Children's home worker who used connections with Manchester United to sexually abuse youngsters jailed for 15 years

Predatory paedophile Bruce McLean used connections with Manchester United to sexually abuse youngsters at a care home in Whaley Bridge. Photo: Cheshire Police.
Predatory paedophile Bruce McLean used connections with Manchester United to sexually abuse youngsters at a care home in Whaley Bridge. Photo: Cheshire Police.

An ex-pupil of a Derbyshire children's home has told of the abuse he suffered at the hands of paedophile Bruce McLean after he was jailed for 15 years for abusing children as young as seven years old.

The dad has spoken out for the first time about the 'paedophile's paradise' after his abuser was finally brought to justice.

Former care worker McLean roamed the corridors of the Taxal Edge children's home in Whaley Bridge at night, picking out his victims for horrific abuse.

He was previously found guilty of 27 child sex offences against six boys who lived at the home along with another children's home in Cheshire.

McLean was told he had to serve half his 15-year sentence before being released on licence.

He was also placed on the Sexual offenders register for life.

Judge Patrick Thompson branded him an arrogant 'sexual predator'.

He told: "You treated these boys as your sexual playthings. You were young and friendly and groomed these boys with trips to Manchester United and furnished them with Adidas clothing to make them compliant.

"If that didn't work you would threaten them. this was the actions of a sexual predator. I can't imagine a greater breach of trust of a person who was in a position of such responsibility.
Your only concern being your own sexual gratification."

He said McLean - whose role was to care for vulnerable children - showed a 'complete lack of remorse' to any of his victims.

He said many boys had come from broken homes and were left 'bewildered. and in 'need of care and kindness' which McLean used took advantage of.

The judge added: "You stole their childhood, their innocence and by refusing to accept responsibility and forcing them to relive what you had done you finally stole their dignity. IT is clear you have no compassion or remorse for the damage you have caused. "

READ MORE: Former Whaley Bridge care worker who used Manchester United connections to groom victims found guilty of sex offences against vulnerable young boys

McLean is also facing four new charges in a trial next year.

The 63-year-old McLean used his connections with footballers at Manchester United to get victims into games and to 'buy their silence.' about abuse while working at the care homes in the 1970s to 1990s.

McLean worked at multiple children's homes as a residential officer including Kilrie in Knutsford, Cheshire, and Taxal Edge in Whaley Bridge, Derbyshire, and a care home in Lymm.

Incredibly at Taxal Edge , like McLean, paedophile football coach Barry Bennell later also become a care worker on the same site and went on to abuse boys there.

Both perverts used their links with Manchester United as part of their grooming process.

Now a father-of-three who was abused by McLean at Taxal Edge during his two years at the home in the late 1970s has bravely decided to speak out about his ordeal.

After a near-four decade wait for justice he is now pursuing the trust which ran the home at the time, which closed in 2004.

The man now in his 50s, and from Derbyshire - who has asked not to be named - said: "It was horrendous and a very scary place to be when you were a young lad.

"They could do what they wanted with impunity - there was no escape. They used to come in at night. Always night time. I will have to live with the effects of his abuse for the rest of my life but hopefully now his conviction will give me and the other victims some sort of closure."

The victim - whose evidence in court helped to get McLean jailed - was sent to the home as a nine-year-old boy after getting into trouble at his primary school.

He says he lived a "chaotic" life with a big family in a deprived area near to the home - and when he rebelled he was sent to the reform home.

The victim said it was ruled with an iron fist and a 'constant threat of violence' and when he tried to escape he said he was always brought back by police.

He added: "The teachers didn't seem to care if I was crying it just made them more angry. They forced me to box older boys and get beaten up and run through pitch black forests on my own. I was petrified I was just a kid. I tried to get away. But It was hopeless - there was no escape."

But he said as well as the physical abuse at the school there was also a much darker side.

He said McLean went out of his way to be "over friendly" with the pupils, acting like a relative.

The victim - now a health worker- said: " I didn't like him. He was very creepy and touchy feely all the time. Trying to act like he was your uncle or something."

McLean later started taking boys to the Manchester United training ground and showering them with free sport gifts which their parents could not afford.

The victim said McLean would often pretend to restrain him as an excuse to grope his genitals.

He said: "It was a perfect cover. He would restrain me for no reason. Then he would start groping me. I would start resisting and shouting and this would then give him the justification to restrain me further and grope me more. I had no chance as a nine year old against a grown man."

