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Operation Yewtree suspect David Smith is found dead as trial begins

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David Smith, a former BBC driver who was due to begin his trial on sexual abuse charges yesterday has been found dead at his home in Lewisham. Smith, had been investigated by Operation Yewtree, after the torrent of allegations surrounding Jimmy Saville led to a deeper investigation of child abuse amongst media circles.

When he failed to attend court on Monday, a bench warrant was issued for his arrest, and officers found him dead within hours. Current speculation concerns suicide as the cause of death, but any definitive explanation awaits a full investigation. The Metropolitan police said officers went to a private address in south London at 2.20pm after a man had failed to appear at court. The body of a man was found at the address in Lewisham.

"Whilst officers believe they know the identity of the deceased, they await confirmation of formal identification," the police said. "A postmortem will take place in due course."

Smith, aged 67 was charged with the alleged abuse of a 12 year old boy in 1984, two counts of indecency and two counts of indecent assault. But as soon as his death was confirmed, details of his criminal past that had been subject to legal restrictions during the trial began to emerge. It turns out that Smith was a prolific sexual offender who was first convicted in 1996and had 22 convictions for sexual offences against young boys.

Smith was the first person to be charged after the widening of Operation Yewtree to explore allegations unrelated to Saville but which had emerged as a result of the publicity surrounding him. The victim’s partner had contacted police after witnessing his horrified reaction to the ITV documentary Exposure: The Other Side of Jimmy Savile, which was broadcast on 3 October 2012.

It was alleged Smith met his victim at a swimming pool, lured him back to his home, and sexually abused him. Painfully for the BBC, it seems that Smith also used his position as a BBC driver to take the boy on a tour of the BBC studios in White City and indecently assaulted him on the journey.

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