Priest faces four charges of indecently assaulting boys at children’s home in Richmond
By Tim Wood | 16 February 2015
“The trial at Southwark crown court is expected to last a fortnight”
Priest Tony McSweeney is due to go on trial today charged with child sex abuse at a children’s home in the London borough of Richmond.
McSweeney, 68, is accused of four charges of indecently assaulting three boys under the age of 16 at Grafton Close children’s home between 1979 and 1981, and four counts that relate to indecent images of a child.
McSweeney, of Pease Pottage, West Sussex, worked part-time at as a priest at Grafton Close.
He is also alleged to have taken an indecent photograph of a boy under 16 between 1979 and 1981, and to have made indecent images of a child on or before January 2013.
He is a former part-time chaplain at Norwich City football club and officiated at the 1990 wedding of Frank Bruno, the former world heavyweight boxing champion, and his former wife, Laura.
McSweeney was charged under ‘Operation Fernbridge’, which is being run by the Metropolitan Police Service’s paedophile unit. He denies the charges.
The trial at Southwark crown court is expected to last a fortnight.
Operation Fernbridge has also been investigating allegations that boys were sexually assaulted at Elm Guest House, which operated near to Grafton Close children’s home in south-west London. Both places have since closed and been turned into flats.
John Stingemore, who used to run Grafton Close children’s home, was due to stand trial alongside McSweeney. Stingemore was accused of 11 charges, mostly of sexually assaulting boys.
Two of Stingemore’s charges, including one of buggery of a boy, related directly to Elm Guest House. But Stingemore died last month, leaving McSweeney to stand trial alone.
Exaro disclosed last week that, in a separate strand of Operation Fernbridge, police have been asking alleged visitors to Elm Guest House whether they had ever visited the venue. Detectives were planning to contact Lord Brittan, former home secretary, before his death, as well as three other living former Conservative MPs, two pop stars and several senior public officials, to ask whether they had been to the guest house.
Brittan was buried last month in an unmarked grave. There were fears of vandalism because, as Exaro revealed, the Met was investigating Brittan at the time of his death over multiple allegations of sexually abusing boys.
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