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The Manchester Evening News
14:35, 7 JUL 2014
Musician had spiralled into ‘incredible despair’ over court case involving her pervert former music teacher Michael Brewer, hearing is told
A talented violinist who gave evidence about sexual abuse by her Manchester music teacher told her husband she felt she had been the one on trial – just days before she died of a prescription drug overdose.
Frances Andrade died at her home in Guildford, Surrey, in January 2013, just a week after giving evidence in court about historic sexual abuse by her former choirmaster Michael Brewer.
Woking Coroner’s Court heard the mother-of-four, 48, had spiralled into ‘incredible despair’ after a friend reported Brewer to Surrey Police the previous January and she was asked to give a statement.
Brewer, who taught at the prestigious Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester before going on to direct the World Youth Choir, was later stripped of music services OBE after being jailed for six years for five counts of indecent assault.
Mrs Andrade was aged just 14 and 15 at the time of the abuse, but only came forward when she confided in a friend at a dinner party in 2011 and was alarmed Brewer was still teaching.
The court heard she was prescribed anti-depressants after talking to police and had twice tried to take her own life in December 2012 and January 2013.
Her husband Levine Andrade, 59, found his wife, known as Fran, dead at 8am in the morning of January 24 last year.
He said: “She fell into incredible despair, the truth hit home. It was not something she wanted to report to the police.
“It brought back horrible memories from her past.
“Life took a real downturn after the court proceedings – that was when she was at her complete lowest.
“Apart from the trial bringing it all back up, she felt the defence barrister seemed to be attacking her personally.
“It got her completely down and she felt completely defenceless. I think she felt she was not prepared enough for the trial.
“She was not expecting to be attacked personally and have to answer so many direct questions in public.
“The words she used were she felt as if she were the one on trial.”
Jailed pervert Michael Brewer
The court also heard Mrs Andrade had met Brewer on two occasions since the abuse and even asked him to hand himself in.
Mr Andrade said his wife’s mood changed after being asked to give a video interview for Surrey Police about the abuse she suffered, such that she no longer took part in family life.
He said: “She had very, very low mood swings and stayed in bed for days on end. She did not want to see anyone or speak to anyone.
“She would come downstairs to make herself food, very healthy vegetables and soups, and then go back to bed.
“I was doing everything for the children and taking over her teaching as well because she just could not face it.
“It was very out of character, she loved the children, absolutely adored them.
“After she had tried before she realised she had her children to live for and for a short time she came out of it, everything seemed fine.
“Then maybe she would see something on the news and that would get her on the downturn again.
“It got harder and harder towards the last few months. She did not want to speak to anybody.”
On the morning of her death, Mr Andrade, also a musician and teacher, came to ask if she would like a cup of tea and noticed she was cold.
After phoning for an ambulance, one of the couple’s sons attempted CPR, but when paramedics arrived they pronounced her dead.
Mr Andrade was also asked if there were any other issues that could have caused his wife’s anxiety, but he said that while family finances were a ‘problem’, it was only because they had used their savings to pay the children’s school fees.
Chetham’s School of Music
Mrs Andrade, who was adopted, had also traced her birth mother to Canada, but found out she had two forms of cancer.
Mr Andrade said: “She felt helpless that she was far away and could not do anything.”
The toxicology report concluded there was a fatal amount of a prescription drug in her blood.
In April this year, a serious case review by Surrey Safeguarding Adults Board said Mrs Andrade’s death ‘could and should’ have been prevented and mental health services failed to recognise she was vulnerable as she made repeated suicide bids.
Her death led to calls for the court system to improve how sexual abuse victims are treated.
The inquest is scheduled to run into next week.