The family of a boy who was raped and murdered 35 years ago have made a last-ditch plea for an ageing paedophile to reveal where his body is and end their torment.
Mark Tildesley’s parents Lavinia and John died without being able to lay their seven-year-old to rest.
But convicted child molester Sidney Cooke – leader of the Dirty Dozen child sex ring and regarded as Britain’s worst paedophile – once told a cellmate he knows where he is buried.
Vile Sidney Cooke (pictured) is serving life for the sexual abuse of two young brothers in the 1970s and will die in prison. And because he is 92 they fear he will soon take his secret to the grave. So Mark’s family are begging him to speak out.
Decades of torment since Mark was snatched from a fairground have taken their toll on his elder brother Chris.
He suffered a stroke four years ago and can no longer talk or walk.
But he refuses to give up hope and has written a letter to Cooke.
Chris, 53, told the pervert of the “unbearable pain” he had caused his family, adding that not knowing where Mark’s body was had “destroyed” them.
He wrote: “We know at the age of 92, time is running out. So we are asking you one last time, if there is one ounce of decency in you, to tell us where he is to end our torment.
“Please! We are begging you to tell the police the information and answers we NEED to hear… Please give us some closure.”
Mark vanished in June 1984 after visiting a fairground near his home in Wokingham, Berks. His parents searched for him after he failed to return home but found only his bike chained to a fence.
Cooke has never admitted to police or been prosecuted for Mark’s murder.
But he was identified as an accomplice in the killing by Leslie Bailey – a member of the same sex ring.
Bailey told police fairground worker Cooke dragged Mark to a paedophile orgy after luring him with a 50p bag of sweets.
He said Mark was taken to a caravan a mile away, owned by Cooke, where he was given a glass of milk laced with a muscle relaxant before being gang-raped.
The boy was held by the throat during the assaults and Bailey said he could see Mark was no longer breathing.
Cooke has never admitted murdering Mark to police but told a cellmate he knew where his body was.
Detectives believed there could have been as many as 17 other abductions and murders with connections to the Dirty Dozen gang.
But only three were ever established – Mark, 14-year-old Jason Swift and six-year-old Barry Lewis. Cooke and Bailey were among four men jailed for the 1985 manslaughter of Londoner Jason. His strangled body was found in a shallow grave in Essex.
Each paedophile had paid £5 to leader Cooke to have sex with Jason in a filthy flat in Hackney. The boy died when the sickening crime went wrong.
Cooke was released in 1998 but returned to prison in 1999 after pleading guilty to sexually abusing two brothers on ten occasions in 1972 and 1973. Six-year-old Barry’s body was found in another shallow grave, also in Essex, within a week of Jason’s.
Bailey admitted murdering the boy, who was snatched from the street and taken to a council flat where he was sexually abused by up to eight men.
Chris’s wife Zena said: “Mark’s murder destroyed this family. His parents couldn’t even go to our wedding. They found it too upsetting that Mark wasn’t there. They never found it easy talking about what happened.
“His dad wouldn’t talk about Mark. His mum did sometimes but she didn’t like opening the wounds.
“She coped by focusing on her grandchildren.”
For more than 20 years, until moving home after the death of her husband in 2005, Lavinia kept Mark’s bedroom exactly as it was the day he vanished.
Zena, 53, who has daughters Samantha, 27, Marie, 25, and Sophie, 23, with Chris, said: “I’ve seen the toll on Chris too. He’s always been really protective over the girls and wouldn’t let them go anywhere by themselves. Christmas and Mark’s birthdays are particularly tough times for him.
“He tries to hide it but I can see he has been crying.
“Before his stroke, he would say he wishes Mark was still here and it is eating him up not knowing what happened to him
“That’s what upsets him the most – that he doesn’t know where his brother is. He wants to find him and give him a proper goodbye so his mum and dad can rest in peace.
“There are still so many unanswered questions. It’s like torture for Chris. He needs answers. Cooke is our last resort. He’s going to die in prison, there’s nothing left for him. Why can’t he just tell us where Mark is?
“Chris was 17 when Mark went missing. He adored his little brother.
“He doesn’t like to speak about what happened but the last time he saw Mark was at breakfast on the day he disappeared.
“Chris was going to work and he said, ‘See you later, pest!’ And that was it. He never saw him again.”