An internationally renowned concert pianist's career is in tatters after he was convicted of fondling a 15 year-old girl while seducing the youngster's love-struck mother on his couch.
Oxford-educated Robin Zebaida, 49, a graduate of the Royal College of Music, ran his hand up and down the teen, caressing her thigh and bottom, while simultaneously "french kissing" her mother.
He was found guilty by an Isleworth Crown Court jury yesterday of sexually assaulting the girl at his St. John's Wood apartment in Grove End Gardens, Grove End Road on November 24, last year.
Zebaida, who fought the charge, was conditionally discharged for two years, ordered to sign the sex offenders register for two years and pay a £15 victim surcharge.
His successful career had also involved teaching music masterclasses to youngsters all over the world with the British Council and being an approved examiner with the Royal College of Music.
Zebaida revealed the accusations, which left him: "stunned, shocked," meant he had to decline performance work worth £15,000 to £20,000.
The jury heard the widowed mother pursued the defendant after meeting him while performing on a Mediterranean cruise, sending him boxes of chocolates and arranging dates in London.
She told the court she wanted things to go further and joined Zebaida on a two-seater sofa, with her daughter on the other side, and the defendant's arms around their shoulders.
"While embracing them in that way Mr. Zebaida, as he brought his hand down on the girl's hip, put his hand under the top she was wearing on her bare flesh" prosecutor Mr. Mark Gadsden explained.
"He stroked her there and moved his hand up to her breast, where her bra was, but did not touch her breast.
"He started kissing the mother, 'smooching' as the daughter described it, french-kissing.
"The daughter then lay on the floor, complaining of the effects of the alcohol the defendant plied them both with, she had been drinking miniatures, and consumed more then the adults.
"He coaxed her back on to the couch and caressed her thigh and bottom in a slow and deliberate way," explained Mr. Gadsden. "He also kissed her on the neck and she felt unable to stop it happening.
"The mother never saw any of this sexual touching of her daughter and the defendant may have been disinhibited from the effects of the alcohol, the music, the romance."
It was the fourth date involving all three after twice meeting at the Steinway studios, where Zebaida was practising, and once to the Imperial War Museum and they returned to his apartment after dining at an Iranian restaurant.
"We sat on the sofa and he put some music on and we had some alcoholic drinks," the mother told the jury. "My daughter had one or two vodka miniatures and I think he had some whiskey.
"He had an arm around each of us and he kissed me, which turned into a french kiss," she explained. "It was a bit of a surprise.
"He had an arm around my waist and an arm around my daughter's back and French-kissed me several times within bouts of conversation."
The daughter reluctantly shared the sofa-bed with her mother that night, the court heard. "She was uncomfortable with Robin and she wanted to leave.
"She told me his hand had been under her shirt and against her stomach."
The pair left early in the morning, despite the defendant encouraging them to stay, claimed the mother. "He said we should stay longer and began cuddling me and started undoing my bra."
The girl shared her experience with a counsellor three months later and the police were informed, resulting in Zebaida's arrest and charge.
"I was absolutely stunned, shocked and could not comprehend how this could have been made. It made no sense," he told the jury, also denying sucking the girl's finger and kissing her neck.
The British-born defendant, who has a diploma in physiology and massage, said he did touch the woman's daughter lightly because of her posture and back problems following the fatal car crash that claimed the lives of her father and brother.
"At the museum she said she had a bit of a sore back and I just touched her and when she played the piano I suggested that she sat a little more straight and just touched her on the shoulder."