Glasgow & West Scotland

Celtic Boys Club abuse accused had 'no ulterior motive'

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

The founder of Celtic Boys' club has denied having an "ulterior motive" when taking players for group activities.

Jim Torbett began giving evidence at his trial at the High Court in Glasgow where he denies abusing three boys between August 1986 and August 1994.

Mr Torbett, 71, told the court he founded the club in 1966 when he was aged about 18.

He said the club used Celtic's name and played in Celtic strips but was not connected to the football club.

Mr Torbett told the court he took football kits home to wash them and would have three or four volunteers from the team at his flat to help sort them out again.

Defence QC Tony Graham asked: "The three or four boys involving themselves in kit preparation, would you do anything together after the kit work had been done?"

Described himself as 'asexual'

Mr Torbett said they would maybe go ten-pin bowling beforehand.

Asked why he would do that he said he was "a great believer in community" and said it was "good fun".

Mr Graham said the court heard from a psychologist who talked about grooming.

He asked Mr Torbett: "Was there any ulterior motive on your part to do these things as a group?"

Mr Torbett replied: "Absolutely not."

The jury heard that Mr Torbett had always lived alone and described himself as asexual.

Mr Graham asked: "What do you mean by that?" He replied: "I don't participate in it."

He said that in the 80s he "performed in some sex" with women.

'Devastating'

Mr Torbett later described the sex abuse allegations against him as "devastating".

He told jurors he did "everything he could to help" one man who claimed he was abused by him as a teenager and had no reason to believe he had anything bad to say about him.

Mr Torbett said he thought he heard an allegation had been made by the man - who he kept in contact with after he left the club - in 2016.

When the allegations were put to Mr Torbett in evidence he said: "It just never happened."

Asked how he felt, he replied: "It's very hard to explain how it feels, again I use the word devastating.

"It's devastating, it's just not true."

'Semi-naked'

Mr Torbett was also asked about allegations made by another man who claimed he abused him at the Trophy Centre on Shawbridge Street, Glasgow.

Mr Torbett, who owned the business, said he "knew of" the boy, but didn't know him.

Asked if he saw the child "semi-naked", Mr Torbett replied: "I hardly saw (the man) never mind semi naked. It didn't happen, Mr Graham."

Jurors heard the allegations made by the third man, who died last October in a swimming accident, through statements he gave to police.

He alleged Mr Torbett abused him at the Trophy Centre, in a car and at his home.

Mr Torbett described the man as a "very good player".

When questioned about allegations that he had abused the boy in a car, Mr Torbett replied: "It didn't happen."

Asked if he took the boy to the Trophy centre to abuse him and replied: "Nothing like that could ever happen in the Trophy Centre for a start and it never happened at all."

The trial, before Judge Lord Beckett, continues.

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