Glasgow & West Scotland

Celtic Boys Club abuse accused described as 'good man'

James Torbett Image copyright Spindrift
Image caption James Torbett denies sexually abusing four boys

A man who claims he was sexually abused by an ex-Celtic Boy's Club coach sent him a text saying: "You're a good man."

A court heard it was sent to James Torbett in the months before he made allegations to police and the press.

The witness was given evidence for a second day at the trial of Mr Torbett, 71, who denies sexually abusing four boys between 1985 and 1994.

He claims he was sexually abused by Mr Torbett between the ages of 14 and 17.

In the text the man, who is not being named, said: "You're a good man Jim. Always have you in my heart until my last breath. You only ever tried to make me a better person, no more or less. Always love you. Xxx"

'Someone very special'

Defence QC Tony Graham showed the witness a police statement taken from him on 17 May, 2017, which refers to the text.

Mr Graham said: "It says 'I initiated contact with Jim. He was getting a lot of grief in the newspapers. They were saying he was a paedophile. It shows the hold he had over me as I felt sorry for him.".

The 46-year-old replied: "It doesn't mean anything to me."

The witness said he accepted it was sent from his phone in December 2016 but said in court he could not remember sending it.

He was also shown birthday and Christmas cards he sent to Mr Torbett.

One birthday card said he was grateful for his friendship while a Christmas card had the written inscription: "To someone very special. You mean the world to me. I know if it wasn't for you I'd have nothing to look forward to in life."

Addiction issues

The witness told Mr Graham: "It means nothing.

"I can't give dates and times. They are insignificant to me. All I know is that I was abused for years by your client."

He told the court that for many years he was addicted to cocaine, ecstasy, alcohol and gambling and claimed for have been addiction free for nine years.

Later when asked about incidents in 2016 the witness described it as "a bit of a blur."

The man said that when police arrived at his home in December 2015 after he phoned and reported historical sex abuse at Celtic Boys' Club he told them to "forget about it."

The witness claimed he did not want his mother finding out about the alleged abuse.

BBC interview

When asked by Mr Graham why he had then gone on television with his allegations, the witness replied: "I felt let down by Police Scotland.

"They turned up unannounced. I had expected them to turn up in a couple of hours. It was two days.

"I told the police to forget about it. BBC reporters then came to my door and they gave me a platform."

Mr Graham said: "You didn't speak to the police, but spoke to the BBC.

"If you were so keen to protect your mother from finding out about this, did you not think she would find out when it was broadcast?"

The witness replied: "She never watched it."

He added: "A million times I thought about going to the police."

Mobile phone

The witness later told a jury a BBC journalist gave him a mobile phone.

Mr Graham asked the witness: "Once the programme was made, did the BBC keep in contact with you and did that extend to a BBC journalist giving you a phone?"

He replied: "Yeah, he gave me a cheap phone."

Asked if he had liaised with BBC staff during earlier proceedings, the witness said: "I got a lift into the court."

The witness agreed that he had at that time spoken to the journalist on a daily basis and added: "It was more a support basis. There never was a follow-up."

Mr Graham then asked the witness why he called Mr Torbett a good man if he had been seriously abused by him and replied: "I was in complete denial and high on drugs."

The QC also asked the witness if he was suing Celtic.

He replied: "Yes".

The trial, before Lord Beckett, continues.

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