Glasgow & West Scotland

Celtic Boys Club abuser refused appeal against sentence

Jim Torbett
Image caption Jim Torbett will now serve his six-year sentence

Celtic Boys Club founder Jim Torbett has been refused leave to appeal his conviction for sexually abusing young players, the BBC has learned.

The 71-year-old, from Kelvindale, Glasgow, was found guilty last year of five abuse charges between 1986 and 1994.

His conviction followed a BBC investigation into his crimes against children.

The judiciary office in Edinburgh has confirmed the appeal has been refused.

Torbett's victims welcomed the news.

'Knot in my stomach'

Kenny Campbell was abused by Torbett during the 1980s while he played for Celtic Boys Club and Celtic FC and was a key witness in the trial.

He told the BBC: "I've had a knot in my stomach these past weeks worrying about this appeal, worrying that somehow that he could somehow have wriggled off this.

"But when I heard leave to appeal had been refused, it was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. He'll have to do his time now.

"Maybe one day he'll be man enough to admit what he's done."

Image caption Kenny Campbell waived his right to anonymity

Torbett was convicted in November 2018 for abusing three boys over an eight year period. It was his second conviction for sex offences against boys.

Sentencing Torbett to six years, Judge Lord Beckett told Torbett that Celtic Boys Club had given opportunities to hundreds of aspiring young footballers and that he "used the club as a front for child sexual abuse."

The judge added: "Yours is some of the most corrupting behaviour I have ever heard of in these courts…Your depraved conduct towards innocent children has blighted their lives."

Another of Torbett's victims Andrew Gray died in a swimming pool accident in Australia before the trial, although his evidence was read out in court.

Image caption Andrew Gray with his sister Michelle

His sister, Michelle Gray, also welcomed the news. She said: "We can't begin to put into words the sense of relief that we feel today. Nothing will ever bring Andrew back but knowing the man that destroyed his life will remain behind bars and serve the sentence he was given for his heinous crimes, helps ease the pain a little.

"We only wish that he had been sentenced to longer. Through his actions the victims and their loved ones were given a life sentence."

Kenny Campbell and Andrew broke their silence in a BBC documentary, Football Abuse: The Ugly Side of the Beautiful Game.

Image caption The BBC confronted Jim Torbett in California

A month after the documentary was broadcast, the BBC tracked Torbett down to California and put the claims to him in a dramatic confrontation.

Torbett was charged soon after but vigorously denied his crimes.

He was convicted and sentenced to six years at the High Court in Glasgow after a two week trial. Today's news means that sentence will be served.

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