When children arrived at Warminda Hostel, located in East Victoria Park, Western Australia, they likely thought it was too good to be true.
The hostel was a refuge for children who were wards of the state between the 1970s and 1980s. Photographs from the time feature a house with four bedrooms, a tennis and basketball court, and a swimming pool; an image that might be enticing, if it weren’t for the knowledge of what happened within it.
Martin James Cooper, as reported by the ABC, was the ‘hostel parent’, caring for both boys and girls between the ages of 11 and 16, who had spent most of their lives moving from home to home.
But Warminda would not be the sanctuary these children envisaged.
This week, on the 30th of May, 66-year-old Cooper was convicted of historical child sex offences against eight children.
Now adults aged in their 50s, it has taken his victims, four men and four women, no less than 40 years to be believed.
In court, one male victim recalled his second day in Warminda Hostel. Cooper approached him after his shower, in only his underwear, embracing him from behind.
As they fell onto a bed, Cooper was said to have squeezed his genitals, instructing him not to scream.
From this moment, things only got worse.
The boy would later be indecently assaulted by Cooper, who poured petrol all over his body, including his genitals.
“I tried to fight but I couldn’t,” he told the court.
When he reentered the shower, he recalled his skin began to peel, his body burning all over.
“As I got dressed,” he said, “the touch of cotton on wherever the skin had come off my body was just really excruciating.”
Cooper, who was aged between 26 and 31 at the time, would share beer, cigarettes, and drugs with the children in his care, as well as subjecting them to pornography.