England

Guildhall School of Music teacher jailed for sex attacks

Philip Pickett Image copyright City of London Police
Image caption Philip Pickett taught at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London for 25 years

An internationally renowned music teacher has been jailed for 11 years for sex attacks on two schoolgirls and a young woman in the 1970s and 1980s.

Philip Pickett, 64, from Lyneham, near Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, attacked the girls and woman in sound-proof practice rooms.

He carried out the assaults whilst he was a teacher at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London.

Judge Charles Wide said his crimes amounted to a "gross abuse of trust".

Pickett was found guilty at the Old Bailey on 10 February of two rapes and two indecent assaults on his victims between 1979 and 1983.

He lured vulnerable pupils into practice rooms, where no one would hear their screams as he shut the door, turned out the light and assaulted them, the court heard.

Image copyright Google
Image caption The assaults took place in practice rooms at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama

Charges were brought after one of the victims alerted police after being prompted in light of the Jimmy Savile sex scandal.

At a hearing earlier, the judge, who jailed Pickett earlier this month, lifted reporting restrictions.

The first victim, who was 16 at the time of the attack, went to the school in 1978 as a sixth-form student to learn the recorder with Pickett.

'In awe'

During a lesson, he asked her to take her top off, suggesting she needed to work on her breathing, then ordered her to lie on the floor where he indecently assaulted her.

In a lesson the following week, she was raped by Pickett, the court was told.

After he was arrested over the 1978 assault in August 2013, more women came forward, resulting in charges relating to two more victims, who were aged 21 and 17 at the time.

The rape of a 21-year-old woman, the rape and indecent assault of the 16-year-old, and the indecent assault on a 17-year-old were offences that all aggravated each other, the judge said.

Jailing him, he said: "You were this woman and these schoolgirls' teacher, to a degree they were in awe of you, especially the schoolgirls, and, as far as they were concerned, this was specific targeting of a vulnerable victim, a girl you were teaching and you had power over who would be reluctant to complain and most unlikely to complain.

"Even if they shouted, they could not be heard, as you knew well, having got them on their own and shut the door.

"The impact of these very serious sexual offences must have been very great indeed."

He ordered that two further indictments relating to allegations by two women dating back to the 1970s lie on file.

After he was convicted, Pickett's defence team tried to delay sentencing to accommodate his commitment to arranging three music festivals.

But the judge rejected it, saying he had his "head in the sand" and had carried on as if nothing had happened.

A spokesman from the school welcomed the verdicts. He said: "Although these events took place several decades ago, this does not diminish our utter shock that a professional music teacher could abuse the trust placed in him by the school and its students."

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