Sunday 8 June 2014

Reginald Gareth Cooke, aka Mark Granger

All taken from Waterhouse

  52.32  The Crest Hotel was said to be a "motel" in Yorke Street, at which at least two traders attending the beast market in Wrexham on a Monday would stay and where some homosexuals would meet them on a Sunday evening.

  52.33  The Lift Project was founded in 1972 by Owen Hardwicke, a Roman Catholic priest of over 40 years standing now, and described by him as his "brainchild". He was a parish priest for 15 years before qualifying for the CQSW in 1972 and he then became a lecturer at Cartrefle College from 1974 to 1980.
The object of the Lift Project, as we understand it, was to provide accommodation for homeless persons in need; it was funded initially by private donations and later by an urban aid grant. The Project owned a number of premises from time to time but eventually had only one cottage left, in Haigh Road, Hightown.

  52.34  B's evidence about Gary Cooke was that they met, before B was in care, when B was an army cadet and Cooke was an instructor based at Connah's Quay. Cooke abused him sexually on about half a dozen occasions before he went into care, at a time when he did not know what was right or wrong and when he felt that he could not tell anyone about it. Subsequently, he saw Cooke on many occasions when he was in care.
Cooke would, for example, wait in a car for him in Bryn Estyn Lane when he had a pass out (often when he himself had not known in advance that he was to have a pass and had not asked for one) and it was Cooke who introduced him to numerous other paedophiles.
Cooke was B's link with almost all the paedophiles whom he named, including the men who frequented the Crest Hotel on Sunday evenings and persons associated with the Lift Project.

  52.40  Gary Cooke, who was born on 7 January 1951, made three written statements to the Tribunal and was extensively cross-examined when he gave oral evidence to us. His first convictions for indecent assaults on a boy were on 12 September 1963, when he was only 12 years old; and he was subsequently convicted of paedophile offences in 1980, when he received five years' imprisonment, and in 1987, when he received seven years' imprisonment. His most recent convictions were in December 1995 when he received two years' imprisonment for two indecent assaults on a male aged 18 or 19 years.
Most of his proved victims were not in care at the time of his offences but, according to the records before us, two of them in respect of whom he was convicted in 1987 were in care when offences of buggery and indecent assault of one and taking indecent photographs of the other occurred. One of the counts in the 1980 indictment, which alleged buggery with William Gerry, then aged 14/15 years and in care, was ordered to be left on the Court file on the usual terms.

  52.41  Cooke has had a very varied employment career but much of it is irrelevant for our purposes and we have few reliable dates.
It appears that at some point between 1972 and June 1974, after leaving the Army, he was employed for two weeks at Bersham Hall but was then told by the Officer-in-Charge, Richard Leake, that his services were no longer required.
He then moved to the Midlands for about two years, returning in or about 1976 to live with his mother in Llangollen.
After a period of training as a nurse, during which he first became involved with the Army Cadet Corps, Cooke was employed as a care worker with the Bryn Alyn Community for over a year. He worked for a year at Marton's Camp in Cheshire until it closed (we believe in July 1977) and then at Cotsbrook Hall in Shropshire for a few months but gave up the work (he says) because he found commuting from Llangollen, where he was again living with his mother, to be too much of a strain.
His next known employment was as an Assistant Warden at a Probation Hostel for about six months, by which time he had moved to a flat in Napier Square, Wrexham.
In 1978 he applied for a post as RCCO at Little Acton and the following year for a similar post at Chevet Hey but both applications were unsuccessful.
There is evidence that he was engaged in some professional wrestling at about that time but he worked also as a taxi driver in Wrexham in or about 1978.

  52.42  Cooke was detained in custody from 24 March 1980, when he was committed for trial by Wrexham Magistrates Court, and remained in prison until 23 November 1981, when he was released on parole.
According to Meurig Jones, he became acquainted with Cooke in 1979/1980 when he, Meurig Jones, was taking the CQSW course at Cartrefle College, which he failed at the end of the first year. By the time that Cooke was released on this occasion B was no longer in care.

52.43  Most of the relevant evidence in relation to the alleged paedophile ring pre-dates B's discharge from care so that less detail is necessary about Cooke's later movements and employment.
It is sufficient to say that he told the Tribunal that his main employment between November 1981 and his further arrest in December 1986 was as manager of a "sex shop" in Wrexham from 1982 to 1984 and that he lived successively in a cottage at Froncysyllte and a flat at Acrefair.
Cooke lived then until his arrest in 1986 in a flat in Kent Road, Brymbo, where Meurig Jones stayed with him for about a month.
On his release from his second long sentence on 19 June 1991, he lived for a time at Pentre Gwyn, Wrexham and at Llay with one of the "other persons" named by B, before moving to live on the Clwyd coast.
Cooke's activities were the subject of additional police investigations in 1982, 1986 (when he was fined for gross indecency with a male) and 1992/1993.

