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Philip Cairns disappearance: Criminal forensic expert says plot of land owned by Eamon Cooke should be searched


The late DJ and pirate radio owner Eamon Cooke. Photo: Collins

The late DJ and pirate radio owner Eamon Cooke. Photo: Collins

Dublin schoolboy Philip Cairns, who went missing 35 years ago - and no trace of him has ever been found

Dublin schoolboy Philip Cairns, who went missing 35 years ago - and no trace of him has ever been found


The late DJ and pirate radio owner Eamon Cooke. Photo: Collins

A leading forensic psychologist has said gardaí investigating the links between missing schoolboy Philip Cairns and prolific paedophile Eamon Cooke need to dig up land owned by the former DJ and pirate radio station owner in the Dublin Mountains.

Dr Julian Boon, who has worked on high-profile investigations including into UK serial killer Harold Shipman, said gardaí should investigate Cooke further after examining the case.​

And he said he would advise authorities to excavate one patch of land in particular which was once owned by the child abuser, a plot in Stepaside where he had buried a 20ft container.

In a new book on the missing teenager, The Boy Who Never Came Home, by journalist Emma McMenamy, the British expert said: “It doesn’t matter that the tank up the mountains (which Cooke had) is now empty underground, modern-day forensic techniques could very well prove helpful.

“It should be properly forensically investigated.”

After spending some time examining the Philip Cairns case, Dr Boon said Cooke may have got rid of any forensic evidence if he was involved.

Despite that, he would still put him at the top of the list of possible suspects in Philip’s abduction due to his background, personality and the crimes he had previously committed.

He said: “Eamon Cooke has to be at the front. The problem we have is that Cooke, by anyone’s standards, was a slippery customer in his day and was very careful.

“Notice the children who he took polaroid pictures of: the whole thing is very, very careful and what we would call ‘forensically aware’ for his day.

“So who is to say there hasn’t been other cases? Maybe not where the child has gone completely missing but if you are threatened that, ‘You do this and I’m going to put pictures up of you in the bus stop, at the train station so everyone can see what you have been doing’, That’s a pretty powerful means by which to control people and children in particular.

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“What nobody is in doubt about is that Cooke was a pervert and horrible individual, psychopathic as hell in his complete disregard of children.”

Eamon Cooke, who died on June 4, 2016, was questioned on his deathbed about Philip’s disappearance but denied any involvement. 

Meanwhile, an Irish criminologist said the late child abuser should certainly still be considered as the perpetrator.

Professor John O’Keeffe said: “From those who knew him, he has been variously described as a ‘vile, evil, violent, psychopathic individual’ who, if he did not kill, was certainly capable of killing.

“He was also a paedophile, which would of course put him firmly in the frame in this case.

“The profile of Eamon Cooke alone may suggest he is a prime suspect in the disappearance of Philip Cairns.

“He will not, at any moment in the abduction, have had a scintilla of conscience or remorse for what he had done, or was about to do with Philip.

“He is, to quote the world expert on psychopathy, Robert Hare, entirely a man without conscience.

“Aside from circumstantial and direct evidence, it is this profile that additionally puts him firmly in the picture in relation to Philip’s disappearance.”

The lecturer in forensic psychology added that profiling a possible suspect could prove very beneficial to the investigation.

“It is invaluable to try to understand the personality type of offenders – as well, of course, as their social, familial and environmental background.

“The bigger the picture you create here, the more likely it is you may be able to narrow down your search.

“Walking into those hellish shoes may be impossible for many.

“But until we do, we may never find the answer as to why Philip Cairns was taken that fateful day.”

The Boy Who Never Came Home, by Emma McMenamy, will be in bookstores from this Thursday

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