Two of Wales's most notorious murderers John Cooper and John Pope have appeals rejected

 

Two of Wales's most notorious murderers had their appeals dismissed today.

Farm labourer John Cooper was given a whole life jail term for two double murders that stunned west Wales in the 1980s.

He evaded justice for decades, but modern DNA and fibre examination techniques saw him brought to justice earlier this year.

John Pope was jailed after a retrial for the 1996 murder of Karen Skipper, whose partially clothed body was found in the River Ely in Fairwater, Cardiff, with her hands tied behind her back.

Pope had his murder conviction quashed in 2009 by the Court of Appeal, but he was found guilty after a retrial two years later.

Pope had his appeal against conviction dismissed and Cooper his application to appeal dismissed by the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, sitting at Cardiff Crown Court.

In the case of Pope, the Lord Chief Justice published an 11-page document outlining the case and his reasons for refusal.

It said: "The case presented to the jury was that blood found on Mrs Skipper's clothes could not get on to (them) by the way suggested by the appellant.

"The blood was deposited when the jeans were open and in the process of being taken down. That occurred when Mrs Skipper was being attacked by her killer."

Cooper, who police linked with the double murderers in west Wales following a string of robberies referred to as "the Huntsmen offences", had his application for an appeal thrown out.

The Lord Chief Justice said: "The defence case was the applicant had been wrongly convicted of the Huntsman offences and that he was not guilty of the present offences.

"The jury no doubt considered his (Cooper's) evidence carefully before deciding his guilt was proved.

"The application for leave to appeal against conviction was refused by a single judge. We (the court of appeal) agree with him. This renewed application will similarly be refused."

Following the ruling, Mrs Skipper's family wept tears of joy.

Speaking outside court, her sisters Heidi Mathison, Gail Emerson and Dorothea Scholz said they were relieved the matter was over.

Mrs Mathison, 45, said: "We shouldn't have been here. But we've got the right result and we're pleased.

"Karen can finally rest in peace. We've said that on a number of occasions now, but for me this will be the end and we can carry on and remember Karen for who she was - and not for all the court trials that we've had to endure."

Mrs Mathison said the days leading up to the appeal hearing had been an incredibly tense time for her family - particularly her 81-year-old mother Josie Scholz.

"We've been anxious, had no sleep and not been eating. It's been an emotional rollercoaster," she added.

"This morning, I woke up and didn't know if I could come to court because I didn't know what the result was going to be.

"It's really difficult to explain.

"For the past 16 years our lives have been on hold.

"Karen was a loving caring person who didn't deserve to die. We will never move on from what happened.

"You don't ever forget what happened, but we will try to get on and live our lives - because that's what Karen would have wanted us to do."

Mrs Skipper's family said they were also thinking of her late husband Phillip.

A year after his wife's death in 1996, Mr Skipper was put on trial accused of her murder.

He was cleared by a jury, and died in 2004 before the real killer Pope was caught.

"He endured a terrible time when he was placed on trial," Mrs Mathison added.

"Phillip was found not guilty and quite rightly so.

"It would just have been nice for him to have been here today to hear this news."

Mrs Mathison also paid tribute to South Wales Police, who following a cold case review in 2007 were able to bring Pope to justice.

One of the key officers in the inquiry was senior investigating officer Detective Superintendent Stuart Mackenzie.

He said: "Our thoughts remain with the family of Karen Skipper, as they have done since she was brutally murdered on March 10, 1996 - as well as the family of her late husband Phillip.

"Over two decades, they not only had to deal with the pain of losing Karen but also three trials and two appeal hearings.

"We note the decision of the court today and for the sake of Karen's family and friends hope this is the end of the matter."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Property
pets
Arts and Entertainment
tvGame of Thrones season 5 ep 4, review - WARNING: contains major spoiliers!
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Sport
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
News
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Sport
football
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’
tvThe Enfield Haunting, TV review
News
news
News
The Mattehorn stands reflected in Leisee lake near Sunnegga station on June 30, 2013 near Zermatt, Switzerland
news
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living