Ex-BBC driver David Smith found dead on day he was due in court on sex abuse charges as part of Jimmy Savile probe Yewtree


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The Independent Online

David Smith, a former BBC chauffeur and the first person to be charged as part of Operation Yewtree prompted by the exposure of Jimmy Savile as a serial sex abuser, has been found dead at his home.

Mr Smith, 66, was due to stand trial on Monday for allegedly abusing a 12-year-old boy in 1984. When he failed to arrive in court judges issued a warrant ordering Smith to appear the following day. But when officers arrived at his home in Lewisham, south-east London, on Monday afternoon they found a body.

The cause of death is not yet known and a post-mortem examination is expected imminently.

A statement from Scotland Yard said: "Police attended a private address in Effingham Road, Lewisham on Monday 28 October as a man had failed to appear at Southwark Crown Court today. At approx 1420 officers entered the address and found the body of a man. A FME [forensic medical examiner] attended and pronounced the man dead at the scene. Next of kin are being informed. Whilst officers believe they know the identity of the deceased, they await confirmation of formal identification."

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 June 1 and July 21, 1984. He was first arrested on 10 December 2012 and later bailed. A file was passed to the CPS 11 days after his arrest and he was charged after further police inquiries requested by prosecutors.

In a statement 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 police investigation that was opened in wake of revelations of sex crimes by the disgraced TV 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.

Operation Yewtree was launched by Scotland Yard after an ITV documentary in October 2012 that interviewed victims of Savile's abuse. The programme led to 600 people coming forward to give information about historic abuse - three-quarters relating to Savile. Savile's crimes had spanned 54 years and the scale of abuse was "believed to be unprecedented in the UK".