Portsmouth choirmaster gathered young boys in church vestry before performing sex act as they watched, court hears

A CHOIRMASTER gathered young boys in a church vestry before performing a sex act as they watched him, a court heard.

Saturday, 1st May 2021, 7:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 4th May 2021, 9:19 am

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

Continuing to give evidence into the seventh week of the trial at Portsmouth Crown Court, Burgess denied exploiting boys in the All Saints Church vestry in Portsmouth.

Fern Russell, defending, questioned Burgess over the statement of one of the now grown-up complainants in the vestry after choir practice.

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Former choirmaster Mark Burgess, 68, of St Chad's Avenue, Hilsea, is on trial at Portsmouth Crown Court accused of 52 child sex offences on 16 March 2021

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‘(The complainant) says you were having a conversation about how far you could ejaculate and there were two or three others present,’ she said.

She said it was claimed there would be ‘a semi-circle so they would all be able to see’. Similar individual incidents with boys in the vestry were also alleged to have taken place.

Asked if any of these happened, Burgess said: ‘No, not at all.’

The same boy also said he used to visit Burgess at his garage where ‘oral sex would take place’ but Burgess said the boy ‘would not even know the existence of the garage’.

On another trip the boy was said to be ‘really homesick’ and came back to the dorm ‘tired’ before Burgess made his move.

‘You put your hands down his pants and unzipped his trousers before giving him oral sex. Did that happen?’ Ms Russell asked.

‘No,’ he replied.

On another occasion the boy swore at Burgess who was asked by Ms Russell if there was anything he had done to receive the abuse. ‘That was just the way he was made. He was a most unusual person,’ he said.

He went on to call the boy’s behaviour ‘unacceptable’ and branded him as ‘gobby’.

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.


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