‘One of the lads’ was abuser, court is told

Runcorn & Widnes Weekly News - - Front Page -

end of the trial ju­rors will be ‘en­ti­tled to con­clude that he was groom­ing the chil­dren, earn­ing their ad­mi­ra­tion and af­fec­tion so that they more read­ily tol­er­ated his abuse, were less likely to re­port him and were likely to have very mixed feel­ings’.

She said McLean used ‘threats’ to keep the boys quiet, in­clud­ing telling one of them that ‘what­ever was hap­pen­ing at Taxal Edge was bet­ter than what would hap­pen at home’.

An­other was warned that if he said any­thing he ‘could end up like an­other boy buried in the grounds’, the pros­e­cu­tor said, adding that this was a ‘high tale’ with no sugges­tion of a real ba­sis.

McLean faces 33 counts of sex­ual abuse in­clud­ing in­de­cent as­sault and se­ri­ous sex­ual as­sault in­volv­ing pen­e­tra­tion and other non-con­sen­sual sex acts.

Some of the charges re­late to mul­ti­ple in­stances of abuse over a pe­riod of time.

His al­leged vic­tims’ ages ranged from seven to 14 years old.

The pros­e­cu­tor said the case came to light af­ter com­plainants came for­ward over time, re­sult­ing in Op­er­a­tion Oc­tant af­ter the num­ber of al­le­ga­tions con­tin­ued to grow from 2014 on­wards.

Miss Whyte said some of the boys in the case, now adults, have taken civil ac­tion for com­pen­sa­tion against the lo­cal au­thor­i­ties who placed them in McLean’s care.

She said the young­sters were ‘im­pres­sion­able’ and ‘vul­ner­a­ble’ chil­dren in care, and some had al­ready ex­pe­ri­enced vi­o­lent or sex­ual abuse, but chil­dren’s home ‘house fa­ther’ McLean would be­tray his trust by abus­ing them in lo­ca­tions such as dor­mi­to­ries, bath­room, duty of­fice, in the car or on school trips.

Clos­ing her case open­ing, Miss Whyte said: “The Crown says that at the time they were abused, they were very vul­ner­a­ble.

“They were en­trusted to adults such as Bruce McLean. As young peo­ple, their re­la­tion­ship with au­thor­ity could be dif­fi­cult and chal­leng­ing in any event – who would be­lieve such chil­dren back then – their word against the de­nials of a care worker.

“You may well ev­i­dence that some of these wit­nesses did not cope well in adult life and did not al­ways be­have well in adult life them­selves.

“Not ev­ery court case is about wit­nesses who get ev­ery­thing right – court cases are about real life and real peo­ple.

“Some have strug­gled to lead emo­tion­ally healthy lives and you may hear ev­i­dence about how a fear of be­ing dis­be­lieved mo­ti­vated the long pe­ri­ods of si­lence.

“And that is why you’re here, you’re here to lis­ten to their ev­i­dence and we say, to be sat­is­fied so that you are sure that Bruce McLean sex­u­ally vi­o­lated these wit­nesses and vi­o­lated any trust that they could have in him and in those in au­thor­ity.”

The jury of eight women and four men also heard that McLean had been con­victed in May 1997 of in­de­cent as­sault against nine boys and one girl over al­leged abuse at Kil­rie.

McLean de­nies all charges and the court heard he main­tains his in­no­cence in con­nec­tion with his pre­vi­ous set of con­vic­tions.

The trial is ex­pected to last three to four weeks.

Anne Whyte QC and An­drew Green QC ap­pear for the prose­cu­tion, Michael Hay­ton QC and Vic­to­ria Hay­ton QC for the de­fence.

His Hon­our Judge Pa­trick Thomp­son pre­sides.

Pro­ceed­ing. ●

Bruce McLean ar­riv­ing at Ch­ester Crown Court this week

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