Abuse accused 'used Manchester United connections'

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image captionThe court heard Bruce McLean was in a position of trust for the vulnerable children at the homes

A children's home worker accused of sexually assaulting boys used his connections with Manchester United to "buy a form of silence", a court heard.

Bruce McLean, 62, was friends with footballers and would take his alleged victims to the club's training ground as a "treat".

The alleged abuse happened when he worked at homes in Whaley Bridge, Derbyshire, Knutsford, Cheshire.

He denies 33 offences against boys aged seven to 14 between 1974 and 1991.

Anne Whyte, prosecuting at Chester Crown Court, said Mr McLean was liked and trusted by the "impressionable young children" in his care.

Treats and gifts

She told the jury one complainant recalled the defendant's close connections with Manchester United.

She 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."

One alleged victim described being abused in Mr McLean's accommodation after being taken to watch a training session.

The court heard another complainant described being taken in his car to the grounds of a large house in Nantwich where he was abused and warned if he said anything he could end up "like another boy buried in the grounds".

Ms Whyte said the alleged abuse took place when Mr McLean worked at the Taxal Edge Children's Home in Whaley Bridge from 1975 to 1978 and then at Kilrie Children's Home in Knutsford from 1979.

He was convicted of 10 counts of indecent assault in 1997 following an investigation into Kilrie, but has maintained his innocence and denied ever being attracted to children.

Mr McLean, of Moore, Cheshire, is charged with indecent assault, buggery and attempted buggery.

The trial, expected to last for up to four weeks, continues.

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