Former Scots athletics coach jailed for ‘monstrous’ rape and abuse of teenage girls

A shamed former athletics coach has been jailed for eight years for the “monstrous” abuse of teenage girls.

Eric Simpson, 73, preyed on his five victims – including raping one.

The sick crimes occurred between 1981 and 1999 in Kirkcaldy and Burntisland in Fife as well as at an Edinburgh school.

Simpson continued as a respected coach, but was finally brought to justice when one victim – now in her 50s – went to police in 2018 sparking a large scale abuse probe.

She had seen a photograph which featured him still involved in athletics posing with a young girl.

Simpson was sentenced at the High Court in Paisley on Thursday.

He had earlier been convicted after a trial in Edinburgh of raping one girl and subjecting the four others to indecent assaults and lewd acts.

Lord Arthurson told Simpson: “In light of the jury’s verdict, you come across as a Jekyll and Hyde character.

“Your crimes against your victims in this case were nothing short of monstrous.

“You have displayed limited regret and lack victim empathy.

“I note…you stand as a first offender and your career as a highly regarded athletics coach.

“There was sustained sexual abuse as a coach towards young females.

“The only disposal is a substantial period in custody.”

Jurors heard how the victim who initially went to police had wanted to protect other young girls from potential abuse.

The court was told how Simpson previously boasted how it was difficult working with girls when they all fancied him.

One victim was initially molested by Simpson during massages before he ended up raping her.

She told the trial: “He used to put music on and say it made him think of me.

“It was ‘Young Girl’.”

Another said he also played the Gary Puckett and The Union Gap hit when he preyed on her.

This woman added she can no longer listen to the song.

She was only 13 when Simpson made inappropriate remarks.

Recalling the ordeal at his hands, the witness added: “I was frozen. I was too scared to do anything.”

Three other girls were also targeted including one who he pulled onto his knee and kissed.

After police were alerted, detectives contacted various people who had been coached by Simpson in a career which spanned from the 1970s until his suspension in 2018.

Simpson had denied any guilt, but he was convicted of seven charges last month.

His lawyer Krista Johnston said: “Through his life, he devoted himself to athletics.

“He coached 15 British and two Paralympic champions.

“His reputation as a coach and, most importantly, his position as the head of the family is in jeopardy.

“He does not agree with the conviction, but has to accept the punishment.”

Simpson was also put on the sex offenders list indefinitely.

Following his conviction, Detective Sergeant Graeme Dursley of the Non-Recent Child Abuse Investigation Unit based at Glenrothes, said: “Simpson was well known in the local community. He was held in very high regard in athletic circles and many of those we spoke to couldn’t believe the concerns were true. This shows his level of manipulation and the depraved character that he was.

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“The women who agreed to testify against him are incredibly brave. When we approached them for the first time, they were all so glad that this was being investigated and that we believed them. It was a powerful moment and if it wasn’t for all the women agreeing to speak to us, we would not have had this conviction.

“I want to thank all of those women and also Scottish Athletics who helped us throughout our investigation. I want this to give others confidence to contact police if they have been a victim of abuse of any kind, no matter how long ago or who it involved.”

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Daily Record – Paisley