John Cooper denies double murder as trial set to start
- Mar 21 2011
A JURY will be sworn in tomorrow to begin the trial of John William Cooper, the man accused of two double murders in Pembrokeshire in the 1980s.
Gerard Elias QC is due to open the prosecution case tomorrow in what is expected to be a 10-week trial at Swansea Crown Court.
Cooper denies the murders of brother and sister Richard and Helen Thomas at their Scoveston Park manor house in 1985.
Grandfather Cooper, 66, of Letterston, near Haverfordwest, also denies the killings of Oxford holidaymakers Peter Dixon and his wife Gwenda four years later.
In addition he is pleading not guilty to a rape and indecent assault charge unrelated to the murders and to attempted robbery all alleged to have taken place in 1996.
Richard Thomas was 58 and his sister 54 when their bodies were found in the burned out remains of Scoveston Park in December 1985.
They both died of gunshot wounds.
Peter Dixon, 51, and his 52-year-old wife, on holiday in Little Haven, Pembrokeshire, in July 1989 were also shot dead. They were attacked as they walked along the Pembrokeshire coastal path near the camp site where they were staying.
A panel of more than 100 potential jurors was slimmed down to 51 yesterday, the large number needed because of the estimated length of the case and its complexity.
The jury of 12 will be chosen tomorrow morning from the final 51 potential jurors.
Trial judge Mr Justice John Griffith Williams Kt told the potential jurors the case involved “a substantial body of evidence”.
He also warned jurors that site visits to various spots in Pembrokeshire during the trial would involve walks of “up to half a mile, possibly over rough and uneven ground”.
Bespectacled Cooper appeared in the dock today wearing a smart, grey suit and striped tie and carrying a folder of papers.