Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 31 August 2014

Artist's sentence to be reviewed

Graham Ovenden, from Cornwall, received 12 months' imprisonment suspended for two years after he was convicted of sex charges

An internationally renowned artist who avoided prison after being found guilty of a string of sex charges against children will see his sentence referred to the Court of Appeal for being unduly lenient, the Attorney General's Office has said.

Graham Ovenden, from Cornwall, received 12 months' imprisonment suspended for two years after he was convicted of six charges of indecency with a child and one allegation of indecent assault relating to three girls.

The Attorney General, Dominic Grieve QC MP, has decided to refer the 70-year-old's case to the Court of Appeal where judges will decide whether or not to increase the sentence handed down by Judge Graham Cottle at Plymouth Crown Court in June.

A spokeswoman for the Attorney General's Office said: "Having carefully reviewed this case, the Attorney General, Dominic Grieve QC MP, has decided to refer the sentence of Graham Ovenden to the Court of Appeal for review.

"The case will in due course be heard by three Court of Appeal judges who will decide whether or not the sentence is unduly lenient and whether they should increase the sentence."

Ovenden, who studied under the so-called ''Godfather of Pop-Art'' Sir Peter Blake, abused children as young as six who posed for his paintings in the 70s and 80s.

The artwork - much celebrated in galleries across the world at the height of his commercial popularity - formed part of a ruse for abusing girls at his studio in Cornwall and former home in Hounslow, west London, where he would make them dress in Victorian clothing before removing it and committing indecent acts.

Following Ovenden's conviction, the Tate removed more than 30 prints from its online collection.

The 34 prints were given to the Tate in 1975 as part of a larger gift of around 3,000 works and include work inspired by Alice In Wonderland and images of naked young girls.

Last week, the Attorney General revealed that the number of sentences flagged to his office for being too lenient had surged to a record high in 2012. The number of possibly unduly lenient sentences (ULS) drawn to the Attorney General's attention in 2012 rose to 435, from 377 in 2011 and 342 in 2010.

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