Saturday 3 December 2016

Grooming should be criminal offence, abuse victim urges

Edel O'Connell

Published 26/11/2010 | 05:00

A WOMAN who spent 10 years campaigning to have a predatory paedophile brought to justice has called for the grooming of children for sexual abuse to be made a criminal offence.

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Siobhan Kennedy McGuinness was one of a number of women whose evidence helped bring the Dublin paedophile Eamonn Cooke to court.

The 43-year-old mother of three, originally from Inchicore Dublin, suffered horrific abuse at the hands of the well-known pirate radio broadcaster for a number of years as a child in the 1970s.

In 2007 she was one of two victims who testified against Cooke (73), founder of the illegal station Radio Dublin. He is now serving a 10-year sentence for 42 charges of sexual assault.

Siobhan has decided to waive her anonymity and release a book about her experiences.

Speaking to the Irish Independent the Dublin woman told how she was just eight years old when she first ventured into Cooke's garage with her friends to find what she described as an "Aladdin's cave" filled with broadcasting equipment which became a playground for her and her friends.

She told how Cooke groomed her over a period of three years, building up an enormous sense of trust, so she had no understanding that what he was doing to her was wrong.

She claimed Cooke performed oral sex on her and abused her for a number of years. She said she had no real understanding of what had happened to her until she was in her teenage years, and by then she didn't want to talk about it.

"Cooke's abuse was calculated and terrifying," she said. "He told me that every room in my house was bugged and if I told anyone he would put naked pictures of me on his dashboard for everyone to see," she said.

Siobhan suffered in silence for years, but 20 years later she decided to act when she spotted Cooke holding the hands of two children. Now she wants parents to talk to their children about the insidious nature of grooming. "Grooming by its very nature is very difficult to detect. I think there is still largely a lack of understanding in Ireland of what grooming is.

"I went through the courts system for 10 years trying to get this man brought to justice, so I know how difficult it can be. I believe that grooming should be made a criminal offence in this country, as is the case in the UK," she said.

Ms Kennedy-McGuinness's book, 'Playing in the Dark', is published this month by Century Books.

Irish Independent

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