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Eric Edgar Cooke the Night Caller serial killer became the last man hanged in Western Australia 

Eric Edgar Cooke (pictured) terrorised Perth from 1959 to 1963, murdering eight people and injuring 22 others

Sixty years ago sunny Perth was a sleepy little city where citizens of Australia's most remote capital felt safe to leave their homes unlocked, even if they went on holidays.

That idyllic lifestyle was shattered when a harelipped former solider embarked on a violent crime spree from 1959 to 1963 that would leave eight people dead and 22 others injured.

The Night Caller, as he came to be known, terrorised the city as he stabbed, shot and strangled men and women, seemingly indiscriminately. 

Police did not connect the string of crimes to one man until it was too late and he had left behind a trail of destruction well beyond his immediate victims. 

Suspects were arrested and jailed but the attacks continued until Eric Edgar Cooke was finally identified as perhaps Australia's worst serial killer. 

Cooke was the last man hanged in Western Australia, in 1964, but his execution did not bring justice for all and his crimes would reverberate in Perth for years to come.

Two men wrongly convicted of murders committed by Cooke remained in prison and would have to fight for decades to prove their innocence.  

Cooke is the subject of a new four-part Stan Original Documentary Series called After The Night which premiered on Sunday and is soon set to captivate an international audience. 

Eric Edgar Cooke shows police where he ran down and killed Rosemary Anderson in February 1963. Rosemary's boyfriend John Button was wrongly convicted of the murder 

The Night Caller, as Cooke (right) was known before his identity was discovered, terrified Perth city as he stabbed, shot and strangled men and women, seemingly indiscriminately

Stan's new documentary After The Night features crime scene photographs of serial killer Eric Edgar Cooke (centre, with detectives)

After The Night is seen through the eyes of filmmaker Thomas Meadmore who returns to his childhood home and tracks down the people closest to Cooke and those whose lives he changed forever.

Cooke had grown up in an unhappy household and was regularly beaten by his alcoholic father. Surgery to his cleft lip had not been a success and the facial deformity led to him being bullied.

He was expelled from infants school aged six for stealing money from a teacher's purse and was placed in orphanages and foster homes.

Cooke left school at 14 to work as a delivery boy and spent his later teenage years engage in burglary, vandalism and arson.

A brief stint in the army followed his first adult prison sentence and upon his discharge Cooke graduated to car theft.

Cooke's crimes continued through the late 1950s with petty break-ins - stealing food, lighting fires and slashing soft furnishings.  

Then suddenly his offending escalated to include murder, although no one knew he was the perpetrator at the time. 

Police did not connect the string of crimes to one man until it was far too late and he had left behind a trail of destruction beyond his immediate victims. Cooke is pictured with a detective

Cooke is pictured far right with a group of the detectives near where he ran down and killed Rosemary Anderson

Cooke (second from right) confessed to killing Rosemary Anderson but police did not believe him and the courts found his admission was not enough evidence to overturn John Button's conviction for the crime

A young woman was tied up and slain in her flat while she slept. She had been mutilated with dressmaking scissors and struck with a tomahawk.

A father was shot in the face when he answered the door just metres from his wife and children. 

A babysitter was shot in the head and another young woman was run down by a car and left for dead on the road. 

On Australia Day 1963 five people were shot - two fatally - in random attacks across a number of suburban blocks.  

There seemed nothing to link the spate of vicious attacks and police believed they were looking for several killers using completely different modus operandi.

Meadmore's mother grew up in Perth during Cooke's reign of terror and told him as a child how the character of the city changed almost overnight. 

'Families put bars on their windows,' he said. 'The police fingerprinted every man and boy in the city. 

Cooke is the subject of a new four-part Stan Original Documentary Series called After The Night (pictured) which premiered on Sunday and is set to captivate an international audience

'People avoided going out after dark or answering the door, terrified that the next face they saw would be the last. 

'The killer, known as 'The Night Caller', shook the city to the core - and it would never be the same again.'

Meadmore said his parents and their friends had 'grown up  with this real-life bogeyman terrorising their childhoods.'

Rosemary Anderson had argued with her boyfriend John Button the night she died

A friend of his father's from the local surf club was killed but police could find no link to any other murders. 'I've never forgotten how my family had lived through the nightly torment of 'we could be next',' Meadmore said.

