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The evil that never ends: pupil abused by choir director kills herself in mid-trial

Now that Mike Brewer has been found guilty on several charges of indecent assault, it can be further revealed that the girl student at Chetams whom he abused took her own life last week after she gave evidence against him.

Frances Andrade was 49 and a mother of four. She was a well-known and well-liked orchestral player. She was the only one so far who experienced abuse at Chetams and has dared to come forward.

The police have put out a call for others to testify. DC Mark Atkinson at Greater Manchester Police is keen to hear from anyone who wants to talk about teacher-pupil abuse at Chetham’s/RNCM in the 80s and 90s.
Anyone with info should call the 101 number and quote reference 1532 31/01/2013.

Please help root out this evil.

Here is a story about Frances that will appear in the Times tomorrow. Here is an even fuller account in the Guardian.

frances andrade And here is Frances, playing Ravel’s Tzigane.

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  1. Yes, pædophilia is a horror that just never knows an end. Prison is too good for this man. Hard labor, even torture seems appropriate.

  2. How can Brewer’s barrister sleep at nights? Kate Blackwell of Lincoln House is the name to remember.

    • Because EVERYONE gets representation. Everyone gets to put their side across, and only when the jury decides are they found guilty. I suppose you would work out who the guilty ones were before trial and deny them counsel? Trying to stir up hatred by naming someone doing their job is sick.

    • Malcolm James says:

      She was only doing her job.

    • That’s unfair, Tony. And absurd. A barrister simply represents their clients’ interests to the best of their ability. Are you suggesting that suspected sex abusers should lose their entitlement to legal representation, or that barristers should only represent those who they already “know” to be innocent? Or deliberately do a bad job if they do represent them? None of these position is tenable and no-one, to my knowledge, has come up with better system than the “adversarial” one currently in place.

    • Peter Anderson says:

      Are you saying that people who are accused of a crime are not entitled to legal representation, or do you allow them to be represented as long as the crime isn’t nasty?

    • Everybody deserves a legal defense, and people willing to defend the indefensible are very valuable and doing a service for the rest of us.

      • steve edmondson says:

        This “barrister” is typical of what we have become as a society. Mean- hearted, sexed up image, ruthlessness in the race for money and “fame”, A poor specimen of a human being . I hope people, especially potential clients will remember this Low-Life. You should be a human being first and an attorney second.

    • The barrister was quite properly doing her job. Our system is an adversarial one and defendants are entitled to have their representative use that system fully.

    • I could not disagree more vehemently. If you hold someone’s attorney accomplice or accessory in some way, then you have a very twisted idea of what a legal system actually is. Even the most horrifying criminal should have a right to a fair trial. In this case, the attorney is doing his/her job. And btw, pointing fingers and giving names is a DISGUSTING thing to do.

      • Malcolm James says:

        The problem with these historic abuse cases is that the accused is left with very little with which to mount a defence. There clearly cannot be any forensic evidence, their own memories about what they were doing at the key times will have faded as will the memories of anyone who might have been able to corroborate an alibi, if they haven’t died in the meantime, and documentary evidence will have been destroyed. casting doubt on the integrity and credibility of the accuser(s) is all they are left with. This is why we have always had a statute of limitations.

      • John Hames says:

        I would not personalise it quite as much as Tony, and it may be correct to say that Ms Blackwell was “only doing her job”, but there is something seriously wrong with an adversarial system where counsel are not required to serve the truth, merely to do whatever it takes to get a result. I note that the judge said her questioning of the victim was perfectly proper, but then, as they say, he would, woudn’t he? He is a product and a perpetuator of the same system. Arrogant barristers are encouraged to say anything, no matter how mendacious or unfair or irresponsible. Yes, everyone should have a defence, but it should be a moral defence, just as the prosecution should be. It should be culturally and personally sensitive, not conducted in a vacuum of legal impunity. Getting in the face of a possible rape victim and “putting it to her” that her story is a pack of lies by a fantasist is not, I submit, questioning conforming to civilised or dignified standards. But then of course if we had a system that was designed to establish the truth rather than score points, such disgusting behaviour by counsel would be unnecessary.

