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GUILTY TORBETT FACES PRISON OVER CELTIC BOYS SEX SHAME; Victims blast Celtic chiefs over 'cover up'.

SHAMED Celtic Boys Club founder Jim Torbett was facing jail last night after his conviction for sex attacks on three young players.

A jury at Glasgow Sheriff Court found him guilty of acts of shameless indecency on three boys dating back to the late 1960s.

His victims included former Ipswich and Scotland ace Alan Brazil, now a TV pundit for Sky Sports.

During the seven-day trial at Glasgow Sheriff Court, Celtic legend Jock Stein was accused of leading a cover-up going back 20 years.

Wealthy businessman Torbett, 51, who denied the charges, hung his head in the dock as the foreman of the jury returned the verdicts.

The jury found him guilty by majority of indecent offences against Mr Brazil, 39, James McGrory, 44, and David Gordon, 38, between 1968 and 1974.

Sheriff Margaret Gimblett deferred sentence for reports. Torbett, of Kelvindale, Glasgow, was granted bail but his name was ordered to be placed on the sex offenders' register.

The sheriff told him he should not assume he would "retain his liberty" when he is sentenced on November 27.

Torbett, who lives in a pounds 100,000 flat, refused to comment as he left court with friends.

Afterwards, Mr Brazil blasted: "The people at director level at Celtic Park who knew about this should think shame of themselves for doing nothing about it down the years."

Mr McGrory added: "Justice has now been served ... but nothing can compensate me for what happened nor the subsequent intrusion into my private life."

Rumours of abuse were rife within the club but nothing was done until 1974 when Stein ousted Torbett as general manager.

The Celtic Boys Club acted as a nursery for players such as Paul McStay and "wonderkid" Mark Burchill.

Hugh Birt, 61, who became president in 1974, insisted the allegations about Torbett had been hidden for 25 years. He said Stein told him he'd booted Torbett out.

But he alleged Stein and former vice-chairman Kevin Kelly did nothing when he protested about Torbett's return to Celtic Boys Club as a fundraiser in 1986.

The three victims Brazil, McGrory and part-time taxi driver Gordon broke their silence two years ago after keeping the abuse secret from their families for years.

Married Brazil spoke of his shock when he visited Torbett's flat and saw the coach and young players "hugging and kissing".

He claimed Torbett, the coach to the Under 14 and Under 15 sides, sat next to him on a sofa, put his hand on his trousers and pecked him on the cheek.

Brazil refused to go near Torbett again and said he did not know whether the snub resulted in Celtic not signing him as a professional.

He said: "I was disappointed. I had scored a record 62 goals and had always been Celtic daft."

Mr McGrory, a supermarket manager in England, said Torbett began fondling him in his van and continued at cinemas, cafes and at the flat.

He said the abuse drove him from the club, adding: "I could not put up with his behaviour."

Mr Gordon claimed Torbett touched him indecently and made indecent suggestions to him. He was so worried, he pretended to have an injured knee and left the club, never playing football again. He added: "What happened to me left me with nightmares."

Former Celtic directors Kevin Kelly, 61, and James Farrell, 77, denied allegations of a cover-up.

Asked if Mr Stein had tried to cover-up any allegations, Mr Farrell said: "He would have been playing with dynamite if he'd done that. Jock would never have behaved like that."

Bachelor Torbett, owner of the Trophy Centre business in Glasgow, claimed he'd resigned from Celtic in 1974 because of a "conflict of interests".

Last night Celtic Boys' Club secretary Robert Wilson said: "These allegations were of a very serious nature and it is important justice is done."

Celtic's managing director Fergus McCann said: "It is a good thing for all concerned that this matter has now been brought to a conclusion."
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Author:Hardaker, Paul
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Nov 13, 1998
Words:666
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