A 61-year-old Catholic priest is to stand trial on a catalogue of child abuse charges against two schoolboys in Bury.

John McCollough appeared at Bury Magistrates' Court last Friday charged with 12 counts of indecent assault and gross indecency with two children, both aged under 16, during the 1980s and 1990s.

The offences are alleged to have taken place while McCollough was an Anglican rector at Christ the King with Holy Trinity Church in Spring Street.

McCollough worked in Bury between 1985 and 1995, but left in 1997 to become a Catholic priest.

McCollough, who now lives in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, is currently a priest at St Vincent's Church in Dagenham, but was put on administrative leave following the police investigation.

He faces eight counts of indecent assault and four of gross indecency.

No pleas have yet been entered. The alleged attacks spanned a six-year period.

The case against McCollough was committed to Bolton Crown Court for trial on March 26. He was granted unconditional bail.