- One victim complained to the police about the abuse but passed away in 2020
One of the late Queen’s former vergers is facing prison after he admitted sexually assaulting a teenage boy at his flat and another on the day of his grandmother’s funeral.
‘Vile predator’ Clive McCleester, 77, served at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle and supervised visitors to the Queen Mother’s tomb.
McCleester appeared at Inner London Crown Court yesterday and admitted eight counts of indecent assault and two counts of gross indecency with a child.
One of the boys was abused by McCleester on the day of his grandmother’s funeral, while the former church official was working as a welfare officer at a Tylney Hall School in Hampshire.
He served as a welfare officer at school between 1960 and 1971 and also lived there.
A chorister at Southwark Catherdral was also preyed upon when McCleester was working as a verger, which is an official who assists in the ordering of religious services.
McCleester had been assigned to look after the first victim after the death of his grandmother and abused him between 1 January 1969 and April 1971.
The victim complained to the police about the abuse after speaking with a counsellor but passed away in 2020.
The second victim was abused between January 1984 and May 1987 while McCleester was working as head verger at Southwark Cathedral.
He abused the chorister at his flat in the vicarage.
Police reviewed historical documentation, archive files and employment records to trace witnesses.
Detective Sergeant Hannah Stewart, from the Met’s Central Specialist Crime unit, said today: ‘This has been a long and arduous investigation with McCleester maintaining his innocence throughout.
‘We are pleased he has finally admitted his guilt just three days before we were due to take him to trial to present our case.
‘The initial victim survivor, having sadly passed away after giving police his evidence, was unable to hear the guilty verdict but his family represented him at court in his absence.
‘The second victim survivor was also sexually abused and exploited by McCleester – a verger in his Cathedral.
‘The impact to both at such a young age has been devastating. They have been extremely brave and shown tremendous strength and courage.
‘The officers involved in this case have worked relentlessly and shown incredible commitment to securing these convictions. Both the victims and their families feel they have been failed by institutions that were supposed to protect them.
‘We hope they can feel an element of peace knowing that justice has been finally served.
‘McCleester is a vile predator who has no place in society.
‘We urge anyone who has been a victim of McCleester to come forward to police. We will support you.’
McCleester, who lives in the Grade I listed Hospital of St Cross almshouse in Winchester, Hampshire, will be sentence on July 10.
Judge Rosina Cottage, KC, granted McCleester bail ahead of sentence.
A spokesperson for Southwark Cathedral said: ‘Clive McCleester, a former senior employee of Southwark Cathedral has pleaded guilty today on charges of safeguarding offences which took place in the 1980s.
‘Mr McCleester’s crimes are a grievous breach of trust, which will have life-long effects.
‘We would like to offer a full and unreserved apology to all those affected by this matter and we commend the bravery of those who brought this to light, acknowledging how difficult and distressing this would have been.
‘We are profoundly sorry for the abuse perpetrated by Mr McCleester and are committed to doing everything possible to ensure the safety and wellbeing of children, young people and adults, who look to us for respect and care.
‘We have cooperated fully with the police in the course of their investigations. The safety and wellbeing of children and young people is our highest priority and we continually monitor our practice and processes to ensure that safeguarding remains at the heart of everything we do.’