Conductor spared jail over child sex offences

A world-renowned classical music conductor who pleaded guilty to child sex offences, including messaging someone he believed to be a 14-year-old boy, has been spared jail.

Jan Latham-Koenig had admitted arranging sex acts with someone he thought was a teenager, but was in fact an undercover police officer, London’s Southwark Crown Court had heard.

On Tuesday, the 70-year-old was given a 14-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, by Judge Alexander Milne, who told him he has been “humiliated in the public eye”.

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

Jan Latham-Koenig court case
Conductor Jan Latham-Koenig was spared jail (Yui Mok/PA)

Latham-Koenig, from Belsize Park, north-west London, had previously pleaded guilty to three charges.

He 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 December 9 2023 and January 11 this year.

He was also given 10 months’ imprisonment for engaging in sexual communication with a child.

All sentences are to run concurrently.

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

He has conducted the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and all the BBC ensembles.

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.

The judge said: “What is clear is that, from the latter part of last year, he entered conversations on a dating app, accepted to be frequently used by bisexual and homosexual men, to strike up conversations with a person whom he believed was Jacob, a 14-year-old boy.

“Jacob did not exist.

“He was an undercover police officer.

“The conversations were of a sexual nature on a number of occasions.

“At one stage the defendant sent Jacob a photograph of a naked penis.”

The judge noted there were discussions about keeping their conversations secret.

Latham-Koenig was “particularly concerned” that Jacob’s mother should not know about it.

Jan Latham-Koenig court case
The judge said conductor Jan Latham-Koenig had lied about his age (Yui Mok/PA)

The judge added: “He believed Jacob was gay.

“He gave Jacob a train ticket to Victoria for travel for where they were to meet.

“It is clear that the defendant in these conversations – the defendant, who is 70 – had lied about his own age.

“He said he was 49.”

The judge said that “fondling between them was discussed and there was discussion of them going further than merely talking”.

Jacob was “encouraged to delete the electronic messages and any electronic trail between them”.

The judge also said that “a gift in the form of a train ticket was provided”.

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 and has not shown “self-pity or a lack of understand as to what needs to be addressed”, according to Ms Laws.

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.