Thursday 27 October 2016

Terrified woman kept Philip secret 'until it was safe'

Paedophile Eamon Cooke Picture: Collins
Paedophile Eamon Cooke Picture: Collins
Philip Cairns, who has been missing since 1986
Philip's schoolbag that gardai hope will give up vital DNA evidence to solve the mystery Picture: Damien Eagers

The woman who has provided gardai with new evidence on the disappearance of schoolboy Philip Cairns only did so when she felt it was "safe" to do so.

The woman, believed to be a victim of convicted paedophile Eamon Cooke, came forward last month and give an interview to investigators in which she said the former Radio Dublin DJ knocked the schoolboy unconscious by hitting him with a weapon in his studio in Inchicore.

The witness, who was aged nine at the time, said she saw the schoolboy bleeding and unconscious on the floor, but she then fainted.


When she came round she was being driven away by Cooke and there was no sign of the boy she believed to be Philip.

The same woman contacted gardai in 2011 following an appeal for help, but she would not give a statement to detectives then and was guarded in what she said.

Officers believe she was terrified of Cooke because of her previous experience of him.

However, when a fresh appeal was issued, the woman made contact again last month through a care worker who had helped other abuse victims, and it is believed she felt in a position to speak more freely as Cooke was on his deathbed.

Cooke was found guilty of 42 counts of sexual assault after a trial in the Central Criminal Court in 2007 and was serving his sentence at Arbour Hill prison.

However, gardai learned he had been transferred from the jail to a hospice.

Cooke said he knew Philip and admitted that the boy had been in his radio station headquarters in Inchicore.

However, he did not admit to killing him, and gardai have yet to establish where the boy's remains were buried after he was murdered.

It has been suggested that the body could have been hidden in a 20-foot container that Cooke was alleged to have buried in south Co Dublin with a radio transmitter to allow Radio Dublin to be heard all across the capital.

Investigating gardai say they expect they will begin digging at selected locations after further inquiries are made.

Cooke was alleged to have initially secured a signal for his radio station by using an RTE transmitter at the Three Rock Mountain in the Dublin mountains.

This allowed his station to broadcast to Inchicore and Ballyfermot.

However, that was later blocked, and he decided to erect a repeater in the Tallaght/Rathfarnham area, which would give coverage to other parts of the city.


Cooke was said to have buried the container with a connection to an aerial hidden nearby, and this fed off the Three Rock transmitter.

Gardai are also carrying out fresh forensic tests, using the latest technology, on Philip's schoolbag, which was found six days after his disappearance in a lane near Cairns' home in Rathfarnham.

Officers have already said that DNA evidence from the bag could be a crucial aid in solving the mystery of his disappearance.

Philip's mother, Alice, told the Herald this week that she still holds out hope that the truth will emerge.

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