Concerned citizen in Philip Cairns case hopes for resolution

Ballyfermot activist reveals she has been in contact with woman abused by Eamon Cooke

Angela Copley: Contacted several Garda stations and heard back in about two days. Photograph: Aidan Crawley/The Irish Times

Angela Copley: Contacted several Garda stations and heard back in about two days. Photograph: Aidan Crawley/The Irish Times


A former community worker who went to the Garda with information about the disappearance of schoolboy Philip Cairns said she hoped it would help his mother find closure .

Angela Copley, from Ballyfermot in Dublin, who supports survivors of childhood sex abuse, said that she was in contact with a woman whom Eamon Cooke had abused as a child.

The latest Garda breakthrough in the case of the disappearance nearly 30 years ago focuses suspicions on the late Cooke, a former pirate radio broadcaster who was jailed in 2007 for 10 years for multiple indecent assaults of two young girls. He died earlier this month.

Gardaí yesterday said the investigation remains active.

“I have been supporting the woman over the years. I called her to tell her Cooke was in the hospice,” Ms Copley told The Irish Times. She said it would be helpful for her “to know he would no longer be a threat”.

Thrown schoolbag

“As a mother, all I could think of was Philip Cairns’s mother and the thought that she might get some form of closure.” She wanted the gardaí to know that Cooke was dying and that they should interview him as soon as possible.

Ms Copley says she contacted a number of Garda stations and heard back in about two days. “It had to be verified that I was not a crank caller. I was frustrated because I knew Cooke was in the hospice and it was important someone get in to talk to him..”

She said she contacted Cooke’s second ex-wife, whom she had also supported as a survivor of his abuse, and they both met gardaí. She said the ex-wife was able to give them “a lot of information”, though not directly related to Cairns .

The ex-wife had told Ms Copley that any time something came on television about the missing boy, Cooke would always say he had been out looking for him when he went missing.

Don’t criticise

She said the woman was reported to have been a victim of Cooke and would have lived “in terror” of him. Reports said the woman made a statement to gardaí on May 10th saying that she was nine when she witnessed Cairns at the Radio Dublin studios Cooke owned in Inchicore.

Ms Copley said she felt “very,very sorry” for the woman. “She was a child at the time. He instilled terror in his victims.”

Gardaí interviewed Cooke before his death and he verified aspects of the woman’s statement, including that he knew Cairns and had had him in his car. He would not, however, verify whether he knew the whereabouts of his remains.

Broadcaster Gareth O’Callaghan, in a Facebook post over the weekend, said he was related to the Cairns family. He said Philip had had an interest in radio and “Cooke had promised him a visit to Radio Dublin”.

Philip went missing on October 23rd, 1986. He had left his house on Ballyroan Road, Rathfarnham, after lunch to return to Coláiste Éanna. His schoolbag was found in a laneway near his home about a week later.