Pease Pottage priest denies historic offences

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A Roman Catholic priest from Pease Pottage has denied sexually abusing young boys at a children’s home in London.

Father Anthony McSweeney, 68, of Old Brighton Road, Pease Pottage, faces historic child sex charges involving boys at Southwark Crown Court.

The court heard McSweeney was close friends with John Stingemore, who was the manager of a care home in Hounslow, west London. Stingemore was found dead last month aged 72.

Last week, Sarah Plaschkes QC, prosecuting, said Stingemore also abused boys and provided McSweeney access to children at the care home.

On Monday (February 23), McSweeney, said he had photos of boys in his home because he yearned to be a father, despite having taken a vow of celibacy on joining the priesthood.

The priest wept as he told how his secret pornographic collection was discovered by his cleaner at his parish, St Peter’s in Leigh-on-Sea in Essex.

He also admitted being shown a child sex porn film by Stingemore but added that he asked Stingemore to turn it off.

Stephen Spence, defending, asked: “Did it concern you that a man who ran a children’s home might have a sexual interest in children?”

McSweeney said: “Then, no. It didn’t occur to me, I can’t answer why. I suppose I was a bit surprised, a bit shocked and I just got rid of it. I just blanked it out I guess. I didn’t give it any more thought. I’m desperately ashamed.”

Jurors heard Stingemore was convicted of sexually assaulting a boy who later committed suicide.

McSweeney is charged with taking indecent photographs or pseudo-photographs of a child, three counts of making indecent photographs or pseudo-photographs of a child, two counts of indecent assault on a boy under 16 years, and indecent assault on a boy under 14 years. He pleaded not guilty to all counts. The case continues.