02212018

Ex-coach Bennell convicted of seven more offences as court told he abused boys ‘on industrial scale’

Barry Bennell in 2012

Former football coach Barry Bennell has been found guilty of seven further sex offences, bringing the total number he has been convicted of to 43.

Bennell, who worked with Manchester City and Crewe Alexandra’s youth teams, has been convicted of abusing 11 boys aged eight to 15 between 1979 and 1990.

Liverpool Crown Court heard boys were abused on an “industrial scale”.

An additional 86 people are understood to have come forward to say they have been abused in the past by Bennell, 64.

Before the case he admitted seven charges of indecent assault on three boys, two of whom were also part of the allegations he was tried on.

Bennell, who is now known as Richard Jones, appeared in court via videolink during the five-week trial due to illness.

He could be seen shaking his head and muttering when the final guilty verdicts were returned by a 10-1 majority. On Tuesday he had been convicted of 36 charges.

Bennell will be sentenced on Monday and will be produced from custody to attend the hearing.

It was the fourth time he had been found guilty of abusing boys.

The jury was told he had previously received three jail sentences in the UK and in the US.

‘Innocence shattered’

The latest police investigation began in November 2016 when one of Bennell’s past victims, ex-player Andy Woodward gave interviews to the Guardian and BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme.

Speaking outside court after the verdict, the former Crewe defender said: “Justice has been served today and people will be able to move on with their lives including myself.”

Media captionAndy Woodward says ‘justice has been served’

Mr Woodward said he believed “the football clubs that were accountable for this that could have stopped this for so many years… And I think now’s the time that that comes sort of out.

“And I would personally like after 15 months, an apology from Crewe Alexandra for what happened to us boys.”

Three of Bennell’s other victims, Micky Fallon, Chris Unsworth and Steve Walters, read statements outside the court.

Mr Fallon said: “We stand before you today as men united but, at the same time, we were very young boys. We were little boys with a dream and our innocence was shattered. Our dreams turned into the most horrendous nightmare.”

Prosecutors told the trial Bennell had a “power hold” over the players.

They said boys were abused between 1979 and 1990 at his home – where he had arcade games and exotic pets including a puma and a monkey – on trips away, and in his car on the way to and from training.

Det Insp Sarah Oliver, who led the investigation, said Bennell had betrayed the trust of the young players.

“As a football coach he should have provided nothing more than safety and support for the players in his care,” she said.

“Instead he abused them. He also abused the trust of their families who had placed them into that care so they could pursue their dreams of being professional footballers. He has shattered those dreams and left them burdened for decades.”

In a statement, Crewe Alexandra expressed its “deepest sympathies” to Bennell’s victims and said it worked closely with the police investigation.

It added it was was not aware of any sexual abuse by Bennell or received any complaint about sexual abuse by him before or during his employment with the club.

Manchester City said it was offering “heartfelt sympathy to all victims for the unimaginably traumatic experiences they have endured”.

The club said it was keen to speak to any survivor or witness to sexual abuse which might in any way be connected to Manchester City or which could support a review it launched after the latest Bennell allegations were raised.

It added its review also identified serious allegations of child sex abuse in respect of a second man with “potential historic connections to the club”. The man is now dead and is not believed to be linked to Bennell.

Image copyright
Julia Quenzler

Image caption

The jury at Liverpool Crown Court deliberated for five days

Bennell chose not to offer any evidence or witnesses in his defence and had told police he was suffering from cancer, which in turn had caused memory problems.

His barrister accused the complainants of inventing stories about him and “jumping on the bandwagon”.

What Next?

Recent Articles

Leave a Reply

You must be Logged in to post comment.