The Crown Prosecution Service has defended itself against accusations that a mother-of-four, who killed herself during the sex abuse trial of her former teacher, was let down by the court system.
The body of violin teacher Frances Andrade, 48, was found at her home a week after she gave evidence against Michael Brewer, 68, who was convicted of sexually abusing her as a child while she was a pupil at the prestigious Chetham's School of Music in Manchester. Brewer's ex-wife Kay, 68, was also found guilty of indecently assaulting Mrs Andrade.
Despite making previous attempts on her life, her son Oliver said she did not get the help she needed and was forced to rely on the support of family and friends throughout the process.
The CPS said a dedicated witness care officer was assigned to explain the trial process to Mrs Andrade and she had restated her willingness to give evidence on several occasions.
Mrs Andrade, from Guildford, Surrey, was visibly agitated on occasions as she gave her evidence. She chose to give evidence in full view of everyone in the courtroom, including the two defendants, and was supported from the public gallery by one of her sons. At one point she complained about Brewer smiling as she gave her evidence, but chose to press on.
After she gave her evidence, Judge Martin Rudland remarked that she was "clearly undergoing a cathartic experience, whatever the source". He said she was "combative" during cross-examination by Kate Blackwell QC, representing Brewer, and she had taken issue with some of the questions, saying: "You are hugely insulting, even though it's your job."
In a statement issued after the verdicts, Mrs Andrade's son Oliver said: "Being repeatedly called a 'liar' and a 'fantasist' about a horrific part of her life in front of a court challenged her personal integrity and was more than even she could bear."
He said she was "heavily advised by the police not to receive any form of therapy until the end of the case", which meant "she did not get the help she needed". He continued: "The court system let her down. She was kept in the dark about the case, not even being informed about final city dates until the last minute."
The CPS said Mrs Andrade agreed to give evidence in court and restated her willingness to do so on several occasions both before and during the trial. She was also consulted before the Brewers were charged. It said a dedicated witness care officer was assigned to explain the trial process and she was offered a familiarisation visit to the court in advance.
The prosecutor was selected for his skill in handling sensitive cases and the CPS applied for special measures to shield the victim in court but she declined, the CPS said. She confirmed her choice to proceed without special measures with the prosecutor immediately before she gave evidence, it added.