Just in: Harpist is found guilty of abusing schoolboy

Just in: Harpist is found guilty of abusing schoolboy


norman lebrecht

January 31, 2018

A jury at Ipswich Crown Court today convicted Danielle Perrett of six offences of indecent assault against a teenager in the 1980s. A teacher, Richard Barton Wood, was also found guilty.

Both were warned by the judge to expect jail terms.

Report here.


  • harold braun says:


  • YoYo Mama says:

    This is an incredible situation, that the “victim” is even complaining, and so many decades after the fact. It’s really quite outrageous. There has to be a statute of limitations, on offenses so “minor” as these. It doesn’t sound like there was any kind of force involved. Lots of teens willingly have sex with adults without being traumatized. Either something significant is missing, or they managed to find Puritan jurors.

    • Malcolm James says:

      I do not wish to downplay the seriousness of the allegations, but you do wonder how someone can get a fair trial after 30 years. Memories fade, witnesses die or are uncontactable and documentation which might indicate innocence has long been destroyed.

      • Alex Davies says:

        Unless you know the specific details of the case you aren’t in a position to know what evidence was or was not available. The police consider it to be something of an achievement even to follow an investigation through to the point at which the CPS authorises them to charge a suspect. Almost as a matter of course I imagine that their defence counsels will have argued abuse of process, and a judge will have decided that there were no grounds for the prosecution not to go ahead. Anybody who has ever been involved in prosecutions of non-recent sexual offences will know that it is a difficult process in which evidence is tested very carefully in order to ensure that the defendants receive a fair trial. Witnesses will have been cross-examined relentlessly in order to ensure that their recollections are certain. The whole of the English criminal justice system is weighted in favour of the defendant, and rightly so, precisely to safeguard the principle that it is better that a guilty man goes free than that an innocent man is convicted. Miscarriages of justice do occur, but they are extremely rare, and I think that we can have confidence in the fairness of English justice.

        • Malcolm James says:

          I wish I could be as sanguine as you, but the collapse of numerous rape trials recently (which were all prosecuted within a fairly short time of the allegations) indicate a systemic failing where the CPS is willing to roll the dice on which way a jury will jump when faced with highly emotive evidencin order to boost convictions in this area.

          • Alex Davies says:

            You are, of course, quite right to draw attention to failures of disclosure in recent rape prosecutions, although I think the error seems to have been on the part of the police rather than the CPS (not that that makes any difference to the falsely accused). Conversely, even these cases do demonstrate that evidence that undermines the prosecution will eventually come to light (albeit woefully late in the day) and that innocent men will not be punished for crimes that they did not commit.

            Another interesting case was that of Coronation Street actor Michael Le Vell, who quite obviously was set up by a woman whose relationship to him cannot be specified for legal reasons with the aid (one does not know how willingly) of another woman who similarly cannot be identified. One must suspect that the police and CPS had a fair idea that he was being set up, but the evidence presumably was strong enough that it had to be tested in court. And that is what a trial is intended to be: a testing of the evidence in a case where it seems more likely than not that the defendant will be convicted. We are not a country like Russia or Singapore where a trial seems to be more of a formality to rubber-stamp a decision already taken by police and prosecutors.

            There are problems, of course, and there are a few high-profile cases where police have failed to disclose evidence, leading to some suspects being charged who should not have been charged (although, as far as I am aware, nobody wrongly convicted). Nonetheless, I still think that England is a country where one can expect a fair trial, but also a country where offenders cannot get away with a crime simply through the passage of time.

          • Malcolm James says:

            Unfortunately we just don’t know how many people there have been who were not so lucky and are now languishing in jail. It is complacent to assume that there are no such cases or that they are very rare. The political/moral imperative to increase convictions in the areas of sexual assault and rape (and domesitc violence) is sadly gradually eroding the effectiveness of the legal safeguards.

    • Alex Davies says:

      It seems that you are somebody who has a lot to say but who actually knows nothing about these kinds of cases.

      In English law there is no limitation period for any offence triable on indictment, and this has served us well until now. There are already sufficient checks in place in the English criminal justice system to ensure that defendants receive a fair trial. Although there is no formal limitation period, a court can nonetheless rule that a prosecution cannot go ahead because it will be impossible for a fair trial to take place given the period that has elapsed since the time of the alleged offence. We simply feel that it is fairer for all if this decision is made at the discretion of a judge rather than having an arbitrary limitation prescribed.

      Why a “victim”. If somebody is the victim of a crime he is a victim, not a “victim”. You seem to be suggesting that he hasn’t really suffered at the hands of this pair of sex offenders.

      These are not minor offences. No offence triable on indictment is a minor offence. Indecent assault is punishable by imprisonment for up to 10 years and is therefore a very serious offence indeed. It is also a very serious offence when you consider the lifelong impact on the victim.

      Force does not necessarily have to mean physical force. Victims can be coerced through psychological means. In this case, from what little has been published about it, it appears that a significant element of grooming was involved. An underage child by definition is presumed in law to be incapable of consenting to sexual activity. It doesn’t matter whether at the time he appeared to consent. Anybody who has sex with a child is breaking the law and knows that they are breaking the law. I have no sympathy for them.

  • Strings Attached says:

    Sounds like a kangaroo court. Evidence? Witnesses? Did the victim have a concealed spy camera? The linked press piece, true to modern “journalism” , avoids questions anyone with a greater than room temperature IQ would ask.

  • Alvaro says:


    Those who thought men held the monopoly of outlandish behavior, may be eating their words now.

    Psychopaths dont know of gender differences. Just last month an Argentinean teenager violently killed her boyfriend and the police found evidence of abuse.

    Its about time society starts recognizing women do these horrendous acts too.

  • AB says:

    Unfortunately and with respect we don’t have access here to the evidence / proof that has caused the Jury to bring in this verdict, just the newspaper reports which state and re – state the allegations. Perhaps more will be explained in due course, unless it really is simply one person’s account being believed over that of another , but is that enough in law to convict I wonder and especially after 34 years? It seems impossible to comment accurately without access to all details on this particular case, although interesting to note that both here and elsewhere on line some folks feel there is a question mark over this case. Maybe more will be explained at sentencing.

  • TonyF12 says:

    Most of the comments here so far explain how paedophiles get away with what they do – Larry Nassar, Jimmy Savile, etc.. Few get the message unless they or someone dear to them is abused. This kind of abuse is life-changing violence against the person. No place for others to wave on, excuse nor applaud..

    What this couple did to their victim was vile and inhuman. The courts have dealt with it thoroughly and appropriately, albeit belatedly. However late the trial, judgment and conviction have been, this couple deserves its punishment.