sentence next month
pled guilty to 8 years of abuse


Choir pervert molested boy
THE founder of the famous Manchester Boys Choir has admitted a series of indecent assaults on a teenager.
Adrian Jessett, 53, abused the boy on up to 20 occasions while he was musical director of the prestigious choir. He was arrested and suspended last October after the teenager spoke to police.
At Minshull Street Crown Court in Manchester, Jessett pleaded guilty to eight sample charges of indecent assault between July 1996 and May 2000 when the unnamed boy was aged between 13 and 17.
His not guilty pleas to rape and three other indecent assaults were accepted.
After his arrest, Jessett, of Warwick Road, Heaton Moor, Stockport, resigned from the choir, part of Manchester city council's music service.
Yesterday, the court heard that three assaults took place in Jessett's car and another two occurred in the back room of his house. A further two incidents occurred in Jessett's bedroom.
Ahmed Nadim, defending, said although Jessett pleaded guilty to eight sample counts, the disgraced ex-choirmaster admitted the actual acts of indecent assault numbered 20.
Jessett will be sentenced in March. He was granted bail on condition that he does not contact any prosecution witnesses or have any contact with anyone aged under 18 unless supervised by an appropriate adult.
Last night he was not at the home he shares with his mother, Edna, in Stockport. She said he would not want to speak about the case.
Jessett - a talented tenor and pianist who graduated from the Northern School of Music in Manchester - started the choir in 1981.
Against the odds he set up the choir, financially backed by Manchester city council. It achieved such high standards that it became the choir-in-residence when the prestigious Bridgewater Hall opened its doors.
But one of Jessett's former colleagues described him as a Jekyll and Hyde character.
The man, who does not want to be named, worked with the choir regularly in the early 1980s. He said: ''Jessett was a real Jekyll and Hyde.
''He frequently reduced boys to tears in rehearsals. The next minute he would change like the wind and be really charming.
''He was very autocratic and did not want anybody else's opinion on anything. Professionally, he had an amazing reputation.
''It was a power thing. Very often he would scream at the boys in the interval of a concert if he felt they had not sung well enough.
''He would refuse to tell the boys what they were going to sing until just a few minutes before the concert because he believed it kept them on their toes. He distanced himself from the boys and the choir. His home life was quite separate.
''The sad thing is that Adrian's life was so narrow. He used to go into schools but the only thing that has ever really interested him was his choir. There was never any sign of either girlfriends or boyfriends. He gave the impression of not wanting anyone to get to know him.''

['incog' quoted from Manchester Online]

Personally I enjoyed being a member of the choir, albeit in St. John Plessington from 78-83. I was even a founder member of Manchester Boys Choir.
However I will admit he was capable of amazing mood swings. I remember one music lesson, I wasn't attending flute lessons. He found out and instantly changed from being pleasant, to ranting and bullying.
Scary thought though.

{Paul C Ravenscroft]

I can't believe the lack of reaction out there. Is there no sense of outrage, or sympathy, or disbelief? Or did we all think this was going to happen one day, and we're stilll holding our breaths for the next shoe to drop?

I've thought long and hard before making this contribution to the APJ debate. A lot of this site is dedicated to the light hearted, and quite right too, I for one get enormous pleasure from both reading and contributing; it does, however, have the potential to serve a more serious purpose; so hear goes.
I've noted quite a few comments about the lack of reaction to the guilt of Adrian Jessett. I think, at least in part, this was because many of us were not too suprised that at least one of our former teachers should end up falling seriously foul of the law. I didn't really know Jessett that well, partly because I was crap at music and had dropped it as an option by the time he arrived at the school- from what I now know, I thank my lucky stars. I do feel. however, that he was part of a serious bullying culture within the school and that this reflected in the behaviour of both staff and pupils.
Whereas I can identify many individual teachers who inspired me, taught me with passion and imagination and guided me towards a degree of academic success (Richard Scrowston, Barney Quinn, Barry Thorpe and Jim McCabe spring immediately to mind), many others were viscious and intolerant. This reality is immediately apparent in the contents of the website, and not only on the Green Room page. Whether we were taught by monsters, or whether the system under which we were taught engendered monstrosity, I don't know, nor do I very much care; but I do think that there were strands of brutality that dominated the lives of many at the school. Hence, when true and deep perversion raises it's ugly head in the shape of Jessett, many of us are not that surprised.
When I talk about a culture of bullying, I'm afraid that, to a degree this relates to the behaviour of the pupils as well. It is easy to imagine reading this site that we have all come happily through the somewhat bizarre education that we received. This is probably true of those who have accessed and used the site, I'm not so sure that it is true of some who don't access it. I'll give you an example of what I'm talking about. There is one ex pupil with whom I am still in contact who will not access the site at all. The reason he gives for this is that he was so systematically bullied during his school life, by teachers and pupils alike, that he doesn't even want to see the names again, let alone attend reunions.
What I'm getting at, and I know it makes uncomfortable reading- also it isn't that easy to write about, is that for all the survivors who enjoy the site, there are others who experienced a bitter and miserable time. I know that for every happy memory of the school I have, I also have an unhappy one. I have no qualms in saying that the site has helped me readdress many of the more destructive things that happened to me and to friends whilst I was a pupil.
Perhaps if we are debating what should be done with any residual cash from the reunion, we could do worse that think about donating some of it to organisations that deal with bullying and/or it's aftermath, maybe that way we could use some of the pleasure that the St Augustines e-community has given to us to constructively address some of the issues that formed the darker side of the school.
In summary, I'm sorry if what I have written is out of kilter with much of the tone of the site. I have strong and fond memories of much of my school life and I celebrate that, but I also think that sometimes, the darker side needs to be addressed, so when I say I'm sorry, I mean it as a regret rather than as an apology. I promise my next contribution will be on a happier note. With that in mind, I still haven't forgotten the tingle caused by 150 drunks singing "For All the Saints" at the reunion.... on previous occasions when I sang that hymn there was only one drunk joining in and he was on the stage and he couldn't sing even when sober!

