Sex offender facing four years in prison

Carpet fitter John Cooke, 77, of Beeford, took children on perverted joy rides on his ride-on-lawnmower.

Carpet fitter John Cooke, 77, of Beeford, took children on perverted joy rides on his ride-on-lawnmower.

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A CARPET fitter who stole the innocence of five school girls to fuel his lust as a serial paedophile is facing up to four years in jail.

Naturist John Cooke, 77, sexually abused five schoolgirls aged between three and seven over a seven-year period from his cottage home in New Road, Kilham.

Hull Crown Court heard how the father-of-two was dubbed “weird and eccentric” by one victim.

He tricked children into granting him sexual favours with the promise of learning how to drive his ride-on lawnmower.

It was a ploy to get his manhood out and casually tell them “grab hold of that,” before he set off on a joy ride.

Because they were so young they complied.

His offending got worse and he became more intimate with the youngsters, abusing their trust to sexually assault them on multiple occasions.

One of his victims said: “It was horrible. I hated every second. At the time I did not know any different.

Another, who was persuaded to sit on his knee, said: “I did not shout out. I was scared. I just sat there.”

It took a jury less than three hours to find him guilty of seven charges of indecency with a child and two charges of indecent assault after a three-day trial at Hull Crown Court.

He is now facing up to four years in jail.

Cooke, now of Meadow Close, Beeford, was granted bail and left the court from a rear entrance to to avoid the families of his victims.

The case has divided Cooke’s former village, where he was known as an gardener who had livestock.

He would sunbathe naked or walk around in his Y-fronts.

The former RAF servicemen had a reference for his honesty from an ex police officer and his two daughters gave character evidence in court.

They never suspected a thing.

Cooke admitted he knew the girls, but said he treated them to rides because he wanted to give them what he never had as a child.

He forced five of his victims to give graphic sexual evidence against him.

Crown barrister Simon Waley told the jury: “He has been brought to this court as a consequence of a flaw in his character.

“There is genuine guilt among the adults who were told what was going on and for whatever reasons did not report them. I am not criticizing them.

Despite all his good qualities, what he has done to take sexual advantage of these girls. That in turn has upset a lot of lives.”

Cooke was described as a “touchy-feely” man who would lift girls out of trees and swings and his method of abuse was casual.

Mr Waley’s claims his defence, that the girls had got their heads together was “utter rubbish”.

He took the risk the girls would tell- but all remained silent until last year.

Cooke told the jury he saw nothing wrong with being in the garden with just his Y-fronts on with total strangers.

He said they were tight and looked like swimming trunks.

He admitted: “With hindsight it would have been more appropriate to put clothes back on.”

Judge Michael Mettyear ordered Cooke to stand as he told him: “I normally pass sentence straight away.

“You are a 77-year-old man with no previous convictions.

“I don’t think a report from the probation service will help you, but I am going to give you a chance.

“The fact I am giving you bail should not raise any false hopes. You should be aware, you have been convicted of serious offences.”

Cooke was ordered to sign on the National Sex Offenders’ Register before he left court He will be sentenced on April 15.

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