Former Royal Philarmonic Orchestra conductor found guilty of child sex offences is spared jail sentence

28 May 2024, 14:29 | Updated: 28 May 2024, 16:48

A world-renowned classical music conductor who admitted to child sex offences, including messaging a teenager on a dating app and arranging to meet him, has been spared jail.

Jan Latham-Koenig, who was awarded an OBE back in 2020, has been given a 14-month prison sentence suspended for two years after previously pleading guilty to three charges.

London's Southwark Crown Court heard how the 70-year-old conductor, who has in the past been employed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the London Philharmonic Orchestra and all the BBC ensembles, in one instance believed he had been messaging a 14-year-old boy he knew as Jacob.

In fact, he had been talking to an undercover police officer.

Sentencing him on Tuesday, Judge Alexander Milne told him he has been "humiliated in the public eye".

The judge also told the defendant that his successful career meant that, unlike other defendants who may be "unknown before and unknown after, that is the not case for Mr Latham-Koenig".

Latham-Koenig, from Belsize Park, north-west London, was sentenced to 14 months each for attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming and also arranging or facilitating the commission of a sexual offence with a child between 9 December 2023 and 11 January this year.

He was also given 10 months' imprisonment for engaging in sexual communication with a child. All sentences are to run concurrently.

'Deeply worrying'

Latham-Koenig was made an OBE in 2020 for services to music and UK-Russian cultural relations.

The judge, who described Latham-Koenig's actions as "deeply worrying behaviour", told the court: "This is a gentleman of 70 years of age who has a long and distinguished cultural career behind him.

"I would give credit for the pleas and at an early stage.

"I accept that there is clear remorse on the part of the defendant and that he has suffered - effectively this would have brought his career to an end.

"He is humiliated in the public eye."

Latham-Koenig had used a dating app to make contact with someone he knew as Jacob.

He believed Jacob was a 14-year-old boy, who was in fact an undercover police officer.

Their conversations became sexual and Latham-Koenig gave him a train ticket to Victoria station in London so they could meet but instead, the conductor was arrested.

No child was physically put at risk at any stage, the court heard.

Prosecutor Bill McGivern said the contact began on a dating app before moving on to WhatsApp messages.

Mr McGivern said that at one point during the conversations: "The defendant said he was a conductor in classical music and was dying to meet someone like Jacob."

Defence counsel Eleanor Laws said the case has had a "devastating effect" on Latham-Koenig, who has suffered "a loss of his career" which was something he "worked very hard at and was his great passion".

He is also dealing with the "feelings of distress" and "upset" he has caused to his family.

She added that Latham-Koenig's friends, who say he is "kind, humble and generous with his time", are sticking by him and he has taken "considerable steps to address his offending behaviour", including undergoing intensive therapy.