Thursday 29 September 2016

Gardai widen Philip Cairns search to five sites

Published 18/06/2016 | 02:30

Eamon Cooke pictured outside his Radio Dublin studio in Clondalkin in 2001; Inset: Philip Cairns
Eamon Cooke pictured outside his Radio Dublin studio in Clondalkin in 2001; Inset: Philip Cairns

Gardaí are to examine five properties in counties Dublin and Sligo in a bid to find the remains of murdered schoolboy, Philip Cairns.

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The properties were all reportedly purchased by convicted paedophile 'Captain' Eamon Cooke (pictured). The radio DJ has emerged as the prime suspect in the garda investigation into the boy's disappearance 30 years ago.

At least four of the properties are in the Tallaght/Rathfarnham area of south county Dublin, which Cooke had been using to erect masts to extend the signal coverage of his station, Radio Dublin.

The Irish Independent understands that the other property was bought by Cooke in south county Sligo, near the Mayo border.

Gardaí are expected to bring in forensic experts with specialist equipment to examine the land and determine where soil movements have taken place over the past three decades.

Officers have not yet ordered the start of a dig at any of the locations but have been making preliminary preparations for a major search of the sites.

Main: Philip Cairns; Insets: Alice Cairns, mother of Philip; Students arrive back to Coláiste Éanna on the Ballyroan Road, Rathfarnham, after the mid-term break of October 1986; The lane
where Philip’s bag was found
Main: Philip Cairns; Insets: Alice Cairns, mother of Philip; Students arrive back to Coláiste Éanna on the Ballyroan Road, Rathfarnham, after the mid-term break of October 1986; The lane where Philip’s bag was found

Gardaí are likely to bring in highly sensitive instruments to carry out a geophysical survey of the properties. They will also have a forensic anthropologist and forensic archaeologist on stand-by, in case skeletal remains are found.

The Office of the State Pathologist will be kept informed of any developments in the searches.

Officers are examining a large file of documents that had been kept by Cooke while he was in Arbour Hill Prison, where he was serving his sentence after being found guilty of 42 counts of sexual assault at the Central Criminal Court in 2007.

The self-titled 'Cookie Monster' brought the documents with him when he was transferred to a hospice, where he died last month.

Those documents were handed over to investigating gardaí in the past couple of weeks.

However, officers have said they are focusing their inquiries solely on the alleged links between Cooke and Philip Cairns.

They said any references to previous cases would have already featured in the garda investigation that resulted in the sexual assault charges being brought against Cooke.

Cooke was alleged to have initially secured a signal for his radio station by using the RTÉ transmitter at the Three Rock mountain in south Dublin.

A Garda on duty at the laneway on Ballyroan Road, Rathfarnham from where 13 year old schoolboy Philip Cairns went missing on the afternoon of 23 October 1986. NPA/Independent collection
A Garda on duty at the laneway on Ballyroan Road, Rathfarnham from where 13 year old schoolboy Philip Cairns went missing on the afternoon of 23 October 1986. NPA/Independent collection

However, this only allowed the station to be broadcast in Inchicore, where Cooke had his headquarters, and Ballyfermot.

When this was blocked, he made several attempts to erect masts in the Dublin foothills and use a repeater to bounce the signal back to Radio Dublin.

Students arrive back to Coláiste Éanna on the Ballyroan Road, Rathfarnham, after the mid-term break of October 1986. NPA/Independent collection
Students arrive back to Coláiste Éanna on the Ballyroan Road, Rathfarnham, after the mid-term break of October 1986. NPA/Independent collection

Meanwhile, gardaí are continuing inquiries to identify the DNA fingerprints found on Philip's schoolbag, which was found six days after his disappearance near his home in Rathfarnham.

The area had previously been thoroughly searched for any evidence and gardaí believed that the bag had been dumped there, shortly before it was found, in an effort to set a false trail for investigating officers.

It has now emerged that one or more young girls may have been forced by Cooke to leave the bag there after he had buried the boy's remains elsewhere.

Grief: Alice Cairns talks to a reporter on the first anniversary of her son’s disappearance.
Grief: Alice Cairns talks to a reporter on the first anniversary of her son’s disappearance.

Over 160 new lines of inquiry have been opened since a woman came forward last month and told gardaí she saw Cooke attack Philip at the Radio Dublin studio.

The woman had previously made contact through a care worker five years ago but at the time was too terrified of Cooke to make a statement.

She decided to tell what she knew to gardaí last month after Cooke had become seriously ill.

The father of 11 children, Cooke died in a Dublin nursing home earlier this month.

Irish Independent

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