'Monster' choirmaster convicted of abusing 13 children

28 May 2021, 21:30

Mark Burgess appeared in Portsmouth Crown Court where he was found guilty
Mark Burgess appeared in Portsmouth Crown Court where he was found guilty. Picture: PA

By Emma Soteriou

A former choirmaster has been found guilty of sexually abusing 13 children over four decades.

Mark Burgess, of St Chads Avenue, Portsmouth, Hampshire, was convicted at Portsmouth Crown Court of 48 counts of child abuse.

Burgess took advantage of the under-16s during his time as a choirmaster at All Saints Church choir in Portsmouth and Westbourne Choir in West Sussex, between 1975 and 2009.

A Hampshire Police spokesman said the court heard that the 68-year-old became "fixed" on a series of children, using his position of trust to get closer to them.

Assaults took place during piano lessons at his house, in his car, in the school music room, in the church vestry and on choir trips out of the county.

"After decades of keeping this a secret, the children - all now adults - found the confidence to report this abuse to the police," said the spokesman.

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In a joint statement, some of the survivors explained that Burgess' actions had "turned our worlds upside down".

"Having to bury such a dark secret for decades, only to have to relive it all again, has been indescribable," the statement said.

"Bringing up the past and coming to terms with what has happened at the hands of this monster has not been easy. The abuse was horrific and calculated.

"We had passions: music, singing, and the church. He exploited those passions for his ends.

"He manipulated, groomed, charmed, and bribed his way into our lives for his sexual gratification. He knew better.

"In court, his lies and attempts to manipulate and besmirch, show his abundance of arrogance and that he has never stopped abusing us; to put us through it in the first place was abhorrent, to put us through it again in court, beneath contempt."

Burgess was remanded in custody until his sentencing on June 30.

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