A TALENTED violinist who gave evidence about sexual abuse by her music teacher told her husband she felt she had been the one on trial, just days before she died of a prescription drug overdose.
Frances Andrade, 48, died at her home in Guildford, Surrey, in 2013, a week after giving evidence in court about historic sexual abuse by her former choirmaster Michael Brewer.
Woking Coroner’s Court heard the mother of four had spiralled into “incredible despair” after a friend reported Brewer to police and she was asked to give a statement.
Brewer, who taught at the prestigious Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester before going on to direct the World Youth Choir, was later stripped of his OBE after being jailed for six years on five counts of indecent assault.
Mrs Andrade was aged 14 and 15 when she was abused but only came forward when she confided in a friend in 2011, and was alarmed that Brewer was still teaching.
The inquest heard she had been prescribed antidepressants after talking to police and had twice tried to take her own life, in 2012 and 2013.
Her husband, Levine Andrade, 59, found his wife dead at 8am on 24 January last year.
He said: “She fell into incredible despair – the truth hit home. It was not something she wanted to report to the police. It brought back horrible memories.
“Life took a real downturn after the court proceedings – that was when she was at her complete lowest. Apart from the trial bringing it all back up, she felt the defence barrister seemed to be attacking her personally. It got her completely down and she felt completely defenceless.
“She was not expecting to be attacked personally and have to answer so many direct questions in public. She felt as if she were the one on trial.”
The court heard Mrs Andrade had met Brewer on two occasions since the abuse and asked him to hand himself in.
Mr Andrade said his wife’s mood changed after being asked to give a video interview for police about the abuse, such that she no longer took part in family life.
“She had very, very low mood swings and stayed in bed for days on end. She did not want to see anyone or speak to anyone,” he said. “I was doing everything for the children and taking over her teaching as well because she just could not face it. It was very out of character.
“After she had tried [to take her own life] before, she realised she had her children to live for and for a short time she came out of it. Everything seemed fine.
“Then maybe she would see something on the news and that would get her on the downturn again. It got harder and harder towards the last few months. She did not want to speak to anybody.”
On the morning of her death, Mr Andrade, himself a musician and teacher, went to ask his wife if she would like a cup of tea and noticed she was cold. After phoning an ambulance, one of the couple’s sons attempted CPR, but when paramedics arrived they pronounced her dead.
Mr Andrade was asked if there had been any other issues that could have caused his wife’s anxiety, but he said while family finances had been a “problem”, it was only because they had used their savings to pay the children’s school fees.
Mrs Andrade, who was adopted, had traced her birth mother to Canada but found out she had two forms of cancer.
Mr Andrade said: “She felt helpless that she was far away and could not do anything.”
A toxicology report concluded that there was a fatal amount of a prescription drug in her blood.
In April this year, a serious case review said her death “could and should” have been prevented, and that mental health services failed to recognise she was vulnerable, as she had made repeated suicide bids.
Her death led to calls for the court system to improve how sexual abuse victims are treated.
The inquest continues and is scheduled to run into next week.