AN INTERNATIONALLY renowned artist was yesterday convicted of sex offences against children.
A jury at Truro Crown Court found Graham Ovenden, 70, guilty of four charges of indecency with a child.
They cleared the pensioner, a former pupil under Sir Peter Blake and who has had work exhibited across the globe, of three charges of indecent assault on the direction of Judge Graham Cottle.
The judge told the jury of seven men and five women that he would accept majority verdicts, of which at least ten of them were agreed, on the remaining five charges – three of indecent assault and two of indecency with a child
Ovenden, who was not present in court having been taken ill, denied all the charges relating to four children – now all adults – between 1972 and 1985.
The incidents, involving young girls, are said to have taken place at Ovenden’s former and current addresses, in London and Cornwall. Ovenden had been described in court by prosecutor Ramsay Quaife as “a paedophile”, who abused children while they modelled for him.
The charges relate to four claimants, who contacted police long after the abuse took place and only when they realised exactly what had happened to them as girls, the court heard.
The artist told the court he had taken pictures of children – including those in various states of undress – but denied they were indecent. During his trial he spoke of a “witch-hunt” against those who produce work involving naked children, accusing police of “falsifying” images recovered from his home computer.
Ovenden, of Bodmin Moor, denied having a sexual interest in children. Judge Cottle released Ovenden on bail and adjourned sentencing for a later date.
Ovenden had described himself in court as a modest man, but told police he had a “major reputation” for creating “some of the best portraits of children in the last 200 years”.
He also declared himself one of the “two or three great printers” in the world. But the court heard his portraiture formed part of a ruse for abusing girls.