    • if the barrisers questions I read in the Daily Mail were correct then Ms Blackwell clearly did not research her questions or answers as anyone who was at Chets knew Frans answers were not all fantasy. And is it correct that Fran was not allowed councelling through the trial? If this is true no wonder Fran could not cope. who could endure such humiliation? and in addition as an adopted child who had already been through unknown traumas. This has to be a call to action on behalf of vulnerable children and people and we need proper education on morals and relationships as well as sensitivity to the vulnerabiliy of the victim. what is the most tragic is the suffering Fran endured through her life and yet she made a success of her music and raised a beautiful family who have now lost their beautiful mother who was only doing what was morally right to do. I truly hope justice is done.

    • Peter - a different one from the other Peter says:

      This is truly tragic.
      In seeking to administer justice, the outcome has been pain and suffering, and now bereavement, not only to the original victim but to her completely innocent family.

      Procedurally, the defence team and the court officials can argue that they carried out their roles properly. This is true. In the same way as the operator of the “ducking chair” carried out their role properly. Is this not a variant of the Nuremburg Defence ? “I was just following orders”.
      Perhaps those involved in the justice system are too steeped in assessing the behaviour of others, that they cannot see their own role in this.
      More likely, they can, but have to rationalise their feelings.
      They should also be pitied, for if they have a heart, the will have difficulty sleeping at nights. Blaming the system is convenient, but I can only hope that they go beyond that, and look very hard to see how the system let this happen, and what can be done to strengthen it. 

      In seeking to right a wrong, the result has been a greater wrong. 

  3. Well as an ex pupil of the school, there is much more to this case than meets the eye or has been publicised but I personally believe the girl involved was delusional and got caught in her own web of lies.

  4. Clarissa Smid says:

    Come on Chets friends: we all know that weird stuff went on. I first heard stuff in the 90s when a whole load of you came down from Manchester. If there were serious things past, now is the time to speak out.

    Be brave and call 101.

  5. Clarissa Smid says:

    Come on Chets friends: we all know that weird stuff went on. I first heard stuff in the 90s when a whole load of you came down from Manchester. If there were serious things past, now is the time to speak out.

  6. Mark Mortimer says:

    The circumstances of Fran Andrade’s death, a very talented musician and devoted mother, are appalling and tragic.

    Mr Brewer’s contribution to the choral world through his musical talents is positive, but the legacy left to society at large by his unspeakable perversions is not.

    His reputation is in ruins and he surely deserves whatever the law decides to dish him out.

    I’m left drawing comparisons with the Jimmy Saville case and that these abuses all happened some time ago. The culture, in the 70′s, was clearly to turn a blind eye to these type of instances. Brewer has been tracked down and punished but how many other such cases have gone unnoticed?

    In 21st Century Britain we, and young people in general, are much more clued into paedophilia. Classical music , both in the performance and education spheres, is still a world unto itself prone to secrecy and lofty pretensions which somewhat cover up the fact that it is not much better than its vulgar pop sister in terms of depravity. Greater transparency is needed.

    On the other hand, we should beware of an increasing prevalence of labelling everybody working with young people in music education as potential child molesters.

  7. Michal Kaznowski says:

    This is one thread to follow from the Guardian.

    Martin Roscoe cannot be praised highly enough – starting as a pianist and going on to him as a contributor to the well being of society.

    Just like Jimmy Saville case – in the full view of the public without the responsible parties doing anything about it. Well, here is documented how the responsible parties behaved.

  8. Stephen Carpenter says:

    The principals in this case know deep down what they’ve done or not done as does every person in a court case. They get to live with that and now they get to live with a suicide in which they were complicit to a greater or lesser degree.
    That will take a lot of energy to either keep up the charade or to come to grips with how the teacher/student relationship was trod upon.
    As to judge, barrister and prosecutor- energy will be spent there too- to maintain the judicial narrowness required not to examine how these cases might be otherwise presented. and in the darkness of night, they will undoubtedly have to contend with that or else relinquish a part of their human kindness toward others.

    No one wins.

  9. Abigail Clifford says:
  10. Naughty Nigel says:

    As an Expert Witness, I can state this it is the job and duty of a defence barrister to explore every avenue of defence, and to question every shred of evidence provided by the prosecution to ensure that the trial is fair and thorough, and that the prosecution evidence is tested properly by the court. This has nothing to do with who we think is ‘right’, or who we might like to see win the case.

    If a defendant is denied a fair trial, or if the defence barrister fails to test the prosecution evidence in court, any resulting conviction would be unsafe, and would quite properly be overturned by an appeal court.


    • John Hames says:

      As I said in my contribution above, you’re part of the system, so you would say that. It is the adversarial system that requires counsel to behave like this, and we should be able to come up with something better. “Testing the prosecution evidence” should not include acting in an inhuman or inhumane way, and at the very least there should be ethical standards built into the duties of counsel, “Winning your case” is not an ethical standard, by the way.

