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World-renowned harpist found guilty of sexual abuse

A world-renowned harpist who once played for the Queen was warned she faced jail today after being found guilty of repeatedly sexually abusing a teenage boy.

Danielle Perrett, 59, and her ex-fiance Richard Barton-Wood, 68, face prison sentences after being convicted of sexual assaults against their victim in the 1980s.

A court heard Perrett took the virginity of the 14-year-old victim in her London flat after Barton-Wood brought him there after seeing her play in a hotel recital in 1984. 

Richard Barton-Wood, 68, arrives at Ipswich Crown Court yesterday

Danielle Perrett (left, pictured outside Ipswich Crown Court today) and her ex-partner Richard Barton-Wood (right, pictured yesterday) have been convicted of sexually abusing a schoolboy

The victim, who cannot be named, previously told jurors: ‘I remember having sexual intercourse with Danielle…she smelt of roses, she always did, she was very slim, pretty.’

He added: ‘We had sex, I slept in her big bed, she was cuddling me again and we had sex. She was on top of me, I fell in love with her, I felt safe with her.’

Jurors heard Perrett, who was in her mid-20s at the time, then performed a sex act on the boy in her shower and abused him in a van while the trio drove to Barton-Wood’s Suffolk home the next day.

There she performed a sex act on the boy in a bath and carried out another sex act in a barn after picking apples in the garden.

Prosecutor William Carter said: ‘[The victim] was obviously too young to consent to what was happening. Her actions, pleasant though they seemed to him at the time, were unacceptable.’

Both defendants claimed the allegations were a ‘complete fabrication’ invented to blackmail them for money, with Perrett claiming the boy tried to rape her while she was in the shower at her flat.

She said: ‘I was frozen in terror and he grabbed my wrists and pushed his penis against my pubic bone and he just drove it and drove it and drove it at me and I said, ‘please don’t, please stop, please don’t do that, please don’t hurt me’.

‘I was sobbing. He carried on and carried on and on and on and on and I suppose he was not getting anywhere and in a nutshell he just went limp.’ 

Perrett, of Alpheton, Suffolk, is a world-renowned harpist who has played for the Queen

Perrett, of Alpheton, Suffolk, is a world-renowned harpist who has played for the Queen

Mr Carter claimed the defendants’ accounts of events were inconsistent, with Barton-Wood initially telling police he didn’t remember them staying at Perrett’s flat.

Barton-Wood later said he did remember the three of them staying there and told jurors he was ‘horrified’ when Perrett told him the boy ‘tried to get in the shower with her’.

Mr Carter told Barton-Wood: ‘Your evidence is made-up evidence, made up to support Danielle Perrett’s assertion that (the victim) sexually assaulted her.’

The victim said he was introduced to Perrett by Cambridge University history graduate Barton-Wood after he came to his school as a supply English teacher.

Jurors at Ipswich Crown Court heard Barton-Wood joined the pair in bed the night the victim lost his virginity to Perrett.

The victim said: ‘We were drifting off to sleep when Richard Wood walked into the bedroom and climbed into the bed on my right-hand side.

‘He cuddled me again and touched my penis which I hated, absolutely hated.’

After befriending the victim, Barton-Wood paid him to help repair a boat called the Hobgoblin and gave him alcohol and cigarettes. 

The court heard the former teacher carried out ‘shocking’ sexual assaults on him while on overnight sailing trips on the yacht and during trips abroad together.

He told jurors he used a cord around his trousers to stop Barton-Wood pulling them down to assault him, saying: ‘I used it (baler twine) to pull my trousers up tight.

‘I knew if I knotted them real tight he would not be able to get into my trousers, but he tried.’

Perrett (centre, today) was found guilty by majority verdicts of six counts of indecent assault

Perrett (centre, today) was found guilty by majority verdicts of six counts of indecent assault

The victim said he got back in touch with Barton-Wood in 2001 because he ‘wanted answers’.

He told the jury: ‘I’ve been trying to block it out of my mind for 30 odd years. I wanted him to have some form of punishment but I was really scared and embarrassed about people finding out.’

Perrett, pictured in her heyday as a harpist, is now expected to be jailed next month

Perrett, pictured in her heyday as a harpist, is now expected to be jailed next month

Jurors were told that after getting back in contact with Barton-Wood, the victim sent him a number of emails and internet messages.

Stephen Rose, defending Barton-Wood, accused the victim of making ‘menacing’ and ‘veiled threats’ to his client.

He said: ‘It’s all about the money, isn’t it? You are not foolish enough to flesh it in terms but the menace here is clear, you want him to pay up.’

Mr Rose read from one email, which said: ‘I think it’s about time we had a chat, don’t you? I would not want to upset anything now, that would be very upsetting for you all.’ 

However, it was later revealed to the jury that Barton-Wood had edited the email before handing it to police, leaving out the line: ‘Do your employers know about your previous contact with young boys?’

Sallie Bennett-Jenkins, defending Perrett, said of the victim’s claims: ‘There is not a drop of truth in this; this is the product of an overactive teenage imagination.’

She also claimed the victim’s memory was not ‘credible’ due to his dependency on a variety of ‘mind-altering drugs’ prescribed to him after a work accident.

Perrett sat at the rear of the court beside her lawyer as the verdicts were read out today

Perrett arrives at court today

Perrett sat at the rear of the court beside her lawyer as the verdicts were read out today

The court heard how the victim called Perrett on her mobile phone in 2007. She said she felt ‘threatened’ and described his tone as ‘menacing’.

The victim said he reported the abuse to police in January 2016 after realising his 14-year-old daughter was the same age he was when he was sexually abused as a child.

He said: ‘My daughter had turned 14 and she was messing around in her school uniform touching the ceiling and I thought the poor girl, I was her age when that happened to me and I didn’t want her ever to hide anything.’

The jury of ten men and two women took a little more than nine hours to reach a decision, returning majority verdicts on all counts.

Barton-Wood and Perrett both sat still with their heads down as the verdicts were called out by the jury.

Perrett could be seen shaking her head as the verdicts on the counts against her were read out.

Barton-Wood’s wife sat in a full public gallery as the verdicts were read. Perrett, of Alpheton, Suffolk, was found guilty of six counts of sexual assault.

Barton-Wood, of Wymondham, Norfolk, was found guilty of attempting to commit indecent assault and seven counts of indecent assault on a male person under the age of 16.

Addressing the defendants, Judge Rupert Overbury said: ‘I make no bones about this at all. The sentence you are facing when you return to this court is prison. These are serious sexual offences.’

Perrett and Barton-Wood are expected to be sentenced on February 26. 


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