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Violinist Frances Andrade Committed Suicide As Choirmaster Michael Brewer Stood Trial For Sexually Assaulting Her

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A woman who was sexually abused by a leading youth choir director is believed to have killed herself during his trial.

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

Her family said being called a "liar" and a "fantasist" in court was "more than even she could bear".

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Hilary Kay Brewer with Michael Brewer (left), the founding artistic director of the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain with an unidentified woman (centre) arriving at Manchester Crown Court

The revelation came after the prosecution case closed and the former director of music at the internationally-renowned Chetham's School of Music was defending himself against a number of sexual allegations.

Brewer's ex-wife Kay, 68, was also accused of indecently assaulting Mrs Andrade, then known as Shorney, and aiding and abetting rape.

The Crown Prosecution Service decided to continue with the trial and the judge ruled that news of Mrs Andrade's death should be kept from jurors until after they reached their verdicts on Friday.

The jury of six men and five women found Brewer guilty of sexually abusing the victim in his office at Chetham's, in Manchester, when she was 14 and 15.

Mrs Brewer was also convicted of indecently assaulting the same victim when she was an adult at their then family home.

Brewer was cleared of raping the victim when she was 18 and Mrs Brewer was cleared of aiding and abetting rape. Brewer was also cleared of indecently assaulting the victim as a child in his home.

Brewer was cleared of raping Mrs Andrade when she was 18 at his then home in Chorlton, Manchester.

He was convicted of five counts of indecently assaulting her at the age of 14 and 15 when she was known as Frances Shorney.

Kay Brewer, 68, of Knowl Gap Avenue, Rossendale, Lancashire, was cleared of aiding and abetting the alleged rape but convicted of one count of indecent assault against the complainant - said to have taken place on the same night as the alleged rape.

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

She chose to give evidence in the witness box in full view of everyone in the courtroom, including the two defendants in the dock.

The jury heard that the police investigation was sparked by National Youth Choir teacher Jenavora Williams after her friend, Mrs Andrade, told her about her time at Chetham's.

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Violin teacher Frances Andrade

Mrs Andrade told the court she wanted it to be dealt with internally but she said Mrs Williams went to the police in 2011 without telling her.

She then co-operated with the police and agreed to take part in the prosecution.

The mother-of-four, from Guildford, Surrey, who was married to acclaimed viola player Levine Andrade, 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.

Judge Martin Rudland remarked that she was "clearly undergoing a cathartic experience, whatever the source" while giving evidence.

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 but the judge indicated that Miss Blackwell had acted professionally.

During the cross-examination, Mrs Andrade told Miss Blackwell: "You are hugely insulting, even though it's your job."

On January 24 it was revealed in court - while the jury was not there - that the complainant had died and it was believed she had killed herself.

A day earlier, the jury - on the direction of the judge - recorded not guilty verdicts on five counts of indecent assault against Brewer due to insufficient evidence about how old the complainant was at the time of the allegations.

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 then continued to give his evidence before his ex-wife went into the witness box.

Brewer, who was awarded an OBE for services to music in 1995, resigned as music director at Chetham's at the end of 1994 after his affair with another pupil, then aged 17, was uncovered.

But the affair was hushed up, the court heard, and, after leaving Chetham's, Brewer went on to become the artistic director of the National Youth Choirs of Britain, to direct the World Youth Choir, serve as an adjudicator in international competitions and lead BBC workshops for the programme Last Choir Standing in 2008.

One of his ensembles at the National Youth Choir gave a private performance to the Queen at Balmoral in 2007.

Judge Martin Rudland told the defendants that a jail sentence for both of them was "inevitable" as he remanded the pair in custody.

He told them he would need pre-sentence reports to determine the length of custody on a sentencing date to be fixed.

Both will also have to sign the sex offenders register.

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Frances Andrade is believed to have taken her own life

Sending the jury out, the judge told the court: "Tragically a lady has lost her life during the course of these proceedings.

"She took her own life. She left no note. We do not know the circumstances of which she took her own life."
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Opening the case, prosecutor Peter Cadwallader said the "brilliant and charismatic" music director abused his position of trust to sexually target young female students.

He "could not keep his hands off at least two pupils and propositioned a third", the jury heard.

Brewer admitted he had a brief affair with a pupil who had just turned 17, which led to his resignation from Chetham's in December 1994.

