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Wednesday, 22 April, 1998, 01:34 GMT 02:34 UK
Secret meeting on home for paedophile
Parents concerned over whereabouts of convicted paedophile
Secret talks are being held to try to decide where child killer Sidney Cooke is to live, amid protests from parents who are adamant he should be kept well away from their children.

Police, probation officers and social workers will be involved in what is being seen as a response to the spontaneous public protests over the undisclosed whereabouts of the 71-year-old paedophile.

He is under 24-hour supervision at a police station in the Avon and Somerset area having been released from prison.

Mr Cooke was released from prison on April 6th having served nine years for the manslaughter of 14-year-old Jason Swift.

When news leaked out in recent days that Mr Cooke was in the West Country and apparently heading for a Bristol bail hostel, police stations at Yeovil and Bridgwater were picketed by protesting parents.

Angry residents in the St Paul's area of Bristol met to make it clear he would not be welcome at the bail hostel in the heart of their community either.

So far Avon and Somerset police have refused to comment on the whereabouts of Mr Cooke and it's thought unlikely that any clues will be forthcoming after these secret talks.

The Yeovil MP Paddy Ashdown is keeping a close watch on events and maintaining contact with the Home Office on this issue. He has urged the public to allow time for solutions to be found.

He said: "Of course I understand public concerns but it will help no-one if this is allowed to degenerate into hysteria."

Mothers in Yeovil have pledged to continue with their pavement protests outside the town's police station, hoping to pressurise the police into revealing the whereabouts of Mr Cooke.

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