  52.47  Graham Stephens, who is 22 years older than Cooke and who was a coal miner and shotfirer until 1980, has been a close associate of Cooke at times in the past but they are now very antagonistic towards each other.
Cooke alleges that they first met when Cooke was a boy and Stephens interfered with him sexually whereas Stephens said that they met in 1973, when Cooke would have been 22 years old. Stephens gave oral evidence to the Tribunal as a serving prisoner because he was sentenced on 16 May 1997 at Mold Crown Court to 21 months' imprisonment for inciting an act of gross indecency with a boy aged 11 years, who was not in care at the time.
Before that he had appeared in Court on six occasions between 1955 and 1988, and had served five sentences of immediate imprisonment totalling nearly 12 years, for paedophile offences against boys; but he denied that any of his victims had been in care at the time, except for a 15 years old Bryn Estyn boy whom he assaulted indecently, for which he received a suspended sentence of imprisonment in August 1972 (he said that he only learnt later that the boy was in care).

  52.48  According to Stephens, he lived in a house in Cefn Mawr, near Wrexham, where Cooke lodged with him for seven months from January 1974.
Then, after a period in lodgings in Beechley Road in 1976/1977, he bought a house in Hightown, Wrexham, in June 1977, where he lived until his arrest on 11 August 1979 and where Cooke lived with him for about three months.
He was sentenced with Cooke, but for separate offences from him in the same indictment, on 30 June 1980. On that occasion he pleaded guilty to one offence of buggery (in the passive role) with one boy and to an indecent assault upon another boy, for which offences he received a total of three years' imprisonment. Another alleged offence against William Gerry was left on the Court file on the usual terms.
A year or so after his release from prison following his 1980 sentence, Stephens went to live in Yorkshire, where he received shorter prison sentences in 1984 and 1988.
His most recent convictions apparently stemmed from a visit to North Wales for Christmas 1995, at the invitation of a friend.

  52.49  Stephens said that he "had sex" with Cooke on only one occasion, when Stephens was in lodgings (that is, in 1976/1977). They fell out later when he was living in Hightown because Cooke threatened to say that he (Stephens) was "doing what he (Cooke) was doing to boys". Stephens arranged for Cooke to be "put out" of the house in Hightown and Cooke then acquired the council flat in Napier Square, Wrexham.

  52.50  Stephens made many allegations of paedophile activity by Cooke in the years between 1974 and 1979 and he even kept a diary latterly in which he referred to these activities (apparently with writing a book about them in mind). In his oral evidence Stephens made specific allegations about Cooke's behaviour in the lodgings, in the house at Hightown and in the flat at Napier Square.
In cross-examination by Counsel on behalf of B, Stephens said that he believed that Cooke had introduced B to him by a different surname and that the meeting had lasted only five minutes. Cooke had then taken B away. Stephens admitted that he and Cooke had both had sexual relations with four named boys (not apparently in care at the time) but he denied that he had had such relations with either B or William Gerry. Cooke told him that he (Cooke) had had sexual relations with B in the army cadets.

52.51  Cooke gave evidence to the Tribunal after Stephens. He said that he had had an "up and down" relationship with Stephens but that it had never been sexual; and he repudiated both Stephens' allegations against him and the incriminating entries in Stephens' diary that were put to him. What was striking about the evidence of both men, however, was the wide range of allegations that they made about the paedophile activities of other persons, some of whom were amongst the "other men" identified by B.

The investigation of Gary Cooke in 1979 
  52.59  This investigation is dealt with separately because witness B made a number of criticisms of police officers in connection with it.
  52.60  The relevant events began on 1 August 1979, when Tom Kenyon complained to the police that a watch, a pair of jeans and some money had been stolen from him at Cooke's Napier Square flat. The following day Detective Sergeant Mon Williams saw B at the Crest Hotel and B admitted taking the articles, although he disputed the amount of the money. B was sentenced on 23 October 1979 at Wrexham Magistrates' Court to three months' detention for two offences of theft.
  52.61  At the relevant time B was staying in Cooke's flat after leaving lodgings that had been found for him in Ruabon Road. Whilst there he had come across some photographs, which, (he alleged) showed young boys with men in indecent sexual acts.
There was considerable conflict in the evidence before us about the number of these photographs and the persons who were portrayed in them but it is clear that some were hidden in a hollowed out book. B alleged that others were under the carpet in the lounge.
He said also that Cooke, Stephens and Kenyon were among the men shown in the photographs. He himself was in some of them and he named two of the other boys in the photographs. The majority had been taken in a house in Hightown owned by Stephens and in Cooke's flat.

