Ex-football coach who engaged in ‘career of abuse’ jailed

William Hay targeted his victims over a 35-year period at locations in Aberdeen and Perthshire.

Ex-football coach who engaged in ‘career of abuse’ jailed STV News

A pensioner who spent his life engaged in a “career of abuse” whilst operating as a sea cadet officer and football coach has been jailed for 12 years. 

William Hay, 71, targeted his victims, who cannot be named for legal reasons, over a 35-year period between January 1981 and August 2016 at locations in Aberdeen and Perthshire. 

The High Court in Edinburgh heard how he targeted his victims, who were all aged between 10 to 15, through the cadets and local school football teams. 

He was only brought to justice after his victims managed to find the courage to speak to police and give evidence against him in court. 

On Wednesday, the court heard how Hay maintains that he has fallen victim to a conspiracy. 

But judge Lord Sandison said: “You continue to maintain that your victims have conspired to malign you with elaborate and complex stories.

“However, you are not fooling anybody anymore. 

“Your conduct shows how you put your own needs for sexual gratification before any sense of decency. 

“I commend your victims in coming forward, giving evidence against you and bringing an end to what I can only describe as being your career of abuse, and which has resulted in you finally receiving your own just desserts.”

Hay, of Aberdeen, was convicted of a total of 12 sexual assault charges following a trial earlier this year at the High Court in Glasgow. 

A previous trial against Hay was abandoned in 2019. Jurors were told then that he had been a sea cadet officer and youth football coach.

Sentence had been deferred to Edinburgh in order for the courts to obtain reports about Hay’s background. 

During his trial, jurors heard how the assaults took place at locations including a beach, a campsite, a sports complex and a golf club. 

One previously recalled that he had been “too ashamed” to reveal to his parents how he had suffered.

He said Hay had taken him on a visit to London as well as to watch Rangers and Manchester United football matches.

The abuse continued on those trips.

On Wednesday, defence advocate Ronnie Renucci QC told Lord Sandison that his client was in poor health and asked for him to take this into account when passing sentence. 

Mr Renucci also said his client accepted that he would be sent to prison for the assaults. Mr Renucci added: “He intends to make good use of his time in custody.”

However, Lord Sandison said jail was the only sentence available to him. 

He added: “You continue to deny responsibility for your offending which is your prerogative. 

“I have also listened to what your counsel has said on your behalf. However, as a consequence of your position, I am unable to attach much importance to what has been presented to me. 

“I will impose a sentence of custody in this case.”

Afterwards, an NSPCC Scotland spokesperson said: “As a coach it was Hay’s responsibility to safeguard the boys in his care, instead he exploited his position of trust to groom and abuse them so he could satisfy his own sexual desires.

“Child abuse can have a devastating and long-lasting impact on people’s lives. We hope the victims in this case, who have shown immense bravery in speaking out and helping bring Hay to justice, are receiving all the support they need.

“It is so important that those who have been subjected to sexual abuse are encouraged to come forward and feel confident they will be listened to, no matter how much time has passed or who the perpetrator is, and that allegations will be investigated.”

Adults who have experienced abuse as a child or have concerns about a child’s welfare can contact the NSPCC helpline on 0808 8005000 or email help@nspcc.org.uk.

Children can contact Childline on 0800 1111.

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