Accused former BBC chauffeur found dead

Tuesday 29 October 2013 21.55
Officers found the body of David Smith after he failed to turn up at court yesterday
Officers found the body of David Smith after he failed to turn up at court yesterday

A former BBC driver charged with sex offences as part of the investigation triggered by allegations of abuse against Jimmy Savile has been found dead at his home.

David Smith, 66, who was the first person to be charged under Operation Yewtree, failed to turn up at Southwark Crown Court in London for the start of his trial yesterday.

A warrant was issued ordering Smith to turn up at court today, but when officers arrived at his home in Lewisham, southeast London, they found a body.

The cause of death is not yet known and a post-mortem examination will take place.

Judge Alistair McCreath today ordered that the file on the case should be closed.

He heard from Detective Constable Michael Wallace, the officer in the case who identified the body, that it was the same man as charged in the indictment.

Smith had faced two counts of indecent assault, two of indecency with a child, and one of buggery, all relating to a 12-year-old boy, between 1 June and 21 July 1984.

The BBC reported that it was alleged that Smith met his victim at a swimming pool and invited him back to his flat, where he sexually abused him.

He also took the boy on a visit to the BBC studios at White City in west London. The boy claimed he was indecently assaulted during the journey.

The victim's partner contacted police after she saw his response to the ITV documentary Exposure: The Other Side Of Jimmy Savile, which was broadcast last October.

Smith was a prolific sex offender whose first conviction was in 1966.

He had 22 convictions for sexual offences against young boys, the BBC report said.

Scotland Yard said officers attended Smith's address in Effingham Road in Lewisham yesterday and found the body of a man.

A spokesman added: "Whilst officers believe they know the identity of the deceased, they await confirmation of formal identification."

Smith's counsel, Sandy Canavan, had told the court she was "concerned" that her solicitor had been unable to contact him ahead of the trial as she had regularly been in touch with him.

She told the court Smith was the sole carer for his elderly mother.

Operation Yewtree is the investigation prompted after claims were made against disgraced presenter Savile.

Scotland Yard has led the probe, and separated its inquiries into those involving Savile, those involving Savile and others, and those involving others.

Smith was investigated under the "others" strand.

The BBC has said it cannot find any record of Smith working for the corporation.