Friday 9 December 2016

Prime suspect DJ Eamon Cooke was a 'vile, evil, psychopathic individual... capable of killing' - victim speaks out

Published 17/06/2016 | 15:38

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

One of Eamon Cooke’s victims who went through two trials to put him behind bars said Cooke was a “vile, evil, psychopathic individual” who was definitely capable of the murder of missing schoolboy, 13-year-old Philip Cairns.

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The woman, who was referred to as Sophia on today's Newstalk Lunchtime, said that Cooke “absolutely” had it in him to kill.

“Eamon Cook was the most vile, evil, violent, psychopathic individual you’re ever likely to meet. He had no conscience and, yes, he had it in him. I don’t know if he did kill Philip Cairns or not but I know that he certainly had it in him,” she said.

Sophia was sexually abused by the paedophile radio DJ Eamon Cooke when she was seven years old and the abuse continued for three years.

“Eamon Cooke was a neighbour of ours. I knew him for as long as I remember. I first came into contact with him when we went into his garage as children. It was a playground for children really. There was a small door in the garage and as children we were curious and we went in. We played there for a while, there were lots of telephones and TV screens and we just played.

“I was around seven years of age when he started abusing me and that went on until the age of ten by which time he had set up his radio station in his house that was in our neighbourhood. There was a mutiny at that time with his members of staff and that was the end of the abuse for me but it went on for three years.”

Eamon Cooke pictured outside his Radio Dublin studio in Clondalkin in 2001. Photo: Collins
Eamon Cooke pictured outside his Radio Dublin studio in Clondalkin in 2001. Photo: Collins

Sophia said it was a “gradual process with grooming and an initial building of trust for a child”.

“We had no idea. No child has any idea that they’re being groomed because it mirrors so well the normal everyday things that parents and adults do with children, gifts, kind words, it’s a very difficult lie to see. We didn’t even know about sex or puberty.”

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.

Sophia said she was aware that it was happening to other children too, which fostered a sense of “secrecy among them”.

“I was aware that it was also boys and girls. He was the kind of paedophile who also liked to pair children. He liked to pair girls together and boys together, particularly girls so that was his method of operation.

Eamon Cooke: jailed in 2007
Eamon Cooke: jailed in 2007

"He really did like to pair and in doing that he almost created a greater sense of secrecy because two children had to keep the secret, two children would be threatened,” she said.

She said as the abuse went on it became “worse and more sexual”.

Prime suspect: Pirate DJ Eamon Cooke at his Inchicore studios from where Radio Dublin was broadcast.
Prime suspect: Pirate DJ Eamon Cooke at his Inchicore studios from where Radio Dublin was broadcast.

“He would show me porn and then eventually by age nine he was taking me naked into his bed along with another victim.”

The mutiny within the radio station made Sophia too afraid to go back into the house and that’s when the abuse stopped.

She said Cooke still threatened her and the other victims that if they told anyone they would be hurt or sent to children’s’ homes.

“The last people we felt able to tell were the people who could protect us the most which was our parents.

The area of land in the Dublin mountains once owned by Eamon Cooke where gardaí will begin a search for the remains of Philip. Photo: Damien Eagers
The area of land in the Dublin mountains once owned by Eamon Cooke where gardaí will begin a search for the remains of Philip. Photo: Damien Eagers

“I was very very angry. I was angry once I realised what he was doing was wrong. I was 18 before I told my parents.”

She said her father’s reaction was “immediate” and he brought her to the Rape Crisis Centre.

She went to the guards at 18-years-old and tried to gather a group of victims to make statements but everyone was “too afraid” so she went alone.

Phillip Cairns
Phillip Cairns
Flashback: Students arrive back at Coláiste Éanna on the Ballyroan Road, Rathfarnham after their mid-term break, days after Philip Cairns went missing.
Flashback: Students arrive back at Coláiste Éanna on the Ballyroan Road, Rathfarnham after their mid-term break, days after Philip Cairns went missing.

“One of things you need to understand about Eamon Cooke was that he engendered incredible fear not just in children but in adults, in parents, the church, the guards.

“He was a powerful man in the dark underbelly of society,” she said.

No action was taken by the guards and she spent three years under “awful intimidation” from Cooke.

“Once I made that statement, throughout my teens a car crawled along aside me constantly trying to frighten me, but when I was 18 he turned up at my work place. I was working in a shop; he had never come in before. He turned up, he stepped inside the shop and I was very frightened, my legs turned to jelly. But my way to deal with fear was to not show it.

“The shop emptied and the only thing I could do was pick up a knife. It was only him and I and I told him to get out, I wouldn’t serve him and he got very enraged with me and told me I couldn’t do this to him and that he’d get me. The guards were informed but he didn’t stop, nothing changed.”

She said she was angry when she heard he was starting a child line on his radio station.

“I got very drunk at the news and I acted. I broke the law. I went to his home in the middle of the night to confront him and to damage him and that’s was happened. There was quite a confrontation. It was a very hurtful time and I ended up in court. I ended up two weeks later being exported to the UK and that was that.”

In 2000 she said she was contacted by the guards while she was in the UK and was asked if she’d make a statement again against Cooke. She said she only agreed to it for the protection of other kids.

During the pre-trial she encountered Cooke on the stairs and confronted him.

He was convicted in 2003 for sexual assault but was released in 2006 on a technicality.

Sophia said she was “devastated” when he was released as she had returned home to Ireland.

“I can’t describe the fear that I felt. Everything had changed. My life was beginning to transform again after coming home. My life crashed.

“The manner in which he had been released was not just terrifying but it was a nightmare for our minds every night knowing what he was capable of doing. This was not someone who was going to come out and leave children alone.”

A second trial was held in 2007, where Sophia was called to testify against Cooke again.

“I had given the trial six years of my life," she said.

Cooke was allowed to walk around freely during the second trial which led to more confrontation.

“Because I was so afraid the only way I could deal with him was to not let him see that I was afraid,” said Sophia.

Cooke was sentenced to jail for 10 years but his victim felt no sense of victory.

“I just felt glad that he was gone back behind bars but that’s all. My life is devastated. So there’s no sense of victory.”

When Sophia heard that Cooke had died recently she said she couldn’t believe it.

“You still have this fear of such that you think he is playing some kind of game. I had 40 years of conflict with this man. The fear that he’d come after me or my children, it lifted and I suppose for me that’s liberation.”

Sophia said she knows that there is still “a silent mass of victims out there”.

“Just have courage and go to the guards, go to your family. It’s never an easy process but have courage," she said.

She said during the re-trial she “carried the other victims in her heart”.

She urged parents to be vigilant of their children online and to not be “afraid to take charge of what you expose your children to”.

“There are very few sex offenders on the level of Cooke, most men with a sexual interest or tendency towards children may never offend but may operate on the internet.”

She said: “Courage for me starts now living in a world where he isn’t present.”

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