  52.62  B's recollection is that he handed some of these photographs to the Detective Sergeant, who later found others in the hollowed out book. Mon Williams' evidence, however, was that he went to the Napier Square flat with B and others in consequence of what B had told him and that the photographs were found there.
The evidence about the events that day and subsequently is imperfect because Mon Williams had to rely almost entirely upon the notes that he made at the time. It is clear, however, that Kenyon told him that he had spent the night at the flat with B; although he prevaricated in his first interview about his relationship with B, he denied later that he had had sexual relations with B. The latter told Mon Williams that Kenyon had touched him on the knee, whereupon B had slapped him in the mouth; they had slept separately and B had told Kenyon to leave the next morning. A file was submitted to Mon Williams' supervisory officer, who advised against a prosecution of Kenyon for indecent assault on that evidence.

  52.63  Extensive investigations followed into the photographs and the circumstances in which they had been taken. Both Cooke and Stephens made partial admissions and were successfully prosecuted the following year, as we have previously related.
Cooke's explanation for his part in taking some of the photographs was that he had been asked to provide them for payment by a man whom he had met in a sauna bath in Wrexham, who had a restaurant in Epsom.

  52.69  One other matter needs to be mentioned in the context of the 1979 investigation. Cooke's evidence was that he met Tom Kenyon only once, although another witness (not B) said that he met Kenyon through Cooke.
According to Cooke, his meeting with Kenyon took place at the Crest Hotel, after he (Cooke) had been arrested and charged. Kenyon came over to him and gave him a note.
In that note Kenyon apologised for what had happened but said also that, if Cooke agreed "not to say anything", he would have a word with his father to ensure that things went better for Cooke in Court.
Cooke told the journalist, Dean Nelson, about this letter and said that he handed the letter subsequently to the police: he sought to link it with (what he claimed to be) his early release on parole in 1981.

  52.70  The police officers who dealt with Cooke at that time deny that any such letter was handed to them.
Moreover, Cooke is mistaken in his belief that he served only 18 months in custody because he was detained for the full relevant third of his total sentence, namely 20 months.
It is clear also that Lord Kenyon was not in a position to influence the course of the prosecution or the decisions of the sentencing judge or the Parole Board.
It appears that, if the letter was written, which remains in considerable doubt, it was an aberration of Tom Kenyon only in his embarrassing situation.

The Campaign for Homosexual Equality
  52.71  Some former officers and members of this organisation were amongst the "other men" referred to by B, some of whom were from the Wrexham area. It is a national organisation but we refer only to its Chester branch, which was set up in or about 1973, and nothing that we say in this report about "CHE" carries any imputation against the wider organisation.

  52.72  The evidence that we heard about CHE relates to the first eight years or so of its existence and we were told by one founding member that it has not existed since the 1980s. It established an office in the Bridge Street Rows and a "help line" telephone; and a witness claimed that, at one time, it had the largest membership (300) of any branch in the country. Former officers of CHE in this period and some others closely involved with it said that the organisation, including the help line, was strictly controlled and that anyone who sought to use it as a means of "picking up" under-age boys was immediately proscribed.
A small number of witnesses, on the other hand, voiced strong criticism of CHE. Cooke, for example, described it in his evidence as "the most vile organisation ever thought of" and told Dean Nelson that the whole of CHE was a "pick up thing".
He alleged that he threatened one of the "other men", who was a committee member of CHE, and had a physical confrontation with him because he used it to abuse a young man called David. Another Wrexham witness said that he walked away from the organisation because it was being abused by those who wanted to have sexual relations with youngsters.

  52.73  We heard some linked evidence also about clubs in Chester frequented by members of the gay community from time to time during the same period. The particular relevance of these clubs was that B alleged that he was taken along by Cooke to CHE and to the clubs, where he was introduced to several paedophiles. This led in turn to invitations to gay parties and, in at least one instance, to an invitation to stay in Cheshire.

  52.74  B's evidence to the Tribunal about the circumstances in which he went to live in a bungalow at Mickle Trafford in Cheshire owned by a member of CHE was that the accommodation was arranged for him by social services and that he was taken there by his social worker. [...]

Paedophile activity on the North Wales coast
  52.80  We heard only a small amount of evidence about this and it was less obviously linked with young persons in care at the time, but it merits a mention here.

