NewsCrime Desk

Radio boss saw paedo in JCB digging hole at night

Nicola Tallant and Pat O'Connell in field once owned by Cooke
Nicola Tallant and Pat O'Connell in field once owned by Cooke
Radio boss saw paedo in JCB digging hole at night

A top radio boss has revealed how he stumbled across evil paedophile Eamon Cooke in an isolated field, digging an underground bunker with a JCB in the dead of night.

Kevin Branigan, CEO of Radio Nova, was out investigating interference with his own transmitter when he saw the eerie figure of Cooke beside a huge mound of earth.

“It was one of the creepiest things I have ever seen. I have thought about it so much over the years and as soon as I heard that he was being linked to Philip Cairns, I rang the Gardaí.”

In the early 1980s Cooke purchased the site at Crooksling near The Embankment pub, where it is understood he buried a 20ft steel container stuffed with his personal documents, pictures, videos, cassettes and other items he removed from his home/radio station on the Inchicore Road.

The bunker was searched by Gardaí during an investigation into allegations of child sex abuse – but at that point there had been no link made to missing schoolboy Philip Cairns.

Neighbours in adjoining properties to the Meaghan Lane site this week told the Sunday World that plain clothes detectives interviewed them regarding Cooke’s history in the area on Monday and Tuesday.

“I didn’t have much dealings with him [Cooke], but we all remember him using the earth mover on the site, sometimes as late as midnight,” one said.

A woman who owned an adjoining field said Cooke first began using the site in the early 1980s, up to six years before Philip disappeared.

Philip Cairns

“He had a tree-house up on top of one of the trees that was attached to the aerial and you’d see him clambering up and down like a monkey.

“He put the container in there underground. He needed the site there because the signal would reach all of Dublin. I came up today to see if the tree-house was still there,” she said. 

“It would send a chill up your spine to think that poor boy might be buried in there.”

Branigan recalled seeing Cooke digging an enormous hole in the ground on a cold November night in 1993, and how the pervert DJ warned that he had set “man traps” for anyone who ventured on to the land

Nicola Tallant with radio boss Kevin Brannigan 

“At the time I was working in pirate radio and Cooke was interfering with our signal, which was up the mountains. So one evening, myself and a colleague decided to drive up,” he said.

“Cooke was doing a programme at the time, which he used to broadcast on a Sunday. he’d come on with all these threats and innuendo about staying on air.

He had bought some land in Saggart, and on this particular day he said that he was aware of rumours that people wanted to rob his equipment. 

“He said anyone lucky enough to make it in and out of the site alive would be welcome to his stuff. It was quite chilling,” he said.

“We went up to have a look around and he had detailed on air where his own site was. When we tracked it down it was late on a Saturday and I expected nobody to be there.

We pulled over and I saw Eamon Cooke in a JCB. 

“He was digging this enormous hole and there was a huge mound of earth beside it. It was about 6.30pm so it was just about to go dark and he was on his own in this field.

It was one of the creepiest things I have ever seen.

“Having heard the broadcast, I presumed he was building ‘man traps’. I was just gobsmacked. 

“I came up a few days later and there wasn’t a trace of anything. It was all filled in. I couldn’t understand at the time – if he was building these ‘man traps’ where had all the earth gone?

When I heard about the bunker I put two and two together.”

Cooke had claimed that he wanted the container to hide documents from the Revenue, but Gardaí later searched it and his Inchicore home as part of an investigation into sexual assaults on young girls.

At that point, photographs of young boys and girls in their underwear were discovered.

Cooke’s ex-wife told the Sunday World last week that her husband had a large property portfolio that she believes Gardaí now need to search.

She said that the pirate DJ savagely beat her throughout the marriage and revealed how she has given statements to officers about her husband’s properties.

There are two key sites and a property in Dublin where Gardaí will concentrate their investigations into the disappearance of schoolboy Philip.

The first is a remote area near a telecommunications mast at Ticknock,  which the prolific paedophile was using to transmit his pirate Radio Dublin in 1986 when Philip disappeared. 

It is located just a short drive from the Ballyroan Road where the schoolboy was last seen alive and an area where Cooke had a mountainside hut.

The second is the field at Crooksling in Saggart. The third is the location of his old home on Inchicore Road, which was levelled for an apartment building. 

The Sunday World understands that information given to Gardaí suggests that Cooke may have killed Philip at his house on Inchicore Road and later used his car to dispose of the body. 

Nicola Tallant and Pat O'Connell in field once owned by Cooke

It has also been claimed that he got a young victim to dump the boy’s schoolbag in a laneway six days after his disappearance in a bid to confuse detectives.

The paedophile died earlier this month in a Dublin hospice while he was serving a sentence for abusing young girls. Despite reports to the contrary, we can reveal Cooke also sexually abused boys.

As the investigation into the disappearance of Philip intensifies, the Sunday World can reveal that at the time the Rathfarnham schoolboy went missing, Cooke spent a considerable time in the Dublin mountains, where he had his transmitter at land adjoining the Pine Forest at Ticknock.

It is understood Cooke used the mast, above the Lamb Doyles pub, throughout 1986 and 1987, and regularly visited the site at night for years afterwards, to disconnect other pirate stations.

Nicola Tallant and Pat O'Connell