A concert violinist sexually abused as a child by her twisted Manchester music teacher and his wife died a week after his trial by taking a lethal overdose – yet a coroner has ruled it was NOT suicide.
Frances Andrade, 48, was ‘extremely traumatised’ after testifying about abuse she suffered as a teenager at the hands of her ex-Chetham’s School of Music choirmaster Michael Brewer and his wife Hilary.
Delivering his verdict at Woking Coroner’s Court, coroner Richard Travers said he could not be sure the mum-of-four tried to kill herself and ruled out a verdict of suicide.
But Mr Travers said: “The overdoses had been triggered by anxiety that came from the court case.
“Her reason to overdose was not to kill herself but was a way to cope with the court case.”
Ms Andrade took a fatal overdose at her home in Guildford, Surrey, on January 24 2013 and did not live to see her abuser jailed.
Former choirmaster Brewer, 68, was jailed for six years in March last year after being convicted of five counts of sexually assaulting, but cleared of rape at his Chorlton-cum-Hardy home in 1982.
He was cleared of three further charges of indecent assault.
Brewer, who directed the World Youth Choir, was stripped of his OBE for services to music after being jailed.
Brewer’s ex-wife Hilary was also found guilty of one count of indecent assault and was jailed for 21 months at Manchester Crown Court.
She was found not guilty of aiding and abetting rape against Ms Andrade when she was 18.
The court heard Brewer preyed on the young violin virtuoso at the prestigious Manchester school, forcing her to perform sex acts on him in his office and camper van.
Ms Andrade had confided in her husband Levine, 59, about the abuse but chose not to tell police.
But in 2011 she told a friend, who later contacted officers, and as police investigated the case she became increasingly depressed and repeatedly took overdoses, the inquest heard.
As 2012 drew to a close and the date of her abuser’s trial got nearer, her mental health deteriorated and she ‘changed significantly’ and her overdoses became more frequent.
Speaking after the inquest, Mr Andrade said he hoped his wife’s tragic death would ensure that other victims don’t have to go through the same ordeal.
“I think that all the services involved really looked at what went wrong and they have all tightened up their measures,” he said.
“And hopefully for the next lot of victims something will have changed for the better.”
Asked if he wished his wife had never had to go to court, he said: “I can’t say that because, for one reason, she needed to for her own peace of mind.”
At the inquest Mr Travers hit out at the support received by the talented musician and believed health professionals repeatedly failed to appreciate the risk she posed to herself.
He said: “I can’t help but think there was a real failure to appreciate the urgency of the situation and a failure to act upon it in an appropriate manner.
“What is clear is she found giving evidence extremely traumatic.”
He also added there were serious shortcomings in communication between her mental health worker and GP and that the lack of urgency surrounding her care was ‘quite extraordinary’.
He demanded that new rules are put in place to ensure that vulnerable witnesses are given better support when they face often traumatic trials.
Mr Travers added he would be writing three reports – two to the Director of Public Prosecutions and one to the local health service to call for changes in the wake of the inquest.
The verdict follows a damning serious case review by Surrey Safeguarding Adults Board in April which found Ms Andrade’s death ‘could and should’ have been prevented.
It concluded Ms Andrade was let down by mental health services who failed to recognise she was vulnerable as she made repeated suicide bids and faced her abuser in court.
Image courtesy of Roland Turner, with thanks.