  52.81  The main focus of such evidence as we received was upon the 15/20 Club, owned by Albert Dyson, a native of Rhyl, from about 1960 to 1980. It was described by several witnesses as a gay club and Dyson himself told the Tribunal that it was a gay venue on Saturday nights, organised by a Rhyl group, during the last 18 months to two years of its existence.

  52.82  Dyson befriended the family of the boy referred to as D in paragraphs 10.15 to 10.19 of this report and was convicted in June 1980 of three offences of indecency against him committed when he was in care and living at Bryn Estyn.
Dyson used to collect D from Bryn Estyn for week-end leaves and the latter worked at the club at times in the late 1970s. Dyson said that there was only one offence and that it occurred early on during D's period at Bryn Estyn, that is, in late 1978.

  52.83  Amongst visitors to the 15/20 Club on occasions were David Gillison, Huw Meurig Jones and a prominent one time officer of CHE but we have not received any evidence of paedophile activities in the Club.
Both Gillison and Cooke were questioned closely about their activities in the Rhyl area in more recent years but both denied knowingly associating with any persons in care.

  52.84  Although much of the evidence that we have heard about the existence of a paedophile ring has been tarnished in one way or another and the evidence of B has been demonstrated to be incorrect in some respects, the cumulative effect of all the evidence has been to satisfy us that, during the period under review, a significant number of individual male persons in the Wrexham and Chester areas were engaged in paedophile activities of the kind described by B. Whilst we have no reason to doubt the evidence given to us by some office holders of the Chester CHE that precautions had been taken to prevent abuse of the organisation, it is clear to us that some of its less reputable members or habitue«s saw it as a useful agency for identifying and contacting potential victims. These and other individuals were targeting young males in their middle teens and it was inevitable that some young persons in care should be caught in their web. The evidence does not establish that they were solely or mainly interested in persons in care but such youngsters were particularly vulnerable to their approaches for emotional and other reasons; and the abusers were quite prepared to prey on such victims, despite the risks involved.

  52.85  Many, but not all, of these paedophiles were known to each other and some of them met together frequently, although there were strong antagonisms between individuals from time to time. Inevitably, some information about likely candidates for paedophile activities was shared, expressly and implicitly, and there were occasions when sexual activity occurred in a group. We accept that B himself was one of the victims of these activities as a whole. As he said in his oral evidence to the Tribunal "The way I see it, I was a slave; I was sold. Yes, I was given money; yes, I was given things".

  52.86  We have concentrated our attention on evidence relating to children who were in care at the time, having regard to our terms of reference, but we have necessarily heard some evidence about others who were on the fringe of the care system, that is, children who were later committed to care and youths who had recently been discharged from care. In our judgment, the perils for such persons are as great in this respect as for those actually in care and our findings emphasise the importance of continuing support by social services for those who are discharged from care.

* See paras 52.40 and 52.41. There is a perturbing suggestion, outside the scope of our inquiry, that Cooke's paedophile inclinations were known to at least one senior probation officer when he was appointed later to be Assistant Warden of a Probation Hostel in Clwyd

(4) 1980 Reginald Gareth Cooke, known also by a number of different aliases but hereafter referred to as Gary Cooke, pleaded guilty on 30 June 1980 in the Crown Court at Mold to two offences of buggery, one of indecent assault and one of taking an indecent photograph. He was sentenced to a total of five years of imprisonment, from which he was released on parole on 23 November 1981. Cooke had been employed for two weeks only in a Clwyd children's home, Bersham Hall, probably in or about 1972. Later, he had been employed as a care worker for over a year by the Bryn Alyn Community in their children's homes, firstly at Marton's Camp, Winsford, Cheshire and then at Cotsbrook Hall, Higford; and he had then been Assistant Warden of a probation hostel in Ruabon, near Wrexham, for six months. None of the victims named in the 1980 convictions had been in care at the time when the offences against them were committed but they were all young persons, some of whom had been or were about to be children in care, and Cooke was known to have ready access to children in residential care in the Wrexham area. 

(6) 1987 On 29 April 1987 Gary Cooke appeared again in the Crown Court, this time at Chester, and was sentenced to a total of seven years' imprisonment for four offences of buggery, three of indecent assault on a male person and one offence of taking an indecent photograph. These offences involved boys and young persons between the ages of 12 and 18 years, who had been taken by Cooke to his home in Wrexham. Two of the victims were in care at the time of the offences and the 18 year old, who was the victim of buggery, had been in care for over three years between 1980 and 1983. Cooke was not released on parole until 19 June 1991.

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