Newquay handyman guilty of masturbating in front of a teenage boy and mother in garden
A Newquay handyman has been found guilty of masturbating in a garden in front of a horrified teenage boy and his mother while watching pornography on his phone.
Peter Cooke, 48, was arrested at his home in September 2015 and charged with outraging public decency by behaving in an indecent manner, namely masturbating in a garden at Pentire on two separate occasions.
Cooke, a handyman who has been married to wife Sarah for 30 years, was found not guilty of one of the charges but guilty on one count, which was witnessed by a teenage boy and his mother from the window of their home at Camullas Way.
The first count, of which Cooke was found not guilty, was alleged to have occurred sometime between April and October 2014.
The teenager said he looked out of the window and caught Cooke “w****** behind a trampoline in the yard with his top off and trousers around his ankles”.
The boy told his mother about the incident when she returned home, but the court heard that she did not call the police or inform other parents in the area because she didn’t want to “create confrontation”.
A jury delivered a unanimous guilty verdict for the second count, which alleged that Cooke masturbated in front of the boy and his mother, Devika Devereux, on July 10, 2015.
Miss Devereux’s son was in his bedroom when he heard moans coming from the garden, before looking out the window and seeing Cooke in the yard masturbating to porn on his phone at around 10pm that evening.
Miss Devereux said: “He [her son] came in and said, ‘Mum, Pete’s w****** in the garden’. I saw Peter disappear and he hid on some stairs. I thought, ‘Oh my God, what am I witnessing’. You could see everything because of the light from a neighbour’s place.
“I saw him grab his flip-flops before he tip-toed around the corner of the building. Then he came back and he said, ‘Are you alright?’ And I was in shock. I said, ‘What were you doing’? He mumbled something about the [communal] shed.
“I didn’t know what to say and then he asked me why I hadn’t used the pool lately. I thought, ‘because you are a pervert and I don’t like the way you look at me’. Then we had a pretend conversation.”
During her police interview on July 29, 2015, Miss Devereux also mentioned the first incident which was alleged to have occurred a year earlier. Cooke was later arrested in September 2015.
The court heard that Cooke and Miss Devereux, a single mother, had been friendly in a neighbour capacity for at least five years and that Miss Devereux would give Cooke massages in her home as part of her training to become a masseuse.
But Miss Devereux said the pair’s relationship had already become strained at this point because Cooke had made her feel uncomfortable by requesting massages too frequently.
She said: “He was a nice guy, and I respected and trusted him and we became friends. But then that changed.”
She also alleged that Cooke began letting himself into her home without knocking on the door, as well as frequently trying to hug her and make sexual remarks.
Ramsay Quaife, for the defence, told the court that Cooke had a key to the flat and that Miss Devereux trusted him to the point that she would allow him to enter and feed her pets while they were away.
Mr Quaife put it to Miss Devereux that she and her son fabricated both incidents and began a “campaign of vengeance” after Cooke rebuffed her advances during one of their massage sessions.
To this accusation, Miss Devereux turned to Cooke, who was sitting in the dock, and said: “In your dreams”.
The court heard that Cooke confided in Miss Devereux and that he told her about an incident which occurred in December 2014, which the defence said she later decided to use that against him once they had fallen out.
The incident resulted in Cooke being cautioned by police after he admitted in an interview that he masturbated in a Newquay street following a drinking session in the town.
In a bid to prove that Cooke had a tendency to behave in such a way, the court also heard about two further incidents. In February 2012 Cooke was cautioned by police after stealing some women’s clothes from a Newquay leisure centre.
Cooke admitted that he later tried on the clothes at home. Ten months later Cooke was seen by a neighbour crouching on the decking of her house wearing only a mac coat which was unzipped.
The neighbour, Frances Widdicombe, told the court that she was “shocked and distressed” to see Cooke naked and “rummaging” with his genitals. She said she did not call the police as she did not want to upset Cooke’s family so close to Christmas.
Cooke accepted his actions that day and said that he didn’t know why he stood there with only a mac coat on, or if he did touch his genitals.
“I can’t honestly remember,” he said. “I was in a bad place then and I apologised.”