Outcome of sex abuse trial 'confused teacher'

Frances Andrade was found dead after she gave evidence. Credit: Greater Manchester Police

The Crown Prosecution Service has refused to confirm whether sex abuse victim Frances Andrade, a former pupil at a school in Manchester, was told formally before her suicide that five charges against her attacker had been dropped.

The violin teacher died from a suspected overdose a week after she gave evidence against choirmaster Michael Brewer who was found guilty last week of indecently assaulting her when she was aged 14 and 15 at the prestigious Chetham's School of Music.

The body of Mrs Andrade, 48, was found at her home in Guildford, Surrey, on the morning of January 24 - the day after Chetham's former director of music was cleared of five counts of indecent assault.

She read an online news report of the afternoon's proceedings which stated the jury at Manchester Crown Court returned not guilty verdicts on those counts on the direction of the judge, her family reportedly said.

Directly before Brewer, 68, went into the witness box to defend himself against the allegations, the Crown conceded there was insufficient evidence" against five of the 15 charges on the indictment.

Prosecutor Peter Cadwallader said Mrs Andrade had conceded she may have been 15, rather than 14, when she said she was abused by Brewer in his then house in Chorlton, Manchester. The same problem arose as to when she said he had assaulted her in his camper van, he said. Finally, the Crown said Mrs Andrade admitted in evidence that she may have been at the age of consent when Brewer was said to have abused her on a canal path.

Doubts over whether the prosecution team contacted her to explain the outcome have emerged though following newspaper interviews with her family in the wake of her death. Her husband, Levine, told The Mail on Sunday: "When I found her there was an iPad on the bed next to her with a story saying Brewer had got off five of the charges. I think she thought, 'He's been let off, he's been proved innocent. They didn't believe me'."

While son, Oliver, 21, himself read a news report online and tried to contact her because he thought she may misinterpret it in her fragile state, the Daily Mail reported. "I assume you have seen this, do you want to talk?" he texted her but received no reply, according to the newspaper.

Asked if Mrs Andrade was formally contacted about the dropped counts, a Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) spokeswoman said: "Along with everyone else, we will be looking carefully at what happened in this tragic case and, of course, there will be an inquest where all the issues will be examined in detail."

The Andrade family said they did not wish to comment on the matter on Tuesday.