Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

Delayed help for sex-abuse witness

A concert violinist who died of an overdose after giving evidence about sexual abuse by her former music teacher got psychiatric help only weeks before the trial after twice trying to kill herself.

The inquest into the death of Frances Andrade heard that the talented musician increasingly struggled to cope with depression and anxiety in the year ahead of the trial of ex-choirmaster Michael Brewer in January 2013 .

Mrs Andrade died at her home in Guildford, Surrey, that month, just a week after giving evidence in court about the historic sexual abuse, which came to light when her friend reported it to Surrey Police two years earlier.

Known as Fran, she was aged just 14 and 15 at the time of the abuse.

The mother of four had regular meetings with her GPs, who eventually referred her to the local health authority Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Trust's Community Mental Health Recovery Service (CMHRS) after she took multiple overdoses, Woking Coroner's Court heard today .

But two overdoses in October and December 2012 preceded the first meeting the 48-year-old had with a psychiatrist on December 19 of that year - just weeks before she would have to face her abuser at Manchester Crown Court.

She had been in hospital at least four times for treatment following overdoses before health services regarded her as high risk.

Her GP Mary Morrison, of St Luke's Surgery, Guildford, said Mrs Andrade's anxiety stemmed from the impending court appearance and they were both frustrated with delays in getting psychiatric help.

"Four months before the trial, Fran wanted something pragmatic, something here and now that related more to the court case than her past experiences," Mrs Morrison said.

"It was becoming more and more difficult for her as that approached.

"In our conversation on December 10 we were both frustrated. We could not understand what was taking so long - she needed help.

"It had been five or six weeks since the referral and she still did not have a care co-ordinator - it was a month to the court case and it was important Fran had this therapy."

The inquest heard she again tried to take her own life on January 3 2013.

Dr Alastair Bint, also of St Luke's, was Mrs Andrade's GP in 2011 when she first reported anxiety over the abuse and said she took several overdoses after the press first reported the case in mid-2012.

On Monday her husband Levine Andrade, 59, said in his evidence that his wife told him she felt as though she had been the one on trial during cross-examination by her abuser's counsel.

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 his OBE for music services after being jailed for six years for five counts of indecent assault.

In April, 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.


From Belfast Telegraph