December 2018

Convicted sex offender, 75, allowed child into home despite ban

A convicted elderly sex offender who allowed a child into his home is facing a new sentence – despite the court accepting he had tried to prevent the incident.

Robert Cook, now 75, was sentenced to an indefinite jail term 10 years ago after being convicted of sexually assaulting an eight-year-old girl.

He was also made subject to a sexual harm prevention order for life which banned him from having children in his home.

However Teesside magistrates were told on Monday how the pensioner was found to have had a child in his home who had visited the property with two adults.

And while Cook had tried to stop them bringing her inside, and had never been alone with her, it still meant he was in breach of the order.

Now, after being warned it was an “extremely serious offence” which could have meant jail, he has been given a community order.

Emma Shea, prosecuting, told the court how Cook was at his then Guisborough home at about 8.40pm on November 1 when two adult women knocked on his door. They had a girl aged about 10 with them.

She told the court they went inside and remained there for about 30 minutes.

The incident was discovered when a community support officer, knowing of Cook’s background, spotted them attending the house as he watched CCTV footage.

When he was questioned by police it emerged he had told the women he didn’t want the child in his house telling them his granddaughter had died.

He admitted this was “a terrible thing to say” but had done it to hide his past convictions.

But he also insisted it had only been for 10 minutes when the footage confirmed it was longer.

Ms Shea said: “CCTV showed the two women knock on the door and they went in with the child.

“They agree he told them he couldn’t have the child in there. The women said it would only be for a few minutes.

“He admitted to offering the child chocolates and telling her to help herself. He said the child remained with the mother at all times.”

Cook, of The Crescent, Middlesbrough, admitted breaching the SHPO at the hearing on Monday which was then adjourned for sentencing on Wednesday when he was made subject to an 18-month community order with a 25 day alcohol treatment requirement. He was also ordered to pay costs of £85 and and £85 victim surcharge.

July 2008

Man used schoolgirl ‘virtually as sex toy’

A pensioner who abused a schoolgirl after persuading her family to allow her to stay overnight at his home was yesterday locked up indefinitely.

Robert Cook was told by a judge that he had manipulated the situation with the under-thirteen’s relatives and “used her virtually as a sex toy”.

Judge Peter Bowers branded Cook a serious and significant risk, and said he should be released from jail only when he is no longer deemed a threat.

Cook, 65, will have to serve at least two-and-a-half years and complete a sex offenders’ treatment programme before he can be considered for parole.

The judge said: “It is obvious from the reports I have read that, not only can you give no explanation, you have little understanding into your behaviour.

“Certainly, there is no empathy with the little girl’s plight . . . that means you are a dangerous offender . . . that means the sentence you get is indefinite.

“It is quite obvious that unless you attend and undergo sex offenders’ treatment, you will remain a serious and significant risk to little girls.”

After setting the term, the judge added: “I wouldn’t expect you to be released until you’ve completed the programme, which may be a lot longer than that.”

The victim’s relatives, who packed into the public gallery at Teesside Crown Court, let out cries of “yes” when the indefinite sentence was passed.

Many had gasped and cried as details of the girl’s ordeal were revealed, and one said as she left the court: “I hope he dies in there. I hope he rots in hell.”

Cook, of Myrtle Street, Middlesbrough, was also put on the sex offenders’ register for life after he admitted three separate sexual assaults on the child.

He was banned indefinitely from working with children and prohibited under a Sexual Offences Prevention Order from being alone with under- 16s.

Yvonne Taylor, prosecuting, told the court that the offences took place at Cook’s then home, in Borough Road, Middlesbrough, in April last year.

He told the families of the girl and a younger friend that they wanted to stay with him, and later abused the victim in his bed and the bath.

Ian Bradshaw, mitigating, said Cook admitted the allegations, and so saved the girl from having to go to court to give evidence and relive the ordeal.

He said Cook, a man of previous good character, could not come to terms with the enormity of what he had done and found it difficult to talk about it.

“He can still give no account for his conduct on that night,” added Mr Bradshaw.

“He says it was just, quite simply, an aberration.”