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Harpist’s reputation ‘in tatters’ as she is jailed for sex abuse of boy in 1980s

Danielle Perrett, 59, was convicted following a four-week trial.

A “world-famous” harpist who has performed for the Queen and several prime ministers was told by a judge that her reputation lay “in tatters” as he jailed her for sexually abusing a schoolboy in the 1980s.

Danielle Perrett, 59, was sentenced alongside her ex-fiance Richard Barton-Wood, 68, for separately indecently assaulting the boy while he was in his early teens.

They had both denied all charges but were convicted following an earlier four-week trial at Ipswich Crown Court.

Perrett, of Bridge Street, Alpheton, Suffolk, was found guilty of six counts of indecent assault and sentenced to four years and nine months in prison.

Barton-Wood, of Church Street, Wymondham, Norfolk, was found guilty of seven counts of indecent assault and of one count of attempted indecent assault.

He was also sentenced to four years and nine months.

Judge Rupert Overbury told the defendants: “Your reputations are now in tatters and Miss Perrett’s notoriety will be of a very different nature than a world-famous harpist.”

He said both defendants had been regarded as “pillars” in their communities before the jury’s guilty verdicts, “one of you a teacher and dedicated employee of the museums service who gave time to his community; the other a world-famous harpist with a reputation for kindness and integrity”.

But he told them: “Each of you hid a darker side of your character; a characteristic which manifested itself in the early 1980s and resulted in the systematic abuse of a teenage boy.

“I dare say that each of you has, over the last 30 years, hoped that this dirty secret would remain hidden.”

Their accuser, now an adult, had told jurors that Barton-Wood had worked as a substitute teacher at his school.

He said Barton-Wood sexually assaulted him on sailing trips and camping trips, and that on separate occasions Perrett took his virginity and performed sex acts on him.

He was in court for sentencing and read from his victim personal statement as the two defendants looked on from the secure dock.

He said: “These abusers took away my innocence, my childhood.”

Both defendants had said the allegations were untrue, the incidents did not happen and that their accuser was trying to blackmail them.

Sallie Bennett-Jenkins, mitigating for Perrett, said: “She has lost her livelihood, she has lost her reputation and she has been pilloried by the press.

“Financially she has been extremely badly affected and the effect upon those who are closest to her is one of profound concern to her.”

She added that Perrett “has been the subject of trolling online on Twitter and social media and has been a subject of many threats”.

Stephen Rose, mitigating for Barton-Wood, said he was of previous good character and his family had stood by him.

Both defendants remained seated as they were handed custodial sentences.

Perrett sipped from a cup of water as she was led to the cells, and Barton-Wood showed no reaction.

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