A Milford Haven woman has told the John William Cooper trial from beyond the grave how she and her friends were attacked by an armed, hooded man.

The alleged victim was 15 at the time and gave a statement to police who video taped her.

She died earlier this year but the judge, Mr Justice John Griffith Williams, granted the prosecution permission to play the tape to the jury - even though the defence will not have the chance to cross examine.

Cooper, aged 66, of Spring Gardens, Letterston, is accused of raping one of the girls, indecently assaulting another and trying to rob all five.

Cooper is also charged with two double murders - of brother and sister Richard and Helen Thomas, aged 58 and 56, who were shot dead at their home, Scoveston Manor, in 1985, and of holidaymakers Peter and Gwenda Dixon, 51 and 52, who were also shot dead four years later.

The witness told police how she and four friends, two girls and a boy, went out to play on March 6, 1996. They were aged between 14 and 16 and headed into woodland near the Mount Estate, Milford Haven.

After playing on a swing in the trees they began to walk back home when they were approached by a man walking his dog.

One of the boys thought it was a friend called Wayne and said, "It's Wayne." The reply was, "Do I look like Wayne?."

The girl then realised the man's face was covered with what looked like a home made balaclava, with large holes for his eyes. He was also carrying a short, double barrelled shotgun and shining a torch into their eyes.

He forced the group to walk away from houses on the Mount and further into a field and then to lie on their stomachs.

He selected one of the girls, took her a little further away and raped her. Then he returned and indecently assaulted another of the girls.

"He said if we all shut up and don't move no-one would get hurt. He kicked one of the boys in the head and told him to stop moving and to keep his head down.

"The girl who was raped was crying. Then it all went quiet for about ten minutes.

"He came back over and kicked the same boy again. Then he knelt by the other girl and she began crying.

"If I heard his voice again I would know who it was."

She said the ordeal ended when he told them to leave - but with the warning that he knew who they were and if they told anyone what had happened he would find them and kill them.

To make his point he fired into the air.

The girl who was indecently assaulted told the court she thought the man had a sack over his head, with holes for the eyes.

She said she heard her friend being raped.

"I guessed what he was doing. He told her to shut up.

"Earlier we could hear the sound of children playing on the Mount but where he took us it was deadly silent."

Protected by screens from people sitting in the public gallery, she described how the man - still wearing a woollen glove - put his hand up her top and under her bra. He then put his hand down her tracksuit bottoms and touched her indecently.

Before being allowed to leave the man demanded money from all five, but they told him they had nothing. One boy offered him his empty wallet, another his watch.

She said that when the man told them to go they began to walk away slowly.

"He said that if we looked back he would kill us. One of the boys began crying and running and I told him not to run."

She said the rape victim walked slowly behind them, sobbing and with her head down.

Cooper denies all the charges and the trial continues.