A 79-year-old man has been sentenced to more than 20 years in prison after being convicted of sexually abusing children over a 15-year timeframe.
Gary Cooper, of Within Lane, Stafford, appeared at Taunton Crown Court today (Wednesday 5 April) after pleading guilty to 34 non-recent sexual offences against five children. In total, he admitted 11 counts of rape, 20 counts of indecent assault and three of indecency with a child.
He was given a 27-year sentence with a minimum term of 18 years before he could apply for parole.
The court heard how Cooper groomed his victims and abused them between the 1980s and early 2000s. The offences happened in the Taunton area.
One of Cooper’s victims bravely came forward in 2021 and reported the crimes to the police, resulting in Cooper’s other victims doing the same.
A two-year police investigation concluded in court today when Cooper received his sentence.
Judge Cook praised the ‘exceptional bravery’ of the victims who were abused ‘in every imaginable way’. Victim impact statements were given to the Judge ahead of Cooper’s sentencing.
One victim said: “What happened has ruined my life. I can say that for many years, I have suffered from nightmares as a result of being sexually abused by Gary.
“My childhood was awful. I was angry when I was young and I am still angry now.”
Another victim said: “He destroyed my childhood and that has had such an impact on my life as an adult. I am so angry that he did this to me.
“I want him and the court to know how much hurt and distress this has caused me throughout my life.”
A third victim’s statement read: “As a victim of sexual abuse, you try to deal with it, but it just never goes away. It is always there.
“Throughout the police investigation, it has been so difficult to carry on.
“It never goes away. I just want justice to be done, justice for me and for all of [his victims].
“We need closure so we can all move forward. Gary is just pure evil. What he did was disgusting.”
Officer in the case, DC Harvey Ahern, said: “This was a difficult and complex investigation resulting in hundreds of evidential documents being collated and numerous interviews being carried out.
“I wish to commend the bravery and resilience of the victims and witnesses who have remained strong and dedicated throughout the investigation and court process.
“This result would not have been possible without their courage and kind faith in us as a service, and I hope this conviction encourages other victims of sexual abuse to come forward.”
If you have been affected by child sexual abuse, you can contact the police on 101 and speak to a police officer in confidence.
We recognise that not everyone has the confidence or is ready to speak to police, but there are support services available that can help you if you are a victim of abuse.
Victims of rape or sexual assault, recent or non-recent, can self-refer to The Bridge, a Sexual Assault Referral Centre available 24/7 365 days a year. Visit their website or call 0117 342 6999.
For more information about reporting rape and other sexual offences, visit www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/report/rape-and-sexual-assault