Man in court on 14 sex charges

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A FORMER fairground worker was remanded in custody when he appeared in court yesterday to face 14 charges of sexual assaults on adults and children.

Sidney Cooke, 72, appeared before a judge at Reading Crown Court on charges including rape and indecent assault, alleged to have taken place between 1972 and 1981.

Neil Moore, for the prosecution, told the court: "This case concerns allegations of a sexual nature ... principally upon four children. There were eight complainants in all. [The offences] started in London and moved to Twyford in Berkshire. They went on to Kent, Hertfordshire, and finally the north-east of England. Indecent assaults were on males and females."

Mr Cooke is charged with indecently assaulting a minor on three separate occasions between 1972 and 1976 in Battersea, London; Twyford, Berkshire; and Canterbury, Kent. He is also charged with assaulting the same boy in Washington, Tyne and Wear, between 1978 and 1980.

He is further charged with a serious sexual assault on another minor on two occasions between 1972 and 1976 in Battersea and Twyford. He faces a further charge of indecently assaulting that boy in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, between 1976 and 1977, and with raping an 18-year-old girl on separate occasions in Canterbury in 1976, and in Berkhamsted between 1976 and 1977.

Mr Cooke is facing another five charges of serious sexual assault, alleged to have taken place between 1972 and 1981.

Patricia Lees, appearing for the defence, told Mr Justice Bell that the court was not in a position to arraign Mr Cooke as further legal discussions were essential before the case could continue.

He was remanded to a date to be fixed, when an application to move the hearing from Reading Crown Court to another venue will be heard.