May 2022

‘Dangerous’ paedophile died two years after being locked up for plying girls with booze and abusing them

A convicted paedophile whose abuse ‘cast shade’ over his victims’ childhoods died two years after being sentenced, a coroner heard.

Gerald Coppel was handed a 14-year prison term after plying three girls with alcohol before exposing himself and abusing them.

An inquest into his death has now been opened at Bolton Coroners’ Court. Coppel died on February 4 at Salford Royal Hospital, aged 73.

At a pre-inquest review held on Tuesday (May 10), the court heard Coppel had been in custody at Salford’s Forest Bank Prison since 2019.

Coroner Peter Sigee said that from the evidence submitted to the inquest so far, he understood that Coppel ‘came into prison with significant health concerns’, which endured throughout the rest of his life.

Mr Sigee, area coroner for Manchester West, added: “I understand Mr Coppel was never in the main area of the prison. He was always in the healthcare unit at the prison.”

The court heard Coppel was transferred to Salford Royal Hospital during the ‘final stages of his illness’. Laura Hackney, representing Sodexo Ltd, which operations and healthcare at Forest Bank Prison, told the court Coppel ‘had been refusing treatment for his condition’ prior to his death.

On March 20, 2020, Coppel was sentenced at Manchester Crown Court to 14 years in prison after pleading guilty to 19 counts of indecent assault. Of those counts, 13 referred to a child aged under 13 and six to a child under 16.

The offences relate to three girls who were abused over a number of years in the south Manchester area. Coppel also signed the Sex Offenders Register and was subject to a sexual harm prevention order for life.