a FAMOUS concert pianist sexually assaulted boys who came to him for music lessons and filmed youngsters he abused from a sea cadet unit, a court was told.
John Briggs, 65, went on trial at Bradford Crown Court yesterday accused of offences against five boys, spanning a 24-year period, from 1969 to 1993.
Two of the boys were allegedly abused during piano lessons with Briggs and prosecutors say the other three were abused later through his connection with a sea cadet unit.
The youngest was 10 at the time of the alleged offence.
Briggs denies all the charges, allegedly telling police in interviews that the claims were “made up” and there was a “vicious conspiracy” against him.
He sat in the dock as Nicholas Worsley, prosecuting, outlined each of the allegations made by the boys to the courtroom.
Mr Worsley said the concert pianist had in the past taken private pupils for music lessons.
He said: “During the course of those lessons he would sexually assault boys he was supposed to be teaching.”
Mr Worsley said one boy was nearly 16 when Briggs invited him to his home for an extended lesson.
He said he ended up lying naked beside the boy, trying to get him to touch him.
Mr Worsley said: “(The boy) was very proud to be taught by Briggs.
“He was well known at the time, very famous at the time.
“He was put in for his grade eight exam, which was advanced for his age.
“He feared that if he said anything that would be the end of his hopes as a pianist.”
Mr Worsley said the youngster turned up at Briggs’s home expecting to be given a “masterclass” on the teacher’s personal piano, which was a “big deal”.
But, the prosecutor said, Briggs was wearing a pink dressing gown when he met the youngster.
The jury heard that Briggs then took off the robe to reveal he was naked before abusing the youngster.
Mr Worsley said the boy then ran home and spoke to his mother but “nothing was ever done about it”.
He added: “Briggs subsequently got in touch with (the boy’s) parents and said that their son had no talent whatsoever and would never amount to anything as a musician.”
Mr Worsley said two of the complainants were music students but the other three were known to Briggs through his involvement with a sea cadet unit.
He said one of these boys was filmed by Briggs during one assault and the defendant gave him £80 to appear on camera.
The prosecutor also gave details of Briggs filming another of the sea cadets.
The court heard that in the early 1990s, Briggs abused a 15-year-old boy he knew through the cadets.
Police were informed of the allegations and Briggs was arrested but was not charged by officers in connection with the matter.
The court heard his arrest over the cadet allegations led to the music allegations coming to the attention of the police.
Briggs, who was made an MBE for his community work a decade ago, denied all the offences when he was interviewed by police, Mr Worsley told the jury of six men and six women.
The prosecutor told the court that the defendant had told police officers that “the allegations were made up and it was all a vicious conspiracy against him”.
But the prosecutor added that the former music pupils only came forward after publicity when Briggs was arrested and charged in connection with the allegations relating to the cadets.
Mr Worsley said: “They did not know each other or any of the complainants who were members of the sea cadets.”
He added: “The cadets either did not know each other or had no involvement in each others’s lives after that organisation and prior to the allegations being made.”
The prosecutor told the jury that Briggs was arrested in the early 1990s after one alleged sexual assault but was not charged at the time.
Briggs, of Little Lane, East Morton, near Keighley, sat alone in the dock listening to the prosecution opening, wearing a jacket and tie.
He denies nine counts of indecent assault on a male and one of indecency with a child.
The trial continues.