Sex offender Craig Thomson back in football

Craig Thomson was convicted of preying on underage girls over the internet. Picture: Dan Phillips

Craig Thomson was convicted of preying on underage girls over the internet. Picture: Dan Phillips

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SHAMED footballer Craig Thomson has made a return to Scottish football, the Evening News can reveal.

The former Hearts player has been training with Premier League junior outfit Arniston Rangers in Gorebridge in recent weeks.

Club sources have revealed team bosses are keen to sign the 22-year-old, who was placed on the sex offenders register three years ago after being convicted of preying on underage girls online.

Thomson never played for Hearts again after his conviction and was later sent out on loan to Lithuanian clubs Kaunas and Suduva.

However, indicating the player’s possible return to the domestic game here, Junior football bosses said they understood Arniston Rangers had contacted the Lithuanian Football Federation to ensure Thomson was a free agent who could be signed.

Tom Johnston, the Scottish Junior Football Association secretary, said: “He’s eligible to play and the club are in the process of taking that opportunity to sign him.

“It’s my understanding they are awaiting international clearance from Lithuania. Any Scottish player who plays abroad has to have clearance from the parent authority, in this case the Lithuanian FA, to say that he’s a free agent.”

When contacted by the Evening News last night, Thomson, who lives in Bonnyrigg, confirmed he was training with the Midlothian side.

He said: “I have trained with the club about three times because I know some of the people there. But I won’t be signing for Arniston Rangers. I’ve been going to training sessions because I want to keep fit.

“Obviously I want to get back into football at some point in the future, but I don’t know if that will happen or not.”

Club secretary Allan Walker said the team would not comment on whether it hoped to sign Thomson.

However, Mr Walker acknowledged Thomson’s return could be controversial. He said: “It no doubt will be in some areas, but the punishment for the crime has been dealt with. There has to be some sort of rehabilitation at some point.”

In September, Thomson was thrown out by a Cypriot club after team bosses found out about his past. The defender was paraded as AEP Paphos’s first signing of the summer following a successful trial but the contract was torn up when his conviction came to light.

The former Scotland under-21 star, who has been working as a window cleaner, earned £1500 a week at Hearts.

The Tynecastle club released Thomson from his contract after the side came under fire from supporters and sponsors.

PLAYER CONTACTED YOUNG GIRLS OVER INTERNET

THOMSON was put on the sex offenders register for five years in June 2011 after being caught preying on underage girls on the internet.

The player engaged in sexual conversations with two girls, aged 12 and 14, chatting with them over Facebook, e-mail and webcams.

Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard Thomson had swapped e-mail addresses with the girls after sending them friend requests on Facebook.

The first girl was 13 when he first approached her online. Although she had her age and date of birth on her Facebook profile, Thomson engaged her in sexual chat and asked her about her body parts.

After she had turned 14 he told her he wanted to have sex with her and sent her a photograph of naked male private parts.

The second girl had known the footballer since she was small, and was 12 years old when he approached her online.