Paedophile recognised while carrying the Olympic torch on TV 30 years after abusing girls is jailed

Graham Cooper
Graham Cooper

A paedophile who was caught 30 years after his crimes when his victim spotted him carrying the Olympic torch on TV has been jailed.

Married Graham Cooper, 69, was a member of the church choir and a respected pillar of the community.

His charity work saw him nominated by his wife of 40 years, Sylvia, 62, to participate in the Olympic torch relay in July last year.

The former butcher appeared on television proudly carrying the Olympic flame aloft in his home town of Aldington, Kent.

But one viewer recognised him as the man who put her through years of serious sexual abuse in the 1980s when she was a child.

The victim’s original complaints had not been pursued but after seeing her abuser take part in the historic torch rally she contacted the police again.

Officers brought Cooper in for questioning and he admitted three of his vile acts and was convicted by a jury on October 25.

He was yesterday jailed for three years, made subject to a sexual offences prevention order and ordered he sign the sex offenders’ register for 10 years.

Judge Adele Williams said: “The victim was quite rightly incensed when she heard you had been chosen to be a torchbearer.

“Child sex abuse is a considerable evil and those who engage in it can expect nothing but imprisonment.

“What you did had long lasting effects on your victim.”

Cooper’s victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told the court she lived in fear of “bumping into” him.

The woman, who wept while giving evidence, revealed she sought counselling and hypnotherapy to cope with her ordeal.

She said: “I was thinking how could this happen? I looked things up on the internet. How could this person be chosen?

“This man abused me. I read on the internet about him and why he was nominated, his charity work, singing in a local choir, raising money for local projects.

“It said he was always cheerful. I read about him over and over again, about him going to the church and thought is he going there to repent or what?”

Cooper claimed during his five-day trial that his young child victim initiated sexual contact.

But he admitted: “I feel very sorry. I am shameful. It shouldn’t have happened.

“I have regretted it for 30 years.”

Cooper, of Aldington, Kent, admitted two counts of indecent assault on a female under 14 and admitted one count of gross indecency with a female aged under 14.

The jury also found him guilty of an additional count of indecent assault at Canterbury Crown Court on October 25.

He was cleared of two further allegations of indecent assault on a female under 14 and found not guilty of the rape of a girl under the age of 16.

Speaking when he was chosen as a torch-bearer, Cooper said: “It’s such an honour and a privilege to have been chosen, I’m really looking forward to it.

“I was brought up to do things to help people – that’s just how it is. I think it’s going to be unbelievable.”

His wife Mrs Cooper said: “Throughout my married life, whenever anything’s needed doing for anyone, he’s done it, for their pleasure and benefit. I’m immensely proud of him.”

The grandfather-of-four was one of 115 torchbearers from the Isle of Sheppey, Kent, who each ran 300-metre legs along the route. He ran carrying the number 55 on July 18 2012.


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