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Friday, April 24, 1998 Published at 16:32 GMT 17:32 UK


Cooke fury leads to violence
image: [ Sidney Cooke served nine years for killing Jason Swift ]
Sidney Cooke served nine years for killing Jason Swift

More than 40 police officers were hurt during protests outside a Bristol police station where people thought the child killer Sidney Cooke was being held.

Twelve people were arrested after petrol bombs and bricks were thrown at police as they faced angry protesters outside the city's Broadbury Road station.

The BBC's Stephen Cape says Cooke has to go somewhere (2'45")
A crowd of up to 300 people had formed after rumours spread that Cooke, a 71-year-old paedophile, might be held inside the police station.

Avon and Somerset Police have confirmed they are holding him under 24-hour supervision in secure accommodation but have refused to say where.

[ image: Cooke's movements have been tracked closely since he left prison]
Cooke's movements have been tracked closely since he left prison
A police spokesman said the trouble began after a woman rang the local press claiming to have seen a police car enter the station with a prisoner inside.

The spokesman said: "We are anxious to trace this call, which was totally malicious."

Officers dressed in riot gear with the help of a police helicopter eventually managed to bring the situtation under control.

Local people angrily denounced a group of young men as the main troublemakers, claiming that they had been drinking.

A local youth worker said: "This is ridiculous. The residents had been protesting peacefully and now this group has started this trouble."

Protests over paedophile continue

Home Office minister Alun Michael : 'Were Cooke to exercise his freedom the public would be protected' (1'46")
Anti-paedophile protesters have appealed for calm but they have condemned police and the government for failing to act to calm people's fears.

The demonstration was the biggest in the West Country by residents concerned about Cooke's location.

He was freed earlier this month after serving a nine-year sentence for the killing of runaway Jason Swift, 14.

Previous spontaneous protests have taken place outside police stations in Bridgwater, Yeovil and Minehead.

Avon and Somerset Chief Constable Stephen Pilkington insists Cooke poses no threat to the public while in the force's care.

Talks are currently under way to determine his long-term residence plans.

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