NewsCrime Desk

DNA key to proving ‘Cookie Monster’ paedo killed Philip Cairns

Eamon Cooke in the studio of his Pirate radio station
Eamon Cooke in the studio of his Pirate radio station

DNA found on the schoolbag of missing schoolboy Philip Cairns (13) will prove central to corroborating that he was murdered by notorious paedophile Eamon ‘Captain’ Cooke.

Gardaí are now investigating whether Cooke (79), who died last week, was responsible for killing the schoolboy in his radio studios in Inchicore in October 1986.

The schoolboy vanished without a trace as he walked back to his school, Colaiste Eanna in Rathfarnham, on October 23, 1986. His schoolbag was found dumped in a laneway close to his home on Ballyroan Road six days later.

After decades of mystery surrounding the case, a woman came forward to gardaí at Terenure in May and nominated Cooke as a suspect.

Cooke (79), a pirate radio DJ who went by the name Captain Cooke and founded Radio Dublin in Inchicore, was found guilty of 42 counts of sexual assault following a trial at the Central Criminal Court in 2007. During his trial, the court heard his young victims dubbed him the “Cookie Monster”.

Philip Cairns

Last month, the woman approached gardaí and told them that she saw Philip with Cooke in his radio studios in Inchicore.

She claimed a disagreement broke out – and she saw Cooke strike the schoolboy with an implement. She said she passed out shortly afterwards, and she kept the information to herself for almost three decades.

Gardaí interviewed Cooke in the weeks before his death, at a hospice where he was being treated following temporary release from Arbour Hill prison.

It is understood Cooke corroborated some aspects of the woman’s story and admitted to meeting the schoolboy in his radio studios.

“A woman came forward in May. It took an awful lot of courage for this person to come forward,” a source said. “They nominated Cooke as a suspect. This case was still under active investigation when Cooke died.”

There are two main aspects that investigating gardaí are closely examining.

“Philip’s disappearance remains under active investigation and they are now looking at two particular aspects that still need to be corroborated,” said the source. “One of these aspects is the DNA that was left on Philip’s schoolbag.”

It is understood three DNA profiles have been obtained from the schoolbag.

Gardaí interviewed Cooke twice in the weeks before he died, giving him a number of opportunities to tell them exactly what happened and where Philip’s body was.

It is believed Cooke would not give this information, though he did verify some aspects of the  story.

It is not known how the woman knows Cooke, apart from the fact that she claimed she was in Cooke’s radio studios when she saw him attack the schoolboy.

At this stage, gardaí are not willing to say that the mystery of Philip’s disappearance almost 30 years ago has been solved.

However, they are treating the woman’s story as credible.

Eamon "Captain" Cooke

Philip’s family have been kept informed of recent developments.

A garda spokesman said: “At this point in time these new lines of inquiry have not yielded positive results, however the investigation is very much active and ongoing.”

The studios in Inchicore, where Cooke is alleged to have assaulted Philip, have since been demolished.

During his 2007 trial, the court heard that the father-of-11 had staged an arson attack on the home of one of his victims after she went to the gardaí about the attacks.