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Saturday 7 December 2019

Secret of Philip's lost bag revealed

Cooke's child sex victim 'dumped' schoolbag

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Click to here to view full-size graphic

Maeve Sheehan and Paul Williams

GARDAI have been told that paedophile pirate radio boss Eamon Cooke forced one of his victims to dump Philip Cairns's satchel in a laneway.

One of the enduring mysteries in the disappearance of the Rathfarnham schoolboy 30 years ago was how his schoolbag was deliberately returned to the laneway a week after he went missing.

Philip Cairns
Philip Cairns

Angela Copley, a Dublin community worker who supports victims of sexual abuse, passed on the information to gardai last month after hearing it from one of Cooke's victims.

"This girl rang me. She rang me periodically. She was a victim of Eamon Cooke's and I was trying to help her get on with her life," Ms Copley told the Sunday Independent.

"During the conversation, she came out with this. She told me that a girl threw Philip Cairns's schoolbag in the lane and that Eamon Cooke had given it to her to do it."

Read more: Dark secrets predator Cooke took to the grave

Eamon Cooke is lead away to prison after being convicted of child sex abuse
Eamon Cooke is lead away to prison after being convicted of child sex abuse

It is not clear if the victim is the same woman who came forward to detectives last month to tell them she witnessed Cooke killing Philip Cairns in his Radio Dublin studio in Inchicore in 1986. 

Garda sources believe the information they have received in the past month is their most compelling lead since 13-year-old Philip disappeared on October 23, 1986. He was returning to Colaiste Eanna after his lunch break when he disappeared.

Garda sources said they were already investigating the new lead before Ms Copley's information was made known to them. Ms Copley and an- other woman, who lived with Eamon Cooke for several years, have been interviewed.

Cooke admitted on his deathbed that the missing schoolboy had been in his car and in the studio of Radio Dublin, the pirate station he ran for several years.

Devastated: Philip's mum Alice Cairns pictured with her younger son Eoin in the 1980s
Devastated: Philip's mum Alice Cairns pictured with her younger son Eoin in the 1980s

The serial child abuser, who died last week, made the admission when he was visited by detectives in a Dublin hospice last month.

Gardai urged Cooke to confide the location of Philip's body to a priest or a solicitor or write the details down before he died, but Cooke took the secret to his grave.

Read more:  Gardai to pursue DNA testing and conduct new searches amid fresh leads

Detectives have said that information from a woman who said she saw Cooke hitting Philip in the studio is "credible". It is understood the woman was aged around nine at the time and lived in terror of Cooke, who was known as "Cookie Monster" to his victims. That was why she kept the dark secret for nearly 30 years.

The witness, who gave gardai a statement on May 10, was so afraid of Cooke that she once fainted at the mention of his name.

Sources have said the woman first came forward following a Garda appeal in 2011 but then changed her mind about making a statement.

Cooke instilled terror in his victims and warned them of the consequences of telling anyone what he was doing. He also convinced them that they would not be believed.

He once launched an arson attack on the home of a witness who reported his crimes.

Sources said Cooke admitted knowing the woman and confirmed she had been in his studio with Philip. Gardai have been able to independently corroborate aspects of the woman's story and say she is "highly credible".

Cooke did not tell his relatives that he was interviewed by gardai about the schoolboy's disappearance.

Read more: Our Jimmy Savile - Evil deeds of the 'Cookie Monster'

A relative, who asked not to be named, said she visited Cooke in the hospice before he died and he revealed nothing.

"I had no idea. I went to visit him once or twice. He said nothing," she said.

Although the woman cut all ties with Cooke after his conviction for child abuse, she said she visited him in his dying days.

"Everyone remembers Philip Cairns and everybody's heart goes out to that family," she said.

Sunday Independent

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