A Judge has told the victims of a paedophile choirmaster that he had ‘thwarted justice’ by committing suicide the day before he was due to stand trial.

Adrian Carpenter took his own life on October 9, just hours before he was due to appear at Exeter Crown Court accused of abusing young boys in Devon and Cornwall in the 1980s and 2018.

Judge David Evans said it was astonishing that Carpenter was able to move to the South West and obtain work as a choirmaster within months of being released from a one year three month sentence for indecently assaulting boys.

Carpenter carried out the earlier assaults while working as a housemaster at a boarding school in Gloucestershire during the mid-1980s.

One of his victims said after the case that Carpenter was calculating and manipulative and that he had warned the police that he would cheat justice by taking his own life.

He said it was a scandal that Carpenter had been taken on as a paid employee of the church, who should have known about his previous convictions and jail sentence.

His next set of offences, against five boys aged seven to 12, were all committed while he was working as a choirmaster in Cornwall between 1986 and 1992. His final two sexual assaults were against a boy aged 11 to 12 after he moved to East Devon.

Carpenter, aged 75, of Elm Farm Lane, Colyford, had been due to be tried on 17 allegations of indecent or sexual assault or incitement. The court was told of his death on the Tuesday October 10, which was due to be the first day of his trial.

He had previously attempted suicide by jumping off a 60-foot high cliff at Axmouth, near Seaton, after he was interviewed by police in 2020. He was rescued by Coastguards and airlifted to hospital.

Three of his victims attended a short hearing at Exeter Crown Court by remote link. Judge Evans declared the case closed and the indictment to be no longer active but then addressed the victims.

He said: “It is probably right to explain that because criminal proceedings are brought against an individual person, the law says that the death of that person brings them to an immediate end.

“Therefore Mr Carpenter’s suicide has thwarted these proceedings and prevented justice from running its course through to trial. His only convictions remain that for indecent assaults committed against boys in his care when he was working as a housemaster in Gloucestershire, for which he received 15 months imprisonment.

“It does seem rather astonishing that a man with that offending history should, just one year afterwards, have obtained employment as a choirmaster, but that is what happened.”

One of Carpenter’s victims, who was abused when Carpenter was a choirmaster in East Devon in the 1980s, said he was shocked and angry at learning of his previous convictions for the first time.

He said: “He was so calculating and manipulative that I warned the police he would take his life before a trial but they said they could not keep him in custody.

“I am very angry and frustrated that he was able to get a job as a choirmaster. I had no idea about his past until today and I think it is an absolute scandal. The church must have known, his family must have known.

“He abused me on countless occasions but I did not come forward until I read that he was being prosecuted. He was very controlling and hid behind the church and behind God. He would talk to my Mum about the church and the Bible.

“He said he would bring me home after choir practice but then start disgusting games which proved to be an excuse for his fiddling. He was touching me.

“He was employed by the church as a choir master. He was a piano tuner, which is how my parents became involved with him. He came to tune our piano and suggested I join the choir.”