Prison for paedophile who carried 2012 torch

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A paedophile who evaded justice for 30 years has finally been jailed after his victim discovered he had been chosen to run a leg in the London 2012 Olympic torch relay.

The sudden fame enjoyed by Graham Cooper, 69, “incensed” a woman who had suffered sex attacks at his hands as a girl aged 10 to 13 in the early 1980s.

A previous complaint that she made about Cooper was not pursued by police but after seeing him basking in the glory of the torch relay she contacted officers again.

Cooper, a grandfather of New Romney, Kent, pleaded guilty to two counts of indecent assault on a girl aged under 14 and one count of indecency with a child.

A jury at Canterbury Crown Court convicted him of indecent assault last month, but cleared him of an alleged rape and two more indecent assaults.

Retired church-going Cooper was regarded as an upstanding pillar of his community in Aldington, where he was known for his charity work.

His wife of 40 years, Sylvia, nominated him to become an Olympic torchbearer for his years of working in the neighbourhood and raising money for good causes.

But after he carried the torch in south Kent in July last year, his victim read about his achievement in the media – and called police again about the abuse she suffered three decades earlier.

Jailing him for three years, Judge Adele Williams said the abuse Cooper committed had a “profound and long-lasting” impact on the victim who has had to undergo counselling and therapy.

Cooper, who showed no emotion as sentence was passed, was also made the subject of a sexual offences prevention order and told to sign the sex offenders’ register, both for 10 years.

Defence counsel Peter Alcock asked the judge to take account of Cooper’s age, the historic nature of the offences and his health problems.

Cooper still had the support of many friends, some of whom attended court to see him sentenced, as well as his wife, Mr Alcock added.