[John Gill]

I too have followed this site, and even made some contributions to it for a while. I've enjoyed reading your contributions, and I've enjoyed the aura surrounding the site: it's almost akin to the jubilation of survivors after a bombing raid. I write under a different name today, because what I say still has the power to cause me great pain.
I was bullied at Augustines. I would go to school feeling physically sick. Many of the teachers terrified me. And so did many of the boys. However, it was the boys who caused me the most physical pain. Looking back now I still feel incredible anger towards those boys, and towards a school culture that allowed such rampant bullying. I remember to my own shame going into my form room one morning and seeing the class louts circling and systemmatically kneeing a smaller boy until he was begging and in tears. I did nothing, except breathe a sigh of relief that today wasn't my turn.
Eventually, I got bigger, and actually had the satisfaction of beating the shit out of one of the class bullies - and so my time of victimization ended. However, I've harboured violent fantasies towards these other boys for the last 20 years.
What hurt me most about my time at Augustine's however, was that I was sexually molested by a member of the staff - not some-one previously mentioned on this site. On a school camping trip this male teacher poured alcohol into me (not being then an accomplished drinker it didn't take much), and when I was legless invited me into the back of his car, where he told me he had more booze. Certain fumblings took place. I passed out, and came to with this guy on top of me. I puked, which damped his ardour. He took me back to camp.
He left the next day. Back at school he warned me that if I told anyone he would embarass my parents, and that he would go to jail "and you wouldn't want that, because your parents would be very upset with you." This event shook me for the next decade, and changed my personality. I don't know how victims of systemmatic abuse survive. I started drinking and I drank my way through 6th form and university. I spent a few years in therapy. I've come to terms with everything - but I'd still like to piss on his grave.
I'm not looking for revenge. But everything was not rosy in the garden at STA. But I am what I am today in large measure because of STA - both good and bad.


To be uncharacteristically serious for a moment: Avid raises a serious point. I am sure a lot of things that happened at SA never saw the light of day and probably never will. However, the Jessett affair has the potential to open a whole can of worms. Maybe one that should be opened. However, before ANYBODY who did suffer at SA opens their hearts, however anonymously, to anyone over the Internet or by any other means, please ensure of their SA credentials. You can do this simply by asking questions that only an old boy would know. Expect a prompt and unequivocal response and throw in some red herrings. I have had some experience of the tabloid press and whereas I would probably bet that AVID is almost certainly on the level, I wouldn't put much past their ingenuity. If AVID is on the level he will understand your reticence and caution, but don't give names, years or phone numbers until you are satisfied. The webmaster may be able to issue reassurance as to his bona fides by indicating that e-mails have come from his IP address before (without indicating that IP address).
I believe these matters should be discussed, but I think it should be the choice of the individuals concerned.


I think that this is the most singularly intelligent contribution to this site that I have read. It comes the closest to straddling the inanity of the 'what ho, Jennings, shall we raid the tuck shop?' brigade that tends to dominate this site and the disaffection towards SA represented by myself among others.

My favourite recollection of APJ was 1977 and the History of Music "O" level paper. We had a mock where the music score was exactly the same as the real thing. Guess what I got a "B" !
We all passed which shows the mans' rampant arrogance and ambition. He was obviously in a "good" mood that day, a rare event.

