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Saturday, April 18, 1998 Published at 18:52 GMT 19:52 UK


Police confirm child killer has been moved
image: [ The victim: runaway Jason Swift was killed by Cooke's gang ]
The victim: runaway Jason Swift was killed by Cooke's gang

Police have confirmed that the convicted paedophile, Sidney Cooke, has been moved into protective custody in the Avon-Somerset area.

Cooke, who was 71 on Saturday, had been under the protection of Scotland Yard since his release from prison earlier this month.

The Sun newspaper reported on Saturday that Cooke was being taken to Yeovil en route to a hostel in Bristol.

A spokesman for Avon and Somerset Police confirmed that Cooke was being held at a police station in the area, but declined to say where.

[ image: Sidney Cooke: whereabouts uncertain]
Sidney Cooke: whereabouts uncertain
A group of worried parents in Yeovil distributed posters which showed Cooke, together with the message: "Don't let your child be his next victim."

Cooke agreed to be electronically tagged before his release.

Tabloid newspapers have been attempting to warn their readers of Cooke's every move.

Before his release from Wandsworth jail - where he served most of his sentence for the manslaughter of 14-year-old Jason Swift - protesters gathered outside the prison gates demanding tighter controls on convicted paedophiles and the right to know if they were living in their communities.

The public revulsion has caused some cases where innocent people have been caught up in the confusion.

An angry group gathered outside a police station in east London where it believed Cooke was being held. A man in Manchester suffered intimidation when locals mistook him for the paedophile.

[ image: Cooke agreed to wear a tag]
Cooke agreed to wear a tag
But the White Ribbon Campaign for Justice for Children said it was terrified by the thought that it did not know where Cooke had gone.

"Our concern is that the public do not know where he is," said spokesman Roy Copeland. "It has been our biggest fear that he would disappear again."

Kate Lowes, of the group Stop Paedophiles Exploiting and Abusing Kids (Speak) added: "If there is any doubt that Cooke is not being observed on a 24-hour basis, then people in the area he is in have a right to know because he is a homicidal paedophile."

Cooke has admitted that he fears he could attack again if he is not supervised.

A senior detective who originally investigated Cooke said he was worried that the public's concern could become uncontrollable and dangerous.

Former Detective Superintendent Ed Williams said: "At the moment the behaviour of the public is pretty immature.

"If they carry on with their hysterical reaction all they are going to do is make the job of the police more difficult.

"They are going to create more hostility against paedophiles and drive them together. They have got to behave more responsibly.

"We have got ourselves into a Catch 22 situation where the public want to know when paedophiles moves into their area, but when they do know they move into vigilante mode."

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