died from shotgun wounds with the jury being told Mrs Dixon was shot twice - once in the back and once in the chest - and her husband three times - including a shot at close range to the face.

The holidaymakers were last seen leaving their campsite near Littlehaven on 29 June and their bodies were found nearby on the Pembrokeshire Coast path on 5 July.

Between those dates Mr Dixon's bank card had been used to withdraw money from cash points at banks in Pembroke and Haverfordwest.

One of the artist's impressions was created using a description provided by Dionne Mather who was working in a bakery opposite Lloyds bank in Pembroke on the afternoon of 29 June.

She told the jury she recalled seeing a man standing outside the branch for between 15 and 20 minutes.

She said he was dressed in shorts or cut-off trousers, had scruffy greying collar length hair and an "old fashioned" straight handle bar bike.

"There was something unusual about him. When I would look at him he would look away," she said.

The jury was also read statements made by a couple out shopping around the same time and a man doing his banking.

They described the man as having a "weather beaten face" and an "outdoors look" about him.

'Well tanned'

The court heard Nicholas Elliott was driving past a branch of Nat West in Haverfordwest early on the morning of 1 July.

In his statement he also described a man with collar length hair who was "well tanned" and looked as if he spent a lot of time outdoors.

Mr Elliott also noticed a bicycle with straight handle bars.

The second artist's impression was based on his description and shown to the jury alongside a freeze frame from the TV show.

Mr Cooper denies the four murder charges and charges of rape, indecent assault and five robberies relating to an incident in 1996.

The trial continues.

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