Cat-and-mouse game to keep paedophile safe

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The Independent Online
PRISON service authorities were yesterday involved in a cat-and- mouse game to keep child killer Sidney Cooke away from protesters who gave gathered in anticipation of his release.

Cooke, 70, was due to be released this morning after serving nine years of a 16-year sentence for his part in the killing of 14-year-old teenage runaway Jason Swift.

At the stroke of midnight on Saturday he was driven through the gates of Wandsworth Prison, south London, in a blue prison service van, past a crowd of anti-paedophile protesters.

In the early hours of yesterday morning he was transferred to an unnamed secure institution in preparation for his release. Some sources, however, suggested he would be kept in a police cell before being freed on Wednesday.

Despite the transfer, a silent vigil was being held outside the jail last night to highlight concerns that Cooke and 150 other dangerous paedophiles are to be set free despite concerns that they will re-offend.

One protester, Winnie Johnson, the mother of 10-year-old Keith Bennett, who was killed by Moors murderers Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, said: "The Government are doing nothing and has done nothing in the 34 years since Keith was killed. This man was supposed to do 16 years but he is out after nine."

Fearful that his whereabouts could be revealed to an angry public by obvious police surveillance, Cooke has consented to wearing an electronic tagging device so that his movements can be monitored.

Jack Straw, the Home Secretary, is now considering new measures to enable sex offenders to be locked up indefinitely. He has commissioned a study by officials from the Home Office and Department of Health into whether there is a need for further provisions to deal with "dangerous personality disordered offenders" such as paedophiles.

Because Cooke is regarded as a model prisoner, in terms of his jail behaviour, he is entitled to a third off his sentence. And as he was sentenced before the 1991 Criminal Justice Act, the only mandatory controls over Cooke will be that he registers his new name - Sidney Lomas - and his address at his local police station.

Former Detective Superintendent Michael Hames, retired head of the Obscene Publications Squad at Scotland Yard, yesterday described Cooke as a "predatory paedophile". He said: "There's no doubt he will always be a threat to children."