Jury hears prosecution closing address in Cooper trial

Farm worker John William Cooper would have been convicted of 30 burglaries and a violent robbery even faster if the jury had known about his lies, a court heard yesterday.

Cooper, now 66, was jailed for 16 years in 1998 for the offences.

Gerard Elias QC, in his closing address to Swansea crown court in Cooper's latest trial, said it was now known that: *Cooper now admitted that a balaclava thrown away after a robbery at Sardis was his and that he had lied to the original jury.

*that 503 house keys had been thrown into the cess pit of his then home in St Mary's Park, Jordanston.

*that inside his house were gloves with fibres linking them to the sawn off shotgun used in the Sardis robbery and to shoot dead holidaymakers Peter and Gwenda Dixon.

*that he had no explanation as to how scientists had found fibres linking all the crimes he presently denied.

Cooper, said Mr Elias, had "peddled a line" during his 1998 trial that he had handled some stolen goods over a period of four years but that was all.

"He is peddling that line again. It didn't work then and it will not fool you now," he told the jury.

Cooper, now of Spring Gardens Letterston, denies shooting dead the Dixons in 1989, or murdering brother and sister Richard and Helen Thomas, who were shot dead at their home in Scoveston Park in 1985.

Cooper also denies attacking a group of five teenagers in a field off the Mount Estate, Milford Haven, in March 1996, when a masked gunman tried to rob all five, raped a 16 year old girl and indecently assaulted her friend.

Mr Elias told the jury that the 30 burglaries and robbery had taken place over a 13 year period, ending in 1996.

In early March, 1996, Cooper had carried out three burglaries close to the field where the rape happened.

He suggested that Cooper had targeted the properties from the field and that he was looking for another house to break into when he came across the teenagers.

Mr Elias said he had with him at the time his "burglar's kit" of a balaclava and a sawn off shotgun.

He said the 1998 jury had convicted Cooper of all the charges against him and the convictions had been upheld by the Court of Appeal as safe.

If Cooper wished to continue denying responsibility it was for him to prove it to the jury--it was not the task of the prosecution to convict him all over again.

Mr Elias highlighted the evidence of Cooper's son Adrian, now known as Andrew. He had told the jury his father would go for walks with a gun strapped to his back hidden by a coat.

He said his father kept a room at the back of the house locked but he managed to get in and saw a length of a pair of shotgun barrels in a vice, having been sawn off.

He also looked in a cupboard and saw jewellery, trinkets, coins and photographs of people he did not recognise.

"Were they trophies?" asked the barrister.

The trial continues.

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