Nothing but a callous smile: ‘Predatory’ ex-Chetham’s choirmaster jailed for six years over sex abuse of pupil

By Pippa Field

A chilling smile was all that a former Manchester choirmaster gave away as he was jailed for six years today over the sexual assault of an ex-pupil – who killed herself after giving evidence at the trial.

Michael Brewer, director of music at Chetham’s school of music until 1994, had been found guilty of five counts of indecent assault towards promising music scholar Frances Andrade.

Handing out a sentence of six years, of which half will be served in prison, Judge Martin Rudland stated Brewer, 68, had abused his position to prey on a vulnerable girl simply looking to be cherished.

“You were, and may still be, a predatory sex offender. Of that let no-one be in any doubt,” he said.

“She was a child in your care as her teacher. You used you powerful position to select and groom your victim.

“She was prepared to submit to almost anything, which clearly she did. The extent of your breach of trust in this case cannot be overstated.”

Following last month’s trial, victim Mrs Andrade tragically killed herself after giving evidence into the abuse she suffered at Chetham’s in 1979 and 1980, aged 14 and 15.

Judge Rudland also made reference to two other pupils whom Brewer made sexual advances towards before stipulating the former teacher would be subject to restrictions on future contact with children and young people.

“What is particularly noteworthy in your case is that you were neither young nor immature at the time of the offending and it cannot be said that a sexual interest in those in your care was confined to Mrs Andrade,” he added.

“You have had an impressive career but that is now at an end.”

Brewer’s ex-wife Hilary Kay Brewer, 68, also received a jail sentence of 21 months after being found guilty of one count of indecent assault at Manchester Crown Court.

The charge related to a brutal assault which took place in 1981 when the then 18-year-old victim was staying as a guest in the house Mrs Brewer shared with her then husband.

Although admitting that she had been in the shadow of her husband during the trial, Judge Rudland explained Mrs Brewer’s clear sexual agenda left him with no choice but a custodial sentence.

“You have for many years clothed yourself in a clock of Christian respectability doing good work for the community and gaining the admiration of others,” he added.

“However, beneath your latter-day outward good character and desire to care for others you conceal a secret- namely that you preyed upon and exploited a young girl who was vulnerable, pliable and whom you knew was also being exploited sexually by your husband.”

Before sentencing, the court heard the pair had been model prisoners since being remanded in February, with Michael teaching Spanish and music to fellow inmates and Hilary teaching reading and writing.

The three months spent in custody will be deducted from their prison sentences – both of whom denied the charges.

Mrs Andrade’s death led to a nationwide police investigation after dozens of ex-pupils from Chetham’s and other music schools came forward with stories of sexual abuse by teachers.

Detective chief superintendent Mary Doyle, head of Greater Manchester Police’s Public Protection Division also explained inquiries were still being carried out.

“I would firstly like to extend my sympathies to the family of Frances Andrade,” she said.

“Our thoughts remain with them at this desperately difficult time and it is tragic she is not able to see she has been vindicated for the bravery she consistently showed throughout the investigation.

“There is an ongoing investigation into Chetham’s School of Music with people having already come forward.  It is a large and complex investigation and anyone who wants to come forward still will be supported.

“I am satisfied with the level of support that Mrs Andrade was given by Greater Manchester Police but that is not to say that lessons will not be learnt from this experience and we will be looking at our own processes.”

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