John William Cooper has told the jury of his life around the Milford Haven area – including the reaction his family received after they scooped
£94,000 on a Spot the Ball Competition.
Cooper said he was born in Milford Haven and left grammar school at the age of 15 to take courses in carpentry and upholstery.
On July 11, 1966, he married Patricia and they lived in a council house in Howarth Close. They had a son, Adrian, in January, 1967 and a daughter, Teresa, the following year.
By 1978 he was a welder's mate at the then Gulf oil refinery and that year a 50p attempt at a newspaper's Spot the Ball competition netted him £94,000. He took the option of receiving £90,000 in
cash and a Rover Princess car. He said he gave £1,000 to each of 10 relatives.
Cooper and his wife spent a "no expense spared" holiday in America and bought Big House farm in Rosemarket, along with five and a half acres of land.
"I didn't think I had changed but people's attitudes had. We suffered a backlash, jealousy," he told the jury.
He left the refinery and became a smallholder at Big House, growing barley and rearing calves and poultry, and stabling horses.
Meanwhile, his wife opened a shop called the Tap Room with a friend, Janet Underwood.
Cooper said he "contracted myself out" to Mike Richards of Jordanston Farm as a labourer but realised his own smallholding was not large enough to work. He sold the Big House and, in 1982, bought
Valetta Villa on Hazel Beach, Milford.
He said he sold the Big House to the manager of the Nelson Hotel, Milford, who did not pay the full price. Cooper accepted the balance in the form of a cabin cruiser and a diamond ring. He berthed
the cruiser outside Valetta Villa.
From Valetta Villa, which he sold at a profit, he bought 22 acres in Johnston and began to build a bungalow. Meanwhile, his family moved into 34 St Mary's Park, Jordanston, the rent for which was
deducted from his wages by the owner, Mike Richards.
The 22 acres became known as the Beeches and the Coopers were again raising calves, growing barley, egging poultry and stabling horses. Meanwhile, Mrs Cooper continued her activities as a
seamstress. But in 1987 she was kicked by a horse and almost died.
The Coopers abandoned the Beeches and sold it at a loss.
In 1989 - the year the Dixons were shot dead as they walked the Pembrokeshire Coastal path - there was a "bust up" between Cooper and Mr Richards which resulted in Cooper being sacked and receiving
a notice to quit 34 St Mary's Park.
Cooper refused to leave, claiming he was protected by the Rent Act, and heard nothing more. He never paid rent again but, he said, he carried out improvement works to the value of the rent.
He said 34 St Mary's Park had been in poor condition and he had "kept all the records" about what he had done to improve the property.
Cooper denies all the charges and the trial continues.