Immortalised on film by Welsh Hollywood actor Luke Evans, one of the stars of 'The Fast and Furious' series, the now retired senior policing professional, Steve Wilkins, wrote the book on which the award winning mini-series was based. Highly acclaimed 'The Pembrokeshire Murders' is widely regarded as a bench mark for engrossing and absorbing crime writing.
That six-month exhaustive work of precise penmanship, he admits, was “his own personal therapeutic debrief,” following a man-hunt which had consumed his and his team's lives for six years.
Locked up on a full life sentence in 2011, John William Cooper, a diagnosed psychopath, was responsible for the double murder of siblings Richard and Helen Thomas in 1985, and the double murder of Peter and Gwenda Dixon. Cooper had a history of criminal activities, including thirty robberies and violent assaults, but his bare-faced flaunting, as a contestant on the TV game show Bullseye in May 1989 was one of the factors that helped Detective Steve Wilkins convict him, as it was later used as evidence, comparing his image to the identikit picture of a man who had used the Dixons' credit cards.
Steve Wilkins, now retired and living in Nantwich, reopened the cold case in 2005, and with a clinical approach re-examined all the forensic evidence. He said: "The key was looking at how we recovered forensic evidence from 15 years previously, how we had preserved the evidence we had already found and how we could maintain its integrity so we could present it as reliable evidence in court."
With the link to Jim Bowen's top rating TV series ‘Bullseye' hitting the international headlines, Steve decided to write his own book after being approached by six writers, whom he feared would not produce a faithful or sensitive account. "I wanted to keep the conversations I had with the families confidential and my account maintains the privacy of those relationships."
After six months writing, he produced a serious factual account, which immediately drew the attention of the television industry and rising star Luke Evans, who played him on screen. Steve said: "When I was on the film set, Luke would ask would you have said that 'like this' and I would reply, 'well perhaps not, more like this.’ We are still good friends today."
Steve said of the writing process: "It was often hard work; it took me back to the sights and sounds of the incident room; I could even smell what it was like back then. I divided the book into the key discoveries of evidence and it formed a natural sequence."
The King's School's Assistant Head of English Kathryn Brookes, who invited Steve to speak to her A Level Literature students as part of their study of crime fiction, said: "I heard Steve speak and I was simply spellbound, just like our A Level students today.
"Crime fiction is currently the most popular literary genre and it was fascinating to hear how Steve approaches his work both as a police officer and as a writer."