World renowned concert pianist John Briggs has been branded a predatory paedophile and jailed for eight years for the “relentless” sexual abuse of five young boys.
Briggs, 65, sat impassively in the dock at Bradford Crown Court as Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC told him he used his power and influence to abuse the trust of his vulnerable victims.
The celebrated musician was idolised and worshipped by the two piano students and three members of Keighley Sea Cadets he sexually abused over almost 25 years, the judge said yesterday.
He told Briggs: “This is the most glaring example of a gross breach of trust that one could possibly imagine.”
Briggs had held himself out as a gentleman of distinction, being awarded the MBE for his work with the Sea Cadets. He was a gifted and successful man of considerable standing in the country but there was compelling evidence of sexual predation over 24 years.
“You abused these particularly young, and I suspect, handsome men as they came into your sway. All were vulnerable in the sense that they looked up to you as a man to be almost worshipped and respected.”
Briggs was convicted by the jury of nine allegations of indecent assault on a male person. He was found not guilty of one allegation of indecency with a child.
The court heard he groomed and sexually abused two young piano students and three members of Keighley Sea Cadets between 1969 and 1993.
Briggs, of Little Lane, East Morton, was said by his barrister, Nick Askins, to be suffering from high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.
Mr Askins said his client was of good character. He did not ask the judge to adjourn sentence for a probation service report.
Judge Durham Hall replied: “I note your client’s conduct and contribution to society and I note his ill health particularly but it is of limited value.”
Briggs “persistently and remorselessly” sexually abused a talented and enthusiastic piano student on countless occasions when he was aged 10 to 12.
“Your technique, and I am certainly not talking about on the piano, was to groom him with a view to more serious offending,” the judge said.
The fact the youth later sought out Briggs for a sexual encounter showed “the corrupting and wicked” effect of sexual abuse on a young, vulnerable boy.
The second piano student had a promising career as a musician until he ran away from Briggs when he exposed his naked body to him in a pink dressing gown at a special masterclass.
“You destroyed that with systematic, repeated and relentless abuse at lessons when he was about 15,” Judge Durham Hall said.
“He rejected you and you rejected him: told him and his family he was worthless as a student. You broke his love of piano.”
The judge said the Sea Cadet group contained fit young men, vulnerable because they were subject to authority.
“They looked up to you. The boss. The President. You were very much their idol.”
Briggs “seduced and corrupted” a 15-year-old cadet by paying him perform a sex act on camera.
The parents and friends of Briggs’ victims did not know they were sending their young men into the grip of a paedophile.
Briggs had forcefully denied all the allegations in court, calling his victims liars who had colluded together to fabricate a case against him.
The judge said he wished the sentence could be longer. The court must send out the clearest message that such offending would not be tolerated.