March 2002

Choirmaster jailed for indecent assault

The founder of an acclaimed children’s choir was jailed for four years on Wednesday for indecently assaulting a 14-year-old boy.

Adrian Jessett, 53, who established Manchester Boys’ Choir, pleaded guilty in February to eight sample charges of indecent assault dating back to 1996.

Jessett, of Heaton Moor, Stockport, Greater Manchester, had denied one count of rape and three further offences of indecent assault.

At Manchester’s Minshull Street Crown Court, Judge Barry Woodward told Jessett he had abused a position of trust with a young boy in his care.

Sentencing him to four years in prison on each charge to run concurrently, Judge Woodward said: “The offences to which you have pleaded guilty are very serious offences.

“They are serious offences by reason of their nature but they are made more serious by the particular circumstances in which these offences were committed.

“One of the most aggravating features about this matter is that, in that position of control, you were trusted and it is difficult to imagine a more serious breach of such trust than that which you committed.”

Jessett, supported by friends and family in the public gallery, was also banned from working with children and put on the Sex Offenders’ Register for life.

All the offences took place at Jessett’s home or in his car, the court was told.

National champions

Initially he told police that the boy had instigated the “sexual nature” of their relationship.

Prosecutor Maurice Greene, said Jessett claimed he had “allowed himself to be seduced ‘by the smile and desires’ of the boy”.

Ahmed Nadim, for the defence, told the court that while Jessett had admitted responsibility from a very early stage, he had not done so in the hope of receiving a more lenient sentence.

Manchester Boys’ Choir, founded by Jessett in 1981, has twice won prizes at the Llangollen International Eisteddfod and won the UK National Choral Competition.

After his arrest on suspicion of indecently assaulting a child, Jessett resigned as master of the choir, which is part of Manchester City Council’s education department.