Sex-abuse victim suicide after cross-examination

A MOTHER-OF-FOUR killed herself during the sex abuse trial of her former teacher, it emerged yesterday.

The body of violin teacher Frances Andrade, 48, was found at her home a week after she gave evidence against Michael Brewer, 68.

Brewer was yesterday convicted of sexually abusing her as a child while she was a pupil at the prestigious Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester.

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His ex-wife Kay, 68, was found guilty of indecently assaulting Mrs Andrade when she was 18.

After the verdicts were delivered, Mrs Andrade’s family said she had been let down by the court system.

Mrs Andrade, from Guildford, Surrey, was visibly agitated on occasions as she gave her evidence over two days on 16 and 17 January.

She chose to give evidence in the witness box in full view of everyone in the courtroom, including the two defendants in the dock, and was supported from the public gallery by one of her sons.

At one point, she complained about Brewer smiling as she gave her evidence, but she chose to press on without drawing a curtain to block off the dock. After she gave her evidence, Judge Martin Rudland remarked that she was “clearly undergoing a cathartic experience, whatever the source”.

He said she was “combative” during cross-examination by Kate Blackwell QC, representing Brewer, and she had taken personal issue with some of the barrister’s questions.

During the cross-examination, Mrs Andrade told Miss Blackwell: “You are hugely insulting, even though it’s your job.” The judge said Miss Blackwell had acted professionally throughout and performed her task in an “exemplary manner”.

In a statement issued after the verdicts, Mrs Andrade’s son, Oliver, said the court system had let her down.

He said: “Being repeatedly called a ‘liar’ and a ‘fantasist’ about a horrific part of her life in front of a court challenged her personal integrity and was more than even she could bear.

“She was forced to relive the many times Michael Brewer had sexually abused her as a child, both to the police on multiple occasions and in court to a hostile party.

“Having been heavily advised by the police not to receive any form of therapy until the end of the case (a process of almost two years), she was forced to cope on her own with only the support of her family and very close friends.

“This meant that, even after several attempts at her own life, she did not get the help she needed.”

He continued: “The court system let her down.

“She was kept in the dark about the case, not even being informed about final dates until the last minute.

“The court system meant that, whilst the Brewers had well over a year to prepare a case with their barristers, she did not have her own.”

On 24 January, it was revealed in court – while the jury was not present – that the complainant had died and it was believed she had killed herself that morning.

Judge Rudland put a temporary reporting ban on the tragic development and kept it from the jury, which was told that matters had arisen which required a brief adjournment.

Brewer resigned as music director at Chetham’s at the end of 1994 after his affair with another pupil, then aged 17, was uncovered. He went on to become the artistic director of the National Youth Choirs of Britain.

Sentencing will take place on a date to be fixed.