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Woman abused by Eamon Cooke as a child says he 'had it in him' to kill Philip Cairns

“I don’t know if he did kill Philip Cairns or not, but he certainly had it in him.”

File photo of Eamon Cooke at the Clondalkin headquarters of his pirate radio station
File photo of Eamon Cooke at the Clondalkin headquarters of his pirate radio station
Image: Collins Agency

A WOMAN WHO was abused by Eamon Cooke has said that she has no doubt that the convicted paedophile ‘had it in him’ to kill Philip Cairns.

The woman, who used the name Sophia in an interview on Newstalk’s Lunchtime programme, said Cooke “had no conscience”.

The former pirate radio DJ is suspected of killing Philip Cairns, a schoolboy who disappeared in 1986, after a woman came forward last week claiming that she was with Cooke on the day that Cairns was abducted.

Cooke began abusing Sophia when she was just seven years of age and the abuse continued for three years.

She described him as the “most vile, evil, violent, psychotic individual you’re ever likely to meet”.

I don’t know if he did kill Philip Cairns or not, but he certainly had it in him.

She also encouraged other victims of Cooke to come forward to gardaí, saying, “There is a silent mass of victims of his out there … I say to them ‘have courage, go to the guards, go to your family’.”

Grooming

Describing how Cooke groomed her as a child, Sophia said, “I knew him from as long as I can remember, I first came in contact with him when we went into his garage as children.

“It was a playground for children really, they was a small door in the garage and as children we were curious and we went in. We played there for a while, there were lots of telephones and TV screens and we just played.

And then one day he came in and rather than throwing us out and getting angry, he encouraged us to come anytime we wanted to.

“We were in his back garage and eventually we went into his back garden where he recorded a group of us dancing the Can Can and then in order to show us that, he invited us into the house. That was the first time he laid a hand on me.

“I was seven years of age when he started abusing me and that went on to the age of 10.”

She described how Cooke “liked to pair children, that was one of his methods of operation. In doing that he almost created a greater secrecy”.

As the abuse went on and gradually he became worse – he would show me porn and eventually by the age of nine he was taking me naked into his bed, along with another victim.

The abuse eventually stopped when Sophia was 10, following a mutiny of staff at his radio station.

“When the mutiny happened I was sitting on steps with a group of his victims and we decided the best thing to do was to run away.”

Trial 

Sophia eventually told her parents about the abuse when she was 18. “I was very very angry once I realised what he was doing was wrong.”

She said that even though she went to the gardaí and gave a statement in 1986 when she was 18 “no action was taken”.

She said the only thing that happened was that she “had to undergo three years of intimidation from Cooke”.

He engendered so much fear … not just in children but in adults, in parents, in church, in gardaí. He was a powerful man in the dark underbelly of society.

On one occasion, he even turned up to the shop where Sophia was working and told her he would “get her”. The gardaí were told but “it didn’t stop”.

I had lost faith in family, in state, in the church – this man was still flaunting around.

When Sophia was 21 she heard that his radio station was launching a childline. She described how she got very drunk and “went to his home in the middle of the night to confront him and to damage him”.

“I ended up in court and I ended up two weeks later being exported to the UK.”

Conviction 

In 2000, Sophia was contacted by the gardaí and she gave evidence at Cooke’s first trial in 2003.

She said she was terrified but did it for the protection of other children but that she didn’t have much faith in the law at that stage:

Eamon Cooke was an astute minded legal mind and he had used the law and was above the law for many many years.

Cooke was convicted for attempted rape, attempted unlawful carnal knowledge and sexual and indecent assault of four girls in the 2003 case, but the conviction was later quashed on a legal technicality and he was released in 2006. Sophia said:

I can’t describe the fear that I felt. Everything had changed, my life was beginning to transform again having come home but now everything changed … from that point on my life just crashed.
The manner in which he was released was terrifying. It was a nightmare for our minds every night knowing what he was capable of. This was not somebody who was going to come out and leave children alone.

A retrial was ordered in 2007, six months after he was released. Sophia said the retrial was particularly difficult.

She broke down in the interview as she described how she gathered the strength to continue:

“During the retrial, when I couldn’t feel I could go on. I carried the other victims in my heart during that trial and I want to thank them for the strength they gave me.”

Eamon Cooke was sentenced to 10 years behind bars when convicted a second time.

Sophia said “there was no sense of victory” with the sentence and that she “just felt glad he was back behind bars”.

Describing how she felt when she heard about his death, she said, “The fear lifted, the fear that he’d come after me or my child.”

Read: Philip Cairns’s mother says she’ll forgive the man who may be responsible for her son’s disappearance>

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