Former Celtic kitman James McCafferty jailed for abusing young footballers

James McCafferty's abuse of the boys spanned several decades
James McCafferty's abuse of the boys spanned several decades

Former Celtic kitman James McCafferty has been jailed for more than six years after admitting a string of historic sexual offences against young boys.

The 73-year-old, of Lisburn, Co Antrim, pleaded guilty to 11 charges related to paedophile activity against 10 victims, which took place over several decades.

McCafferty, who was also a youth coach, admitted a further charge of breach of the peace.

The High Court in Edinburgh heard on Tuesday that McCafferty 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 – over several decades from the 1970s onwards.

Among the complainers were former professional footballers, the court heard.

Judge Lord Beckett said McCafferty had used his “overpowering” nature to achieve his “depraved objectives” of abusing young boys.

He added: “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.

“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.

It was heard he had previously received a jail sentence for sexual offences against a boy in Northern Ireland.

McCafferty, who was also kitman at Hibs and Falkirk, was jailed for six years and nine months, backdated until October.

He was also placed on the sex offenders register.

Speaking outside the court, Detective Chief Inspector Sarah Taylor 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.”