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Former choirmaster sentenced to 40 years for sexual abuse

|News, Sexual offences

A former choirmaster and teacher from Portsmouth has been sentenced to 40 years in prison today (30 June 2021) having been found guilty of sexually abusing 12 boys and a girl over a period of three decades.

Mark Burgess, aged 68 and from Hilsea, worked as a teacher at Portsmouth City Boys’ School and ran choirs at St John’s Church in Westbourne and All Saints Church in Commercial Road.

He abused children as young as seven years old, as well as teenagers, between the early 1970s and 2000s.

He spent time building relationships with young people, gaining their trust, making them feel special and good about themselves in order to exploit this apparent friendship by subjecting them to sexual abuse.

Burgess created opportunities to abuse young children at school, in the vestry of churches during piano lessons, on choir trips across the country, in a rented garage, and in his car whilst purporting to provide lifts home.

Andrea Hills, CPS Wessex Senior Crown Prosecutor, said: “Burgess demonstrated a repeated pattern of manipulative behaviour over a substantial period of time.

“He manipulated the young victims to such an extent that they felt either the abuse was part and parcel of being in a choir, or that they owed him for all of the treats, favours and special treatment that he afforded them.

“The CPS were able to able to build a strong case against Burgess using the brave testimonies of the victims to prove that he had been sexually abusing children for a very long time.

“I would like to pay tribute to all of the victims who have come forward to support this complex and lengthy prosecution.

“It is understandable that they will have endured decades of guilt and shame as a result of the horrific abuse that Burgess was responsible for committing, and I hope that today’s sentence will bring a measure of comfort to them.”

Notes to editors

  • Mark Burgess (DOB: 18/03/1953) was found guilty of 48 counts:
    • 1 count of Attempt to indecently assault
    • 27 counts of Indecent Assault
    • 14 counts of Gross Indecency
    • 4 counts of Buggery
    • 2 counts of sexual activity with a child

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