Graham Cooper carries the Olympic Torch through Seabrook
This was the moment that brought pervert Graham Cooper to justice – after 30 years.
The retired Aldington butcher was chosen to run a leg of the 2012 Olympic torch relay.
The amateur photographer had taken credit for his charity work, singing in the choir and being a supporter of his local church.
But as he held the Olympic flame aloft on July 18 last year he was also carrying a much darker secret – he was a child abuser.
His exploits came to the attention of a woman who recognised him as the man who had carried out sex attacks on her in the 1980s.
Now the 69-year-old businessman, who ran Cooper and Sons Butchers and Bakers in Aldington for many years, has finally been brought to justice.
His victim had tried to bring charges some years ago, but was told it was too late for him to be questioned about his attacks.
But last year, after discovering he had been selected to take part in the historic torch run to celebrate the London Olympics, she contacted the police again.
This time Cooper - who has now moved to Church Road, New Romney - confessed to three of his vile acts, while still trying to blame the young child for initiating the sex contact.
A jury at Canterbury Crown Court convicted him of a fourth sex attack, but acquitted him on three others, including an alleged rape.
The victim had to give evidence in the five-day hearing and relive her 30-year nightmare.
The woman, who wept while giving evidence, told the court how in the years following the attacks she sought counselling and hypnotherapy to cope with her ordeal.
She said she lived in fear of "bumping into him" in the street, adding that she wondered if she would recognise him.
However, she was in the West Country reading about the Olympics when she discovered he had been nominated to take part in the relay.
She remembered: "I was thinking how could this happen? I looked things up on the internet. How could this person be chosen?
"This man abused me. I read on the internet about him and why he was nominated, his charity work, singing in a local choir, raising money for local projects.
"It said he was always cheerful. I read about him over and over again, about him going to the church and (thought) is he going there to repent or what?"
The former chairman of the Ashford Photographic Society said in his evidence: "I feel very sorry. I am shameful. It shouldn't have happened. I have regretted it for 30 years."
He claimed he stopped during one attack, saying: "That was my wake up moment. I suddenly thought: 'What are you doing?' Stop! I suddenly came to my senses and knew it was wrong.
"I have regretted it ever since. I am truly sorry and ashamed."
Cooper was given bail after the judge ordered probation reports into what danger he still posed to children and he will be sentenced in November.
Graham Cooper pictured with a mock-up of an Olympic torch after his nomination for the relay run
Judge Adele Williams told him: "The ordering of reports should not be taken as any indication that I am looking at anything other than an immediate prison sentence."
Cooper had become an overnight local celebrity after he carried the Olympic torch.
Sylvia, Cooper's wife of 40 years, nominated him as an Olympic torchbearer for his years of working in the community and raising money for good causes.
He said at the time: "It's such an honour and a privilege to have been chosen, I'm really looking forward to it.
"I was brought up to do things to help people – that's just how it is. I think it's going to be unbelievable."
Mrs Cooper said: "Throughout my married life, whenever anything's needed doing for anyone, he's done it, for their pleasure and benefit. I'm immensely proud of him."
The grandfather-of-four, who grew up in Aldington, was one of 115 Shepway torchbearers, who each ran 300-metre legs along the route.
As runner number 55 on July 18, 2012, going along the A259 into Seabrook, he was invited to other local events – with nobody knowing about his sordid past.
Three days after his part in the procession he was given the honour of co-leading an enormous parade for the start of that summer's New Romney country fair.
Cooper lit the flame for that event and was one of four Olympic torchbearers leading the parade.
Judge Adele Williams at Canterbury Crown Court
In August 2012, Cooper took part in a charity day at Sainsbury's in New Romney.
Donations of £5 were given for each photograph people had taken with him, holding his Olympic torch and a total of £170 was donated to the Pilgrims Hospice in Ashford.
Cooper is also a former chairman and president of Ashford Photographic Society.
It is believed he had left in 2007 as it moved base from Willesborough Road to St Mary's Church Hall in the town centre.
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