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Former Celtic youth coach admits abusing teenagers

Jim McCafferty,73, jailed for six years and nine months at the High Court in Edinburgh.

Jim McCafferty: Pleaded guilty on Tuesday.
Jim McCafferty: Pleaded guilty on Tuesday. Photopress Belfast

A former Celtic youth coach has been jailed for six years and nine months after admitting sexually abusing young footballers.

Jim McCafferty, 73, pleaded guilty to 11 charges of abusing teenagers between 1972 and 1996 at the High Court in Edinburgh on Tuesday, and one charge of breach of the peace.

Four young players were abused by McCafferty while they played for Celtic Boys Club and Celtic youth team, while others trained with youth teams he ran in North Lanarkshire.

Police described the scale of the abuse he inflicted as "unprecedented" and said his victims "lived in fear".

The court heard how McCafferty - who was also placed on the sex offenders register - abused his position of power and used his intimidating physique to carry out a campaign of "sexual depravity" against budding footballers.

The incidents took place in several locations across Scotland - including team showers, hotel rooms and mini buses. Among the complainers were former professional footballers, the court heard.

Judge Lord Beckett said: "For many complainers, the sexual abuse inflicted was repeated over a number of years.

"In seven impact statements I have learned of the serious and lasting effects of your prolonged course of criminal conduct.

https://stv.tv/news/scotland/1426989-ex-football-coach-and-kitman-jailed-for-child-sex-abuse/ | default

"The courts must do what they can to seek to eradicate the sexual abuse of children engaged in sport."

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

The former coach was previously jailed for sexual offences against a boy in Northern Ireland, where he most recently lived.

McCafferty, originally from Wishaw, worked at Celtic more than 20 years ago and had spells as kitman at other Scottish clubs, including Falkirk and Hibernian.

He is the fourth man connected with Celtic or Celtic Boys Club to be jailed for historical sex abuse in the last year, after Jim Torbett, Frank Cairney and Gerald King.

Detective Chief Inspector Sarah Taylor praised McCafferty's victims for coming forward to give evidence against the former coach.

https://stv.tv/news/west-central/1432626-celtic-boys-club-abuse-survivors-launch-legal-action/ | default

She said: "These boys had a passion for the game, they had dreams and hopes. Rather than provide a place of safety for them to fulfil these dreams, he used football to prey upon them.

"The trust and respect they showed him was repaid by a complete and utter abuse of power. McCafferty exploited his position to satisfy his own sexual depravity.

"James McCafferty has blighted the lives of so many people, both his victims and their families. As boys, his victims lived in fear but as adults they stood united, finding the courage and strength to speak out.

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

"I would like to pay my own personal gratitude to these men. The damage that McCafferty inflicted will never be forgotten, however, today hopefully starts the process of trying to resolve the past.

"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 kitman, he used every opportunity available to perpetrate his callous abuse."

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