Manchester sex abuse victim killed herself after being called ‘liar’ in court during Michael Brewer trial, claims son

By Henry Vaughan & Jeremy Culley

The sex abuse victim of ex-BBC choirmaster and former Manchester teacher Michael Brewer committed suicide because she could not cope with repeatedly being called a ‘liar’ and fantasist in court, her son claimed today.

Frances Andrade killed herself at her home in Guildford, Surrey, on January 23, only days after she gave evidence in the trial of Mr Brewer and his wife Hilary.

Her son Oliver said his mother tried to kill herself several times and was heavily advised by police not to receive therapy until the case – which spanned two years – finished.

Ex-Chetham’s School of Music teacher Mr Brewer was found guilty of five counts of indecent assault against Mrs Andrade, but cleared of raping her at his Chorlton-cum-Hardy home in 1982. He was cleared of three further charges of indecent assault.

Mrs Brewer was found not guilty of aiding and abetting rape but convicted for indecently assaulting Mrs Andrade when she was 18.

Mr Andrade described what he felt had caused his mother to take her own life.

He said: “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.”

He said his mother, who had three other children, had felt let down by the justice system after being kept in the dark about the case, not being informed of final court dates until late on.

“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,” he added.

“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.”

Mrs Andrade’s son also paid tribute to his mother and said: “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. 

“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.”

He also hailed her bravery during the trial and hoped the ordeal would lead to more sexual abuse victims coming forward 
“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,” Mr Andrade added. 

Detective Chief Inspector Dave Pester said in a statement: “Tragically Mrs Andrade is not here to see justice done and while we cannot go into details about that, on behalf of Greater Manchester Police I would like to extend my deepest sympathies to her family and friends. 

“We encourage any victim of sexual abuse, regardless of when or where an offence was committed to contact police and have specially trained officers on hand to deal with your complaint. 

“The publicity surrounding this trial has resulted in a small number of calls to us and the Force’s Public Protection Division will be working very closely with those people and anyone else who may wish to come forward as the investigation progresses.” 

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