      • Naughty Nigel says:

        Whether the public likes it or not, there is a presumption of innocence in all English criminal trials, and a sexual abuse case is no different to any other.

        In criminal law, Blackstone’s formulation states that “it is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer”.

        William Blackstone was a ‘Jurist’ in 18th century England, but the same presumption of innocence can be traced back to biblical times (Genesis 18:23-32).

        This whole matter is dreadfully tragic and sad, but do we want a judicial system where defendants are found or presumed guilty because defence counsel is not allowed to ask pertinent questions? If these defence team is not allowed to ask these questions they could quite rightly argue that the defendant should be acquitted because he or she had been denied a fair trial.

        Notwithstanding the above, I do believe there may be a case for limiting the scope of cross examination in such matters so that it is not unnecessarily intrusive or traumatic, but ultimately it is up to the Judge to decide what is and what is not allowed in any trial.


    • Alan Neale says:

      Exploring “every avenue of defence” in sexual abuse cases means defence lawyers and perpetrators routinely subjecting victims to further trauma, with the aim of making them break down so that the jury may perceive them as unreliable witnesses. This bullying has the effect of making victims relive the original abuse, with tragic consequences in this case. It also has the effect of discouraging other survivors of sexual abuse from going to court.

      Why is it only the defendant’s interests that are considered when we determine what is or what is not a fair trial?

      • Malcolm James says:

        As I have said before, there is particular problem in historic cases of abuse or rape where, due to the passage of time, discrediting the accuser is the only defence open to the accused. Unfortunately, if you effectively stop a defence barrister from pursuing the only line of defence available, I’m not sure whether you can continue to try these cases using a jury. The alternative would be an inquisitorial process and campaigners concerned about the low rate of rape convictions (the 6-7% figure often cited is a bogus figure btw) have suggested using ‘specially trained’ investigators to increase this rate. However, a jury system works because if someone is facing a possible long sentence for rape, they trust a jury to understand the issues , be impartial and see through b******t. People might not trust trained investigators in the same way and ‘specially trained’ might come to be regarded as ‘indoctrinated’ to ffollow a particular agenda.

        As ever, be careful what you wish for!

        • John Hames says:

          This is probably not the right place for this debate, but you do identify the right problems. I feel, though, you make assumptions which may not be warranted. Do accused trust juries to come up with the right answer? I’m not sure I do: they’re as suggestible as the rest of us, particularly when rhetorical and dramatic skills are being deployed by counsel. I would have no problem with a properly constituted and staffed inquisitorial process for trials generally. One is aware of the dangers of zealotry in the prosection of sensitive cases, but it should be possible to cover this and other emerging problems. Generally speaking, I would favour “specially trained” over “ignorant” any day! But in the short term I would settle for a code of conduct for barristers. We all know there are lines of decency and civilised behaviour we would not cross in our dealings with people, and counsel should not be exempt from these. If the counsel in this particular case is feeling she can rest easy because she was “only doing her job”, rather feeling the deepest shame, I suggest there is something badly wrong with procedure.

  11. Terrible outcome in the Chetham’s / National Youth choirmaster trial. But let’s all bear the contents of this thoughtful legal article in mind: . Hopefully the musical/educational world has moved on since the 80s. And the Brewer story must not stop us from exploring and encouraging youthful musical talent. But oversight from peer pressure, social media and sharing with friends + changes in what and how we judge people can make our world more alert and compassionate. Better than rigid rules and structures but also better than hounding people or making them feel hounded. Calls to regulate music schools could stifle talent, imagination and spontaneity whereas empowering students to stand their ground against the intrusions of teachers (or maestros or talent scouts) who “fall in love with their prowess” could help music make a better world.

    • this is a critical point. our relationship with our students has to be allowed to be SAFELY physical, emotional and sensual. that is what music is all about.

  12. This whole case is tragic for the victim and her family. My heart goes out to them all.

    One point aside from the main case which I found shocking was the fact that Brewer “resigned” from Chethams due to inappropriate behaviour with a teenage female student (admitted at his trial,) yet this shocking behaviour was somehow covered up to enable him to walk straight into leading another major British musical organisation – the National Youth Choir – again bringing him into contact with young people.

    This is the kind of complicity between individuals at a high level in music education which certainly needs to be investigated as suggested by Norman and Ian Pace in the other post related to this issue.

