Ex-care home worker denies grooming

22 November 2018, 05:29 | Updated: 22 November 2018, 05:31

Chester Crown Court

A former social worker accused of using his connections to Manchester United to groom boys has denied abusing children in his care.

Bruce McLean, 62, is 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.

On 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 getting 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 particular, 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, buggery and attempted buggery.

The trial was adjourned to Thursday morning.