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Sunday, September 24, 2023

Ex-Celtic Boys Club manager 'not fit to stand trial'

A court has begun a sex abuse trial against a former Celtic Boys Club manager, despite the accused being unfit to take part.

Frank Cairney, 87, was due to go on trial at Glasgow Sheriff Court on charges of sexual crimes against three teenage boys in the 1970s and 80s.

However, he was deemed unable to participate due to health issues. It was agreed an “examination of facts” would go ahead instead.

Mr Cairney pleads not guilty.

Mr Cairney’s lawyer Andrew Crosbie told Sheriff Tom Hughes: “You are aware that Mr Cairney is unfortunately unfit to stand trial.

“You have had sight of expert reports and that it is the unequivocal opinion of a doctor from September and two other doctors.

“My friend and I agree that it’s impossible for him to stand trial on this matter.”

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Sheriff Hughes granted the joint motion and allowed for the accused’s absence.

Previous hearings had been told that Mr Cairney, from Uddingston in South Lanarkshire, had been suffering from “health difficulties” including dementia.

The charges relate to incidents including at Celtic Park and in the club’s Barrowfield training ground between July 1978 and June 1989.

The court heard that Mr Cairney inappropriately touched a 15-year-old while giving him a “consoling” hug in the stadium dressing room in 1986.

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He was said to have also touched the boy’s lower back and moved his hand to his upper thigh.

Court papers state Mr Cairney assaulted the boy when he was aged between 15 and 18 within the Barrowfield dressing rooms as well as Celtic Park between February 1986 and December 1988.

Now aged 52, he gave evidence as a witness at the hearing.

He said he signed for Celtic in early 1986. He said he moved to Glasgow alone and worked as a club apprentice, cleaning the dressing rooms and the boots of senior players.

He said Cairney was a “big imposing man” and “a bit of a bully.”

The man, from Ireland, told of being homesick during an important match at Parkhead. Celtic won, but he remained upset after full time.

The man said he went into the separate shower area of the Celtic Park dressing room alone and was joined by Cairney.

Contacted police

The witness said: “He asked how I was – I was crying and to be honest I was upset.

“He put his arms around me to hug me in a consoling way I thought at the time.

“He put his hand on my lower back and his other hand was at the top of the inside of my leg.

“He then moved his hand and touch my private parts and lower stomach.”

The hearing was earlier told that the man contacted police in 2018 about the circumstances.

The charges also state that another boy, aged between 15 and 16, was assaulted within a car in Paisley, Renfrewshire and in the dressing rooms at Celtic’s Barrowfield training ground between 1 July 1978 and 30 June 1979.

They state that that the boy was repeatedly touched on the thigh by Cairney.

Cairney is further charged with repeatedly punching and slapping the same boy to his head and body at Barrowfield.

Cairney is also charged with indecently assaulting a third teenage boy at a hotel room in Aviemore and in a car in Cumbernauld, North Lanarkshire on various occasions between 1 August 1988 and 30 June 1989.

The examination of facts continues before Sheriff Hughes.

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