A FORMER athletics coach has been jailed for rape and serious sexual offences against teenage girls in Fife.

Eric Simpson raped one girl and subjected four other victims to indecent assaults and lewd behaviour between 1981 and 1999.

At the High Court in Paisley, the 73-year-old from Kirkcaldy, was jailed for eight years for the "monstrous" abuse.

He denied the offences but was found guilty of seven charges at the High Court in Edinburgh in August.

The offences occurred in Kirkcaldy and Burntisland as well as at school in Edinburgh.

Simpson was 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.

Sentencing Simpson, Lord Arthurson said: "In light of the jury's verdict, you come across as a Jekyll and Hyde character.

"Your crimes against your victims in this case was nothing short of monstrous. You have displayed limited regret and lack victim empathy."

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

The court was told Simpson previously boasted that 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 on to 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 was also put on the sex offenders list indefinitely.

His lawyer Krista Johnston said he was "devoted" to athletics, and now his reputation as a coach was in "jeopardy".

"He coached 15 British and two Paralympic champions," she said.

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

An NSPCC Scotland spokesperson said: "As a coach, it was Simpson’s responsibility to protect and nurture the young people he trained. Instead, he used his position of trust to abuse these girls to satisfy his own sexual desires and in the process caused long-lasting harm.

"We hope the victims in this case who have shown immense courage in speaking out, helping bring Simpson 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 and allegations will be investigated; no matter how much time has passed."