In November 2016 an avalanche of allegations of sexual abuse of boys at English football clubs during the 1970s, 80s and 90s was triggered when allegations were made by former player Andy Woodward. His abuser, Barry Bennell, is now facing a long sentence in prison after being convicted of raping 11 boys between 1979 and 1990.
A football coach who was described as a “child molester on an industrial scale” has been convicted of 36 sex offenses against boys between 1979 and 1990.
Barry Bennell, 64, had admitted some charges at the start of his trial at Liverpool Crown Court last month but had denied sexually abusing 11 boys.
The jury convicted him on 36 counts on Tuesday, February 13.
They have been told to return on Wednesday with verdicts on seven other counts on which they have not yet agreed.
Bennell worked at a number of clubs in the north west of England, including Manchester City — who are currently top of the English Premier League — and Crewe Alexandra.
Three former players with Manchester City are suing the club for failing to protect them from abuse at Bennell’s hands.
Suicide of Wales Football Manager ‘Linked to Bennell’
The trial was told by one of Bennell’s victims that four men who had been coached by Bennell had gone on to take their own lives, including Wales manager and former Leeds United player Gary Speed, who was found hanged at his home in Cheshire in 2011.
Prosecution in the Bennell trial has compared the ex-football coach’s grooming to “the child-catcher in Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang…except he did it with cherry-pie and lollipops… We suggest he (Bennell) was a
House Was a ‘Kids’ Paradise’
The jury heard Bennell turned his house into a “kids’ paradise”, with amusement arcade machines, exotic pets and a pool table in an attempt to lure boys.
“We suggest Mr Bennell is a child molester on an industrial scale and that’s why he went to these lengths to get so many lads round to his house,” said prosecutor Nicholas Johnson QC, who compared him to the character of the “child catcher” from the classic British film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
Bennell went to great lengths to “groom” the families of those he abused, befriending parents of several children in order to mask his intent.
Victim Suffered Panic Attacks During Matches
Mr. Woodward said he suffered panic attacks during football matches — having to be substituted on one occasion — and even contemplated suicide as he struggled to cope with the abuse.
Defendant ‘Smirked’ During Trial
Bennell did not give evidence and offered no defense during his trial.
“I was a manipulating, conniving, bastard of a person. But I was not evil,” Bennell had told police.
At one point Bennell was accused by one victim of “smirking”.
The man, who was raped at least seven times by Bennell at Crewe in the 1980s, said he would never have given evidence if Mr. Woodward had not come forward.
“Unless you’ve been raped multiple times, been abused God knows how many times, you can’t stand up there and tell me what I’m thinking or feeling, or how it’s affected my life. And him, smirking on the screen, denying everything — he’s shown no remorse ever. Even the stuff he’s admitted to, he’s never given one apology and he still sits there,” the victim told the court by videolink.
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