[Ian Houghton]

It is sad that APJ's dedication to his job and probable inadequecies in his personal life has led to some harm to some youngsters... and the ending of the work of an impressive and influential person.
I thought he was both a tough and an effective teacher... I didn't look forward to his lessons, usually, as I was useless at music: I never was made to suffer for being a weak link in the class. The last lesson he ever gave to me (third year music) was brilliant... he started off seeming 'strict' and said that he was going to have a final go at enhancing our musical appreciation... We then had the joy of a Monty Python concert. He told me well after the Augustine years that when he taught us Geography (we all probably remember about Fez and the districts of New York) it was under protest as he had no knowledge of the subject!
A few years ago I met him working in Manchester Primary Schools: his control and effectiveness was outstanding - he was able to produce excellence from mediocrity. Also, through the Manchester Boys' Choir there are many who benefitted from his dedication and hard work over the years, and are quick to say so...
To me it is a two fold sadness: first, that somebody who was so effective and influential has not been able to have the balance in his life which would have prevented the harm to those with whom he was working, but also that his positive work has been brought to an end.

[Tony Lyons]

well well APJ : RIP - rot in prison
i recall the day he arrived in 1970 - a student teacher looking very like a young John Cleese, with a mild colleague called Mr Lever.
APJ was soon back as junior master pending the replacement of Dennison by Morris;
as said elsewhere, ETM was the better musician - APJ was an indifferent composer/ arranger, although he always boasted of his piano and violin techniques, and his membership of the Byrd Group as a tenor.
Days passed before all the boys realised he was a tyrant, but he also had a charming side; more relevant to his stature however was his talent - he brought a new life to the lacklustre singing under Dennibobs, and soon had groups in the local festivals, of which his mother was some sort of patron/ organiser.
The whole Jekyll and Hyde thing is right - the Jekyll side drawing on his achievements with the choirs - after all bright lights and applause are great stuff at any age, specially to teenagers from sometimes dull backgrounds; years ago i was discussing APJ with Chris Doran and we agreed that his popularity was due to what he did, never who he was; as a geography or maths teacher he would have sunk into history as a mean and nasty piece of work.
as the choirs went from strength to strength his reputation and ego grew - only Rick Scrowston could puncture his arrogance, as he frequently reminded apj of his humble beginnings at Stockport High and the Northern School of Music (" not even got a bloody degree")
APJ quit teaching c 1980 and founded the Manchester Boys Choir, and from the opening concert ("with their special guests, the Police Band" !) they rocketed to fame from the Town Hall to international tours( curiously accompanied by a social climber featured somewhere else on this web site, and with no legitimate reason for the freebies..) and recording contracts aplenty
I was asked to help out at a wedding service by a friend and member of his church choir at St James Gatley a couple of years after StAgs, and stayed on for a year or two, also seeing his Male Voice choir, the Irlcadians; he dropped these as Manchester Boys took off;
APJ never let his frosty reserve drop, even though I visited his home often with music samples for the choir, and as a guest later; he could never be persuaded to drink more than a half pint, and really never lightened up at all although he could be charming
We lost touch following a row at Manchester Cathedral - I'd asked him to attend a sort of choral music strategy meeting - during which he agreed to sing as a part time lay clerk (but never did); afterwards I made some remark about him being out of practice vocally and he blew up like the old teacher model - he couldn't deal with the fact that I reminded him i was in my twenties by then and stormed off; bastard still has some of my music...
I caught a couple of concerts over the years but although the sound was great, the sugary programme was pretty nauseating; a few years ago I heard he was badly off the rails, screaming four lettered abuse at the boys with sexual content in plenty; I though he would either get the push or an OBE, but things turned out differently
Was he a bastard in the school years? Was he bent then, or later?
Who knows, who cares - he had a bloody good lifestyle and has lost the lot for lust and arrogance and criminality; RIP APJ


Mr Jessett terrified me from Day 1 or was it Day 2? He was my tennis coach too. The Jekyll & Hyde comment in the article was perfect. I can remember the difference from the tennis court, after school, to that damn music room. James Mutch recently reminded me of a particularly torturous afternoon, when he made us all play our recorders one by one, never saying a word, just leaning back & staring at us disapprovingly.
My parents were shocked, when I actually stayed home one day just so I could avoid Mr Jessett. The next day in school I actually said I'd contracted a rare tropical eye disease, just so I wouldn't have to read a music sheet. When my parents found out the truth they were flabbergasted ... not Maths, not English, not Latin ... but Music, or more accurately, Mr Jessett was the reason I wanted to stay home.
Too weird ...

