November 2016

Woman was sexually abused by her brother over 1,000 times

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A WOMAN who was sexually abused by her brother over 1,000 times last night broke her silence to reveal her torment.

Brave Michelle Cooke, 40, from Walkinstown, south Dublin, waived her right to anonymity to expose the actions of her evil older brother Kenneth, 53.

And the mum-of-two vowed never to forgive the predator after he was jailed for nine years at Dublin Circuit Court on January 12, 2015, when he was found guilty on 16 counts of indecent assault.

The sex abuse victim can only now share her harrowing story after her depraved sibling received a separate 14-year sentence last week for abusing two boys.

The two sentences will run concurrently with the monster ordered to serve the 14 years behind bars.

In an interview Michelle told how she had been targeted by her brother shortly before making her ‘Holy Communion’.

She said: “He was abusing me four or five times a week between the ages of seven and 11. He wasn’t my big brother, he was a monster.

“I should have been safe in my own home but my earliest memory was him coming into tell me to take off my underwear and then lie on the bed. He would then abuse me by performing oral sex on me.

“He would grope me and at the time I hadn’t a clue what was going on but I knew it was wrong. He would tell me to keep it our secret and I would be rewarded the next day with sweets. I now know this was his grooming process.

“When there was no-one else in the house he would also make me watch pornographic films and when I was nine he also tried to rape me on numerous occasions.

“I had to wait until he was asleep so I could leave the room. Every-time I took a bath I was terrified he would be watching me.

“He tried to rape me from the age of nine but I would tell him it was too painful and then he would lie on top of me and masturbate and then tell me to clean myself up. I was just a piece of meat to him. When I cut myself with a sharp knife on purpose I didn’t feel pain but felt relief. When I was having a bad day, which was nearly every day, I cut myself. When I saw blood I would feel better because I was realising my pain and anger at the same time.

“I no longer have a big brother. To me he’s nothing but a paedophile who will always remain a danger to little boys and girls even when he’s released from prison.”

Michelle, who has been receiving counselling for the last six years, first raised her concerns in 2000 during a family argument.

But after struggling to come to terms with the abuse by turning to alcohol and self-harming, the courageous mum contacted the Gardai in June 2012.

A full investigation was launched from investigators at Crumlin Garda Station.

Since her decision to come forward, Michelle, who was also on anti-depressants because of the abuse, has vowed to help other victims of sexual abuse.

She added: “I went to my brother’s wedding in April 2011 and he made my skin crawl. He was making a speech saying how lucky he was and I wanted to strangle him. I coped by drinking excessively and was suffering from flashbacks so I knew I had to do something and that’s when I came forward.

“I didn’t even know who I was because he stole that from me.

“He was driving around in a van without a care in the world and he was the life and soul of the party. Everyone thought he was great but I knew he was a demon. If he told me why he did it I don’t think any answer would satisfy me. Our father would be turning in his grave if he knew what he did.”

The abuse survivor also remains convinced her brother targeted other children in the south Dublin area.

She added: “I’ve no doubt he targeted others over the years and I would ask them to come forward because they shouldn’t have to suffer in silence. I’ll be shocked if there are no other victims. If people haven’t come forward, it’s because they are scared. I’m trying to get my life back and want to be a voice for others.

“When I was on the stand it was horrific, the worst thing I’ve ever had to do, but it was worth it. Sibling abuse is like a taboo subject but people need to talk about it.”

She added: “Everyone thought he was great but it was killing me inside. I became a recluse and didn’t want to see my friends because I would break down if I was out with them.

My children and my husband were also noticing how unhappy I was. They have been fantastic through this nightmare. When I confronted him in the past about it he said he was sick but then he was going about his daily business without a care in the world.

“He begged me not to do anything until after he came home from his honeymoon and I foolishly agreed to this. When he came back he stayed away from me and must have thought I would never have had the courage to come forward.”

The sex attack victim also paid tribute to gardai for nailing the pervert. The investigation into the case was run by Det Gda Dan Connell under the command of Det Supt Brian Sutton.

She said: “The Gardai did a superb job and it was great to have people finally believe me. They trusted me and they were there with me every step of the way.

“The One in Four support group for sex abuse victims and Pieta House were also superb. They also provide a great service to victims. When my brother was finally convicted of such a horrible crime it was a huge relief. I could finally sleep knowing that he was no longer out there and no longer a danger to children.”

During the paedo’s sentencing for abusing his sister, Judge Martin Nolan condemned the predator.

The senior judge said: “What makes the offence incredibly serious was the number of times he sexually assaulted his young sister.

“You were an adult and she was a child. You must have known what you were doing was wrong and you continued to do it.” In his sentencing for abusing the two boys, Judge Patricia Ryan described them as “very, very serious”. Cooke was found guilty of 21 counts of sexually assaulting one of the boys between January 2000 to July 2003, when he was aged from 11 to 13.

In a Victim Impact Statement, one of the boys told how he “felt ashamed and filthy as a child”.

Michelle added: “I’m delighted those two other boys had the courage to tell their story…they have been very brave. I don’t know how anyone could commit such horrific crimes against innocent children.”

IMPACT STATEMENT

THE abuse I suffered at the hands of my brother, Kenneth, has affected me for many years. It has affected me both psychologically and mentally.

It has brought many changes to my life and has affected both my family and personal life.

I didn’t want to draw attention to myself in case my ‘dirty secret’ came out. It wasn’t until I was 25 when it came out.

When my brother Mark died suddenly in 2009, I started to talk about my abuse again. The following weeks after his death, I started getting flashbacks.

When I went to the doctor in September 2009, they treated me for bereavement and put me on anti-depressants. They helped me a little but I was going through mental torture. I was ‘dirty’ — I was damaged goods.

My husband still didn’t know I was crying a lot and breaking down. I couldn’t cope with everyday normality.

As I spoke more and more about the abuse, the memories came flooding back. I used to wet the bed every week as a child.

Even now, years later, sleep has always been a problem for me. Nightmares become more and more frequent. I was sleep deprived constantly, so I started to have a couple of drinks at night to help me sleep. Eventually I cut down the drinking but went down another route — painkillers.

I also became very paranoid. I began thinking when I was standing in a queue in a shop and if people would glance at me I think they would know my dirty secret.

When I used to see my brother Kenneth driving around doing everyday stuff, I would have a mix of emotions going through me. I was scared. My skin was crawling and I was angry. How dare he carry on as normal, I’m struggling to get out of bed.

Did anyone understand? I was slowly dying inside. I didn’t know who I was.

My health really was affected so I had thoughts maybe it would be better if I wasn’t here anymore. I was a burden to my family.

Thankfully I stopped self-harming but I have scars on my legs to remind me of those dark, dark days. The abuse has had a huge impact on my life. It’s taken a hell of a long time to get where I am now. I cannot change my past but I’m relieved I have gone through the whole process of court to be vindicated.

I hope after going through all of this I can be a better person to myself, husband and kids.

It has changed my life forever.