Page last updated at 12:54 GMT, Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Prince of Wales' former harpist given drug rehab order

Jemima Phillips after the hearing

The Prince of Wales' former harpist has been given a community order and sent for drug rehabilitation for handling stolen goods and attempted fraud.

Jemima Phillips, 28, previously of Ebbw Vale, Blaenau Gwent, but now of St Briavels, Gloucestershire, was hooked on heroin at the time of the offences.

The Royal College of Music graduate had a "very vulnerable personality", Gloucester Crown Court was told.

She was given a 12-month community order to include drug rehabilitation.

Judge Michael Harington heard that Phillips had made a "complete transformation" after staying clean from drugs for four months.

She was told the community order would also feature a supervision element and a six-month drug rehabilitation requirement.

Phillips was cleared of burglary at her trial.

But her ex-boyfriend William Davies, 41, of Cheltenham, who had been found guilty of four burglaries, was jailed for four-and-a-half years.

She had an appalling childhood...a dreadful life coupled with a spectacular talent, but a very weak personality... a very vulnerable personality
Paul Grumbar, defending

He carried out the break-ins in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, and some of the proceeds were found stored in Phillips' possession.

She was convicted of handling stolen items taken by Davies.

Phillips, a former semi-finalist in the BBC's Young Musician of the Year, had also pleaded guilty to using a stolen building society book to try to withdraw £500 from a branch of Nationwide in Monmouth.

She said she had agreed to the deception because Davies' friends threatened to expose her drug addiction in the media.

Jemima Phillips, pictured with Prince Charles in 2004
Jemima Phillips, pictured with Prince Charles in 2004

During the trial, the jury heard Phillips was struggling with drug dependence when the prince appointed her as his harpist in 2004.

She later played at his wedding to the Duchess of Cornwall.

Prosecutor Simon Burns said on Tuesday that Phillips was of previous good character, whereas Davies had 63 previous convictions for 118 offences, going back to 1983.

Mr Burns also showed the judge pictures showing Phillips' slide into drug abuse.

Mr Burns said the images revealed "the obvious transformation showing the ravages of drug addiction, crack and heroin - what can only be described as a spectacular fall from grace".

'Complete transformation'

Paul Grumbar, for Phillips, said her mother had written a letter to the judge stating the "true position" about what she has been doing since her arrest.

"Since her arrest, valiant efforts have been made - there has been a complete transformation," he said.

Jemima Phillips in 2005
Jemima Phillips, pictured while she was royal harpist, in 2005

"She's been drug-free for over three months - four, I think it is. She's been consulting specialists, attending everything religiously and carrying on working.

"This is a very, very vulnerable girl. She had an appalling childhood, abuse, tragedy in her family, the death of her younger brother, the illness her sister suffers from - a dreadful life coupled with a spectacular talent, but a very weak personality and I would submit a very vulnerable personality."

Steve Young, for Davies, said his client was an "intermittent addict" who was offending to feed his drug habit.

Crack cocaine

Phillips was already a drug user when she met Davies, he added.

The judge told Phillips: "Before you met William Davies, you were of previous good character.

"It is clear you are an extremely talented musician, but also for the last five years you have been addicted to Class A drugs."

Phillips said during the trial that her life had been blighted by "disastrous" relationships, her last being with co-defendant Davies.

She told the jury she had two abortions, and started using crack cocaine shortly after the second termination, when she was 23 and living in London.

She met Davies in January this year on a street corner in Gloucester, when he gave her a bag of heroin.

After the hearing, Phillips said: "I'm glad it's all over. I've got no further comment to make. You can speak to Max Clifford - he's representing me."

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