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Paedophile ‘used Man Utd players’ to abuse boys he ‘picked’ from children’s homes

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Boys as young as seven were groomed by a care worker who used his connections to Manchester United to repeatedly sexually abuse vulnerable children.

Bruce McLean roamed corridors of children’s homes and picked out children to abuse, often using his connections with the football team to “buy their silence.”

Chester Crown Court had previously heard McLean knew United players and would take budding footballers to training sessions at The Cliff ground.

It was alleged McLean gifted the boys free sportswear and trips and molested them afterwards.

Chester Crown Court had previously heard McLean knew Manchester United players (Image: GETTY)

The 63-year-old abused his victims over a near 20-year period between the mid 1970s and early 1990s.

McLean was found guilty of 27 child sex offences against six boys in two separate trials and faces a further trial next year for four new charges.

The former fireman was jailed for 15 years, and was told he had to serve half the sentence before being released on license.

McLean will also be place on the Sexual Offenders register for the rest of his life.

Judge Patrick Thompson said: “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.

“These were the actions of a sexual predator.

“I can’t imagine a greater breach of trust of person who was in a position of such responsibility.

“Your only concern being your own sexual gratification.”

Judge Thompson said McLean showed a complete lack of remorse (Image: Runcorn Weekly News)

Judge Thompson said McLean showed a complete lack of remorse to any of his victims.

He said: “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.”

One of McLean’s victims who was abused by him in the late 1970s has spoken out about his ordeal.

The victim, now a dad of three, was sent to a children’s home McLean worked at when he was 9.

He claims the home was ruled under a “constant threat of violence” and if he escaped, would always be brought back by police.

He said: “It was a horrendous, a very scary place to be as a child and there was no escape.

“They could abuse you and do what they wanted with impunity.

“It’s disgraceful, that sort of thing went unchecked. 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.

“I have to live with the effects of his abuse for the rest of my life, but hopefully now this sentence will give me and other victims some sort of closure.”

The victim told the court McLean would often wake him in the night (Image: GETTY)

The victim, who lives in Cheshire gave evidence against McLean which helped jail him.

He said the predator would fondle him while pretending to restrain him in front of other children.

Describing the ordeal, he said: “It was the perfect cover. He would restrain me for no reason. Then he would start groping.

“I would start resisting and shouting and this would excite him and give him the justification he needed to restrain me further and grope me more.

“I had no chance as a nine-year-old against a grown man. We were just kids – it’s disgusting.”

The victim told the court McLean would often wake him in the night and lock him and another boy in the gym while others were abused.

He said: “It was a regular occurrence, a few times a month. We used to be in there for hours.

“Me and my pal were a bit streetwise so they were looking us in so they could abuse the more vulnerable kids.”

Opening up about the effects of the abuse on his life, he said he has been plagued by drug addiction, flashbacks, depression and faced prison.

He said: “I have night terrors and sweats and it has affected all my relationships.”

After a long battle, the victim says he has turned his life around and now helps people suffering with addiction.

Bruce McLean arriving at Chester Crown Court (Image: Runcorn Weekly News)

Peter Garsden, head of abuse at Simpson Millar solicitors, branded McLean a “cold and callous” paedophile and urged others to come forward.

Mr Garsden has successfully sued authorities over McLean in the past, securing £100,000 in compensation for some victims.

He said: “This is one of the most prolific offenders I have dealt with.

“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 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 100 affected victims who are yet to speak out and many of these will be in the Cheshire area.

“But now they can come forward knowing they are not alone.”