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Ex-PSNI officer turned massage therapist admits sex assaults

Drew Cooper

A former police officer turned massage therapist was ordered to sign the sex offenders register yesterday after he confessed to twice sexually assaulting a woman and secretly recording another woman.

With a jury sworn and ready to hear his trial at Antrim Crown Court, defence counsel Michael Smith asked for three of the six charges to be put to 59-year-old Drew Cooper again.

It was then that speaking in a low voice Cooper, from Greenhill Drive in Ballymoney, entered guilty pleas to two counts of sexual assault against a female victim in February and April 2016 and a further count of recording a second victim doing a private act, without her consent, "for the purposes of obtaining sexual gratification" in dates between May 31, 2014 and January 1, 2016.

Using a live video-link between the courtroom and the victim support room at the courthouse, the victims were able to see and hear Cooper admit his guilt.

Following those confessions, prosecuting counsel Suzanne Gallagher asked for two further charges of sex assault and one of voyeurism to be left on the books.

None of the facts in regard to the case were heard in court yesterday, but when trial Judge Melody McReynolds was swearing in the jury on Monday she told them how Cooper had been a police officer but had retrained as a massage therapist and opened his own business entitled KneadU.

"The allegations are essentially allegations of recording a private act, of voyeurism and sexual assaults in the context of work as a masseur," she told the jury.

After Cooper entered his guilty pleas the judge thanked the jury for their attendance as due to their "willingness and ability to hear the trial, minds were focused".

Judge McReynolds said she would pass sentence next month once victim impact statements have been taken and a pre-sentence probation report has been compiled.

She told Cooper, however, that given his confessions, he must now sign the police sex offenders register.

Cooper was freed on bail until sentencing on March 12.

Belfast Telegraph