Ex football coach Barry Bennell facing fourth jail term after abuse convictions

Barry Bennell (photo: PA)
Barry Bennell (photo: PA)
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Paedophile football coach Barry Bennell is facing a fourth jail sentence after a jury convicted him of 36 counts of historical child sex abuse.

The former Crewe Alexandra coach and Manchester City scout, 64 - described by the prosecution as a “child molester on an industrial scale” - was found guilty of offences of buggery, attempted buggery and indecent assault yesterday against 10 complainants between 1979 and 1990.

Jurors at Liverpool Crown Court have yet to reach verdicts on seven counts, including four involving an 11th complainant.

Complainants - former youth footballers coached by the defendant - and their family members were in tears in the public gallery as the jury foreman began to return the verdicts in a hushed courtroom.

The Recorder of Liverpool, Judge Clement Goldstone QC, told the jury he would accept verdicts which 10 or more of them were agreed on in relation to the remaining counts and they will resume their deliberations today.

During the trial, the court has heard Bennell compared to the Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as he invited boys to his house where he had arcade games, a pool table, videos and exotic pets, including a puma and a monkey.

In his closing speech, Nicholas Johnson QC, prosecuting, said: “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.”

In transcripts of police interviews read in court, Bennell, who has changed his name to Richard Jones, told the police about his grooming process and abuse of boys, but claimed the complainants were “jumping on the bandwagon” following publicity. He chose not to appear in the witness box and no evidence was called by the defence.

Eleanor Laws QC, defending, described Bennell as a “sitting target” and asked jurors to put their “understandable potential revulsion” aside in considering verdicts.

One of Bennell’s victims, who he had pleaded guilty to abusing in 1998, previously told the jury he knew of four men who had been coached by Bennell, including former Wales manager Gary Speed, who had gone on to take their own lives.

But the jury was later told there was no evidence to link their deaths to Bennell.

Bennell has served three previous jail terms, totalling 15 years, for child sex offences against 17 young boys. On Tuesday, Bennell was convicted of 27 counts of indecent assault, seven counts of buggery and two counts of attempted buggery. Before the trial started last month, he pleaded guilty to seven counts of indecent assault involving three boys, two of whom were part of the trial.