Ex-so­cial worker de­nies groom­ing

Runcorn & Widnes Weekly News - - Front Page - BY ELEANOR BAR­LOW run­corn­wid­nes­[email protected]­i­tymir­ror.com @Wid­nesFun­cornWN

JU­RORS have been sent out to con­sider their ver­dicts over a for­mer so­cial worker from Moore near Run­corn ac­cused of 33 counts of non­re­cent child abuse.

Bruce McLean, 62, of Run­corn Road, Moore had de­nied abuse and de­nied us­ing his con­nec­tions to Manch­ester United to groom boys in his care.

McLean was ac­cused of child sex of­fences against eight boys, aged be­tween seven and 14, while work­ing at chil­dren’s homes Taxal Edge, in Der­byshire, and Kil­rie, in Cheshire, be­tween 1974 and 1991. At time of writ­ing, ju­rors were con­sid­er­ing their ver­dicts but last Wed­nes­day, he told a jury at Ch­ester Crown Court the abuse had not hap­pened.

He did not re­call any of the com­plainants and re­peat­edly an­swered ‘no, I did not’ when al­le­ga­tions of abuse were put to him by Michael Hay­ton QC, de­fend­ing.

The court heard he knew play­ers at Manch­ester United, in­clud­ing goal­keeper Gary Bai­ley, and would take chil­dren from Kil­rie, in Knutsford, to train­ing ses­sions at The Cliff ground.

He said Mr Bai­ley had come up with the idea to visit the home, along with other foot­ballers, as a way to stop the chil­dren be­ing bul­lied at school.

He said: “All the kids at Kil­rie were invit­ing their school­mates and all of a sud­den they’ve got friends. It worked and it worked re­ally well.”

When asked by Anne Whyte QC, pros­e­cut­ing, if he knew trips to Manch­ester United would be ‘thrilling’ for the chil­dren, he agreed, but said other mem­bers of staff at the home would also take them.

Ms Whyte said: “You, in par­tic- ular, de­signed these trips in or­der to grat­ify chil­dren?” He replied: “Not at all.” McLean said all the staff at Kil­rie would give the chil­dren sports kit which was do­nated by the Um­bro fac­tory.

He also de­nied tak­ing chil­dren from the Taxal Edge home in Wha­ley Bridge for trips in his car and hav­ing a blue flash­ing light which he placed on the car roof.

Asked why he thought eight men had made al­le­ga­tions against him, McLean said: “I be­lieve money may be an el­e­ment, as to spec­u­lat­ing as to why peo­ple are say­ing what they’re say­ing, claim­ing what they’re claim­ing and giv­ing from this wit­ness box what they are giv­ing, I re­ally can’t do that.”

The court heard McLean had been con­victed of a num­ber of child sex of­fences in 1997. ●

When asked if he ad­mit­ted those of­fences, he replied: “No, I do not.”

Ms Whyte sug­gested he took op­por­tu­ni­ties when they pre­sented them­selves be­cause he was ‘sex­u­ally at­tracted to ado­les­cent and younger boys’. He replied: “That’s not true.” The court heard McLean had joined the fire ser­vice af­ter leav­ing school but left due to in­jury and, af­ter vol­un­teer­ing with chil­dren from a home as a coach at Mac­cles­field Har­ri­ers ath­let­ics club, had got a job as ‘house fa­ther’ at Taxal Edge in 1975 when he was 19. He worked there un­til 1978 when he left with the hope of fur­ther­ing his ca­reer in so­cial work and took up a post at Kil­rie in 1979.

He stayed at the home un­til 1990, when he left to be­come pro­ject direc­tor of res­i­den­tial fa­cil­ity the Ad­ven­ture Farm.

McLean, of Run­corn Road, Moore, Cheshire, de­nies 33 of­fences of in­de­cent as­sault, se­ri­ous sex­ual as­sault and at­tempted se­ri­ous sex­ual as­sault.

Bruce McLean

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