Death of pensioner accused of sex offences formally announced

Pictured: John Stingemore at Southwark crown court on a previous court appearance
Pictured: John Stingemore at Southwark crown court on a previous court appearance
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The death of a pensioner from St Leonards 18 days before he was due to stand trial for historic sex offences was formally announced in court today (MON).

John Stingemore, 72, was accused of sexually abusing boys at Grafton Close Children’s Home in Hounslow, west London.

He was due to stand trial at Southwark Crown Court with priest Father Tony McSweeney, 67, on February 2.

McSweeney is accused of targeting children while wheelchair-bound Stingemore was working at the council-run home between February 1980 and July 1981.

Prosecutor at Southwark Crown Court, Sarah Plaschkes QC, said today: “We have received information that on January 14, just a couple of days ago, Mr Stingemore passed away.”

Judge Alistair McCreath replied: “The court having received the correct certificate of death in relation to a man known to be John Stingemore, the defendant in this case, it is ordered that the indictment is endorsed and is declared now of no legal effect.”

Stingemore and McSweeney were due to stand trial on February 2 over charges including indecent assault and taking indecent photographs of children.

Police were called to Stingemore’s address in Stonehouse Drive at 3.18pm last Wednesday (January 14).

Stingemore was found collapsed and declared dead at the scene.

His death is not being treated as suspicious.

Last September a medical report was requested of Stingemore by his counsel who was in remission from cancer and had survived eight strokes.

Stingemore originally denied four counts of indecent assault on a male person, one of taking an indecent photograph of a child and one of attempting to take an indecent photograph of a child.

McSweeney, a trainee priest at the time of the allegations, denied two counts of indecent assault on a male person and one count of taking an indecent photograph of a child in the 1980s.

He further denied three counts of making indecent photographs of a child which were allegedly found on a Dell laptop in January last year.

McSweeney, of Old Brighton Road North, Pease Pottage, West Sussex, remains on unconditional bail ahead of his trial which is now set to begin on February 16.