Haltwhistle karate teacher Harry Cook facing jail for abusing pupils

A RENOWNED martial arts expert from Northumberland will be spending a significant period of time behind bars after admitting sexually abusing young pupils.

Martial arts expert Harry Cook who admitted sexually abusing young pupils

A RENOWNED martial arts expert from Northumberland will be spending a significant period of time behind bars after admitting sexually abusing young pupils.

Henry Cook, known as Harry, was a hugely respected karate instructor who taught hundreds of children and even wrote books on the sport.

Now he has admitted sexually assaulting five of his young female pupils in a shocking breach of trust. The married father, from Haltwhistle, Northumberland, was also found to have one of the largest child pornography archives ever seized in the North East, with more than 55,000 sick images – including some of the girls he molested.

The 62-year-old, a seventh dan master, has been remanded in custody and is facing a substantial prison term when he is sentenced in March.

He had already admitted 14 charges of indecently assaulting two girls, one in the 1980s and the other more recently, at a previous hearing.

He was brought back to Newcastle Crown Court yesterday to face a further 29 offences and admitted all of them.

The latest charges to which he confessed included 15 indecent or sexual assaults on three girls over an eight-year period.

Cook further admitted 13 counts of making and possessing indecent photographs of children and one of possessing extreme pornography involving animals. He had a total of 55,585 child pornography images. Prosecutor Amanda Rippon told the court: “Some of the images are of the victims of the indecent assaults.”

Cook, formerly of Castle Hill Terrace, Haltwhistle, who has been remanded in custody since early last year, will be brought back to be sentenced on March 5.

Jamie Adams, defending, said: “The court maybe assisted by a psychiatric assessment of the defendant.”

Cook is a well known figure in the martial arts world and although he taught mainly in Hexham and Haltwhistle, he gave lessons all over the world. He founded his own school, the Seijinkai Karatedo Association, to teach his blend of Shotokan and Goju-ryu karate styles. The association now has branches in Ireland, Norway, and the United States of America, as well as the UK.

News of his offending has shocked those who knew him in the karate world.

Cook, originally from South Shields, South Tyneside, is a seventh dan master of two forms of karate, studied at Durham University and after training as a school teacher, devoted his life to the martial art.

Page 2 - Shock over Cook’s dark past >>

Shock over Cook’s dark past

AS a leading karate authority, Harry Cook became one of the most respected figures in the sport.

He wrote the definitive analysis of Shotokan, a book which now sells for hundreds of pounds.

While studying Chinese at Durham University in the early 1970s, he set up a karate club which won the 1973 and 1974 British university championships.

Cook spent three years teaching the sport in Japan, first in Tokyo and then in Kyoto.

Living in Haltwhistle, west Tynedale, Cook, who also specialised in goju-ryu, ran a twice-weekly karate club in the Tyne Valley.

Last night a minister whose church played host to some of Cook’s lessons, told of his shock when Cook’s sordid background was uncovered.

He told The Journal: “It was only when all of this came out about a year ago that we knew anything of what had gone on.

“Obviously, as soon as it came out, the karate club was finished and now no longer exists.

“Everybody was so surprised and shocked – a lot of people went to the club.

“There must have been 30 or 40 members and it was always quite busy.

“It’s so very, very sad that this has happened. I am very concerned and saddened at the lives that have been ruined.

“We do have a full child protection policy in place at the church, which was fully and properly adhered to. But this just goes to show that all the child protection policies in the world are no good if a man like this is determined to offend.

“As far as I was aware, he had no previous record of any kind whatsoever.

“When these offences became known, everybody was immediately concerned and immediately extremely worried.”

Ian Hutchinson, a Haltwhistle county councillor and leading figure in local politics, was taught karate by Cook 30 years ago, when he was in his 30s.

He was as stunned as everyone else when the details of Cook’s past emerged.

Mr Hutchinson said: “I’m just pleased he has been taken off the streets. It would be 30 or 35 years ago that he taught me for a short time.

“As an instructor, he was OK – but nothing more than that. I always felt he didn’t push us as hard as he could have done.

“I went elsewhere, where we lost sweat and blood because we trained so hard, but it wasn’t like that with Harry.

“I didn’t feel a true sense of fulfillment with him and decided to go to other instructors.

“Having said that, he was a true authority on karate – shotokan was his principal strength.

“He was a very well-known fellow in these parts, but these offences have shocked everyone.”


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
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