November 2018

Celtic Boys Club founder Jim Torbett guilty of abusing boys

Jim Torbett

Celtic Boys Club founder Jim Torbett has been jailed for six years after being convicted of sexually abusing three boys over an eight-year period.

Torbett, 71, was found guilty after a trial at the High Court in Glasgow. He had denied the charges.

Two victims had been in his under-14s football teams, while the third was abused by Torbett at the age of five.

Lord Beckett told Torbett: “You groomed boys and contrived situations when you could abuse them

“Yours is some of the most corrupting behaviour I have ever heard of in these courts.”

He added: “Your depraved conduct towards innocent children has blighted their lives.”

The judge told Torbett that Celtic Boys Club had given opportunities to hundreds of aspiring young footballers.

But he added: “You used the club as a front for child sexual abuse.”

There were tears in the public gallery as the verdict was announced, and emotional scenes in the foyer of the court as those affected by the case embraced each other.

Torbett, of Kelvindale, Glasgow, was found guilty of five abuse charges between August 1986 and August 1994.

Torbett had previously been jailed for two years in 1998 for abusing three young Celtic Boys Club players between 1967 and 1974.

He had been living in California when the further allegations of abuse came to light.

During the trial, Mr Campbell told jurors how he played for Celtic Boys Club when he was 14.

He said Torbett – who was also the manager – had been his “hero” and that he would have “run through walls for him”.

However, he said Torbett then went on to abuse him, including one attack while on a Celtic Boys Club trip to Noyon in France.

A second victim, Andrew Gray, died last year following a swimming pool accident in Australia.

The 41-year-old had told officers he was first abused by Torbett after training, and that he had not known what was happening.

He told police: “I can still remember lying in bed that night thinking: ‘Is that how adults act?’.”

Mr Gray said he was also attacked in Torbett’s Glasgow flat, and that he would be dropped from the team if he did not agree to his demands.

The final victim, now aged 35, told the trial how he was abused at the Trophy Centre business which Torbett ran in the Pollokshaws area of Glasgow.

He said he was attacked while on his own with Torbett.

Torbett had branded the victims “liars” and said allegations were like “something out of fairytales”.

April 2017

Celtic Boys’ Club sex predator Jim Torbett given second chance to abuse young players

A bombshell TV documentary last night revealed how sex predator Jim Torbett was allowed to return to Celtic Boys’ Club – only a few years after he was kicked out for abusing youth players.

The BBC Scotland programme spoke to more than 20 victims of sex abuse in football and shed light on how big clubs and police missed opportunities to stop known offenders.

The programme, Football Abuse: The Ugly Side of the Beautiful Game, exposed the blatant methods of serial abusers like Celtic Boys’ Club founder Torbett, who was brought to justice after an award-winning Daily Record investigation in the 80s.

It also reveals graphic accounts of abuse by former Rangers and Hibs coach Gordon Neely, from his time at both clubs and with youth club Hutchison Vale.

Alleged victims told the programme that Torbett was able to return to Celtic – even though he as known to be an abuser – which enabled him to attack more victims.

Torbett was only ever convicted for crimes committed up to 1974.

But alleged victim Kenny Campbell claims he was abused after legendary manager Jock Stein – who booted Torbett out of the boys’ club over child abuse claims – had left Celtic.

Torbett was welcomed back in 1980.

Kenny, of Uddingston, Lanarkshire, moved to Celtic’s reserves in 1989 after three years with Celtic Boys’ Club.

He said: “I feel aggrieved at that if they had never let him back in it would have never happened in the first place, I could have had a normal life, normal people round about me.

“If Celtic had done their due diligence, as they always say, it wouldn’t have happened to me.”

Kenny has fought to get his life back on track after the abuse resulted in drink and drug problems.

He said that after he joined Celtic Boys’ Club at 13, Torbett won the trust of his parents, even spending a Christmas Day with them.

But he added that the abuse soon started and escalated to the point where Torbett was giving him cash – sometimes up to £530 on one day.

Kenny also claimed, in graphic detail, how up to three boys were abused at the same time in his flat.

Another victim who spoke to the BBC said Torbett abused him dozens of times over three years from 1990.

Torbett was jailed for two years in 1998 for sexually abusing three young players between 1967 and 1974.

Ex-Scotland international Alan Brazil was among those to testify against his former coach.

The BBC programme said they had spoken to three other former Celtic Boys’ Club officials – who were employed at the time in question – who also say they were told Torbett was sacked by Stein after complaints Torbett had abused boys. But police were never called.

The show also alleged that Torbett’s departure from Celtic Boys Club was described in club magazine The Celtic View as a business decision – amounting to a “massive cover-up.”

The programme also features a photograph of Stein, the Boys’ Club honorary president, presenting an award to Torbett for services to the club three years after kicking him out.

The documentary claimed directors at Celtic would have known that Torbett had been accused of abuse prior to having him back at Celtic Boys’ Club in 1980, where he stayed until 1996.

Torbett was out of the country when the BBC tried to approach him but he denies the new allegations of abuse.

BBC investigator Mark Daly also spoke to alleged victims of notorious Gordon Neely, who abused young players for decades.

Victims provided harrowing accounts of how they were targeted while Neely was a coach at Hibs and later at Rangers, who were not tipped off about the predator.

Rangers claim that when they discovered Neely was a dangerous pervert, they informed police – but the BBC could find no trace of such a complaint.

Neely, who died of cancer three years ago, later abused young footballers on residential courses at Dalguise House, Dunkeld, Perthshire.

