Men in court over 1960’s abuse allegations at Shefford children’s home

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Two elderly men appeared at court this morning to answer historical allegations of abuse against boys while working at St Francis’ Children’s Home in Shefford.

James McCann, 79, and John Christopher Cahill, 73, appeared at Luton Magistrates Court where the allegations of abuse were put to them.

The court heard how both Mr McCann and Mr Cahill were lay members of staff at the home, which was run primarily by nuns and religious clerics.

Mr McCann was involved in the day-to-day care of boys at the home between 1966 and 1974. He has pleaded not guilty to 66 charges, 17 of them sexually-related, from 25 complainants.

The court was told much of the abuse claims related to physical harm, with Mr McCann accused of striking boys with sticks and leather belts, and clapping against both sides of their ears - causing intense pain.

Mr Cahill, 73, was a scout leader at the home between 1965 and 1967. He faces six charges of indecent assault from four complainants. He entered no plea.

Both men will appear at Luton Crown Court on 22 December for the preliminary hearing of their trial.