Portsmouth choirmaster drove young boys home from choir practice before performing sex acts on them and swearing them to secrecy, court hears

A CHOIRMASTER drove young boys home from choir practice before performing sex acts on them and swearing them to secrecy, a court heard.

Sunday, 2nd May 2021, 9:13 am

Mark Burgess, 68, denies 52 sex offences against 13 children between 1976 and 2009.

Burgess, giving evidence at the Portsmouth Crown Court trial, denied violating boys after choir practice at All Saints Church vestry in Portsmouth.

The defendant admitted driving boys home but told jurors nothing sinister happened on those occasions.

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Former choirmaster Mark Burgess, 68, of St Chad's Avenue, Hilsea, is on trial at Portsmouth Crown Court.

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Defence lawyer, Fern Russell, outlining one of the allegations from a former Portsmouth City Boys School student, said: ‘It is claimed you drove him to a car park and stopped your car before placing your hand on his thigh.

‘You then moved up and touched [him] over his trousers. This progressed to undoing his trousers and giving him oral sex. Did you do this?’

Burgess responded ‘no,’ before adding: ‘It was an exposed area.’

Following the alleged incident, Burgess was then accused of telling the boy ‘not to tell anyone’ but denied this was the case.

In a separate recollection from the school music room, the boy said Burgess had ‘put his tongue in (the victim’s) mouth’ with the boy recounting ‘feeling stubble’.

But Burgess denied the claim. ‘Certainly not,’ he said, before adding. ‘I was always clean shaven apart from on days off.’

Ms Russell continued: ‘(The boy) said he remembers you touching him over the trousers.

‘You then had oral sex with each other.’

Burgess, who also denied giving the boy £10 on one occasion, replied: ‘Not whatsoever. That sort of kissing is not my style. I’m not a kisser.’

Another boy from the Portsmouth City Boys School claimed there was ‘sexual activity’ in the music room. ‘He said you were gripping him and you wanted him to grip you,’ Ms Russell asked.

‘None whatsoever,’ replied Burgess.

Ms Russell then put the allegation that Burgess had ‘started masturbating’ with the boy at the church vestry after piano lessons.

‘Nothing at all,’ the defendant said.

He also denied ‘groping’ him during piano lessons.

The court heard on another occasion Burgess drove the boy to a car park before making the schoolboy perform oral sex on him. But the defendant rejected the logic of this with it being in such a ‘public place’.

Burgess denied sexual activity on another trip where an onlooking boy on a bunk bed was ‘terrified’.

The defendant did concede there was ‘a lot of horseplay’ among the boys on that particular trip, with boys having fun ‘water fights’.

Burgess also denied ‘talking about abusing other boys’, with him telling jurors: ‘It didn’t happen.’

Burgess, of St Chad’s Avenue, Hilsea, denies 27 charges of indecent assault, 17 of gross indecency with a child, five of buggery, two of sexual activity with a child and one attempted indecent assault.

Jurors have heard the former Portsmouth City Boys School music teacher was a choirmaster at St John the Baptist Church in Westbourne, and at All Saints Church in Commercial Road.


A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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