Celtic Boys Club founder Jim Torbett found guilty of abusing three boys

Celtic Boys Club founder Jim Torbett. Picture: John Devlin
Celtic Boys Club founder Jim Torbett. Picture: John Devlin

Celtic Boys’ Club founder Jim Torbett has been jailed for a second time for sexually abusing young players.

Torbett, 71, was found guilty after a trial at the High Court in Glasgow after denying the charges.
Torbett was locked up for six years after a judge said he used the football team as a “recruiting ground” to prey on boys.

The High Court in Glasgow.

The High Court in Glasgow.

Torbett targeted two teenagers including one who worshipped him as a “hero”.

The 71 year-old also abused a five year-old boy at a trophy business Torbett once owned in Glasgow’s southside.

The convicted paedophile faced the accusations at the High Court in Glasgow.

His return to the dock came 20 years after he was jailed for historical abuse of ex-boys club players including former Scotland striker Alan Brazil.

Torbett – who had been living in California in America – was charged in 2017 following fresh allegations of sex attacks.

He was jailed today after he was found guilty of five abuse charges.

The crimes occurred between 1986 and 1994.

Lord Beckett said the setting-up of a youth football club may have appeared “public spirited and commendable”.

But, the judge added Torbett had instead used it as a “front for a recruiting ground” to abuse boys who dreamed of playing for Celtic.

He described Torbett using his “substantial power” to “groom and contrive situations” to abuse victim.

The judge told him: “Yours was amongst the most corrupt behaviour I have heard in these courts.”

Lord Beckett concluded the “depraved” conduct had “blighted” the lives of his victims.

Torbett – who denied the latest crimes – showed no emotion as he was lead handcuffed to the cells.

Torbett was allegedly booted out of the boys club in 1974 by then Celtic boss Jock Stein.

But, he was said to have been allowed back after Stein left in 1980.

A now 46 year-old man 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”.

Sick Torbett instead preyed on that to abuse the then teenager.

In a claim – later removed from a charge by the jury – the victim claimed Torbett would stuff money in his mouth.

He added: “One time it was £530. I remember going home with £100 notes in my pocket.”

He also said Torbett attacked him on a Celtic Boys Club to Noyon in France.

The witness told the trial: “I was in my bed in a dormitory. Jim Torbett was standing there with a shirt and underpants on.

“He proceeded to do a striptease. He took his shirt off and was dancing.”

The man said Torbett – who kept his pants on – was moving the shirt back and forwards between his legs.

He recalled the pervert then summoned him to his room and abused the then teenager.

Torbett targeted another young boy who played in his team.

This victim, however, tragically died in a swimming accident before he could testify in court.

But, a damning police statement given before his death helped secure justice from beyond the grave.

The 41 year-old told officers he was first abused in Torbett’s motor after training.

This included the pervert touching him on the groin. The scared victim recalled he “did not know what was happening”.

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

The victim said he was also attacked in Torbett’s Glasgow flat after being invited over.

Jurors heard Torbett “would drop him from the team” when the then teenager did not agree to his sick demands.

The ex-boys club player went on to borrow cash from Torbett after felling into debt.

But, he told police: “I did not have the money to pay him back – then I decided ‘f*** him’.

“I was not going to pay him back because of what he had done to me...sexually abusing me.

“I also did not want to see or speak to the man ever again.”

The final victim was a now 35 year-old man, who did play for the boys’ club.

He was abused at the Trophy Centre business that Torbett ran in Pollokshaws, Glasgow.

The witness – who was as young as five at the time – was attacked while on his own with Torbett.

He told the trial: “I was instructed by Mr Torbett to take my shorts and underwear down.

“He stood looking at me for a while. It seemed like ages. He said everything was fine then left the room.”

This victim also said he was molested while Torbett apparently checked his homework.

Torbett, of the city’s Kelvindale, denied the accusations.

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

Asked if had been the target of “made up hideous lies”, Torbett replied: “Absolutely.”

But, in her closing speech to jurors, prosecutor Sheena Fraser said Torbett had been guilty of “systematic abuse”.

It was in 1998 that Torbett was first convicted of abusing young players from Celtic Boys Club.

He was jailed for two years at Glasgow Sheriff Court for preying on three boys between 1967 and 1974.

Torbett was also today/yesterday put on the sex offenders list.

The jury found him guilty of indecently assaulting the first victim.

He was convicted of lewd and libidinous conduct and indecent assault against the second boys club player.

Torbett was further guilty of the same two charges on the third boy.

A further allegation of lewd and libidinous conduct against this victim was found not proven.