Ex-UK football coach jailed 30 years for child sex abuse

Barry Bennell
Barry Bennell

LONDON • Former football coach Barry Bennell has been sentenced to 30 years' jail on 50 counts of child sexual abuse by a judge who called him the "devil incarnate".

The 64-year-old Bennell, once a scout for Manchester City and Crewe Alexandra, abused 11 boys aged eight to 15 between 1979 and 1990 on an "industrial scale", Liverpool Crown Court had heard.

Police have said "scores more complainants" have come forward since the case started, bringing the total number of possible victims to more than 100.

"To those boys you appeared as a god... in reality you were the devil incarnate," Judge Clement Goldstone said on Monday. "You stole their childhoods and their innocence."

He added: "Your behaviour towards these boys in grooming and seducing them before subjecting them to, in some cases, the most serious, degrading and humiliating abuse, was sheer evil."

Bennell, who has already served three jail terms totalling 15 years for similar offences involving 16 other victims, stared at the floor and nodded as Judge Goldstone handed down the sentence. Some members of the public began to applaud as he was sent down, but the judge ordered them to stop.

Earlier in the hearing on Monday, one of his victims walked over to the courtroom dock and calmly said: "Barry. Barry. Why?"

THE DEVIL INCARNATE

To those boys you appeared as a god... in reality you were the devil incarnate. You stole their childhoods and their innocence. Your behaviour towards these boys in grooming and seducing them before subjecting them to, in some cases, the most serious, degrading and humiliating abuse, was sheer evil.

JUDGE CLEMENT GOLDSTONE, on the multiple child sexual abuse offences committed by Barry Bennell.

During his six-week trial, the Briton was accused of committing "industrial scale" levels of abuse against vulnerable pre-pubescent boys in his care. Victims told how he had a "power hold" over them as they dreamed of becoming professional footballers.

Bennell's latest crimes emerged in late 2016 when former Liverpool and Tottenham star Paul Stewart broke his 40-year silence and revealed how he was abused as a teenager, shortly after former Crewe player Andy Woodward went public with allegations against Bennell.

In testimony, several victims estimated Bennell had sexually abused them on more than 100 occasions.

The case has sparked wider allegations of sexual and physical abuse of boys at football clubs across Britain in the 1970s and 1980s, some of whom went on to become heroes of the terraces and international stars.

Nearly 800 victims have come forward against more than 100 coaches, leading to accusations that some of the game's most famous and loved clubs covered up allegations of abuse of boys in their care.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 21, 2018, with the headline 'Ex-UK football coach jailed 30 years for child sex abuse'. Print Edition | Subscribe