ONE of the teenagers attacked by Pembrokeshire serial killer John Cooper in Milford Haven died before he could be brought to justice.

In a cruel twist of fate, the inquest into the death of thirty-year-old Emma Cole, of the Mount Estate, Milford Haven, was held the same day he was sentenced last week.

Miss Cole, who died in January, was one of the five teenagers attacked by Cooper near the Mount Estate in 1996. She had never got over what had happened to her, the inquest was told.

She had suffered from chronic pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis and died following an accidental overdose of her prescribed medication.

Miss Cole also took other prescribed drugs to treat depression and to aid sleep.

Coroner’s officer Jeremy Davies said Miss Cole’s family felt she had never properly got over the incident in which two friends were raped and sexually assaulted.

He added that she had been anxious about giving evidence at Cooper’s trial.

Her mother found her on the sofa when she got up on January 30th. In a statement read at the inquest, Lynn Cole said her daughter looked “really peaceful” but she could not wake her.

A post-mortem found that the concentration of morphine in Miss Cole’s blood was ten times the level causing cardio respiratory failure.

Deputy coroner, Gareth Lewis said there was no evidence Miss Cole had deliberately overdosed on her prescription medicine, adding it was “nothing but a tragic accident”.

Miss Cole’s death caused Detective Chief Superintendent Steve Wilkins ‘great sadness’.

“I knew her and her family well and we realised that she’d probably never recovered from her experience of that attack and probably more sadly that she isn’t here to see justice after all these years,” he said.

“But certainly in relation to all of those victims, it has had a significant and lasting impact on them and in particular two of the males who were attacked – it changed their lifestyle, they rarely went out during the evening time, so it had a long lasting impact on them.

“I just hope the right verdict brings some closure to that pain they had to suffer.”

Tim Dixon, the son of murdered couple Peter and Gwenda Dixon said: “We hope Emma can now rest in peace.”