The victim also highlighted other depraved crimes which took place at the home during his stay - including one teaching prowling the rooms at night in white underpants seeking out victims.

But despite this he says he was the lucky one as often he was woken in the middle of the night with a pal and forced by McLean and other teachers to go to the gym and was locked in for hours on end.

He said: "It was a regular occurrence, a few times a month. They never said a word which made it more scary. We used to be in there for hours. It was well away from the rooms.

"I just thought at the time it was because we had been naughty. There was never any explanation. But now looking back me and my pal were a bit streetwise. So they were locking us in so they could abuse the more vulnerable kids."

Since leaving the school, his life has been plagued by drug addiction, prison and failed relationships as he struggled to blot out the memories.

He said: "I have night terrors and sweats and it has affected my relationships for most of my life."

Now he has turned his life around and is working as a health worker helping people suffering with addictions.

He is speaking out to encourage other victims to come forward.

"It's disgraceful that sort of thing went unchecked," he said. "We were just kids. These people were not only in charge of children and using them as sex objects but they were also getting paid for it. There was no way that you could have not known what was going on. I think those responsible for running the place must have just turned a blind eye."

In 1997 McLean was jailed for nine years for sexual abuse on boys at a care home.

At the time of his arrest he was also a helper at Cheshire- based children's charity The Adventure Farm Trust - a holiday haven for sick, disabled and disadvantaged children.

It was backed by celebrities including singer Phil Collins, actor Sir Michael Caine, former England football legend Bryan Robson and ex-England cricket captain Michael Atherton.

But It was not until January last year that he was finally charged for the abuse at Taxal after former pupils contacted police to say they were victims of historic sexual abuse.

He was originally investigated in 2013 but his case was reopened again in 2015 when more victims came forward.

McLean was accused of abuse at Taxal Edge children's home in Derbyshire from 1975-1978 and another children's home in Knutsford, Cheshire, between from 1979.

McLean, of Runcorn, Cheshire, was later found guilty of 19 charges of indecent assaults and other serious sexual offences against boys aged from seven to 14 between 1974-1991 in a trial in November 2018.

Another trial on 12 further charges in July this year led to eight more guilty verdicts. He was found not guilty on four charges.

During the trials it emerged he told one boy the abuse was 'better than what would happen to him at the hands of his stepfather."

He also bragged of 'burying a boy' in the grounds of a house to keep one victim quiet.

Detective Inspector Sarah Oliver, who was in charge of the investigation at Cheshire police, said: “I’d like to take this opportunity to praise the victims for their bravery; even more so as some had to experience reliving their trauma a second time due to the retrial.

“The impact of crimes like this on the victims should not be underestimated. They have had to live with memories of the abuse for many years and I truly hope that today’s result helps them in some way come to terms with their past.

“It took a lot of courage to get to the point of being able to talk fully about the abuse they had to endure and then to brave having to relive their abuse in the witness stand.

"Specialist officers supported them every step of the way so that they could tell their story and achieve the most important thing for any victim of such an atrocious crime - to be believed.

"For a vulnerable and frightened child who was scared to talk because they feared no one would believe them over an adult carer, this moment is so important despite the passage of time.

"They have finally been vindicated and are getting the justice they deserve.

“I hope that it helps give others – who may have suffered similar abuse and have not felt able to talk about it – the courage to come forward.”

Peter Garsden, head of abuse at Simpson Millar solicitors - branded the paedophile 'cold and callous' and urged other victims to come forward.

He has already successfully sued authorities over McLean in the past for abuse, gaining victims more than £100,000 in compensation and is now representing more victims.

“This is one of the most prolific offenders I have dealt with," he said. "He ruled the care homes he worked in by fear and abused with impunity for years.

"He is a cold, callous and calculating individual who knew just what to do to target vulnerable boys.

"There appears to have been plenty of opportunities that seem to have been missed that allowed him to carry on abusing boys in his care. We will be lodging legal claims on behalf of victims with the relevant authorities over the next few months.

"In my experience, in situations like this, I estimate there will be at least another hundred affected victims who are yet to speak out . But now they can come forward knowing they are not alone.

"Despite McLean being jailed today, this is not the end for the victims as they continue to suffer a life sentence. But hopefully it will bring a small sense of closure."

- Anyone looking for advice or help can contact Peter Garsden at https://www.simpsonmillar.co.uk/our-people/peter-garsden/