Victim’s Suicide Causes Debate Over Court Proceedings

By Alexandra Sandacz
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe

LONDON, United Kingdom – Frances Andrade, a respected violinist and mother of four, is believed to have committed suicide days after an aggressive cross-examination in the trial of her former music teacher Michael Brewer.

Frances Andrade committed suicide just days after her cross-examination during the trial of Michael Brewer. (Photo Courtesy of BBC)

On Friday, Brewer, an ex choir teacher, was convicted of carrying out sexual abuse in his office at Chetham’s School of Music between 1978 and 1982. However, simultaneously, the jury cleared Brewer of rape and one charge of indecently assaulting the victim as a child in his home.

During the trial, Brewer’s barrister Kate Blackwell QC, accused Andrade, who did not want to bring the case, of being a liar and a fantasist.

According to her husband, Andrade felt traumatized after being accused of lying in court. Her death, which occurred only days after her cross-examination, prompted a debate on how the court handled Brewer’s case and why the police advised Andrade not to receive therapy until after the trial.

Andrade’s husband explained, “She become really withdrawn. She went to the doctor as she was having trouble sleeping. He suggested she speak to someone and said he could refer her – but she said she’d been told not to by the police. I don’t know if it was Manchester or Surrey [police] but they said psychiatric help might affect her evidence – she might change her mind or it might confuse her. I hope this is something that will be looked at during the inquest.”

Home Secretary, Theresa May, said, “This was a terrible case when you look at the details of this and we all have sympathy with the family and what they have gone through. Obviously this whole question of how the police deal with rape cases is one that is being looked at and we have been trying to improve the police handling of this under both governments, over a number of years.”

She continued, “We all recognize that one of the issues here is the difficulty victims feel in coming forward and sadly when we see incidents such as has happened in this case, I fear others may be put off from coming forward rather than encouraged from coming forward.”

Maura McGowan QC, Chairman of the Bar, stated, “The Bar Council is ready and willing to cooperate fully with the Home Secretary in any closer inspection of how the justice system operates following an allegation of sexual assault. We should ensure that every reasonable measure is taken to protect vulnerable witnesses and to encourage the victims of abuse to come forward.”

For further information, please see:

BBC — Theresa May: Chethams abuse case death ‘may deter victims’ – 11 February 2013

DailyMail — Home secretary announces probe into police handling of the violinist who killed herself after being grilled in choirmaster abuse case – 11 February 2013

The Telegraph — Death of Frances Andrade Will Put Other Victims Off Coming Forward, says Home Secretary – 11 February 2013

The Guardian — Frances Andrade Killed Herself After Being Accused of Lying, says Husband – 10 February 2013

Author: Impunity Watch Archive

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