May 2021

Portsmouth choirmaster trial: Mark Burgess guilty of abuse

A former choirmaster and school teacher has been found guilty of sexually abusing children for over 30 years.

Mark Burgess, 68, from Hilsea, Portsmouth, was convicted of offences involving 13 children under the age of 16, between 1976 and 2009.

A jury at Portsmouth Crown Court found him guilty of 48 offences.

Judge William Ashworth said Burgess could expect to receive a “lengthy custodial sentence” over the “horrendous course of child sex abuse”.

The 12-week trial heard offences were committed while Burgess was a choirmaster for the All Saints church choir in Portsmouth, and Westbourne choir in Sussex.

Prosecutors told Portsmouth Crown Court complainants also recalled being given alcohol and cigarettes before being abused.

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

During the trial, the judge directed the jury to return not guilty verdicts on two counts of gross indecency with a child and one count of buggery.

Burgess carried out the abuse during piano lessons at his home, in the church vestry, his car or the school music room.

He was brought to trial after a number of his victims reported the abuse to the police.

In a joint statement, some of the victims, said: “The extent of Mark Burgess’s abuse on all of us has been shocking and has turned our worlds upside down.”

Burgess was remanded in custody to reappear for sentencing on 30 June.