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Jim McCafferty: Ex-Celtic youth coach admits sexually abusing young footballers | UK News

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A former Celtic youth coach has been jailed for nearly seven years after pleading guilty to 12 charges of sexually abusing young footballers.

Jim McCafferty, 72, admitted a series of sexual offences between the 1970s and 1990s at the High Court in Edinburgh and was sentenced to six years and nine months.

The convicted paedophile’s links with Celtic were more than 20 years ago. He also worked at Hibernian and was well known as a youth coach with boys clubs in Scotland.

One former player, who was abused by McCafferty when he was just 14, told Sky News: “I was devastated, frightened and scared.

“I started drinking, even at that age, and I dreamed of being a footballer.

“I was drinking just to get to sleep at night. I used to always remember buying a quarter bottle of vodka and a bottle of Irn Bru.

“I would be up to the bedroom drinking that, just to get to sleep at night, to try and blur out what I had been through.”

The man, whose identity is protected under the law, described how McCafferty had used his reputation as a successful coach and the promise of a career in the game to groom him.

The abuse took place on quiet country roads on the way back from matches.

“I would always fight him off, I would always try and fight him off, but bearing in mind at that time he must have been 19 or 20 stone, and a huge frame of a man, it was difficult.”

The man, who is now in his 50s, said he hopes that McCafferty never sees the outside of a prison cell again, but a lot more needs to happen.

McCafferty is the fourth former coach associated with Celtic Football Club or Celtic Boys Club to be convicted of child sex abuse in recent months.

Last November, Celtic Boys Club founder Jim Torbett was jailed for six months. Another coach, teacher Gerald King, was convicted of abusing boys at a school.

In February, a former manager of Celtic Boys Club, Frank Cairney, was jailed for four years after being convicted of nine charges of sexually abusing young players.

After the earlier convictions, Celtic Football Club expressed “deep regret” for the victims, but said Celtic Boys Club was a separate entity.

“Although Celtic Football Club is an entirely separate organisation to Celtic Boys’ Club, we wish to express our deep regret that these incidents took place, as well as our sympathy for the victims who suffered abuse”.

Lawyers for the victims are pursuing both Celtic and the SFA for compensation.

Patrick McGuire, a partner at Thompsons Solicitors said, “With McCafferty today pleading guilty and being convicted of abuse it shows and puts beyond any doubt that the level of abuse that took place in a general Celtic football setting was absolutely prolific, it was horrific.”

Police have also investigated the relationship between McCafferty and former Crewe Alexandra coach Barry Bennell, who repeatedly abused young boys in his care.

Bennell was jailed for 31 years on more than 50 counts of child sex abuse
Image:
Bennell was jailed for 31 years on more than 50 counts of child sex abuse

The former player who spoke to Sky News described how the former coach used to run an under-12s team.

He described how McCafferty asked him to help train the kids which included a weekend trip to Manchester.

“Afterwards the strangest thing happened. We all got back in the mini bus and McCafferty said, ‘I am going to take you to see a friend of mine’. We drove from Manchester to Crewe and I thought, ‘Why are we going to Crewe?’

“It was Barry Bennell who we met, he introduced us to him.”

Mr McGuire added: “Two prolific paedophiles working together is beyond any form of coincidence. To my mind this has to represent some form of footballing paedophile ring.

“What we don’t know yet is the level of abuse that Scottish survivors suffered at the hands of Barry Bennell, but I wouldn’t be surprised if more people come forward in the weeks and months ahead.”

The victims’ lawyers want to see a judge-led inquiry into what they regard as the biggest abuse scandal in British sport.

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