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Chetham's victim's death 'could and should have been prevented'

by Elaine Willcox

A gifted violinist, who committed suicide after giving evidence against a teacher 'could and should' have been prevented from taking her own life.

Frances Andrade was sexually abused by choirmaster Michael Brewer and his wife as a student at Chetham's School of Music in Manchester.

She took an overdose just a week after giving evidence in their trial.

Today a serious case review found her local mental health services and justice system failed her.

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Serious case review: Key areas for improvement

A serious case review by Surrey Safeguarding Adults Board into the suicide of violinist Frances Andrade, who killed herself days after giving evidence against a former music teacher, called for these improvements:

  • Criminal justice professionals to offer better support to sex abuse survivors and recognise their "vulnerability" when facing their abusers in court
  • Provide expert witness testimony in court to explain to jurors how childhood sex abuse can affect people
  • Judges "should be proactive" when they consider a witness is vulnerable by introducing special measures, even when they have refused them
  • Mental health services to increase their alertness to the fall-out of sexual exploitation and the risks of suicide and self-harm
  • Media to be "mindful of the way a person's mental health and their credibility are discussed throughout court proceedings."

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Police reviewing policies following report into Chetham's victim's death

Greater Manchester Police say they will review their policies after a report said Frances Andrade's suicide could have been avoided.

They paid tribute to her bravery in testifying against her abusers.

"As Frances's son Oliver said in his very moving statement following her death, the GMP officer who was assigned the case did everything he could to help Frances. "This is further reflected in comments made by the author, who stated the approach of the officer in the case in supporting Mrs Andrade was 'exemplary'. "I note the recommendations for GMP and we will be reviewing our 'Talon' policy -GMP's internal policy for investigation of rape and serious sexual offences - to ensure that we provide the best possible standard of care for each and every victim."

– Detective Chief Superintendent Vanessa Jardine

Chetham's victim's death 'could have been prevented'

Frances Andrade killed herself during the trial at Manchester Crown Court
Frances Andrade killed herself during the trial at Manchester Crown Court Credit: GMP

A serious case review into the suicide of a woman during a sexual assault trial has found her death could have been prevented.

Frances Andrade killed herself after giving evidence against Michael Brewer - her violin teacher who abused her while she was a student at Chetham's School of Music.

A report by Surrey Safeguarding Adults Board said: "The Panel considered that this was a suicide that could and should have been prevented. Mrs A had reasons to live and she continued to ask for help throughout this period.

"We therefore invite all the agencies concerned to take real and concrete steps towards improving their practice."

Jailed Choirmaster stripped of OBE

Michael Brewer Credit: PA

A former music director at Chetham's School of Music in Manchester who was jailed after being uncovered as a "predatory sex offender" has been stripped of his OBE.

Michael Brewer was jailed for 6 years in March. His victims included ex-pupil Frances Andrade who took her life at her home during his trial.

A person's honour can be taken away if they are sentenced to prison for at least three months for a criminal offence or censured or struck off by a professional or regulatory body for something directly relevant to their honour.

The Honours Forfeiture Committee considers the case.

If the committee recommends an honour is withdrawn, the decision is sent to the Queen by the Prime Minister and the Queen decides if the honour should be forfeited.

Police investigate sex abuse claims at music school

Police have spoken to more than 30 women who have reported sexual abuse during their time at Cheetham's School of Music in Manchester.

Since the investigation was launched in February, police have spoken to around ten alleged offenders. Officers say that it's a complex and sensitive investigation which will take some time to complete.

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