Former South Tyneside church musical director convicted of having sex with underage girl

A South Tyneside man who was serving in a church role has been convicted of having sex with an underage girl.

Daniel Smith was a respected member of a church in South Tyneside when he carried out serious historical sexual offences against a child. The 48-year-old carried out “elements of grooming” behaviour and went on to have sex with an underage girl on two occasions.

Smith, who was married at the time of the offences, plied his victim with alcohol and the offences left her battling PTSD, anxiety and depression, the court heard.

On Friday, Smith, of Sundridge Drive, Gateshead, appeared at Newcastle Crown Court via link from HMP Durham to be sentenced for three counts of sexual activity with a child. He had pleaded guilty to the offences.

The court was told Smith carried out the historic sexual offences when he living in the South Tyneside area, while working as a musical director at a church.

Susannah Proctor, prosecuting, said at one point Smith drove the girl to an industrial estate and kissed her, before going on to send her “graphic messages”. She said: “He invited her to stay at his home when his wife was at work where he supplied her with alcohol and more kissing.

“Their relationship developed and they had sexual intercourse on two occasions, the first time in his living room. After she went home he text her saying ‘I’m glad we did that’.”

Smith went on to have sex with the girl a second time and had further sexual activity with her on a third occasion. Smith’s offences came to light after the girl disclosed what had happened to a counsellor and the matter was reported to police.

The court heard that around the same time as the offences, Smith was also cautioned for causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity. That caution related to another child, the court was told.

In a statement, the victim said Smith’s actions left her battling PTSD and had also impacted a relationship she had later in life. She also suffers from ongoing depression and anxiety.

Sam Faulks, defending, said: “Outside of the indictment period, the defendant had not offended before and he’s not offended since. There have been years between these offences happening and where we are today.

“He is truly appalled and had no idea just how damaged the complainant is. He is deeply ashamed about what happened and can only hope that through his guilty pleas that some form of healing can start to take place. He hopes that will take place.”

Sentencing Smith, Recorder David Gordon said he was a church musical director at the time of the offences and caused the victim “severe psychological harm”. Smith was jailed for five years and three months and will be on the sex offender’s register indefinitely. An indefinite restraining order was also imposed.