Ex-football coach Barry Bennell has been jailed for 30 years for abusing 12 young footballers he coached between 1979 and 1991.
The serial paedophile was branded the ‘devil incarnate’ by the judge who jailed him at Liverpool Crown Court after he was convicted of 50 child sexual offences.
Bennell, 64, a former coach with Crewe Alexandra and Manchester City, may have more than 100 victims in total as an additional 86 complainants have come forward to say they too were abused by him.
Sentencing Bennell the Recorder of Liverpool, Judge Clement Goldstone QC, said: ‘Your behaviour towards these boys in grooming and seducing them before subjecting them to, in some cases, the most most serious, degrading and humiliating abuse was sheer evil.’
He said Bennell had appeared to his victims as a God but added: ‘In reality, you were the devil incarnate. You stole their childhoods and their innocence to satisfy your own perversion.’
Some members of the public began to applaud as he was sent down, but were stopped by the judge.
Judge Goldstone said Bennell’s abuse had destroyed the enthusiasm his victims had for playing football and had led to them suffering problems including suicidal thoughts, alcoholism and depression.
He said: ‘Each has suffered and now, more than 30 to 35 years after you ruined these boys’, now mens’, lives, continues to suffer.’ Bennell has already served three jail terms, totalling 15 years, for similar offences involving 16 other victims.
During his six-week trial, the defendant was said to have committed ‘industrial scale’ levels of abuse against vulnerable pre-pubescent boys in his care.
Complainants told how he had a ‘power hold’ over them as they dreamed of becoming professional footballers.
Gary Cliffe, a police officer, approached the glass dock after reading out his statement and said calmly: “Barry. Barry. Why?”
Bennell did not respond and looked downwards as court staff intervened before a police officer escorted Mr Cliffe, a detective constable with Staffordshire Police, to his seat in the packed public gallery.
Mr Cliffe, who has waived his anonymity, said: “I have had over 30 years to consider, reflect and make sense of what he did to me, yet I still find it hard to effectively put into words the hell and mental suffering I have endured during this period of time.
“I look back on my childhood with regret and deep sadness.”
The judge said half of the 30-year term will be served in custody with the rest on liceBennell, who had a seven-year association with Manchester City and worked for Crewe for roughly the same amount of time, had admitted seven charges and the jury found him guilty of the other 43 offences.
One victim told the court: “I did not want it, did not ask for it and did not enjoy it. I was a child, and between the ages of 10 to 13 that monster decided it was fun for him to use me as a sex toy, someone that he could get his kicks from. He took my innocence, my virginity and my football career. He preyed on his victims, groomed us while grooming our parents.
“People may wonder why I never told my parents, but after the pain and suffering, but more importantly the guilt, they have felt over the past 12 months I can now see why. My dad finds it very difficult to think that that he was taking me to play football, and become the footballer that I always wanted to be, when for three years he was taking me to hell.”
Barry Bennell: Paedophile football coach convicted of more child sex abuse
The former football coach Barry Bennell has been found guilty of abusing more young footballers after grooming them with the promise he could make them stars of the future.
The 64-year-old, who has previously received three jail sentences for similar offences, was found guilty at Liverpool Crown Court of sex offences against more victims.
Bennell, who was compared in court to the Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, was convicted of two counts of indecently assaulting one young boy between 1979 and 1982.
He was also found guilty of three counts of indecent assault and two counts of buggery against a second complainant and four counts of indecent assault against a third complainant.
One victim, who he had admitted abusing in 1998, had earlier said he knew of four men who had been coached by Bennell, including the former Wales manager Gary Speed, who had gone on to take their own lives.
The jury was told there was no evidence to link the deaths to Bennell.
Bennell, who is now known as Richard Jones, was described during the course of his trial as a “child molester on an industrial scale” who would not just groom his victims, but also their families.
Victims who had been coached by Bennell as boys told how he exercised a “power hold” over them as they dreamed of becoming professional footballers.
The youth scout and junior football coach was associated with several clubs, including Stoke City, Crew Alexandra and Manchester City, where he was said to have been treated like “God” at the team’s Maine Road ground.
The serial paedophile not only abused the boys at his homes, where he had arcade games and exotic pets, including a puma and a monkey, but also on trips away and in his car while on the way to and from training.
Bennell, who had part of his tongue removed due to cancer, appeared in court via videolink for health reasons and declined to give evidence in his own defence.
But the court heard transcripts of police interviews in which he admitted having a “grooming process” and being attracted to teenage boys.
The jury was last night still deliberating on four counts involving an 11th complainant and three other counts involving other complainants.
The jurors were sent home on Tuesday evening to resume deliberations on those outstanding counts on Wednesday.
Some of the complainants were in tears as the verdicts were delivered.
Bennell denied the new allegations and said his accusers were “jumping on the bandwagon” following publicity.
Eleanor Laws QC, Bennell’s defence barrister, described him as being a “sitting target” after being convicted of child sexual abuse in the 1990s and in 2015.
She said: “The defendant is a known target and he coached these boys. They know when making allegations, whether truthful or not, that they are making allegations against a convicted paedophile.”
