Priest ‘abused vulnerable boys’


Published: Monday 16th February 2015 by The News Editor

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A Roman Catholic priest sexually abused vulnerable boys with the manager of a care home, a court has heard.

Father Anthony McSweeney, 68, is on trial over alleged historic sexual abuse at a children’s home in Hounslow, west London.

The charges came following an investigation into alleged abuse at Grafton Close Children’s Home.

The jury of seven men and five women at Southwark Crown Court was told that the defendant was close friends with John Stingemore, who managed the home between 1979 and 1981.

He was found dead last month aged 72.

Sarah Plaschkes QC, opening the case for the prosecution, said that Stingemore would have been in the dock alongside McSweeney if he was still alive.

She told the court that Stingemore took his “favourites” from the care home to his seaside property in Bexhill, East Sussex, during weekends.

One of the victims in the case was taken to the coastal home with another boy – who is not part of the indictment and later killed himself – and the priest, the court heard.

Ms Plaschkes said when they arrived they were told to “have a shower and dress smartly”, before they were each taken upstairs by the men.

The alleged victim was forced to listen to “screams, shouts and crying” after the other boy went first, the prosecutor said.

She then described what happened when it was the turn of the alleged victim.

“Mr McSweeney told (the boy) to go upstairs,” she said.

“Mr McSweeney and Mr Stingemore were in the room.

“(The boy) was told to take his clothes off. He had no choice but to do as he was told.

“Mr McSweeney removed the robe that he was wearing – he was naked underneath – and he went over to (the boy) and hugged him and laid him down on the floor on his back.

“He said to Mr Stingemore ‘leave us’.

“Mr McSweeney then touched and rubbed (the boy’s) body. (He) was scared, he was frightened and was crying.

“Eventually Mr McSweeney ejaculated onto (the boy’s) chest. During the course of that Mr Stingemore came back and stood watching with his hands in his pockets, appearing to play with his genitals.”

The court heard that on other occasions the boy was tied to a bed by Stingemore, who then stroked his genitals and smacked his bottom.

The jury was told that a second victim was abused at the care home when McSweeney pulled down his trousers and underwear before masturbating him until he had an erection.

Ms Plaschkes said: “Mr McSweeney used his body to overpower (the boy).”

The priest is then alleged to have produced a camera and started taking photographs of the boy.

The prosecutor added: “Afterwards he said something along the lines of ‘This is just between us, don’t you be telling anyone else’.”

A third victim alleges that the defendant, who was known as the “fat vicar”, watched as Stingemore touched his testicles and buttocks as he showered at the care home.

This happened more than once and was done “for the sexual gratification of both men acting together”, the jury was told.

The court was told of how McSweeney told another boy “don’t forget to wash under the foreskin” as he showered at an event for cub scouts.

The defendant is not being prosecuted over the incident, but the person’s recollection of events is being used to support the case against him.

Ms Plaschkes said that in 1998 a cleaner found a video with indecent images in his home, and more were found on his laptop after his arrest in 2013.

Stingemore, whose body was found at his home in Stonehouse Drive, St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex, was described by the prosecutor as a control freak.

She said: “He was very good at picking on people’s weaknesses.

“As officer in charged he knew the backgrounds of each of the children in the home.

“He would have been aware of which of the boys were particularly vulnerable.”

McSweeney, of Old Brighton Road North, Pease Pottage, West Sussex, listened to proceedings with the aid of a hearing loop in the dock.

The defendant wore a black suit, white shirt, red patterned tie and red pocket square, and struggled to his feet with the aid of a walking stick as the charges were read out.

He denies four counts of indecent assault, three of making indecent images of a child and one of taking indecent images of a child.

The trial is expected to last for two weeks.

Published: Monday 16th February 2015 by The News Editor

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