Sunderland man on trial for historic sex offences against boy

editorial image
Have your say

A SUNDERLAND man has gone on trial for sexual offences allegedly committed while he was at an approved school more than 40 years ago.

Gavin Cook, 60, is accused of indecently assaulting the young son of a man who lived near Aycliffe Approved School in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham.

A jury at Durham Crown Court heard Cook was sent to the school by the courts after he was convicted of criminal offences.

“These were not sexual offences,” said Adrian Dent, prosecuting. “Cook was sent to the school in January, 1968, when he was aged 13 years and nine months.

“As far as the victim can recall, he was between six and 10 when he was assaulted.

“This would have made Cook 15 or 16 at the time.”

The court heard the victim’s father used to walk his dogs on a right of way which ran through the school grounds.

“In this way he met Cook,” said Mr Dent. “They found they had a shared interest in dogs and rabbiting and the like, so a friendship developed.

“There came a time when Cook was moved to a halfway house which allowed him some freedom to come and go.

“The prosecution say the two indecent assaults took place on one day.”

The jury heard Cook and his alleged victim were walking along the right of way to get to a wooded area where the victim wanted to collect conkers.

Cook stopped near a hedge and forced his victim to perform two sex acts, the court heard.

“The victim kept quiet about what had happened for many years,” said Mr Dent.

“He did tell a couple of partners in the course of life, but did not contact the police until last year.”

Cook, of Craigshaw Square, Hylton Castle, denies two charges of indecent assault between December, 1968 and December, 1973.

When interviewed by police, Cook said he could recall the boy, but didn’t see much of him at the time.

Cook said the allegations were made up, but he did not know why that had happened.