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Frances Andrade, Who Committed Suicide During Michael Brewer Sex Assault Trial, 'Let Down By Court System'

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The family of a violin teacher who is thought to have taken her life during the trial of a leading youth choir director who sexually abused her has said that "the court system let her down".

Frances Andrade, 48, was found dead at her home less than a week after she gave evidence against Michael Brewer, 68, and his ex-wife Kay Brewer, also 68, at Manchester Crown Court.

Her son Oliver said being called a "liar" and a "fantasist" at the court was "more than even she could bear" and also revealed that she had previously attempted to kill herself.

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Violin teacher Frances Andrade

In a statement, he said: "All who met her quickly realised what an amazing person Fran was.

"She was kind, loving and always full of life. Extremely talented, she quickly ascended through the music world, winning numerous awards for her violin playing, which has been described as 'the most passionate violin playing I have heard' and 'perfect in sound and expression'.

"She raised four children with her husband of 25 years and is sorely missed by all.

"Throughout her life she had many tragic events fall upon her and coped with most with a strength few people could manage. She was extremely resilient.

"However, like all people she was not impervious, 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.

"After the case with Michael Brewer had been brought to the attention of the police by a third party her life was forced to change.

"Sticking to her morals she knew she must do what was right, to tell the facts as they were and leave it to the law to decide, even as she was only just beginning to see that Brewer's actions were indeed abuse.

"One of her hopes was that the bravery she exhibited, and the other stories she knew would come out during the trial, would mean that other students who had also suffered abuse at Chetham's would be able to receive justice. As always she was fighting for others more than herself.

"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.

"The state of mental healthcare in this country needs reform, even upon trying to get help she was told by those she turned to that they were not qualified to deal with her. In the end, during her testimony and for the brief time afterwards, RASASC (the Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre) were the only ones to provide real help to her, only too late.

"We have managed to raise close to £1000 for them at her funeral but any donations readers could give would be greatly appreciated.

"The support she received throughout the case varied hugely. She regularly praised the policeman she was assigned as a contact who did all he could to help, however the court system let her down.

"She was kept in the dark about the case, not even being informed about final city 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.

"Being a case of the Crown Prosecution Service they had a barrister and she was simply the complainant not meeting him until the day of the case and talking for a scant 10 minutes outside of the court.

"This all meant that during the case she was unfamiliar with the process, unsure of what either barrister was trying to do and exceptionally uncomfortable throughout the entire thing.

"In addition to this with the court in Manchester, so far from home, and the CPS only willing to accommodate her during testimony she was unable to attend the rest of the case, her only source of information on progress being the press.

"It is of the utmost importance that those who have suffered sexual abuse have every effort made to make them feel safe and supported whether recent or historic.

"This is the only way that we can ensure people can and will come forward in these circumstances and justice can be served."

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Frances Andrade is believed to have taken her own life

Detective Chief Inspector Dave Pester said: "Michael Brewer, a high-profile music teacher, was revered by his pupils and he abused his responsible position to indecently assault a young, vulnerable schoolgirl who was residing at the school and who was far from home.

"He also, with the help of his wife, indecently assaulted her some years later.

"These crimes are appalling and it is only right that they have now been convicted.

"As with all cases of historic sexual abuse, the victim showed incredible courage, supporting a prosecution and giving evidence.

"Tragically she is not here to see justice done and, whilst I cannot talk about those circumstances, on behalf of Greater Manchester Police I would like to offer my sincere condolences and sympathies to her family and friends.

"We encourage any victims of sexual abuse, regardless of when or where it took place, to contact police and we have specially trained officers to deal with their complaint."

A spokesman for the judiciary said: "All Judges who try cases involving allegations of serious sexual offences receive training from the Judicial College, emphasising amongst other things careful consideration for the position of a potentially vulnerable complainant or witness and, in particular, as to the appropriate nature of the questioning permitted to ensure that the trial is fair."

Nazir Afzal, Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS North West, said: "Everyone connected with this case has been extremely saddened by the tragic events which have taken place.

"In a way this demonstrates all too clearly the terrible effect that sexual abuse can have on victims for years and decades after the crime.

"It underscores why the people who commit these vile acts, and particularly those who target the young, must be pursued and brought to justice.

"We know that reliving abuse is extremely difficult and every effort was made to support the victim throughout this prosecution. For now, our thoughts are with the victim's family, and we hope this conviction can provide them with some measure of comfort, however small it may be."

Jon Brown, NSPCC lead for sexual abuse prevention, said: "This was a shocking case of an abuse of trust from a man in a position of authority over his young victim.

"In this case the trauma of the event and reliving it in court was clearly too much for the victim to take.

"This must act as a stark reminder of just how disgraceful and harmful sexual offences are.

"It also shows how difficult reliving these horrific crimes can be for the victims and why we must do all we can to support and protect witnesses and victims when they give evidence."

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