Perth police were unprepared to investigate violence on this scale. There was no obvious motive for the attacks or pattern to follow and no useful evidence left at the scenes of the crimes.   

Deaf mute Darryl Beamish was known to police for committing petty offences but had no history of serious violent crime. 

The 19-year-old was picked up by police, questioned without his parents or a lawyer present and confessed to murdering heiress Jillian Brewer.

Beamish told his trial the confession had been forced out of him but he was sentenced to death, later commuted to 15 years in jail, and the killings stopped for a while. 

A couple of months later the attacks resumed and Perth was once again under siege from an anonymous homicidal maniac. 

Cooke, second from left, was taken by to where Rosemary Anderson was run down and killed

Journalist Estelle Blackburn fought to have John Button exonerated over the death of his girlfriend Rosemary Anderson, which Eric Cooke had caused. Blackburn and Button are pictured together 

The next man to be arrested was John Button whose girlfriend Rosemary Anderson had died after being run down in a car. He too confessed under duress that he had killed Rosemary and was sentenced to ten years in jail. 

The attacks stopped again, but not for long. 

When a man entered the bedroom of Carmel Read and stabbed her in the chest with the tip of her umbrella Perth again became alarmed. 

A month later parents Carl and Wendy Dowd came home from a party to find their babysitter Shirley McLeod had been shot in the head. 

This time police found a fingerprint in the Dowd home and could identify the type of rifle from which the fatal shot had been fired. 

They fingerprinted 30,000 men, interviewed 8,000 Perth residents and test-fired more than 60,000 rifles. There was still no match for The Night Caller.

Deaf mute Darryl Beamish was known to police for committing petty offences but had no history of serious violent crime. The 19-year-old (pictured) was arrested, questioned without his parents or a lawyer present and confessed to murdering heiress Jillian Brewer

A break in the investigation came when an elderly woman found a rifle under a bush while kneeling down to pick a flower. The rifle matched the bullet that killed Shirley McLeod.

Detectives returned the rifle to its hiding place and waited for its owner to return. After 17 days Eric Cooke was arrested when he came to collect the firearm. 

Cooke confessed to eight murders - including those Beamish and Button had been convicted of committing - as well as 22 other violent crimes and 250 burglaries. 

His wife Sally refused to help his defence and a jury took an hour to convict him of murdering John Sturkey, one of the five victims of the Australia Day shootings. 

Cooke was hanged at Fremantle Prison on October 26, 1964. He was 33.

Even after Cooke was sentenced to death his admissions to killing Jillian Brewer and Rosemary Anderson were not considered compelling enough to overturn Beamish and Button's convictions and the pair remained languishing in prison.  

Cooke (pictured) confessed to eight murders  as well as 22 other violent crimes and 250 burglaries. A jury took an hour to convict him of one murder. He was hanged at Fremantle Prison on October 26, 1964 aged 33

Beamish served his sentence in full and Button did five more years before he was released on parole. 

Their cases for exoneration were pushed by various public figures for decades but little happened before journalist Estelle Blackburn began fighting for Button. 

An appeal in 2001 was successful and Button was found not guilty of Rosemary Anderson's murder. Beamish was cleared shorty afterwards. 

Button and Blackburn are interviewed in After The Night, as is Cooke's widow Sally, who has become friends with Button. 

Sally Cooke speaks frankly about the effects of her husband's crimes on her life. 

'When it happened, my sister disowned me, said I should change my name and move away,' she says. 'I didn't want to do that. I wanted to stay. You stay put and face it.' 

John Button, pictured with his daughter Naomi, was eventually cleared of killing his girlfriend Rosemary Anderson but had to wait decades for any semblance of justic 

Meadmore describes After The Night as 'the story of my hometown, my family, and a city that lost its innocence at the hand of a diabolical serial killer.'

'I'm also driven to help The Night Caller's victims attain greater closure all these years later, which will include securing a final apology for police incompetence, negligence and deceit. 

'The police committed terrible mistakes during their search and investigation, which they then sought to cover-up, and to this day are still yet to publicly apologise both to the men they wrongly charged and the public they failed to protect and serve.'

After The Night is screening over four one-hour episodes on Stan and will be broadcast globally via Sky UK Crime and Sundance North America. 
          

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