There were originally 48 counts on the indictment. The jury was ordered to return not guilty verdicts on three of those. Two other counts were alternative charges so they will not now be dealt with.
Before the trial started Bennell pleaded guilty to seven counts of indecent assault involving three boys, two of whom were part of the trial.
The verdicts mean Bennell has been convicted of a total 27 counts of indecent assault, seven counts of buggery and two counts of attempted buggery, involving ten victims, who were all children, between 1979 and 1990.
The jury has already been told that Bennell has served three previous prison terms for abuse.
Paedophile football coach from Milton Keynes admits string of child sex offences
A former football coach from Milton Keynes has today admitted a string of child sex offences.
Barry Bennell, 63, is charged with 55 different offences, including 42 counts of indecent assault.
He has pleaded guilty to six offences today at Liverpool Crown court.
The victims were all boys aged between eight and 15 when the offences were said to have happened between 1979 and 1991.
Bennell, who was a former coach for Crewe Alexandra, lived in Milton Keynes under the name of Richard Jones.
The court heard he will be referred to as Mr Jones during the course of the trial, which is expected to last for eight weeks.
Bennell was jailed for two years in 2015 after admitting to abusing a young boy in 1980.
Former Crewe Alex coach sentenced for child sex abuse
A former Crewe Alex youth coach who describes himself as a ‘monster’ has been jailed for two years after admitting to abusing a young boy in 1980.
Barry Bennell – already a convicted paedophile – preyed upon his 12-year-old victim after inviting him to take part in a youth football course in Macclesfield.
The 61-year-old, who was 26 at the time, arranged for the innocent youngster to stay with him at a nearby children’s home where he was working.
It was there that he had ‘play fights’ with his victim, ‘tickled’ him and ‘flicked him with tea towels’ before sexually abusing him in his bed.
Bennell, who now goes by the name of Richard Jones and was a youth coach at Crewe Alex in the 80s and 90s, already has convictions against his name for a ‘large number’ of sex offences, committed against young boys in both this country and America.
His crimes were at one point the subject of a Channel 4 Dispatches programme.
But he claims to have ‘no recollection’ of the events which led to his latest conviction.
However, he pleaded guilty on April 7, the day he was due to go on trial at Chester Crown Court, to two counts of indecent assault on a male under the age of 14, and two counts of enticing a boy under the age of 14 to commit an act of gross indecency.
He appeared back at Chester last Friday (May 8) where he was sentenced two years in prison, with a minimum term of 12 months.
During the hearing the court heard how Bennell – who now lives in Hodge Lea in Milton Keynes – first met his victim while the boy had been staying with his family at a Butlins holiday park.
Bennell was working there as a football coach.
Recorder Mark Ainsworth said: “He (victim) was so impressed and enamoured with the course that he participated in that he returned wth his family in the September of 1979.”
It was there that Bennell gave his victim the ‘boy of the week’ prize .
In April 1980, he then invited the boy to take part in a football course in Macclesfield.
The judge added: “The previous time he had been with his family, on this occasion he was coming to Macclesfield to stay with you…You coached him in football, of course your conduct went much further than that because on that occasion you sexually abused him.”
The brave victim, who came forward in 2013, was present during the sentencing hearing and read out impact statements from behind a screen. He said he’d ‘suffered a great deal’ as a result of the abuse and described how it had significantly affected his relationships throughout his life.
Trust, he said, ‘has become a real issue’, adding: “The things he did to me will never go away and I live with that every single day.”
Defending Bennell, barrister Laban Leake said his client was now ‘not a risk’.
“He’s fully aware that, in his own words, he’s a monster,” he added. “His depravity has got the better of him and the consequence of that is that he has ruined lives…he does express remorse.”
He said that when Bennell – who at one point also had a close association with Stoke City and Manchester City football clubs – was released from prison in 2004, having been sentenced to nine years, he was diagnosed with cancer of the tongue and lost the ability to swallow.
He also told the court that Bennell had been forced to move because of vigilantes.
Sentencing Bennell, the judge said that while he didn’t condone the actions of vigilantes, ‘there is only one victim of child abuse, and that is the child’.
“One only has to listen to (victim) as he explained in detail the difficulties he has faced throughout his life in almost every relationship,” he added.
DC Alison Greenwood, who led the investigation, said: “Bennell befriended a young boy and his family with the promise of helping to improve his footballing skills. He had clearly made a big impression on them all and the young boy was excited at the prospect of being able to attend the football skills course alongside Bennell.
“Little did he know that the man he looked up to and admired so much would take advantage of him, abuse his position of trust and treat him in the way he did.
“The victim was too scared to tell anyone what had happened and has had to live with what happened to him for many years. He has found it difficult to come forward and it was only in recent times that he felt the courage to speak out and report what happened to him.
“He has shown great courage in coming to court to give evidence and relive what happened to him and I hope that the conclusion of this case today will help to bring some closure for him – and help him to rebuild his life.”
Former football coach admits MORE child sexual offences