INTERNATIONALLY-renowned concert pianist John Briggs has been jailed for eight years after a jury found him guilty of sex abuse charges against two of his former music students and three former members of the Keighley Sea Cadets.
Briggs, 65, who was awarded an MBE in 2003 for his work with the cadets, was today branded a systematic and relentless abuser of young boys who had looked up to him as a either a gifted musician or the president of his local sea cadets.
Some of his five victims were at Bradford Crown Court with family members to see Briggs convicted on nine charges of indecent assault covering a period between the late 1960s and 1993.
It emerged during the eight-day trial that one of the complainants had reported his abuse to the police 20 years ago, but at the time Briggs was never prosecuted.
As he sentenced Briggs today Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC slammed the lack of action at the time.
“Of course to add insult to injury when (the complainant) went to the police in 1993 they did absolutely nothing,” said the judge.
“That is a disgrace, but things have changed.”
Judge Durham Hall commended the work of the officers who had helped to bring Briggs to justice and he also highlighted the positive role of the media in such cases.
“This isn’t a witch-hunt. This isn’t made up,” said the judge.
“It happens and it causes mayhem and we want people to come forward.”
Throughout his trial Briggs, of Little Lane, East Morton, had claimed his accusers were lying, but the judge praised the five victims for their “compelling” evidence.
Judge Durham Hall said Briggs’ offending against one of his teenage piano students had destroyed that boy’s promising career and another complainant had lived for 20 years wondering if video footage of him performing a sex act for Briggs had been seen by other paedophiles.
Briggs’ victims, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, were aged between 10 and 15 and Judge Durham Hall said all of them were vulnerable in the sense that they looked up to him as either a respected musician or “the boss” of the cadets.
The court heard how one of the piano students had fled Briggs’ former home in Bingley after the musician, naked and wearing a pink gown, had taken him up to his attic living space where he tried to molest him on his bed.
Judge Durham Hall said Briggs had subjected that student to “systematic, repeated and relentless abuse”.
Briggs later told the boy’s family he had no talent and Judge Durham Hall said the defendant had broken the complainant’s “love of the piano and altered his life”.
Briggs, who at one time had his own TV show in Yorkshire and who made headlines with some of his piano-playing stunts, was given jail terms of between 12 months and two-and-a-half years in relation to offences against each of the victims, but Judge Durham Hall said the sentences would run consecutively amounting to a total of eight years.
The court heard that Briggs has significant health problems and the judge said he realised that his time in custody would be difficult.