[Andrew Murphy]

Like "Incog" and other contributors, I too wonder what people really felt about APJ. I spent quite a long time after SA harbouring an incredible anger towards him and others like him. Having tried to come to terms with my experience there, it seems to me that whilst by any objective standards, a talented musician and teacher, Adrian Jessett amounted to little more than a sadistic opportunist who seemed dedicated to creating situations whereby he could ridicule and humiliate boys who could not meet whatever spurious demands he made of them. I can clearly remember instances when, in response to treatment meted out to my schoolmates, I wondered about his motives.
I once read a Guardian article covering the career of Anthony Chevenix- Trench, which pretty much reduced the erstwhile headmaster of Shrewsbury School to that of a "pederast". In my view, Jessett was no different. Reading Kevin O'Sullivan's account of his first minutes at SA, I was reminded of Jessett's predilection for isolating individuals, preparing a scenario in which they could do little to defend themselves, and punishing accordingly, sometimes publicly!
I am also mindful of others who seemed to pleasure themselves in the ridicule of minors: a maths teacher who operated a system of "punishments 1-10" (or something like that), meting out brutality which, I'm sure would not have seemed out of place in a steet brawl!
There were others, we all know, who made life a bit easier at SA, those who subtly opposed corporal punishment for instance (thanks to Tom Ingram), and those who believed that education was as much about respect, encouragement and dignity, as well as discipline.


as far as i'm concerned the only ppl hu need locking up r u small minded individuals hu find it so easy to stamp all over a persons name just coz they've dun sumthing wrong. Yea sure it was a terrible thing but let me tell u that man did not set out to ruin that boys life! think also not only of ur small insignificant selves but also of his family! his mum hu thanks to "AP" being sent to jail now has 2 sell her house and moove in with her daughter. Think also of ppl like me, a developing tennor hus voice was in the middle of changing. Jessett was a specialist in the area of a boys voice so im afraid comments like:
"Adrian Jessett amounted to little more than a sadistic opportunist who seemed dedicated to creating situations whereby he could ridicule and humiliate boys who could not meet whatever spurious demands he made of them. "
are really not apropriate. Oh yea and he only harmed one boy!! that man made a stupid mistake and hes paid for it by loosing 4 yrs of his life (id not be surprised if his mother died during those yrs)! hes lost his whole carea so i think u shud mind wot u say in future ok?!

The last I saw of Jessett was , believe it or not, on the telly.
The Manchester Boy's Choir were on the Children's Royal Variety Performance, some time in the late 80's
At the end of the programme Princess Margaret (remember her?) was being introduced to him.
Seeing the cold icy expressionless face (AJ not Princess Margaret)brought back a few unpleasant memories.
He was our form master in 2nd year.Once a year we had to have an interview with our form master.He used this as an opportunity to tell me how much he hated me. Fine, everybody has their own opinion, I thought, but he's only being paid to educate me.I found his attitude petty and un-professional.
We used to joke about this , but it really used to bug me inside.
I'm certainly not gloating about the recent developments which are tragic and terrible. But my sympathy is purely for the victim.
He's admitted to a terrible crime;he deserves whatever the state throw at him.

[Barny Booth]

Fair point, humiliation, that PE teacher with the Irish surname springs to mind , he delighted in humiliation. Enough to put you off sport for life, fine achievment for a PE teacher !
[Ian Houghton]

some well made points at last
of course apj was a bully and so too were those bloody awful pe staff - i remember our estimable webmaster being made to do bench situps in his underpants by mr chuckles mcilwaine, what a hoot or what....
trouble is, teenagers like to be liked, and want to make friends of adults, so they can be very forgiving
i used to despair of the miserable hours in "games", ignored for 95% of the time by the "teacher" and then ridiculed - despair not because of that, but because, once in a while they would do something popular or witty and everyone would say what a great bloke they were really -- well, no, I would say, in fact they are complete shits really and the odd jape doesn't change a thing
so with apj - yes, he could be very charming, and witty and had reflected allure from the performing - but he was also a bully and indulged in the art of fear; isn't that part of the horror of pederasty though - it's difficult to reconcile the good and the bad, to divorce the abuse from the achievements, so you end up feeling sick but also vaguely sad even though you would like to turn the lock and throw away the key on the man?


I still have the memory of being asked to *perform* situps on a bench at 45 degrees to the horizontal in front of the whole class. (I was and still am incapapable of doing a pressup even from horizontal).
[AFAIAA I did have my shorts on!]


The great tragedy about the Webmaster press up humiliation is that he "knows" that he still cannot perform a press up even from the horizontal... that suggests to me that he has spent the last 20 odd years practicing! Apart from conjuring all sorts of unwholesome visions, isn't this an illustration of the true impact of teacher bullying... the condemnation of an otherwise stable and worthy member of society to a lifetime of obsessive, furtive, physical jerks? Give it up Webmaster, you'll frighten your children!
[John Gill]

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