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96-year-old 'Paedophile' must be quizzed over killings before taking secrets to grave'

Paedophile killer Sidney Cooke should be quizzed about a string of unsolved child murders before he takes his secrets to the grave, a former detective said.

Cooke, 96, is making a new bid for freedom having been denied release 10 times due to the danger he poses.

Described as a real-life “Hannibal Lecter”, he remains in a maximum security jail despite having completed his minimum term 19 years ago.

Cooke, from Hackney, East London, was convicted of manslaughter in 1989 for the killing of Jason Swift, 14.

But he was also named in court as the leader of a paedophile ring that murdered Mark Tildesley, seven. Paedophile Robert Oliver was released from prison after serving only ten years for the murder of Jason Swift

His remains have never been found and a member of the “Dirty Dozen” gang said Cooke disposed of his body.

Ex-detective David Bright, who does not believe Cooke should be freed, said: “There are other children in graves hidden around the country that could have been the result of Cooke and his former cronies.

“At 96 and with all but two gang members dead, he might want to clear his conscience and tell all.

“Is there a police force with missing children prior to 1986 who will find time to pay Cooke a visit?

“What is there to lose when there’s the opportunity of bringing a degree of comfort to families who do not know where their children are?”

In 1987 the then Essex Police officer got a confession from the ex-fairground worker about Jason’s killing. Speaking about the interviews in Brixton Prison, South London, he said: “His admissions eventually led to him going down on his knees where he clasped my hands and finally admitted everything.

“In holding my hands it was as if he was seeking some kind of forgiveness for what he and others had done, which was awful beyond belief.”

Cooke, who uses a wheelchair in Wakefield Prison, West Yorks, and his gang are suspected of the abduction and murder of 17 boys in the 70s and 80s.

Leslie Bailey was jailed in 1989 ( Image: Mirrorpix) Paedophile Robert Oliver was released from prison after serving only ten years for the murder of Jason Swift

But detectives were only able to snare four of them while many of the killings remain unsolved.

On June 1, 1984, Mark went to a local funfair in Wokingham, Berks, and was never seen again. In July 1985, Jason went missing from the same Hackney estate where Cooke lived.

His naked body was found the next year in a farm in Ongar in Essex.

A week later the remains of six-year-old Barry Lewis, from Walworth, South London, was found a few miles away.

Both were drugged, sexually abused and asphyxiated. It is believed the deaths are linked

Leslie Bailey, Robert Oliver and Steven Barrell were also jailed in 1989 for Jason’s manslaughter.

Cooke got out in 1998 but a year later was jailed for life with a minimum of five years for historic abuse. His last parole hearing was told his behaviour in jail had provoked “concerns and even allegations over the years”.

The Ministry of Justice has refused to give more detail about these claims.

Paedophile Robert Oliver was released from prison after serving only ten years for the murder of Jason Swift

Jason Swift, 14, was murdered by a group of paedophiles


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