June 2009

DJ Bethell guilty of sex assault on young girl

TV slimming personality and radio DJ Barry Bethell has been jailed for four years for sexually assaulting a girl he promised to help get into showbusiness.

Bethell, 66, who was the face of SlimFast in the 1990s, assaulted her at his home in Whitstable, Kent, between 2004 and 2008, when she was under 13.

He was found guilty of the assault and taking indecent images of a child after a trial at Canterbury Crown Court.

Bethell was acquitted of assaulting another girl.

The former DJ at Invicta, BBC Radio Kent and KMFM had already pleaded guilty to eight offences, including seven of taking indecent images of children and one of possessing indecent images downloaded from the internet.

‘Recognise damage’

Sentencing Bethell to a total of four years for the 12 offences, judge Adele Williams said: “You did this, in my judgment, for your own sexual purposes.”

Referring to the sexual assault, she added: “You do not begin to recognise the damage you have caused to this young life.”

Bethell was made subject to a sexual offences prevention order for life.

Judge Williams recommended Bethell serve at least half his sentence, less the 483 days he has already spent in custody, which leaves him with about eight months left in prison.

Bethell – face of SlimFast

Mitigating for Bethell, Annabel Darlow said he had been a happily married man and supportive father, who brought “happiness” through his radio programmes and charity work.

She said events following his arrest had brought home to him “how he has fallen from a previous position of grace”.

Following the sentencing, Det Con Mark Butler, of Kent Police, said: “Barry Bethell has denied the offences and has refused to assist police throughout the case.

“The children involved showed great courage by telling an adult and also going through the experience of giving evidence to police and to the court.”