The Pembrokeshire Murders' Luke Evans shaken by John Cooper's 'terrible and tragic' abuse of son and wife during filming

LUKE Evans was left shaken by John Cooper's 'terrible and tragic' abuse of his son and wife while filming The Pembrokeshire Murders.

The 41-year-old actor plays real-life policeman DS Steve Wilkins in the new ITV drama, who reopened a cold case about two double murders in the 1980s.

The crimes were committed by serial killer John Cooper, who was eventually charged and sentenced to life imprisonment thanks to Steve and his teams' efforts.

But Luke admits he was not only shocked by the nature of John's crimes, but by how badly he treated his wife Pat and son, Andrew.

Speaking to The Sun Online and other press about the series, Luke said: "The portrayal of Andrew was done extremely well by Oliver Ryan, and he did, he brought out this tragic, desperate, fragile man who's left with nothing but pain, physical, and emotional, and was damaged and broken.

"And for me playing Steve knowing that I, as a father, seeing a man whose father had beaten him, had treated him extremely badly, and forced him to leave the house and, and so many terrible things, which I don't want to go into right now.But it'll come out within the story and the drama.

"But it was very powerful those scenes to see this man who had lost everything and failed to have any kind of happiness in his own life, purely because of this bully of a father, who not only was a murderer, but even when he was caught was blaming his son who he hadn't spoken to for many, many years… you just feel extremely sorry for him."

Luke continued: "And it's so important that I'm very grateful to Nick as a writer that he embraced the story of Andrew and it's a real powerful backbone to that side of the story.

"Just to know the other part of John Cooper's life, you know, not just the fact of the people that he murdered brutally, and in a shocking manner, but also what he did within the four walls of his own house to his wife and his son.

"I mean, it just makes my skin crawl what this man went through so it's really important that Andrew's story is told within the whole story."

Cooper murdered siblings Richard and Helen Thomas in 1985 and then Peter and Gwenda Dixon four years later.

Luke's character Steve reopened the cold case in 2006 after advances in DNA meant they could reinvestigate the killings and lead them to review a 1989 episode of Bullseye which the murderer appeared on.

John Cooper was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2011.

The Pembrokeshire Murders begins tonight at 9pm on ITV.

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