Former Celtic kitman admits child sex abuse charge

James McCafferty appeared at Belfast Crown Court.
James McCafferty appeared at Belfast Crown Court.

A former Celtic FC kitman will be sentenced next month for sexually abusing a young male after a last-minute change of plea today.

James McCafferty initially denied the offences and was due to stand trial at Belfast Crown Court where he faced eight separate charges of sexually assaulting the youth over a period spanning from December 2012 to December 2015.

From Raby Street in Belfast, 72-year old McCafferty appeared in court with the use of a walking aid, and did not have to enter the dock of the court.

Prior to the trial starting Patrick Taylor, the barrister representing McCafferty, asked that the charges be put his client again.

The pensioner was first asked “Are you James McCafferty?” to which he replied “I am.” He was then charged with intentionally touching a boy under 16, and that the touching was sexual and done without consent. When asked by the clerk how he pleaded to that charge, McCafferty answered “guilty, Your Honour.”

A further seven charges ‘of a similar nature’ were also put to him, and when asked how he pleaded to these offences, he again replied “guilty, Your Honour.”

Mr Taylor asked Judge Patricia Smyth to allow time for the completion of a pre-sentence report, telling the court medical reports on his client have already been completed.

Judge Smyth informed McCafferty that in light of his plea, he was now required to sign the Sex Offenders Register, with the length of time determined at a later date. She also told the defendant this meant he is banned from working with children and vulnerable adults.

Although no details of the offences - or the defendant or complainant - emerged during today’s brief hearing, McCafferty was arrested in December 2016 after giving an interview to a newspaper. The pensioner previously lived in Glasgow and worked as a kitman for Celtic Football Club.

Following the guilty pleas, Judge Smyth said she would hear the plea on Friday June 22nd. McCafferty - dressed in a grey jumper and grey tracksuit bottoms - was remanded back into custody.