Former Whaley Bridge care worker who used Manchester United connections to groom victims found guilty of sex offences against vulnerable young boys
One of the UK's leading child abuse lawyers says dozens of Derbyshire victims of twisted care worker Bruce McLean are yet to come forward.
Former care worker McLean roamed the corridors of the Whaley Bridge children's home Taxal Edge at night - picking out his victims for horrific abuse.
McLean was found guilty on Thursday at Chester Crown court of 19 indecent assault sex charges against school boys - some as young as seven - between 1975 and 1991 at two care homes including Taxal Edge.
The jury failed to reach verdicts on a further 14 charges which may be re-tried.
The 62-year-old, of Moore in Cheshire, worked at multiple children's homes as a residential officer.
He used his connections at Manchester United to groom his victims and later 'buy their silence' when he abused them in their rooms.
The court heard McLean knew players at United, including club legend goalkeeper Gary Bailey, and would take children from Kilrie 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 - but then McLean used this as a gateway to abuse.
He also bragged of 'burying a boy ' in the grounds of a house to keep one of his victims quiet.
Incredibly, in Taxal Edge home where McLean also worked, paedophile soccer coach Barry Bennell later also became a care worker and went on to abuse more victims.
Both used their connections at United's then training ground as part of their grooming process.
Now child abuse expert Peter Garsden – who is already representing multiple victims of abuse from Taxal and has won previous McLean victims damages and costs totalling £350,000 - says the number of latest victims were just the 'tip of the iceberg'.
He said there are likely to be dozens more victims across the county who are yet to come forward.
Peter – head of abuse law at Simpson Millar solicitors - said: “This is just the tip of the iceberg.
"This care worker repeatedly targeted the most vulnerable. He ruled with impunity for nearly three decades. With the amount of ex-pupils who gave evidence against him shows how prolific an offender he actually was. Also I know his history having sued him before. I estimate there to be dozens more victims across Derbyshire who were sexually abused by this man.
"In my experience in cases where abuse takes place in an institution, the chances of the incidents being this isolated are extremely slight. These type of offenders have usually abused many more children over the years.
"Many of the victims are now in their fifties with families of their own and have been living with this guilty secret all their lives. But now that there has been justice in court they can start planning their future with some closure. And for others there is a chance to take action for what he has done to them. It is time to stop suffering in silence.
“If anyone else knows anything about the case or was at either of the homes, I am appealing for them to come forward. We can help victims get the specialist care and advice they need to cope with the Abuse long term. This cruel individual has now got his comeuppance and it is time for victims to heal past wounds at the hands of this cruel individual."
McLeans reign of terror at Taxal edge lasted from 1975-1978.
He later helped found the Cheshire-based children's charity the Adventure Farm Trust to transform a derelict farm into 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 McLean was later suspended in 1995 after trustees of the charity were informed of a police investigation into him which two years later saw him jailed for nine years.
In January this year ex-firefighter McLean was charged after ex-pupils at two homes contacted police to say they were victims of historic sexual abuse.
He was originally investigated in 2013 but his case we opened again in 2015 when more victims came forward.
McLean was accused of abuse at Taxal Edge children's home in Derbyshire between 1975-1978 and Kilrie children's home in Knutsford, Cheshire between 1980-1991.
He was found guilty today of 19 indecent sexual assault charges against young boys aged between seven and 14 between 1975-1991.
During the trial it emerged he told one boy the abuse was 'better than what would happen to him at the hands of his stepfather'.
He would showers the boys with free sportswear and trips to Manchester United's then training ground and then molest them afterwards.
Anyone looking for advice or help can contact Peter Garsden at www.simpsonmillar.co.uk