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Ex-Celtic kitman Jim McCafferty arrested in Belfast after confessing to abusing young players

A former kitman for Celtic has handed himself in to the police after confessing to years of sexual abuse of young footballers.

Jim McCafferty who was a youth coach for Celtic, Hibs and Falkirk is now living in Belfast.

The 71-year-old from Wishaw, Lanarkshire admitted to the Daily Record he had "paedophile tendencies" in the 80s and 90s while coaching at West Lothian.

He has also admitted abusing young players at Celtic between 1990 and 1996.

Detective Superintendent Deirdre Bones, from the PSNI’s Public Protection Branch, said: “A 71-year-old male has been arrested by detectives after presenting himself at a station in Belfast. He was arrested on suspicion of sexual offences against children in Northern Ireland.

"He is currently helping police with their enquiries."

McCafferty said he never raped boys but admitted sexually touching their private parts.

One of the young players that McCafferty has admitted to preying on, took his life more than 30 years later.

He described the abuse as "not going the whole way, but going some of the way."

He added: “I feel bad that I was involved in it. But at the time I was thinking to myself, if they didn’t want to be involved in it, nobody forced them.”

McCafferty claimed that his actions on one of the boys was to 'toughen him up' and said he saw it as his job to form the character of the boys.

He described it as "a bit of fun, a bit of hilarity on that side".

“The boys weren’t bad at football and I was trying to help them, to bring them to people’s attention, to take notice of them.”

One of the victims described how McCafferty had rubbed boot polish on one boy's private parts.

McCafferty said he wouldn't deny it happened.

"There’s that possibility it would have happened, yes.”

McCafferty would often strip naked and join the boys in the shower after the games.

He said at time he thought "no that's not right" and "common sense" would come to him, but he added: “Back then it was normal, run-of-the-mill stuff, just playing the game. After a home win the excitement would be heightened.”

He compared some of the scenes in the dressing rooms after wins to a "teenage orgy".

"Yes, that’s what it was like. It was a bit of fun and enjoyment for them to have, but as adults we should have used our brains and stepped in and stopped it.

“I’ve regretted it for years. It has haunted me and I’ve not had a good night’s sleep for a long time.

“Tonight, I feel unburdened.”

While McCafferty said what he did "to a certain extent" amounted to paedophilia - he denied grooming any boys.

He said that as a youth playing football in England he was subjected to the same thing that he later carried out on the young boys.

He said: “It happened to me. People would pull your ‘bobby’, as we called it, in those days.

“Most clubs, most players would have been involved. It was part of the game. Without a doubt there are stacks of managers who wouldn’t have, but there’s something different in the genes in me.”

McCafferty insists he never raped any of the boys.

He said: “No one has accused me of raping them but I cannot lie.

“There are things I’ve done and I have to accept that. But now this is about me drawing the line.

“I don’t want to hide anything. I have been haunted by what I did.

“I was lonely and the boys made me feel good. I wanted their company without a doubt, although the greatest interest was football.”

He added: “I understand it was wrong. I was wrong and I did wrong and I am sorry.

“I have remorse. I know if I’m found guilty I will have to serve time, and I’ve said to myself that’s what I’ll have to pay back for what I’ve done.

“I’m OK with that. I hope that will cleanse my soul.”

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