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Anyone who questions why abuse survivors settle out of court should read this article.

Never question or criticize someone until you have lived it.



Sexual abuse victim killed herself after giving evidence at choirmaster trial

Frances Andrade's body found after she gave evidence against former music teacher later convicted of indecent assault

• Helen Pidd, northern editor, and Philippa Ibbotson
•, Friday 8 February 2013 10.31 EST

Violinist Frances Andrade

Violinist Frances Andrade told a friend that giving evidence had felt like being 'raped all over again'.

A professional violinist killed herself after giving evidence at the trial of her former music teacher, who was found guilty of five counts of indecent assault on Friday.

Jurors in the case against Michael Brewer were not told of Frances Andrade's death until after they reached a verdict.

Brewer, 68, the former director of music at the world-renowned Chetham's School of Music in Manchester, was found guilty of five charges of indecently assaulting Andrade when she was 14 and 15 and a pupil at the school.

He was cleared on three further indecent assault charges and was found not guilty of raping Andrade when she was 18. His ex-wife, Hilary Kay Brewer, also 68, was found guilty of indecently assaulting Andrade when she was 18, but found not guilty of aiding and abetting rape.

Michael Brewer and Kay Brewer

Michael Brewer and his ex-wife Kay Brewer. Photograph: Dave Thompson/PA

The judge warned them to expect custodial sentences.

The Guardian has learned that Andrade, 48, texted a friend three days before her death to say she felt like she had been "raped all over again" after appearing in the witness box at Manchester crown court last month to face Brewer.

The mother of four texted that she felt "fragmented". Asked by a friend if the verdict would make a difference to the way she felt. "No either is awful x," Andrade texted back.

Complaining about a robust cross-examination by Brewer's barrister, who accused her of telling "a pack of lies", she wrote sarcastically: "I'm a fantasist with the Electra complex seeking attention."

Andrade had not initiated the police investigation which led to the trial. Friends said she did not present herself as a "victim" and would have hated to be seen as such. They say she never wanted to give evidence against the Brewers.

Giving evidence, Brewer denied all of Andrade's allegations but admitted to an affair with a 17-year-old pupil at Chetham's in 1994. He resigned when the affair was discovered and the school said he had stepped down for "health reasons". Brewer went on to become the artistic director of the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain and has also directed the World Youth Choir. He served as an adjudicator in international competitions and in 2008 led BBC workshops for the programme Last Choir Standing.

Andrade killed herself the day after Brewer started to give evidence. In the witness box he called her a "fantasist" who was "largely living a fantasy life". The day before her death she had also been told that the judge had directed the jury to find Brewer not guilty on five of the indecent assault charges on the original indictment. The judge said those charges, which related to sexual activity by a canal in Manchester, fell outside the statute of limitations because Andrade admitted in evidence that she may have been over the age of consent at the time, which was 16.

When the judge heard of her death, he adjourned the case for three days. After discussions with the Crown Prosecution Service and the attorney general, Dominic Grieve, he agreed to proceed with the trial. All subsequent witnesses were carefully briefed not to let slip that Andrade had died and all media were sent a reporting restriction from the attorney general's office forbidding any reporting of her death.

The jury had been told that Andrade had not initiated the police investigation which led to the trial. It was the mother of one of her violin pupils who raised the alarm in 2011, the court heard.

Andrade told the jury she had been furious at the woman's intervention but agreed to give evidence against Brewer.

"I think she felt morally obligated because she had been asked to help in the case," said Kirsten Klingels, a longtime friend of Andrade. "She had overcome many challenges in her life and was an incredibly strong person. I think she thought she was strong enough to go through this."

But her friends told the Guardian she had already tried to kill herself as the trial approached. "Fran had been understandably emotionally fragile in the runup to the trial," said Jackie Shave, another friend.

Andrade told the jury she had self-harmed all her life. "Self harming was the means by which I knew I was alive," she said in court, revealing that she gave herself "black eyes" ahead of her audition for Chetham's. Adopted as a baby, she claimed she had been sexually abused by an uncle from a young age and was badly affected by the death of her adopted father when she was a girl. She never got on well with her adopted mother.

Shave said that despite her difficult upbringing Andrade did not wallow in sadness and was always looking to the future, not the past. "She had so much to live for – she was a truly wonderful mother. I felt she was determined to give to her children all the love and care she so sadly was denied herself," she said.

Klingels said "She was such a joyous person who brought light into all of her lives with her acute mind and loving, caring character."

Everyone, including Brewer, agreed that Andrade had a remarkable talent for the violin.

Fiona Stephen, a friend of 30 years, said: "Fran was a phenomenal player. Even when she was a teenager she played with such depth and intensity, it was like she had lived a thousand lives."

Anne Sophie-Mutter, the German concert violinist, once said Andrade was responsible for "the most passionate violin playing I have ever heard". Another famous violinist, Victor Lieberman, said her music was "perfect in sound and expression".

Both tributes were included in the programme for Andrade's funeral, which took place in Guildford crematorium on Monday. It was packed with more than 200 mourners, guests said. Two of her children gave a tribute at the funeral, along with her husband and two friends.

Peter Cadwallader, prosecuting barrister in the Brewer trial, attended the funeral, along with Detective Constable Mark Atkinson of Greater Manchester police, who was the officer investigating the case.

Vulnerable victims giving evidence in courts are offered the opportunity to give evidence behind a screen or via video link. Andrade turned down these special measures, preferring instead to appear in open court and face Brewer.

She was a combative, confident and emotional witness. When Kate Blackwell QC, Brewer's barrister, alleged her account of being raped by the Brewers at their house was "utter fantasy", Andrade loudly replied: "Bollocks".

"You have told this jury a complete pack of lies about the visit to this house," said Blackwell.

Andrade replied: "This is why cases don't come to court. This happened."

"You spent the night lying next to two of your rapists?" asked the barrister, referring to Andrade's account of sleeping three in a bed with the Brewers after she said they had raped her.

Andrade answered: "But this happened. I felt guilty, I did not know how to get out of it.

"This is a lie," said Blackwell. "You could have left the house at any time."

Andrade replied: "You have got no idea clearly about what it is like to be raped. You have clearly no feminine understanding of what someone goes through like that. What shock your body goes through. How you almost feel you deserve it."

Judge Martin Rudland said on Thursday that Blackwell had been "perfectly proper and correct in her examination of all the witnesses in this case".

After Andrade's death the police strongly defended the decision to prosecute. Detective Chief Inspector Dave Pester, from South Manchester division, said: "This case was initially investigated by Surrey constabulary and then referred to GMP [Greater Manchester police], at which point a specially trained detective was allocated to investigate the offences and to act as a single point of contact for the victim.

"Throughout the investigation and trial, the victim was supported by Greater Manchester police and other partner agencies. At no time did the investigating officer believe that the victim was anything other than determined to give evidence in this case. She was fully aware of the judicial process and of the special measures that were available to her as she gave evidence."



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