Philip Cairns case: Who was Eamon Cooke?

Former pirate DJ jailed in 2007 for 10 years for sexually assaulting young girls

Eamon Cooke, a former DJ with the Radio Dublin pirate station, was jailed in March 2007 for 10 years for sexually assaulting young girls at his home on dates in the mid to late 1970s. He has now been linked to the missing person case of Philip Cairns, who disappeared in 1986.

Eamon Cooke, a former DJ with the Radio Dublin pirate station, was jailed in March 2007 for 10 years for sexually assaulting young girls at his home on dates in the mid to late 1970s. He has now been linked to the missing person case of Philip Cairns, who disappeared in 1986.

 

The former radio DJ Eamon Cooke gained minor celebrity status in Dublin in the late 1960s and 1970s.

Listeners felt their tastes were not being fully catered for by the mainstream stations and Radio Dublin, in which Cooke was a central figure, emerged as one of the earliest and most durable pirate operations the country has known.

‘Captain Cooke’, as he was called, gained further notoriety in the years after Radio Dublin stopped broadcasting.

He was indentified as a serial child abuser and during a trial for these offences it emerged his victims had given ‘Captain Cooke’ a different handle - ‘the Cookie monster’.

Cooke died last week in a Dublin hospice at the age of 79. He had been moved there from Arbour Hill Prison where he was sentenced to spend 10 years in March 2007 for sexually assaulting young girls at his home on dates in the mid to late 1970s. He was found guilty of 42 charges following a 16-day trial.

A previous conviction, after a 2003 trial, for attempted rape, attempted unlawful carnal knowledge and sexual and indecent assault of four girls, including the two complainants in the 2007 case, was quashed due to a legal technicality and he was released in May 2006.

“Eamon Cooke is a sexual predator motivated by his desire for small children and that is what he is and that is what he always will be,” one of his victims said in her victim impact statement during the 2007 trial.

Missing person

Cooke has now been linked to one of the State’s most high profile missing persons cases - that of Philip Cairns.

He was aged just 13 when he disappeared as he returned to school after having lunch in his family home in Rathfarnham in October 1986. The only trace ever found of the boy was his schoolbag which showed up in a nearby laneway about a week later.

Following a tip-off from a woman who recently contacted gardaí about the case, new lines of inquiry opened and detectives visited Cooke in the hospice shortly before his death. It is understood no information that might help to locate the boy’s remains was received.

RTÉ reported that the woman who contacted gardaí said Philip was brought to visit the Radio Dublin offices in Inchicore. While there a row broke out and Cooke is alleged to have struck the boy with an implement - knocking him unconscious and leaving him bloodied.

In their latest inquiries, gardaí are “cross referencing DNA profiles with those on items recovered as part of this investigation” which would include the schoolbag. “At this point in time these new lines of inquiry have not yielded positive results, however the investigation is very much active and ongoing,” a spokesman said.

If the investigation does link Cooke to the disappearance or killing of the boy, it is unlikely the Cairns family will ever learn the full truth of what happened or where his remains might be.

Arson

During his 2007 trial, the court heard Cooke had eight previous convictions, including one for an arson attack on the home of one of the complainants from the 2003 trial.

This woman, who had attended court throughout the 2007 trial, became extremely distressed after the sentence was read out and shouted at Cooke, “I hope you rot in hell.”

One of the victims told the court the effects of the abuse had been “horrendous at times”.

She said Cooke “took part of my life away and that can never be restored to me”.

She believed he was still a danger to children and appealed to the court to “keep him a convicted paedophile”.

She criticised the court process, claiming it left victims unable to follow what was going on. “We need our own personal representation. We are left like little children wondering what is going on around us.”

The second victim also criticised the fact that they had needed to go through the case again. “Four times I have given evidence against Eamon Cooke and did so to protect other children. It has a very strong impact, made more difficult by a system heavily weighted on behalf of the accused.”

Cooke made an attempt to secure a fresh appeal against his conviction just last year but was unsuccessful.