  13. Nina Hirsch says:

    As a singing student at the RCM in the early 90′s, I was sexually abused by my professor [redacted, name withheld for legal reasons]. I was 18 years old at the time and said nothing because the abuse was so gradual, I almost imagined it was my fault. It continued for several months until I felt so uncomfortable and ‘dirty’ I did not attend any more lessons. No one ever followed it up and that was the end of my vocal training. I continued at the college studying piano. It has played on my mind for over 20 years and although I am now happily married with children, I have often wondered if there were others… I suspect there were.
    The abuse took place in a normal teaching room on the first floor – there was a curtain across the window which he would draw as I entered the room. 20 years on I imagine those curtains have long gone. I have never reported my story but feel the time is right to expose what a monster he was.

  14. Francisco Martínez Ramos says:

    Incredible!! Very sorry about this case.

  15. My sincerest condolences to Levine Andrade and his family too.

    It’s not the adversarial system itself that’s the problem; it’s the extent to which, like the victims of sexual abuse, it can itself be abused as I believe seems to have been the case in the Andrade trial. Leaving aside for the time being the compounding gross inadequacies of police and other professional response to and subsequent handling of this matter between the time it was referred to the police and the trial, the apparent behaviour of the defence barrister leaves much to be desired, as indeed does the judge’s evident endorsement of her conduct in the case.

    A barrister’s duty includes going to all necessary and reasonable lengths to get at the truth and secure due admissions from witnesses under oath; that requires thorough prior research of the facts, understanding of the character of the witness and all the other subtle legal skills in which good barristers are trained. It does not presuppose, let alone demand, the need for abrasive barracking and bullying which, when it occurs in a courtroom, usually substitutes for the proper conduct of a barrister and reveals his/her glaring inadequacies.

    It seems clear that, in the Andrade case, the barrister’s line and manner of questioning suggested that Frances Andrade was the guilty party and was seeking to accuse the defendants out of vengeance alone, despite all accounts that she had never sought to behave as a “victim” and had kept the entire matter away from the attention of the Courts for more than three decades.

    I have experienced the conduct of a barrister in Court on one occasion; after much soul-searching I decided to mention this here. The case was entirely different to the one under the microscope here, but the barrister acted at all times calmly and with due dignity without ever compromising her agenda; the iron fist was well concealed within the velvet glove of her approach, she shunned all sings of aggression and vituperation and she eschewed any attempt to tie up the defendant in knots, preferring instead subtly and gently to let him tie himself up in knots of his own making. After the trial, the judge summoned her to his chambers to compliment her on what he described as a model of how a barrister should behave in Court. Interestingly, she won the case whereas all the offensive sound and fury directed by Ms Blackwell at Frances Andrade came to very little and resulted her losing her case. The barrister in the case to which I refer here had never lost a case in her entire career.

    It has occurred to me wonder, had this barrister taken the place of Ms Blackwell, what the outcome might have been, to say nothing of the subsequent fallout…

  16. The adversarial system exposes victims to further abuse in court. And as for the barrister, it’s one thing representing ones client and putting their case, it’s another accusing the witness of lying at every opportunity. According to the court transcripts, and as one would expect of her, Fran was outspoken, intelligent, brave, honest, and quick to respond to the false accusations. But she, like anyone in that situation, was suffering not only the original trauma, but the reliving of that trauma – now combined with slander. Nobody can be expected to cope with that. And sadly in her case the result was tragically fatal.
    I was not at Chethams, though I visited several times during the period in question because my sister was there (and was Fran’s best friend at the time). I know of others at Chets who have been abused and not by Brewer. Yes, it is time for any other abusers to face justice. But how will the system guarantee the safety, wellbeing, and emotional/mental health of anyone stepping forward to testify?

    • @ Claire:

      All agreed and understood except that the adversarial system does not have to expose victims to further abuse in court, much as I accept that it can do and has done; this case offers much evidence of how such matters can be woefully and wilfully mishandled by over-eager and aggressive QCs whereas my experience in Court (on a quite different matter) demonstrates that the results can be obtained by quite different means that do not have the effects that this case did on Frances Andrade; I trust that the QC in that case is now reflecting appropriately on her performance, now that she is aware of the ultimate outcome thereof; I cannot of course be sure of this but I nevertheless cannot help but suspect that the right one might even have succeeded in securing convictions on some or all of of those charges with which Mr Brewer got away scot free.

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