Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Paedophile artist sentence review

Artist Graham Ovenden was spared prison after being found guilty of a string of sex charges against children

An internationally renowned artist who avoided prison after being found guilty of sex offences against children will have his sentence reviewed by leading judges today.

Three judges at the Court of Appeal in London will examine whether the non-custodial punishment imposed in the case of Graham Ovenden can be regarded as "unduly lenient" and should be overturned and replaced with a term of imprisonment.

Ovenden, of The Garage, Barley Splatt near Bodmin Moor in Cornwall, received 12 months imprisonment suspended for two years at Plymouth Crown Court in June.

The sentence was referred to the Court of Appeal by Attorney General Dominic Grieve and will be looked at by the Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas, sitting with Mr Justice Henriques and Mr Justice Blake.

Ovenden, who studied under the so-called ''Godfather of Pop-Art'' Sir Peter Blake, was accused of abusing 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.

As well as the sentence review, the judges will also hear a bid by Ovenden, who denied the charges against him, to challenge his conviction.

He was convicted of six charges of indecency with a child and one allegation of indecent assault relating to three girls.

Passing sentence, the Crown Court judge said Ovenden was motivated by a sexual interest in children.

In suspending the term, he said he took into account Ovenden's age - 70 at the time of sentencing - the age of the offences, and his "steep fall from grace and irretrievably tarnished reputation".

After the sentencing hearing Ovenden described the prosecution as a "witch hunt" and a "conspiracy" and said he planned to appeal.

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