Abused violinist's son urges reform

The Oxford Times: Frances Andrade was abused when she was a music student. Frances Andrade was abused when she was a music student.

The son of a gifted violinist who killed herself days after she gave evidence at a sex abuse trial said he hopes processes will be improved to prevent a repeat of the tragedy.

Oliver Andrade said a serious case review published this week into the death of his mother Frances Andrade "has the ability to save lives" and shape future policies.

He said: "I hope that their suggestions are taken on board by the appropriate parties so that processes can be improved and can help prevent similar situations occurring in the future."

Mr Andrade spoke after the damning review by the Surrey Safeguarding Adults Board said the suicide of his mother "could and should" have been prevented.

Mother-of-four Mrs Andrade, 48, took her own life at her home in Guildford, Surrey, a week after giving evidence in court against "predatory sex offender" and ex-choirmaster Michael Brewer.

Brewer, who taught at the internationally-acclaimed Chetham's School of Music in Manchester, was jailed for six years at Manchester Crown Court last year.

He was later stripped of his OBE awarded for services to music after being convicted of five counts of indecently assaulting Mrs Andrade when she was aged 14 and 15.

His ex-wife, Hilary Kay Brewer, was jailed for 21 months after she was convicted at the same trial of indecently assaulting Mrs Andrade when she was 18.

The serious case review said Mrs Andrade, referred to as Mrs A, was "let down" by mental health services who failed to realise how vulnerable she was as she fought for justice.

Proper care measures and adequate risk assessments were not put in place as she made increasingly serious suicide bids, the report noted.

Its authors called for criminal justice professionals to improve the support offered to sex abuse survivors and recognise their "vulnerability" when facing their abusers in court.

And mental health services should increase their alertness to the fall-out of sexual exploitation and the risks of suicide and self-harm, the report added.

The review also said the media had a role to play, saying that journalists, broadcasters and editors "should be mindful of the way a person's mental health and their credibility are discussed throughout court proceedings".

Mr Andrade said he believed there were several points in the report that deserved highlighting, including calls for mental health services to work seamlessly.

He also said it was important for counselling for vulnerable court witnesses to be encouraged "as a matter of course" and for special protection to be offered readily.

Mr Andrade wanted to see continued contact between witnesses and the officer-in-charge in a case after testimony and up to the end of the trial.

He said: "Something as simple as the daily phone call suggested allows the victim to be kept up to date with proceedings, remaining informed and supported throughout the crucial time from the start of the case through to the end of the trial."

He went on: "This report has the ability to save lives and help some of the most vulnerable in society and so I sincerely hope it is taken to heart and helps to shape future policies."

The trial heard that the abuse took place in Brewer's office and in his camper van, which he used to drive Mrs Andrade out of the school grounds and get her to perform oral sex on him.

He was cleared of raping her when she was 18 at his then home in Chorlton, Manchester.

Sentencing him, Judge Martin Rudland labelled Brewer "a predatory sex offender" and said he used his powerful position to select and groom his victims.

Brewer also targeted a 17-year-old student at Chetham's whom he fondled in his office and admitted in court that he fell in love with at the age of 49, while another 17-year-old girl was said to have been pinned up against a wall during a school trip and sexually propositioned.

Brewer resigned as music director at Chetham's at about the same time he was awarded his OBE after the affair with the girl he fondled in his office was uncovered.

But the affair was hushed up, his trial heard, and 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.

The abuse Mrs Andrade suffered only surfaced decades later when she confided to a friend at a dinner party in 2011.

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