Fitness for trial concerns over man accused of Celtic Park indecent assault

Francis Cairney, 87, is accused of carrying out sex attacks in the 1970s and 1980s.

17 June 2022

There are questions over whether a man accused of indecently assaulting a teenager at Celtic Park and another at the football club’s former training ground will be fit to stand trial, a court has heard.

Francis Cairney, 87, is charged with indecently assaulting one boy in the late 1970s and another in the 1980s at football facilities, and a third boy in a hotel room in Aviemore and a car in Cumbernauld.

Glasgow Sheriff Court heard that Cairney has dementia and that medical reports on his condition were not available in time for a hearing on Friday ahead of a trial on August 1.

Advocate Patricia Baillie, representing Cairney, said he maintains his plea of not guilty to the charges but that there are questions over whether he will be fit to stand trial.

Glasgow Sheriff Court
The hearing took place at Glasgow Sheriff Court (Jane Barlow/PA)

She told the court: “Mr Cairney is in his 80s and there is a concern regarding his fitness for trial.

“This matter has some procedural history. Those instructing me had arranged for Mr Cairney to see two separate consultants on the 29th of this month but the appointments had to be postponed for two to three weeks.”

It is alleged that Cairney, from Uddingston, indecently assaulted a boy then aged between 15 and 16 in a car in Paisley and in the dressing rooms at Barrowfield training ground, Celtic’s former training ground in Glasgow, on various occasions between July 1978 and June 1979.

He is also accused of assaulting the boy by punching and slapping him in the dressing room at Barrowfield between those dates.

It is also alleged that Cairney indecently assaulted another boy then aged between 15 and 18 in the dressing room at Barrowfield training ground and at Celtic Park football ground on various occasions between February 1986 and December 1988.

The fourth charge alleges that he indecently assaulted a boy then aged between 15 and 16 at a hotel room in Aviemore and a car in Cumbernauld on various occasions between August 1988 and June 1989.

Sheriff Gerard Considine said: “Mr Cairney is suffering from dementia and the level of that and whether he is fit to instruct is a matter that will have to be dealt with.”

Cairney was excused from attending the hearing on Friday.

Fiscal Depute Carrie Stevens said that a decision on Cairney’s fitness for trial cannot be made until the medical reports are available.

The lawyer told the court that one of the witnesses is going to be coming from China and will be in Ireland over the summer, and that it would be preferable to keep the trial date fixed for August 1 in case it is possible to go ahead with it.

She said: “The preference at this stage is to simply keep the trial date fixed for August 1.

“While I think it is unlikely, if it were the case that we were able to proceed we would be able to make short notice travel arrangements with the witness to get them from Ireland to Glasgow.”

Sheriff Considine continued the case until the trial in August.

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