Sussex

Music director Jonathan Smith jailed for sex abuse

Abuser Jonathan Smith, also known as Jonathan Grieves-Smith Image copyright Sussex Police
Image caption Jonathan Smith, also known as Jonathan Grieves-Smith, had a successful musical career

A world renowned music director who used "psychological manipulation" and blackmail to abuse and rape a young girl has been jailed.

Jonathan Smith, 57, carried out a "campaign of sexual violence" against the girl in Lewes, East Sussex, in the 1980s and early 1990s.

He was found guilty of 16 sex offences and sentenced to 24 years.

In a victim statement read out at Hove Crown Court, his victim called him the "destroyer of souls".

He was found guilty of two counts of rape, two of buggery, 10 counts of indecent assault and two of gross indecency with a child following an earlier trial.

'Spiral of despair'

Following the abuse Smith went on to build a reputation as a respected conductor across the UK, Europe, the US, Australia and New Zealand, the court heard.

He had been living in Victoria, Australia, since 1998 and was a choirmaster of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.

He returned to the UK following a four-year extradition process and was living in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire.

During his sentencing via Skype on Tuesday, prosecutor Richard Hearnden said: "Smith engaged in grooming behaviour, acted in breach of trust and the offences were planned to a significant degree."

He said Smith had caused "severe psychological harm" to the victim, as well as blackmailing her to stop her from speaking out.

'Fortitude'

In her impact statement the victim said Smith told her she was "special", and she lived in "a delusional and made-up world believing as long as I was physically wanted I was wanted".

Judge Paul Tain praised her bravery, and said despite her "spiral of despair... her fortitude in giving her evidence showed me that her future can be a lot better than parts of her past have been".

Defence barrister Jane Rowley said Smith had made a "profound contribution to music" and was unlikely to ever work again.

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