Victim Jon Cleland, from Dunfermline, was abused by Neely from the age of 11 while a player for Hutchison Vale in 1982 and later while training with Hibs.

Jon said: “He said I looked like I had an injury.

“And put me over his knee and started to spank me, then he asked me to lean over a desk – and that’s when I was raped.”

He added: “I can’t be a hundred percent sure but it was at least eight to 10 times over the space of 18 months.”

Another victim gave details of being attacked by Neely at Hibs, who spanked him in his office at the club in 1984.

Hibs failed to report the coach to the police, enabling him to progress to Rangers with his reputation intact, under the management of Graeme Souness and Walter Smith in 1986.

The abuse allegedly continued at Ibrox. Rangers fired him in 1990 after an accusation of inappropriate behavior.

One former Rangers youth player, referred to as George in the programme, said: “He had his own office inside Ibrox and he’d call you in and he’d make you close the door – and he’d pull your shorts and pants down and then he’d spank you with like this kind of, like, rubber shoe.

“I mean I wasn’t the only one. He’d give you 10 or 20 whacks for anything. I was only about 13.”

After Rangers got rid of Neely, he ran football courses at Dalguise House, where more abuse took place.

One victim, referred to as Paul, played for Edinburgh clubs between 1995 and 1998.

He said: “He told me I had a condition that was hampering me. And that he could help me with it.

“So he would examine my backside, and then he would put his fingers inside me.”

Paul’s alleged abuse took place around a decade after complaints about Neely were made to Hibs – and more than five years after a complaint was made at Rangers.

Victims also told of being abused by a major scout, who is still alive but who can’t be named for legal reasons.

The scout worked for Rangers and Hibs, as well as English giants Chelsea and Liverpool.

More than 80 men involved in football are being investigated by police across the UK. Among them are John Hart, former physiotherapist at Partick Thistle, Jim McCafferty, ex-youth coach and kitman at Celtic, Hibs and Falkirk, and Hugh Stevenson, who was a youth coach and referee.

Police have received more than 130 claims of child sex abuse within Scottish football since November.

November 1998

Celtic Boys’ coach jailed for abuse Two-year sentence for betrayal of trust

CELTIC Boys’ Club founder Jim Torbett was jailed for two years yesterday for abusing three young players in a scandal going back 30 years. The 51-year-old businessman used his position as coach to molest the boys, including future Scotland footballer Alan Brazil.

A jury had found him guilty of three charges of shameless indecency after a trial earlier this month.

Sheriff Margaret Gimblett was urged at Glasgow Sheriff Court by Mr William McVicar, defending, not to jail Torbett of Beaconsfield Road, Kelvinside, Glasgow, saying the offences were at the ”lower end of the scale”.

But Sheriff Gimblett told Torbett: ”These offences are totally unacceptable and the public demands that the courts acknowledge this.

”I think it is right that a clear message be given by the courts that such conduct can never be tolerated.

”Nowadays there can be no hiding place for people who abuse children.”

The sheriff said she had carefully read the many testimonial letters presented on Torbett’s behalf.

She added: ”You were in a position of trust at the time not only with Celtic Boys’ Club, which you founded, but also with the Glasgow Area of Youth Clubs and parents entrusted you with their children.”

She said: ”These children were football mad with stars in their eyes and perhaps hoping to kick their way to the stars with one of the greatest clubs in the world.

”You knew that and you betrayed that trust.”

Sheriff Gimblett continued: ”Things were different 25 years ago and young boys did not talk about sex. They were still children.

”They said in court they thought they would be laughed at by their peers and you have brought anguish and shame to them and to one of the greatest football clubs in the world and to some people the greatest.”

She said she had considered sending Torbett to the High Court for sentence but because of what had been said on his behalf she would deal with the matter herself.

His name will now go on the register for sexual offenders.

Sentence on Torbett was deferred for reports two weeks ago after he was found guilty on three charges of shameless indecency between 1968 and 1974.

The offences against Mr Brazil, 39, David Gordon, 38, and James McGrory, 44, happened in Torbett’s flat at Pinkston Drive, Sighthill, Glasgow.

Mr McGrory was also indecently touched in cinemas and cafes in the city.

Mr McVicar, defending, said Torbett had a difficult start to life with alcoholism in the family and his parents breaking up.

Despite this he had established a business which was still flourishing. Torbett started his Trophy Centre business, which makes and sells sporting trophies, in 1980.

Two of his directors were former Celtic boardroom members Jack McGinn and Kevin Kelly.

Mr McVicar said Torbett was a different character now than 25 years ago and was now in a relationship. He added that since the case emerged Torbett had become ”a recluse” because of the attention of the media.

”It is my submission it would not be unfair to say he has already been punished considerably,” said Mr McVicar.

Mr Hugh Birt, former chairman of Celtic Boys’ Club, said : ”I am very happy for the people of Glasgow that he has been put away. Perhaps the children will be safe now.

”It has been a long and difficult time and I think justice has been done.”

In a statement issued after the sentence, Mr McGrory spoke of the trauma he had endured.

”I feel that the sheriff’s decision to impose a custodial sentence was entirely appropriate, if only to serve as a warning to other predators that similar incidents will result in a jail sentence.”

He said the club’s name had been badly tarnished by Mr Torbett’s ”horrific acts” but said he held no grudge.

”Hopefully, adequate safeguards will now exist within every club to ensure that similar incidents never arise,” he said.