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The BBC's Alison Holt reports
"Police are convinced that Sidney Cooke and his gang are responsible for many deaths"
 real 28k

Friday, 17 December, 1999, 18:50 GMT
Notorious paedophile begins life sentence

Sidney Cooke Sidney Cooke faces two life sentences


One of Britain's most notorious paedophiles is beginning a life sentence as police admit they are still investigating his past.

Sidney Cooke was given two life sentences after admitting a systematic campaign of abuse against two young brothers.

Mr Justice Poole, sitting at Wolverhampton Crown Court, told Cooke he would not be considered for release until he had served at least five years.



You remain for the time being and will remain for an incalculable period, a serious danger to children
Mr Justice Poole
The judge told Cooke, 72, he would only be released after the five-year period had elapsed if the Parole Board was satisfied he was not a danger to the public.



Detective Superintendent Trevor Davies, of Thames Valley Police, said after the hearing that officers were still investigating "an offence where Cooke was named".

The police probe into Cooke is understood to centre on the June 1984 disappearance of seven-year-old Mark Tildesley.

Mark disappeared after visiting a funfair near his home in Wokingham, Berkshire. His bicycle was recovered nearby but no trace of him has ever been found.


Lavinia Tildesley Lavinia Tildesley hopes to find her son
Mark's mother still clings to the hope that Cooke will help her find her son's body - despite him never admitting knowing what happened to him.

Lavinia Tildesley said: "We can't rest until we have found him, had a funeral, and laid him to rest."

'Public menace'

The judge told Cooke pre-sentence reports were unanimous that despite his advancing years, the convicted child killer remained a serious danger to children and young adolescents.

The horrific assaults came to light after a TV appeal following his release last year from serving nine years for the 1984 killing of Jason Swift, 14, during a homosexual orgy.

Bearded Cooke admitted five counts of indecent assault and five counts of buggery committed between 1972 and 1978 at the hearing in October.

He pleaded not guilty to eight other counts which were ordered to lie on the file.

Mr Justice Poole said the case was aggravated by the fact that the two brothers, who were 13 when the assaults began, had been "groomed" by Cooke to such an extent they regarded the abuse as normal.

'Manipulative abuse'

"The reports before me are unanimous that, not withstanding your advancing years, you remain for the time being and will remain for an incalculable period, a serious danger to children."


Cooke Cooke's release last year caused a public outcry
Sir John Nutting QC told the court: "Cooke systematically embarked on a course of sexual abuse, so frequent and so manipulative that the boys came to regard a sexual relationship as the natural relationship between adult and child.

"Assault and buggery were the stock-in-trade of the defendant's relationship with them."

He added Cooke admitted in police interviews in January this year that what he had done to the children was wrong.

"He said he had come to recognise and understand in the last decade that his behaviour towards them was something to be ashamed of."

'Ruined lives'

The court heard the offences took place around the country as the two brothers moved around Oxfordshire, London, Kent, Hertfordshire and Tyne and Wear.

The older brother later told police that Cooke had ruined his life through the systematic campaign of abuse waged against him.

Police said the two victims were both now married with children of their own.

After the hearing both brothers admitted to feeling "hatred" for the abuse meted out to them by Cooke during their childhoods.

"We never want to see him released. The judge's description of him was very accurate," the younger brother added.

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See also:
17 Dec 99 |  UK
Cooke: The predatory paedophile
11 May 98 |  UK
Child killer 'living in fear'
05 Oct 99 |  UK
Paedophile admits child sex attacks
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