Bruce McLean, 62 is a former care worker at Taxal Edge Children’s Home in Whaley Bridge between 1975 and 1978 and at Kirlie Children’s Home in Knutsford from 1979 faces charges of child sexual abuse. The Chester Crown Court has heard that McLean “used his connections with Manchester United to buy a form of silence.”
McLean has been charged with 33 offences against boys aged 7 to 14 years between 1974 and 1991. It is alleged that the offences were committed whilst he worked at the homes and also at Rosebank in Lymm where his father had worked.
The offences including indecent assault and serious sexual assault involving penetration and other non-consensual sex acts, with some of the charges relating to multiple abuse over a period of time.
McLean was convicted in May 1997 of indecent assault against nine boys and one girl over alleged abuse at Kilrie Children’s Home.
The jurors, eight women and four men, heard that McLean had “connections” with Manchester United and was friends with footballers. It is alleged that he would take his victims to the training ground as a treat.
The prosecutor Anne Whyte told the Court that one victim had said;
“McLean, he says, would take the boys to the Cliff training ground and to visit a factory where he got sportswear to give to some of the pupils. Looking back now, he feels as though these treats and gifts were cynically designed to buy a form of silence from those he abused”
He would buy the victims gifts including cigarettes and records and take them out in his car.
The Court also heard how McLean conducted his abuse in accommodation after taking a victim to watch a training session, in his car and at his accommodation at Taxal Lodge.
Anne Whyte QC said “McLean cultivated an image among the boys in his care as ‘one of the lads’ and as ‘approachable and outgoing’”
The Court heard witnesses say, “he wore sportswear, and they recalled that ex-fireman McLean would put a blue flashing light on the roof of his car ‘before driving in a way to impress the boys’”.
It is alleged that McLean would threaten the boys by telling them that:
“whatever was happening at Taxal Edge was better than what would happen at home’ and that “he ‘could end up like another boy buried in the grounds.”
One complainant broke down in the witness box whilst giving evidence. He told the jury: “I was a child, you know, I looked up to him.”
Ms Whyte said:
“This case is about the sexual mistreatment of children by a man tasked with protecting them. If you decide at the end of the case that is the sort of conduct Mr McLean indulged in you are entitled to conclude that he was, as we would now say, grooming the children – earning their admiration and affection so that they more readily tolerated the abuse that he would impose upon them, so they were less likely to report him and were likely to have very mixed feelings about him.”
McLean has denied the charges against him and has always maintained his innocence over his previous convictions.
The trial which is expected to last a period of 4 weeks continues.
Jordans Solicitors represent victims who have suffered abuse whilst in children’s home and whilst participating in sporting activities. Where a person abuses their position of trust and commits an act of assault a claim may be possible. We would encourage anyone affected to report their allegations to the Police and contact Jordans Solicitors to pursue a civil case. You can contact our specialist child abuse compensation team free on 033 03001 103 or request a call back and we’ll be in touch to discuss your claim.