Trial date set for pensioner accused of abusing boys

A PENSIONER from St Leonards and a priest accused of sexually abusing boys more than 30 years ago will stand trial in February next year.

John Stingemore, 72, of Stonehouse Drive, and Father Tony McSweeney, 67, allegedly assaulted the youths at Grafton Close Children’s Home in Hounslow, west London.

McSweeney – who officiated at the 1990 wedding of boxing legend Frank Bruno and his former-wife, Laura – was a trainee priest at the time of the alleged attacks.

The once part-time chaplain at Norwich City Football Club was leading the congregation at St George’s Church in north Norwich when the claims against him emerged.

Both pensioners are accused of targeting children while Stingemore was working at the council-run home between February 1980 and July 1981.

The allegations relate to six victims aged 15 and under.

McSweeney denies taking an indecent photograph of a child and two counts of indecent assault on a male person in the 1980s.

He further denies three counts of making indecent photographs of a child.

He also denies a further count of possessing indecent images which were allegedly found on a Dell laptop in January and February last year.

Stingemore denies five counts of indecent assault on a male person, indecency with a child and taking an indecent photograph of a child.

A trial fixed for April 29 earlier this year was delayed due to Stingemore, who is wheelchair bound, suffering from health problems.

Southwark Crown Court heard he is now fit to stand trial.

Judge Alistair McCreath fixed the trial for February 2 next year.

It is expected to last a month. McSweeney, of Brighton Road North, Pease Pottage, West Sussex, and Stingemore, did not attend the brief hearing at Southwark Crown Court last Friday (June 27).