27 May 2022

'Rot in there': Serial sex offender loses appeal against severity of 14-year jail term

A serial Dublin sex offender convicted of raping a boy and sexually abusing another has lost an appeal against the severity of his 14-year jail term

Serial Dublin sex offender Kenneth Cooke has lost an appeal against the severity of his 14-year jail term

A serial sex offender convicted of raping a boy and sexually abusing another has lost an appeal against the severity of his 14-year jail term.  

Kenneth Cooke (56), Limekiln Green, Walkinstown, Dublin, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to 21 counts of sexually assaulting a boy between January 2000 and July 2003 when the boy was aged between 11 and 13 years of age.

He had pleaded not guilty to 56 counts of indecently assaulting another boy between December 1980 and December 1985 and was convicted by a jury.

Judge Patricia Ryan imposed a nine year sentence with four suspended for abuse of the first boy which began in 1980. She also imposed an eleven year sentence with two suspended for the abuse of the second boy.

Judge Ryan made the sentences consecutive due to the “very, very, very serious” nature of the offending, leaving Cooke with a net sentence of 14 years in prison to be actually served. 

Associates of the victims told Cooke to “enjoy his time in prison” and to “rot in there” as he was led away to begin serving the sentence in November 2016. 

The Court of Appeal upheld Cooke’s sentence on Thursday finding no error in principle. 

Giving judgment, Mr Justice John Edwards said there was little mitigation available to Cooke. 

In relation to the first victim, he said Cooke did not plead guilty and exhibited little remorse. While counsel was instructed to convey an apology to the second victim, he said no apology was offered to the other victim. 

Mr Justice Edwards said the court could find no error in the discount provided for the limited mitigation nor in the application of the totality principle. 

He said it hadn’t been established that the sentencing judge’s recourse to consecutive sentence was unjustified. 

Mr Justice Edwards, who sat with President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice George Birmingham and Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy, said the court was not persuaded that the ultimate term of 14 years to be actually served in prison was disproportionate. The appeal was therefore dismissed. 

The abuse of the boy in the 1980s began when the nine year old victim was in a very vulnerable state after suffering a family tragedy. It involved molestation before moving on to anal rape. 

There was a break in the abuse in 1985 when Cooke was in jail for six months.

The child began suffering from nightmares because of the abuse including one so frightening that he tried to jump out a window in his sleep. Cooke finally stopped abusing him when the boy got strong enough to fight him off.

In 2000, Cooke began abusing another child he had access to. He would put his hands down the boy's bottoms and touch him, while masturbating himself. The court heard the boy mostly pretended to be asleep when the abuse was happening.

It ended in 2003 when the boy used his woodworking skills to fashion a lock for his door to keep Cooke out.

The Court of Appeal heard that Cooke was supported by family members, including a wife, who visited him in prison. He was in poor health and had recently suffered a stroke.

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