Today that would be a criminal offence of a teacher abusing a position of trust, but it was not illegal at the time.

The ex-pupil told the court she did not consider it abuse at the time but thought differently now she was an adult.

The official explanation for Brewer's departure was given as "health reasons". Days later he learned he was to receive his OBE.

Giving evidence, he admitted he had fallen in love with the teenager at the age of 49 and was "desolate" when she ended their relationship.

She regularly visited his office and recalled he would persuade her to take off her top and bra and he would fondle her, the court heard.

But he denied that he pinned another 17-year-old student up against a wall during a school trip and suggestively said to her: "You want it really, don't you?"

Mrs Andrade, the sole complainant in the trial, said she was sexually abused by Brewer in his office, practice rooms and his camper van, where she said she would perform oral sex on him as he drove around the streets of Manchester.

Mr Cadwallader said at the time, as a vulnerable youngster, the complainant saw the abuse as "a small price to pay for the affection".

He said: "The prosecution case is very much that he abused that position using his power, influence and personality to seduce her."

When interviewed by the police, both defendants dismissed the charges against them as "completely untrue".

Brewer told the jury he recalled his accuser was "vivacious" and "commanding on stage" but underneath was "depressive" and "a fantasist".

He denied any sexual contact with Mrs Andrade, as did keen churchgoer Mrs Brewer.

The judge said that all counsel involved in the case were "deeply shocked and moved" by the death of Mrs Andrade as they had to collect themselves to continue and finish the trial.

"Unfortunately, Mrs Andrade did not live to see that conclusion," he said.

He praised the responsible reporting of the press for sticking to the terms of his contempt order, which banned revealing the death of Mrs Andrade until the jury completed its 11 hours of deliberations.

He also praised all counsel for the professional manner in they conducted the case, including Kate Blackwell QC, defending Brewer, who cross-examined Mrs Andrade.

He said there could be no criticism of Miss Blackwell.

"You did your job, in that you put what had to be put to the witness," he told her.

He then cleared the court so he could tell the jury in private that Mrs Andrade had taken her own life.

Outside court, Claire Moreland, the current headteacher of Chetham's, said: "What we have learned during the course of the last four weeks has shocked us to the core. The passage of time between the offences and now does not lessen this shock.

"Mr Brewer has been found to have committed the most appalling acts which took place during his time at the school and he breached the trust placed in him by the school, its staff and, most importantly, the students.

"On behalf of the current school staff, I wish to express my profound and sincere apology and regret. And most of all I wish to express the sorrow and sympathy we feel for the family of our former student who died under such tragic circumstances and had to endure so much.

"Having been the head of the school for the last 14 years, I can say that, during my time, child welfare has been at the heart of the school. This has been endorsed by the Independent Schools Inspectorate.

"Furthermore, the child protection measures we have in place are robust and extensive, and reflect the huge improvements in child protection across the education sector.

"It is my job to ensure that Chetham's continues to nurture and develop our current students, the talented young musicians we are so privileged to teach.

"While I am responsible for ensuring that the school has a bright future, I recognise that the repercussions of this case and the hurt Mr Brewer has caused will continue for some time and must never be forgotten."

The chairman of the Bar Council, Maura McGowan, said: "This is a deeply tragic and unusual case, about which all the facts are not yet known.

"The judge has made clear that the conduct of all advocates involved in the process was exemplary.

"There is sometimes a very difficult balance to strike between protecting vulnerable witnesses and properly testing evidence so that juries are able to make informed decisions. We must always do everything we can to ensure we get that balance right."

On Thursday, Judge Rudland spoke out in court - not in the presence of the jury - after Miss Blackwell had been pursued by photographers outside court.

He said: "When a tyrant takes control of a rogue state the first two casualties are a free press followed by the rule of law.

"In this country we have a free press and we also have the rule of law.

"It has come to my attention that Miss Blackwell has been the subject of considerable curiosity and indeed some unwanted attention so far as her role in the trial is concerned.

"I just want to say through you (prosecutor Peter Cadwallader) ... that, so far as the court is concerned, Miss Blackwell has conducted this case in an exemplary manner including a perfectly proper and completely professional examination of all witnesses in this case in accordance with her duty to her client, her duty to this court and her duty to the rule of law which is so treasured and prized in this country, along with a free press."

Mr Cadwallader agreed with the judge's sentiments.

If you are affected by any of the issues raised in this article, call The Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90

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