Sex abuse victim 'failed by courts'

Essex County Standard: Frances Andrade was found dead at her home a week after she gave evidence against Michael Brewer Frances Andrade was found dead at her home a week after she gave evidence against Michael Brewer

A mother of four who killed herself during the sex abuse trial of her former teacher was let down by the court system, her family has said.

The body of violin teacher Frances Andrade, 48, was found at her home a week after she gave evidence against Michael Brewer, 68, who was convicted of sexually abusing her as a child while she was a pupil at the prestigious Chetham's School of Music in Manchester.

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

Mrs Andrade, from Guildford, Surrey, was visibly agitated on occasions as she gave her evidence at Manchester Crown Court 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, and was supported from the public gallery by one of her sons.

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.

In a statement issued after the verdicts, Mrs Andrade's son Oliver 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."

On January 24 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.

Brewer, of Swarthmore Road, Selly Oak, Birmingham, - who was supported in court by his present wife, Sandra, - 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, of Knowl Gap Avenue, Rossendale, Lancashire, was convicted of one count of indecent assault against the complainant. Both defendants were remanded in custody ahead of pre-sentence reports and were told that a jail sentence was "inevitable". Sentencing will take place on a date to be fixed.

The Crown Prosecution Service said Mrs Andrade agreed to give evidence in court and restated her willingness to do so on several occasions both before and during the trial. She was also consulted before the Brewers were charged. It said a dedicated witness care officer was assigned to explain the trial process and she was offered a familiarisation visit to the court in advance. The prosecutor (Peter Cadwallader) was selected for his skill in handling sensitive cases and the CPS also applied for special measures to shield the victim in court but she declined to use them so she could face the defendants, the CPS said. She confirmed her choice to proceed without special measures in a conversation with the prosecutor immediately before she gave evidence, it added.

click2find

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree