Former housemaster jailed over sexual abuse of young boys
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A former Scout leader and housemaster at a children’s home in Nottingham has been jailed for 26 years after a jury found him guilty of historic sexual abuse.
Steven McNally, now aged 67, abused five children between 1974 and 1979 when he worked at Nazareth House Children’s Home in Lenton, and as a Scout leader for the Bishop’s Own Troop, also in Nottingham.
A trial at Nottingham Crown Court heard he sexually abused five boys who were aged between 5 and 15 at the time.
McNally was extradited from his home in Ireland to face trial and jurors found him guilty on 24 of the 29 counts listed in the indictment.
He was found guilty of:
x11 counts of indecent assault on a child;
x7 counts of indecent assault on a child on no fewer than five occasions;
x3 counts of indecency with a child;
x2 counts of indecency with a child on no fewer than five occasions;
x1 count of buggery on a person under 16.
At his sentencing today (19 January), he was sentenced to 26 years in prison plus a one-year extended licence period. He was told he will serve a minimum 17 years before he can apply to the Parole Board to be released on licence.
The trial heard that the majority of the offences took place while McNally worked as a housemaster at Nazareth House, which was run by the Sisters of Nazareth Catholic order.
Four of the five victims resided at the children’s home, whilst a fifth victim was sexually abused by McNally after joining a scout group also run by the serial abuser. Nottinghamshire Police launched an investigation which led to a number of victims being identified.
The crimes went undetected until 2016, when the first victim came forward after watching a child sexual abuse storyline unfold on the ITV soap Emmerdale.
Police were told the victim joined a Scout Troop and was abused by McNally on camping trips from the age of 11, including in Crich and Tollerton. The court heard McNally was aged 18 at the time and carried out the abuse after entering the victim’s tent on repeated occasions.
The second victim told officers he had been having a rough time in the care home and had been beaten by the nuns. He said McNally was aware of the beatings and told the child that he would look after him and visit him in the night to make sure he was OK.
Instead, McNally repeatedly sexually abused the child, telling him not to tell anyone about what happened because if he did, bad things would happen.
The victim was aged around nine at the time and the abuse happened on the grounds of the children’s home as well as in McNally’s car.
Two further victims told police they were sexually abused from the ages of around five or six, with one telling officers McNally saw the boys at the home as his “play things” and that he would beat children as well as sexually abuse them.
The fifth victim told police McNally “stole his childhood” and that he abused him at Nazareth House as well as at a Nottingham address that was home to McNally’s parents.
Following the sentencing, Detective Constable Helen Sanders, who led the investigation, said:
“McNally was a manipulative sex offender who systematically targeted vulnerable boys over a period of six years.
“His victims were vulnerable children some of whom had difficult family backgrounds. As part of an institution tasked with helping to improve their lives, McNally was placed into a sacred position of trust that he then abused in the most appalling way imaginable.
“Until you have met and interviewed victims of childhood sexual abuse it is difficult to understand just how damaging these acts can be. These victims have all had to live with the burden of what happened to them as children and have in many cases experienced considerable challenges in their adult lives as a result.
“As they have struggled, McNally has enjoyed a full and productive life – hiding behind a shield of respectability as a former housemaster and scout leader. He refused to accept responsibility for his heinous crimes, forcing his victims to relive their ordeals at trial.
“Their resilience has been extraordinary. Each of them has acted with remarkable calm and dignity during this process and also displayed considerable courage in recounting their experiences to the court. I would like to pay tribute to them and thank them all on behalf of Nottinghamshire Police for making this prosecution possible.
“Years of diligent detective work has been invested in this prosecution, not only to bring McNally to justice, but also to provide a degree of closure to the victims. Sadly, one of them is no longer with us to see justice served, but I would like to give thanks to his family for their continued support, and hope this conviction brings them some comfort in his absence.
“Finally, I would like to reach out to other victims of historic sexual abuse. It really doesn’t matter how long-ago offences happened; what matters is that they happened at all. If you come to us with an allegation we will investigate, we will follow the evidence and we will bring criminal charges if we can.”