The trial of John Stingemore and Father Tony McSweeney – due to start on May 6 at Southwark Crown Court – has been postponed.
Southwark crown court today said that there will be no hearing on the 6 May and that it is due to make a fresh announcement on future court dates on 13 June.
Exaro understands that 71 year-old Stingemore, the former officer in charge of the Grafton Close children’s home in the London Borough of Richmond-upon-Thames, is suffering from ill-health and was recently admitted to hospital.
Privately, sources close to the case have expressed fears that Mr Stingemore may not be fit enough to stand trial unless his health improves significantly.
Mr Stingemore’s solicitor was unavailable for comment this afternoon.
John Stingemore, of Stonehouse Drive, St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex, faces five charges of indecent assault, once count of taking an indecent image of a child, and one count of indecency with a child. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Father Tony McSweeney, a 66 year-old priest, faces two charges of indecent assault, three counts of making an indecent image of a child, one of taking an indecent image of a child, and a further count of possessing indecent images of children. Father McSweeney, of Old Brighton Road North, Pease Pottage, West Sussex, has also pleaded not guilty to all charges.
The charges had been brought following the Met police’s Operation Fernbridge. There is a back catalogue of stories explaining the Fernbridge operation on the Exaro website.