Portsmouth ex-choirmaster Mark Burgess guilty of 48 'horrendous' sex offences against 13 young children

A FORMER choirmaster has been found guilty of the ‘horrendous’ abuse of 13 children over more than 30 years.

Friday, 28th May 2021, 4:28 pm

Mark Burgess, 68, hardly moved in the dock at Portsmouth Crown Court as a jury foreman spent around 15 minutes returning 48 guilty verdicts.

During the 11-week trial a picture emerged of how trusted music teacher and choirmaster Burgess abused his position to prey on 12 young boys and one girl.

Jurors were told how he ‘sort of took on that dad role’ for many of the children but used that to abuse them, including in the vestry at All Saints Church in Portsmouth.

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

When he exploited the children he would tell them ‘not to tell anyone,’ the court heard.

Abuse happened at a garage he rented, some were invited to his bedroom at home, and others were targeted at church.

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

So ‘horrific’ was the abuse that one boy told police: ‘I thought... (the abuse was)... just part and parcel of being a choirboy.’

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

Another boy said: ‘It was horrific.’

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Remanding Burgess into custody, judge William Ashworth said: ‘You have been convicted after trial by the jury of a horrendous course of child sexual abuse for which in due course you will receive a very lengthy custodial sentence.

‘Until then and now you will be remanded into custody.’

Burgess, of St Chad’s Avenue, Hilsea, denied 52 sex offences against 13 children between 1976 and 2009.

He was found guilty of 26 charges of indecent assault, 15 of gross indecency with a child, four of buggery, two of sexual activity with a child and one attempted indecent assault.

Jurors spent more than 28 hours considering their verdicts.

During the trial when he was asked if there had been any sexual activity he replied: ‘None whatsoever.’

Asked about activity with one boy, he said: ‘Not whatsoever. That sort of kissing is not my style. I’m not a kisser.’

Judge Ashworth adjourned sentencing until June 30.

He told jurors he was ‘humbled’ by their approach to the case and they had shown ‘great patience and fortitude’.

‘It’s been, as far as a judge is concerned, a privilege to have a jury such as you to hear a case such as this,’ he said.

Burgess was found not guilty of a single charge of indecent assault.

Jurors were directed by the judge to find him not guilty on three charges after they were dropped by the prosecution in the trial.

Detective Inspector Adam Edwards said: ‘Burgess denied the allegations made against him, and falsely tried to deflect the blame onto others.

‘I am pleased the jury saw through his lies and justice has now been served.

‘I want to commend the bravery of all the survivors who came forward to speak to police about this abuse.

‘They have had to relive some of the worst experiences of their lives by going through the trial process, but their courage and commitment to bringing Mark Burgess to justice has ensured that he will be rightly punished for these horrific crimes.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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