Sex assault on learner drivers

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AN elderly driving instructor told his wife he loved her seconds after being sent to prison for sexually assaulting two young female pupils.

Thomas Cook, 61, was also disqualified from working with children and banned from giving driving lessons to women for the next five years.

A judge told Cook he abused his position of trust when he groped the women during driving lessons.

The Newport Pagnell father-of-two stroked their legs and touched a teenager’s breasts in “vile and degrading” acts, Aylesbury Crown court heard.

Cook was convicted of two counts of sexual assault following a three-week trial last month.

Since then two young twin sisters have also told police they were abused by the Cook, after publicity generated by the case.

Prosecutor Jonathan Seely said: “He (Cook) is a man in a position of trust with vulnerable women in what the defendant himself described during the trial as a ‘life and death situation’.”

The first incident saw Cook touch a 20-year-old woman indecently during a driving lesson in July 2008

Cook then indecently touched a 17-year-old in November 2010.

Giles Curtis-Raleigh, defending, said his client had learned his lesson.

“He has suffered from this... He has lost his job and had to deal with the publicity surrounding the case. His innocent family have been left absolutely devastated, especially his son.

“Mr Cook is a man of previous good character. He has worked in IT and sales and there had never been a problem working with women.”

On the latest sexual allegations to emerge, Mr Curtis-Raleigh said: “The defendant says that he has cheerful emails from both the women (the twins) after they said they were abused and it could be they are getting on the bandwagon.”

During sentencing, Judge Johannah Cutts QC told Cook: “The first victim was affected emotionally and physically.

“She later broke down to her partner, who has never seen her in that state before.

“She was unable to go through any prosecution, which should have been a shot across your bows, but it wasn’t.

“In November 2010 you touched a 17-year-old girl. You touched her thigh, stroked her neck and touched her breast, over and under her bra.”

Judge Cutts added: “These offences are so serious only a custodial sentence can be justified.

“You are disqualified from working with children and you will not be allowed to carry out driving lessons with women for five years.”

Dressed in a smart black suit, Cook whispered “I love you” and “just go” to his daughter and wife, who were in the public gallery as he was led away to begin his sentence.

After the case Detective Constable Darren Street praised the young women for their courage and said: “Cook acted in a predatory fashion and targeted young women he was teaching to drive for his own gratification.”