Perverted former GP from Minehead who abused girl, 6, is jailed for four years at the age of 95
A 95-year-old retired GP described as a “pillar of the community” has been jailed for four years after being exposed as a paedophile.
Dr Peter Cooper, a former Army officer with a 40-year career as a family doctor, admitted sex offences against a girl aged just six.
He made “perverted attempts” to sexually arouse the innocent and immature child over “a significant period of time” who was inhibited by his position in the community.
Police found a letter he wrote to his victim telling her: “You were small and innocent. I was tempted and wanted to say sorry for a long time.
“I will never forgive myself. Please accept my apologies”.
Cooper, who is 96 in a few weeks’ time, was allowed to sit beside his solicitor at the back of Taunton Crown Court instead of in the dock because of mobility problems.
When he was jailed he was escorted out on sticks to avoid difficult stairs down to the cells.
He admitted indecency and indecent assault against the girl.
Sam Jones, prosecuting, said Cooper’s shameful secret came to light on Boxing Day, 2014 when he was confronted by members of the girl’s family.
He admitted sexual abuse had taken place and police were alerted.
Cooper, who lives alone in Minehead, Somerset, was arrested and answered “no comment” when interviewed.
In a victim impact statement, the girl said she would never trust males again. The crimes had affected her “massively” and destroyed her confidence in herself.
She added: “He was a doctor and must have known the impact of his actions. I would have thought he would have admitted it straightaway.”
Patrick Mason, defending, said Cooper qualified as a doctor in 1945 and served in India before began his GP practice in Minehead “before the NHS started”.
He said: “For 40 years he was a dedicated family doctor in West Somerset – a pillar of the community, serving on various local committees and leading a blameless, useful and law-abiding life and a father and grandfather.
“The situation now is that he’s 96 in a couple of weeks. He looks after himself and is living reasonably independently.
“He leads a quiet life and is respected in the community although I dare say not so much after today”.
He said he had problems with knees, hips and balance and also with hearing and diabetes and was physically in decline but hoped to live beyond a prison sentence.
Judge David Evans said Cooper had been a useful member of society, had served in the Army, an officer in India at the time of Independence and as a doctor until retirement in the 1980s.
He said it was “a crying shame” he gave a “no-comment” interview because the girl felt his failure to publicly admit it “exacerbated the harm your sexual abuse had caused her”.
He told him: “The harm you caused her is ever present in her mind.”
It was an abuse of trust and the shortest prison term was six and a half years, which he discounted to four years.