Jailed ex-coach, 74, claimed boys he abused wanted by top football clubs

Officers have been praised for their “courage” in a “rigorous and sensitive” investigation that brought a 74-year-old former football coach to justice more than four decades after sexually abusing two youth players.

Mar 27, 2018
By Nick Hudson
Chief Constable Jo Farrell

Judge Lord Matthews sentenced James Kinnen to eight years in prison after committing “horrific offences with catastrophic consequences” for the boys he had abused.

The attacks took place in North Lanarkshire between 1972 and 1977 but Kinnen was not arrested until 2016 as part of Police Scotland’s Operation Veritat, a major investigation into historical child sexual abuse within football north of the border.

The ex-coach admitted two charges of lewd and libidinous behaviour, and sexual assault at the High Court in Glasgow.

Kinnen was coaching a local youth football team and targeted the first boy when he joined the club aged 11.

He preyed on the young player after stating Celtic and Manchester United were both interested in signing him.

Kinnen abused the boy in his home and told him he would tell the other boys he was homosexual if he revealed what had happened. A year later he struck again after giving the boy a lift home.

Prosecutor Bernard Ablett said: “He [the victim] was scared to disclose what happened fearing he would be taken into care.

“He has advised that he did not go back to the football club after this.”

The court heard that the victim “feels sick” when thinking about the abuse and has considered suicide.

The second victim was subsequently traced during the investigation, the court heard. He had joined the club when he was aged seven and was abused on a “number of occasions” until leaving aged 11.

Mr Ablett said: “He has stated throughout the period of abuse that Kinnen would make threats against him.

“On at least three of these incidents, Kinnen threatened that if he told anyone what was happening he would kill him.

“The boy was genuinely frightened and believed that he would carry out this threat.”

Speaking after the sentencing, Procurator Fiscal for Sexual Offences in East of Scotland, Kenny Donnelly said: “These two young boys were robbed of their innocence by a man in a position of trust.

“It is thanks to their courage and rigorous and sensitive investigation on the part of police and prosecutors that James Kinnen has been convicted of his crimes.

“We would encourage all victims of such crimes, wherever and whenever they were committed, to come forward and report them.

“Victims can be confident that they will be treated with the utmost professionalism by everyone involved in the investigation and prosecution.”

The court was told Kinnen is a registered sex offender being monitored by Avon and Somerset Constabulary, with four previous convictions for sexual offences.

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