1. ITV Report

Bogus piano teacher convicted of fraud

A music teacher has been convicted of arranging for unsuspecting students to take bogus piano exams in front of a phoney official.

A court heard during a trial how five students had paid fees and were tested at Helen Smith's home on December 15, 2012, by an unknown woman who claimed to be an official examiner.

They were later told they had passed the exams with flying colours but suspicions were aroused when certificates failed to arrive.

Bogus piano teacher convicted of fraud Credit: Press Association

Smith, 42, of Sheffield, told magistrates she had arranged the exams in good faith with the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM).

But Lynne Butler, deputy head of UK operations for ABRSM, said the organisation had no record of any exam taking place at Smith's house on December 15 and had not sent any examiner to the property.

Sharon Copley, the mother of one of Smith's teenage pupils, was told her daughter should attend the test for Grade Five piano at her house by Smith instead of another official exam they had already booked.

She was absolutely devastated. To be told by somebody you trusted that you have passed with a distinction and to then find out the person she looked up to hadn't told the truth, she felt humiliated and let down. It knocked her for six.

– Sharen Copely, mother of one of the pupils

Smith said an administrative error by the board was possibly to blame for it having no record of the tests nor of sending an examiner to the address on the day in question.

She said she thought the woman was an official examiner and told the court she was sad that pupils she considered friends believed she was to blame.

Smith, who represented herself during the trial, said:

I feel very hurt and betrayed and let down by the board's inaccuracies or whatever has happened. I did my job as a music teacher to make sure they took their exams.

– Helen Smith

The court disagreed though and District Judge Sheila Driver said:

You attempted to involve yourself in a game of smoke and mirrors, but your evidence was inconsistent, not credible, and frankly nonsense. I am satisfied that all victims suffered a financial loss due to a false representation by you and I therefore find you guilty of all charges.

– District Judge Sheila Driver

Smith will be sentenced next month.