keith allen as john cooper

The Pembrokeshire Murders on ITV: Which prison is John Cooper in and will he ever leave?

Actor Keith Allen portrays the 'Bullseye' serial killer in the new three-part crime drama...

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The Pembrokeshire Murders stars actor Keith Allen as Welsh serial killer John Cooper, who got away with murder for years, but will he ever leave prison now?

As the new three-part ITV series dramatises his eventual capture, here’s an update on the whereabouts of the ‘Bullseye’ killer.

John Cooper, the 'Bullseye' killer
John Cooper had the nerve to appear on Bullseye, despite his multitude of crimes (Credit: ITV4)

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Who is John Cooper?

John Cooper earned the sinister nickname the ‘Bullseye’ killer after his appearance on the gameshow eventually led to his arrest.

He is a Welsh serial killer and diagnosed psychopath.

John was found guilty of murdering siblings Richard and Helen Thomas in 1985, and the 1989 double murder of husband and wife Peter and Gwenda Dixon.

The murders were known as the Pembrokeshire murders or the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path murders.

As well as the double homicides, John was found guilty of rape, sexually assaulting a minor and multiple robberies.

They don’t come more evil than John Cooper.

John Cooper’s crimes

John Cooper was charged with theft of a vehicle, assaulting a police officer, being drunk and disorderly, and ABH between the ages of 17 and 21.

He later targeted a three-story farmhouse at Scoveston Park, killing reclusive brother and sister Richard and Helen Thomas.

After the killings on December 22 1985, John Cooper burnt down the house, destroying what could have been vital evidence.

On 29 June 1989, John Cooper murdered married couple Peter and Gwenda Dixon who were on holiday in Pembrokeshire.

John attacked them as they took a walk along the coastal path, tying them up, and stealing their valuables.

The criminal then shot the couple in the face at point blank range with a sawn off shotgun.

In 1996, he threatened five youngsters with a gun, sexually assaulting one girl and raping another.

By 1998, he had committed 30 burglaries and an armed robbery and was jailed for the thefts.

It was while he was in jail for robbery that police eventually linked him to the murders.

John Cooper on Bullseye in 1989
John Cooper appeared on Bullseye in 1989, after he had committed murder (Credit: ITV4)

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Where is John Cooper now?

John Cooper was sentenced to life imprisonment in May 2011, following an eight week trial.

He was also sentenced for the rape of a 16-year-old girl and a sexual assault on a 15-year-old girl, both carried out at gunpoint.

John is currently 76 and still in jail, not eligible for release as he was sent down for a whole life order.

He tried to appeal his convictions in September 2011, but his appeal was rejected in November 2012.

He remains in HMP Wakefield.

John Cooper on Bullseye

In a sick twist, the murderer appeared on ITV gameshow Bullseye in May 1989.

This was several years AFTER he’d killed brother and sister Richard and Helen Thomas, and one month before he brutally killed the holidaying Dixon couple.

Footage from the show was later used to match him to witness descriptions.

The investigating police force studied his appearance on Bullseye and compared his outline with a sketch of a suspect in the Dixons’ murder.

The prosecution said his appearance at the time matched an artist’s impression of a man seen outside a bank when Mr Dixon’s stolen card was used to withdraw money.

Luke Evans in The Pembrokeshire Murders
Luke Evans portrays DC Steve Wilkins in The Pembrokeshire Murders (Credit: ITV)

Will John Cooper ever be released?

John was convicted of murder, rape and sexual assault and sentenced to a whole life order.

This means he will never be released from prison.

How was John Cooper caught?

John Cooper was in jail for multiple robberies when DC Steve Wilkins (portrayed by Luke Evans in The Pembrokeshire Murders) linked him to the cold case killings of Richard and Helen Thomas, and the Dixon couple.

Thanks to advances in DNA and forensic science, the police were able to identify Cooper’s shotgun as the murder weapon in April 2009.

He was arrested in May 2009 and convicted in May 2011.

John’s own son Andrew testified against his dad in the trial.

The Pembrokeshire Murders will begin on ITV at 9pm on Monday January 11 2021.

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