Jury retires to consider its verdicts in child sex abuse trial of East Morton pianist John Briggs

John Briggs

John Briggs

First published in Keighley
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The jury in the trial of East Morton concert pianist John Briggs has retired this afternoon to begin its deliberations.

Judge Jonathon Durham Hall QC completed his summing up of the evidence just after 3pm and the jury went out to start its discussions over the 10 charges faced by the 65-year-old musician.

Giving evidence yesterday, Briggs branded allegations that he had sexually abused boys as “utter fabrication”.

Briggs, of Little Lane, is accused of abusing five boys aged between ten and 16 over a 25-year period from 1969.

Two of the alleged victims were young piano students and the others were members of the Keighley Sea Cadets, of which he was president.

Briggs has pleaded not guilty to nine allegations of indecent assault on a male person and one of indecency with a child.

Questioned by his barrister, Nick Askins, Briggs, who was awarded the MBE in 2003 for his work with the sea cadets, said he could not suggest any reason why the various individuals might say things about him which were not true.

The two piano students have claimed Briggs molested them during music lessons at his home. The second one claimed one incident took place while the pianist was naked except for a pink dressing gown.

Briggs told the jury he had never worn a pink dressing gown or negligee, or anything fancy or exotic.

One of the sea cadets alleged Briggs had photographed him modelling outfits with his genitals exposed before crawling over the floor to indecently assault him, while another cadet claimed he filmed him with a camcorder while he stripped off for a modelling session at Briggs’ home.

But Briggs told the jury no boys went to his house. They were only present in his garden when other people were around for fundraising events or barbecues. They could have described the inside of the house by looking through the windows. He said he was only bought a camcorder for his 60th birthday.

The court was told that police found a collection of legal gay porn DVDs at his home, including more than 40 showing young-looking men pretending to be boys or teenagers or dressed up in uniform.

He told police that, though happily married for 25 years, he recognised for some years that he had gay tendencies and he had used porn to avoid “involving anybody else”.

Questioned by prosecutor Nick Worsley, Briggs said the DVDs were not a big part of his life. He said he had a compulsive personality and had an enormous collection of cookery books.

He said it was not true he had a keen interest in younger-looking men.

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