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Sunday 4 December 2016

'Paedo Cooke had girlfriend who was aged just 14' - King

Paul Williams with TV3 presenter Martin King in the Independent.ie studios
Paul Williams with TV3 presenter Martin King in the Independent.ie studios

One of Ireland's best-known TV personalities has revealed that serial paedophile Eamon Cooke had a 14-year-old girlfriend during his time with Radio Dublin.

TV3 weatherman Martin King (53) briefly worked with the prolific child abuser during the late 1970s.

Cooke, who was nicknamed The Cookie Monster by his victims, died in a Dublin hospice in June.

He was serving several prison terms for the sexual abuse of children and has been linked to the disappearance of schoolboy Philip Cairns in 1986.

For the first time, Martin has revealed what he learned about Cooke during his stint working alongside him.

Paedophile Eamon Cooke (p) is a suspect in the disappearance of Philip Cairns
Paedophile Eamon Cooke (p) is a suspect in the disappearance of Philip Cairns

Mood

"I remember sitting there one morning and he was coming down the stairs," he said.

"He looked like he'd slept in his clothes. He opened a box of cigarettes and lit one up.

"I said 'Good morning' to him and he just looked at me and grunted.

"I looked at a girl working there and asked if I'd done something wrong," he said.

"I was told, 'He's in a bad mood, he's not allowed to see his girlfriend'. I asked why he wasn't allowed to see her and she replied: 'She's studying for her Group Cert'.

"That was an exam you did back then in second year of secondary school, so she was 14, at a push 15."

It was the first time Martin realised there was a sinister side to Cooke that he hadn't witnessed before.

King had been brought in to work at the pirate radio station when he was only a teenager himself.

"I knew a couple of guys working in Radio Dublin and they said, 'Listen, I'm sure the Captain will give you a gig up here'. It was 1979, and I gave my word that I'd make the move," he said.

"I remember doing my last programme on The Big D, and before I went the owner James Dillon came in, in the middle of the night, and asked me not to go.

"I didn't know what had been going on with Cooke at the time. I was a naive 16-year-old and I don't know whether he had a fear of me going there.

"The first time I saw Cooke he was courteous and kind, and welcomed me to the station. He said: 'I hope you haven't come as a spy', and I said: 'No, I'm here to work'."

Philip Cairns, who was 13 when he went missing on his way to school in Rathfarnham.
Philip Cairns, who was 13 when he went missing on his way to school in Rathfarnham.

When asked if Cooke's comment about him "not being a spy" suggested the personality of somebody extremely paranoid and suspicious, Martin agreed it was, "completely".

"The voice he had, it had a sense of evil, that's what I always thought about him.

"I just knew that wasn't right," he said.

"It was the late 1970s and early 1980s and something like that could nearly go over your head, but I knew that was wrong. What I thought was, did this girl's parents know?"

Cooke's crimes have recently been in the spotlight again after it emerged that gardai are investigating if he had any role in the disappearance of Philip Cairns, who was 13 when he went missing on his way to school in Rathfarnham.

Philip's schoolbag was recently tested for DNA, but there was no forensic evidence linking Cooke to it.

However, detectives have still not ruled out Cooke's involvement in the schoolboy's disappearance.

Land owned by Cooke in south Dublin is due to be examined by gardai.

Father-of-11 Cooke had previously been found guilty of 42 charges of indecent assault on two complainants between January 1974 and May 1978.

Arson

In a separate case, he was given a four-year suspended sentence for an arson attack on a complainant's home during a sexual assault trial in 2003.

In a wide-ranging interview on Independent.ie, Martin also reflects on his personal and professional life.

He recalled being told to find new friends in a bid to change his Dublin accent to improve his chances of becoming a broadcaster.

"I was working in Sunshine and the head guy there, I'm sure in his heart of hearts he thought he was imparting great advice," he said.

"This guy suggested that to help with my grammar, my diction, the whole lot, I should drop all the friends I have, leave the area I grew up in, move to another part of the city and then continue my career from there with a different circle of friends."

He opted not to, and instead spent time in Britain before moving back to Ireland where he eventually landed a job in 98FM before settling in to TV3 in 1998.

It was at 98FM that he met his wife Jenny, who in 2010 found out she had a brain tumour.

"That really stopped us in our tracks. Jenny, I think, just kicked into survival mode and she started thinking about all of the people around her," said Martin.

"She was the hero, I just had this feeling of helplessness."

Jenny was given the all-clear on Valentine's Day in 2011, which was the "perfect day" to hear the news.

Listen to the Paul Williams podcast on Independent.ie

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