A 78-year-old man jailed in 2009 for a series of rape and sexual abuse offences has died in hospital.
Giovanni Cocozza was taken to hospital from his cell at Glenochil Prison in Alloa, Clackmannanshire, on Sunday afternoon after becoming unwell.
He was jailed for 10 years after admitting to raping a woman and a teenager and abusing five other girls between 1964 and 1976.
The offences took place in Glasgow, Lanarkshire and Ayrshire.
Cocozza suffered from chronic kidney disease and heart problems.
A Scottish Prison Service spokeswoman said there were no suspicious circumstances, and he is understood to have died from natural causes.
She said police and next of kin had now been informed and a fatal accident inquiry will be held in due course.
The former ice cream van owner was only caught after one of his victims reported the abuse in 2007.
Sentencing him, Judge Michael O’Grady QC said Cocozza had inflicted “pain, hurt and abuse of the worst kind” on his victims.
“You have pled guilty to an appalling course of conduct sustained over more than a decade,” said the judge.
“You have stolen their childhoods and have blighted their lives – it is difficult to imagine their ordeal. Sadly no sentence I can impose can change that.
“All I can do is impose a sentence that reflects societies revulsion of these type of crimes.”
Brave woman recalls terror as sex beast attacked her as she slept beside two-year-old son
A rape victim of Hamilton sex beast Giovanni ‘John’ Cocozza has spoke publicly for the first time about how he ruined her life.
The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, gave more details of her horrifying ordeal at the hands of the 76-year-old former fish-fryer and ice-cream man.
Evil Cocozza, of Low Waters Road, was jailed for 10 years last month for raping two young woman and sexually abusing five young girls between 1964 and 1976.
Yesterday (Wednesday), the brave victim spoke to the Advertiser about her terrifying ordeal.
“He had blighted my life for so long, and after the rape I went into the blackest depression,” she revealed.
“He really did make me suffer.
“I’ve never got over what he has done to me. It has affected so many areas of my life.
“You feel shamed and humiliated after being raped.”
Cocozza raped the woman when she was 20, after she visited his flat in John Street.
He sneaked into the bed where she was sleeping with her two-year-old son.
She prayed throughout her ordeal that her son wouldn’t wake up.
“The weekend of the rape, he had paid for my flight to come and visit him with my boy,” she added.
“I stayed along with my son in his flat in John Street.
“I thought nothing of staying there as I didn’t realise the extent of this man’s depravity; that only came to light after I contacted the police.
“The weekend I was back visiting him, he took me out on the Friday night to a pub in Hamilton and he was getting drunk.
“He asked if could I take pain. I thought that was bizarre.
“He squeezed my hand and twisted it and I told him to stop as he was hurting me.
“I was very frightened.
“I should have left the next day but I met up with people I knew and went shopping.”
Cocozza had earlier raped a 15-year-old girl after she visited a shop that he owned in Largs, Ayrshire, in 1973.
The girl had been unable to get home and stayed at Cocozza’s flat in the town.
The pervert went into the room where she was sleeping and had sex with her.
She later fled the flat in the early hours.
Cocozza also abused five other girls at his former Hamilton home and at two hotels, one in Coatbridge and another in Glasgow.
The abuse was reported to the authorities in 2007 and one of the victims contacted the social work department at South Lanarkshire Council.
Strathclyde Police were alerted and it emerged other women had been abused by the pensioner, who is a father of seven and grandfather of 15.
The woman insisted that if hadn’t been for advice from her doctor, Cocozza may never have been brought to justice.
“I was diagnosed with a genetic disorder,” she declared.
“I told my doctor who he was and what he had done to me when I was 20 and he urged me to alert the police.
“The sentence he got is roughly half-a-year for each of his poor victims, and I sincerely hope there were no others who found it difficult to come forward.
“I only wish I had alerted the authorities sooner, and, believe me, there were many times I wanted to but I had to consider my children, who were young at the time, and I couldn’t put them through it.”
The woman said that she is very pleased she told authorities about her abuse and can now move on with her life.
She said: “I hope that he gets the time in prison to realise what he has done, accepts it, and comes to terms with it and, perhaps, he can have some peace in his mind now.
“I pray that all his victims can move on and that justice has truly been done now.”
The victim has urged other women or children in a similar position to her to report their abuse.
“I would like commend the Victim Support Agency staff, who dealt with victims all throughout this,” she added.
“They really are superb from the minute you give your statement until the court case is called.
“They keep you posted on every aspect of the proceedings and are always there for you. If my story can help one more victim, it will be worthwhile.”