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Saturday 16 December 2017

'I wasn’t going to let him see how frightened I was' – Victim on the moment she stood up to DJ Cooke

Anne Kelly waited three weeks for Eamon Cooke, inset, to die
Anne Kelly waited three weeks for Eamon Cooke, inset, to die
Catherine Devine

Catherine Devine

Victim Anne Kelly has recalled the moment she stood up to paedophile DJ Eamon Cooke, saying she wasn't going to let him see "how frightened she was".

Anne recalls how after being abused by Cooke for years, she encountered him when she was 18 at the shop in which she was working.

"I would never let him see I was afraid. I would keep my head up high and keep walking if I saw him. I wasn’t going to let him see how frightened I was," Anne Kelly told Ryan Tubridy on RTE Radio One on Monday morning.

“My legs turned to jelly. I prayed more and more people would come in but eventually it was only him and I in the shop. He quite coldly walked over and 20 Rothman.

PAEDOPHILE: Eamon Cooke was a serial child abuser. Photo: Collins
PAEDOPHILE: Eamon Cooke was a serial child abuser. Photo: Collins

"I had a knife there to cut cheese with and I grabbed the knife and said ‘you’re not getting anything from me. At which point he went crazy and became very enraged with me saying ‘you can’t do this to me’. And he said he’ll be back."

Anne Kelly was just seven when neighbour Eamon Cooke began abusing her. She said she would play with other children in his garage before being invited into his garden and then house, where the abuse started.

“He invited us four girls to come into his garden and videoed us doing the can-can dance which we found hugely exciting. We were seven and eight year olds. Sometime later he said the video was ready and we could come into the house to see it. He lured us from the garage to the garden to the house. During the movie he first lay his hands on me.”

Anne said the abuse continued for three years where he lured her into his house with sweets, money and other gifts.

“By the age of eight the incidents of abuse became more serious. He began to use threats. The nice man withdrew and the more threatening and frightening he became. I was threatened that if he told my parents what I was doing I would be put into a children’s home. The idea of being withdrawn from the family I loved and was the baby of was terrifying.

“By the age of nine he was taking me naked into his bed attempting to penetrate me. Eamon Cooke also very much liked to pair children together. He was very clever at using children’s innocence to lock two children to the same secret and have both of them afraid.”

Anne described Cooke as a “physically dirty man” and said she would have to hold her breath whenever she was around him.

“You know it’s not right at a deep level that you don’t understand as a child because the man smelled in the most appalling way. I remember always having to hold my breath when he was near me, especially when he was naked.”

Anne said that Cooke became threatening and she soon feared she would be sent away to a children’s home.

“For a child trapped in that you’re under threat you’re going to lose the most important thing in your life which is your family.”

She said the abuse stopped when Cooke set up Radio Dublin in the late 1970s but that the station was a “new way to lure in children”.

Anne said her parents weren’t aware of the abuse until she broke down at the age of 18 and told them.

“My mum had said to me she didn’t know why but she knew she had lost her little girl but didn’t know how. She knew something was instinctively different. I was sulky and frightened about my security in my family.”

In an interview with The Sunday Independent Anne Kelly previously said she reported Cooke to the guards when she was 18, to no avail. She smashed up his car when she was 21. She has faced down Cooke four times in court.

With Cooke's death earlier this year, Anne has taken another brave step with the decision to waive her anonymity and speak publicly for the first time about how the paedophile was brought to book by the children whose lives he blighted.

She has been encouraged by friends. "They feel that keeping my anonymity at this stage will be heavier for me somehow, will push me down if I don't break out now that he is dead," she told The Sunday Independent.

"So I can say, okay, I'm not afraid anymore. I don't have to be afraid. I don't have to be afraid of him attacking me through the law, or through whatever way.

"I can speak. I don't have to be afraid for my daughters, because they are the fears you have," she says.

Cooke was charged with abusing Anne, her childhood friend, and four other women. He mounted every legal block he could and by the time his case went for trial, only four of the six women were allowed to testify against him.

He was convicted in 2002 but was released in 2006, after appealing successfully on a point of law. He was back in jail in 2007, following a retrial, having received a 10-year prison sentence.

For the many Cooke victims who did not come forward, those who with Cooke's death will not get "legal justice", Anne told The Sunday Independent.

"There is justice available for them on a personal level. The justice for us is a return to our proper place of joy in the world, not what we had to endure with him."

Anne was 18 when Philip Cairns disappeared in 1986. She can shed no light on reports that one of Cooke's victims claims the paedophile was responsible.

"Knowing Cooke as we did, and knowing his nature, and knowing about his bunkers and his underground places, my imagination has always gone there. My imagination with Cooke has always gone as far as child murder... because that was his capability," she says.

"We heard a lot of stuff even just as sitting ducks in that courtroom. The stuff about his bunker and his fireman's pole we had heard about previously, but the detail came out in court.

"We knew that threats of death had been made around that bunker - 'if you tell, this is where I'll kill you, no one will know' - to other victims."

Anne's thoughts are now with Philip's mother, Alice. "What I find distressing is that at the moment she has nothing to take heart in because there has been no resolution. Please God she can take heart that if it is him at least her son's killer was locked up for 13 years."

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