Teacher raped in sound-proof rooms to mute screams

Other allegations relating to rapist Philip Pickett remain on file. Picture: PA

Other allegations relating to rapist Philip Pickett remain on file. Picture: PA

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A RENOWNED music teacher from a top arts school has been jailed for 11 years for sex attacks on two schoolgirls and a young woman in sound-proof practice rooms.

Professional recorder player Philip Pickett, 64, was found guilty of two rapes and two indecent assaults between 1979 and 1983.

He taught for 25 years at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, which boasts famous alumni including 007 star Daniel Craig and Hollywood heart-throb Orlando Bloom.

The Old Bailey heard how Pickett lured vulnerable pupils into practice rooms where no-one would hear their screams as he shut the door, turned off the light and assaulted them.

Charges were brought after one victim alerted police, prompted by publicity surrounding the Savile sex scandal.

At a hearing yesterday Judge Charles Wide ordered two further indictments in relation to allegations by two women dating back to the 1970s to lie on file and lifted reporting restrictions.

Pickett, from Lyneham, Oxfordshire, was found guilty on 10 February.

His first victim, who was 16 at the time of the attack, reported Pickett to Suffolk police, who referred the complaint to the City of London force. She went to the Guildhall School in 1978 as a sixth-form pupil to learn the ­recorder with Pickett. During a lesson he asked her to take off her top, saying she needed to work on her breathing, then told her to lie on the floor where he indecently assaulted her.

In a lesson the following week, Pickett raped her. Later she told her mother she did not want to have lessons again.

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 21 and 17 at the time. The 17-year-old told her parents about the attack and they wrote to her school. After a significant length of time, the school responded, saying it had not received any other complaints about him and suggested their daughter study elsewhere.

Correspondence gathered from the school during the investigation uncovered a letter to Pickett from the then-principal dated 20 March, 1984. In it, he describes his frustration that Pickett had not arranged to see him to discuss the allegations.

Jailing Pickett for a total of 11 years earlier this month, Judge Wide said his crimes amounted to a “gross abuse of trust”.

He been convicted by jury of a number of “exceptionally serious” sexual offence, namely the rape of a 21-year-old woman, the rape and indecent assault of a 16-year-old girl and an indecent assault on a 17-year-old girl.

The judge said: “In each case there is the aggravating ­factor that this was a gross abuse of trust.

“You were [their] teacher; to a degree they were in awe of you.”

He said Pickett had specifically targeted vulnerable girls, who he was teaching and “had power over” making them “most unlikely to complain”.

He added: “There is the location of the offence in practice rooms at the Guildhall School of Music – sound-proofed, dark, you turned the lights out.

“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 said one of the victims’ first sexual experience was being assaulted and raped by Pickett.

After he was convicted, his defence tried to delay sentencing to allow Pickett to keep work commitments. But Judge Wide rejected this. Handing down concurrent sentences of seven years, two years, 11 years, and 18 months for each offence, the judge said: “Pickett just got on with his professional life, keeping these complainants waiting for months.”

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