Royal harpist accused of sex assault on underage boy with her lover
The world-famous harpist Danielle Perrett has been accused of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old boy with her church warden lover. Ms Perrett, 59, who has performed for the royal family, including the Queen, first met the teenager after her partner Richard Barton-Wood, now 68, took him to watch her play the harp in a hotel recital. On Wednesday a court heard the recital signalled the start of a torrid affair between the three, lasting six months from March and September 1984. Now Ms Perrett, who has performed for four consecutive prime ministers and at Prince Phillip’s 70th birthday celebrations, stands accused of eight counts of sexual assault on a minor, while Mr Barton-Wood is accused of six offences of indecent assault, one of attempted buggery and one of attempted indecent assault. Both Ms Perrett and Mr Barton-Wood deny the charges. A jury at Ipswich Crown Court heard how after first meeting the teen at a hotel, Ms Perrett – who sat in the dock wearing a pink coat, a long cream-coloured dress, glasses and held a pink handbag – slept with him on multiple occasions at a flat in London where Mr Barton-Wood was also present. Prosecutor William Carter told a jury at Ipswich Crown Court: “He (the victim) was obviously too young to consent to what was happening. He described her as kind and gentle and says he felt safe around her. Her actions, pleasant though they seemed to him at the time, were unacceptable.” Mr Carter added: “It was through Richard Barton-Wood that [the victim] met Danielle Perrett. He [the victim] remembers being taken to a hotel where they sat at a table, watching Danielle Perrett play the harp. The three of them also stayed together in a flat.” One at least one occasion, Mr Barton-Wood also allegedly got into bed with the pair to engage in sexual activity with both Ms Perrett and the teenage victim. Mr Carter said: “He recalls she smelled of roses. Afterwards, Richard Barton-Wood came into the room. He got into bed so [the alleged victim] was between them. “In the morning, [the alleged victim] had a shower. He was joined by Danielle Perrett and she performed oral sex on him.” The prosecutor told the jury of another occasion in which Perrett got into bed with the young victim. “The victim went to bed and after a while Danielle Perrett came into the bedroom,” said Mr Carter. “She got undressed and cuddled up to him. They then had sex. The victim said he was attracted to her and the sex was nice as well.” The court heard how Mr Barton-Wood got to know the victim in 1984, while working as a substitute teacher at Claydon High School, while he was in a relationship with Ms Perrett. The church warden is accused of sexually abusing the boy on various occasions – including while camping and on a sailing trip. The jury heard how the former teacher would give the teenager money, and buy him cigarettes and alcohol, and sometimes they would smoke cannabis together. Mr Carter said: “Such sexual activity was not confined to the boat. The final occasion was one where he had tied his trousers to prevent them being removed and woke to find Barton-Wood trying to pull them down.” In 2001, the victim contacted Mr Barton-Wood, saying he wanted to meet to find out why he had done what he did, the court was told. In a statement, Mr Barton-Wood, of Wymondham, Norfolk, claimed he was being blackmailed. Mr Carter said: “He felt the email was in some way threatening. [The victim] said there were things he could say about him and Richard Barton-Wood felt he was being blackmailed. “There were subsequent phone conversations where he said he wanted money.” Ms Perrett, of Alpheton, Suffolk, was also contacted by the victim and she too claimed she was threatened. “She said she thought [the victim] was blackmailing her, although she had nothing to be blackmailed about,” said Mr Carter. “They both continue to deny that anything of this sort occurred. “She says she didn’t say something earlier because she feared her position as a musician would be damaged.” The trial, which is expected to last two weeks and is being overseen by Judge Rupert Overbury, continues on Thursday, when the victim is expected to give evidence.