Man from Ireland sentenced to 26 years for historic sexual abuse of children at Catholic care home

The Irish Post [London, England]

January 21, 2024

By Gerard Donaghy

A man from Ireland has been sentenced to 26 years in prison in England after being found guilty of a string of historic sexual offences against children.

Steven McNally, 67, abused five children while working as a Scout leader in Nottingham and as a housemaster at a Catholic children’s home in the city.

McNally was extradited from his home in Ireland to stand trial at Nottingham Crown Court, with a jury finding him guilty of 24 out of 29 charges.

“McNally was a manipulative sex offender who systematically targeted vulnerable boys over a period of six years,” said Detective Constable Helen Sanders following Friday’s sentencing.


McNally’s trial heard that between 1974 and 1979, he sexually abused five boys who were aged between five and 15 at the time.

The majority of the offences took place while he worked as a housemaster at Nazareth House Children’s Home in Lenton, Nottingham, which was run by the Sisters of Nazareth Catholic order.

Four of the five victims resided at the home, while a fifth victim was sexually abused after joining the Bishop’s Own Scout Troop, where McNally worked as a Scout leader.

The crimes went undetected until 2016, when the first victim came forward after watching a child sexual abuse storyline unfold on the soap opera Emmerdale.

Nottinghamshire Police launched an investigation, which led to a number of victims being identified.

Police were told that the boy who joined the Scout Troop run by McNally was abused on camping trips from the age of 11.

The court heard how McNally, who was aged 18 at the time, 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 offered to look after him and visit him in the night to make sure he was OK.

Instead, he repeatedly sexually abused the child, warning him not to tell anyone about what happened or 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 that McNally saw the boys at the home as his ‘play things’.

He added that McNally would also beat children as well as sexually abuse them.

The fifth victim told police that McNally ‘stole his childhood’ and that he was abused by him at Nazareth House as well as at a Nottingham address that was home to McNally’s parents.

McNally was found guilty of 11 counts of indecent assault on a child, seven counts of indecent assault on a child on no fewer than five occasions, three counts of indecency with a child, two counts of indecency with a child on no fewer than five occasions and one count of buggery on a person under 16.


DC Sanders said McNally abused his ‘sacred position’ to abuse vulnerable children, adding that one of his victims died before seeing him brought to justice.

“His victims were vulnerable children some of whom had difficult family backgrounds,” she said.

“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.”