HMA v James Torbett

At the High Court in Glasgow today, 5 November 2018, Lord Beckett sentenced James Torbett to six years' imprisonment after the accused was convicted of historical child sex offences, having been found guilty of sexually abusing three boys in the 1980s and 1990s.

On sentencing, Lord Beckett made the following statement in court:

“James Torbett, I take account of all that has been said in mitigation. I note your age.

“I recognise that you have been hard working and self-reliant, creating a business and providing employment for many.  I accept that you have been involved in supporting charities for much of your adult life. Your involvement in setting up and organising the activities of youth football in Celtic Boys Club might in other circumstances have appeared public spirited and commendable.

“However, what this case has shown is that you used the club as a front and a recruiting ground for boys who you could sexually abuse. The love which young boys have for the game of football, their competitive spirit, their dreams of playing professionally and perceived association with Celtic Football Club, which is a revered institution for a significant part of the population, gave you substantial power over the boys whom you coached.

“You groomed boys and contrived situations when you could abuse them. Yours was some of the most corrupting behaviour I have heard of in these courts.

“You repeated this conduct over substantial periods of time and the evidence which I heard demonstrates that your conduct has had a substantial impact on your victims even many years later.

“Your conduct towards the complainer on charges 5 and 7 is aggravated by the age of the child and his complete vulnerability when he was entrusted to be left alone with you.

“The court learns that you have convictions for sexually abusing three boys in the late 1960s and early 1970Ss for which you were sentenced to imprisonment for two years in the sheriff court in 1998.

“The situation is much more serious now. I take a grave view of the crimes of which you have been convicted.

“Your depraved conduct towards innocent children has blighted their lives. There was a significant element of breach of trust in each case.

“It is necessary to punish you, to seek to deter you and others who would behave in this way and to mark society's disapproval of such an appalling course of criminal conduct.

“There is one sentence to cover all the charges. You will go to prison for six years from today.

“I certify that you have been convicted of sexual offences within the scope of the Sexual Offences Act 2003. You will be subject to notification requirements, commonly known as being put on the sex offender's register, indefinitely.

“I direct the Clerk of Court to intimate details of your convictions to the Scottish Ministers so that they can determine if you should be included on the list of persons unsuitable to work with children.”