Glasgow & West Scotland

Former Celtic youth football coach Jim McCafferty admits abuse

Jim McCafferty leaves court Image copyright Edinburgh Elitemedia
Image caption Jim McCafferty leaves court after his sentencing

A former youth coach involved in Scottish football has been given a further jail sentence after admitting a series of child sex abuse crimes.

Jim McCafferty, 73, was a coach and kit man for the Celtic youth team who also worked for Celtic Boys Club.

In court, he admitted 12 charges related to child sex abuse against 10 teenage boys between 1972 and 1996.

He was sentenced to six years and nine months in prison. He was already serving a jail term for abuse.

Last year he was he was found guilty of sexually abusing a teenage boy in Belfast.

In relation to the latest charges, most of his victims played for youth teams he ran in North Lanarkshire.

Four played for Celtic Boys Club and Celtic youth team. They were aged between 14 and 17.

The incidents took place in several locations across Scotland - including team showers, hotel rooms and minibuses.

The High Court in Edinburgh heard that among the complainers were former professional footballers.

Image copyright Alan Lewis
Image caption Jim McCafferty was already serving a jail term after a trial in Northern Ireland

Some of his victims developed alcohol and mental health problems as a consequence of the abuse he subjected them too.

Judge Lord Beckett said McCafferty was "physically intimidating" and used his "overpowering" nature to achieve his "depraved objectives" of abusing young boys.

He added: "You took advantage of your position of trust as a football coach to groom and then sexually abuse boys who played for your teams.

"You were adept at identifying the circumstances of different boys so that you could manipulate them and in some cases their parents in a variety of ways.

"All of this was done to facilitate your sexually abusing children."

'Socially corrosive'

He added: "Careers did not reach their full potential, some were cut short and lives have been seriously blighted. Many of those that you abused have suffered from enduring anxiety and depression caused by what you did.

"Conduct of this kind has a wider effect which is corrupting and socially corrosive. It has the potential to undermine the trust which people place in youth football and sports clubs."

McCafferty's lawyer told the court he wanted to apologise to his victims and their families.

He is the fourth man connected to either Celtic or Celtic Boys Club to be found guilty of historical child sex abuse in the past year.

Image caption Both Jim Torbett (left) and Frank Cairney (right) have been convicted of abusing children at Celtic Boys Club

Last November Celtic Boys Club founder Jim Tobett was jailed for six years for sexually abusing three boys over eight years.

Earlier this year, the boys club's former chairman, Gerald King, was given a three-year probation order for sexually abusing four boys and a girl in the 1980s.

And in February Frank Cairney, a former manager of the boys club, was jailed for four years after being convicted of nine charges of sexually abusing young footballers.

Outside court, Det Ch Insp Sarah Taylor said McCafferty exploited his position to satisfy his own "sexual depravity".

She paid tribute to the victims who "lived in fear as boys", but found the courage and strength to speak out as adults.

"They were listened to and without their testimony we would not be here today witnessing McCafferty's long awaited admissions of guilt," she said.

"The scale of his abuse is unprecedented, and demonstrates the systematic and calculated methods he used to target his victims.

"Whether as a respected coach or an affable kit man, he used every opportunity available to perpetrate his callous abuse."

'Financial justice'

Patrick McGuire, of Thompsons Solicitors, is representing some of McCafferty's victims in civil cases.

He called for action from Celtic Football Club.

"McCafferty's connection with Celtic is now utterly undeniable," he said.

"We now know that some of the abuse took place in Celtic premises. What he did was groom the boys but at the same time groom the parents, always with Celtic dangling on the end of a stick as a golden carrot. It's just utterly unforgivable.

"McCafferty's conviction is probably the last conviction that we'll see in a Celtic setting. But what's never happened is any form of financial justice for the survivors of abuse at Celtic Park and that's why now all eyes are on the board of Celtic Football Club to do the right thing."

McCafferty was placed on the sex offenders register for life.

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