July 2009

Sex pest drama school boss is jailed for a year

A FORMER drama school boss has been jailed for a year after carrying out a string of sex offences on three teenage girls.

Daniel Holt, 42, who ran the Whitehall Performing Arts School, in Eastwood, was sentenced yesterday.

But the mother of one of the young victims, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said she was outraged at the length of his prison sentence.

Speaking outside court, she said: “It’s absolutely disgusting, 12 months is not justice.

“The defence said he had suffered over the past two years waiting for trial, but what about the people who had to suffer because of what he did?”

Holt, formerly of Southbourne Grove, Westcliff, stood down as the school’s director following his arrest in 2007.

Basildon Crown Court heard Holt was a persistent sex pest who carried out the assaults on his victims over a number of years.

Sentencing Holt, Judge Ian Graham said: “The offences themselves were not the most serious, usually involving touching over clothing, which were surrounded by the accompaniment of lewd suggestions.

“But what makes this case serious is the level of persistence. There were three girls who complained, and the evidence shows this behaviour was going on over a number of years.”

Holt will be put on the Sex Offenders Register for ten years.

Det Con Esther Waldie, of Rayleigh Child Abuse Investigation Unit, who led the investigation, said: “It has been a very stressful time for the girls. They have demonstrated great courage by coming forward and giving evidence, and their honesty has been rewarded by the guilty verdicts on all six counts.”

Holt was sentenced yesterday, after he was found guilty of four counts of indecent assault and two counts of sexual assault at an earlier trial.

Whitehall is based at Eastwood School. Yesterday the school declined to comment when approached, and no one from Whitehall returned our calls.