Victim of paedophile coach Barry Bennell tells High Court he created ‘an environment a young person was attracted to’, at his home and his world ‘revolved around him’

  • The man told the judge he stayed at Bennell’s ‘football orientated’ home as a boy
  • He is one of eight men who made damages claims against Manchester City
  • They claim Bennell was a City scout when he abused them but club disputes that 
  • Former coach Barry Bennell is serving a jail term for child sex crimes conviction

Paedophile former coach Barry Bennell created an attractive environment for young people, one of his victims has told the High Court.

The man told a judge he had stayed at Bennell’s ‘football-orientated’ home as a boy.

He told Mr Justice Johnson that football had been his world, and his world had revolved around the coach, who is now serving a jail term after being convicted of child sex crimes.

The man was giving evidence at a High Court trial being overseen by Mr Justice Johnson in London.

He is one of eight men, now in their 40s and 50s, who have made damages claims against Manchester City.

Eight men, now in their 40s and 50s, have made damages claims against Manchester City and say Bennell (pictured) abused them when they were playing football in north-west England more than 30 years ago

The men say Bennell, now 67, abused them when they were playing schoolboy football in the North West of England more than 30 years ago.

They claim that Bennell was a City scout when he abused them.

City bosses dispute that claim.

The man, who, the judge has ruled, cannot be named in media reports, said he first met Bennell when he was around 11 or 12.

‘He approached me and said he was a Manchester City scout,’ the man told Mr Justice Johnson.

‘He gave me a calling card.’

The man said he played for a team coached by Bennell, trained with him at City’s training ground, and went to watch City games with him.

He also said he stayed at Bennell’s home.

‘It was something I wanted to do,’ he told the judge.

‘It was an environment a young person was attracted to.

‘Everything was football-orientated.

‘Football was my world and revolved around him at the time.’

The man added: ‘I wanted to be a footballer – that is what I was convinced I was going to be.’

He said Bennell’s abuse had scarred him and he had ‘lost his love’ for football.

He told the judge: ‘I see the abuse as the crossroads and the crux of the matter.’

Barry Bennell (above), a former Crewe Alexandra coach, is serving a 34-year prison sentence after being convicted of sexual offences against boys on five separate occasions 

Mr Justice Johnson has heard that the eight men were sexually and emotionally abused by Bennell between 1979 and 1985 and are claiming damages after suffering psychiatric injuries.

Six are also claiming damages for loss of potential football earnings.

Manchester City FC say Bennell was a local scout in the mid-1970s but was not a scout between 1979 and 1985.

The judge has been told that Bennell, a former Crewe Alexandra coach, is serving a 34-year prison sentence after being convicted of sexual offences against boys on five separate occasions – four in the UK and one in the US – and is being held at HMP Littlehey, near Huntingdon, in Cambridgeshire.

The case continues.

Adults can contact the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000 while children can call Childline on 0800 1111. 

Decades of abuse before he was finally brought to justice: Timeline of the Barry Bennell case 

Early 1970s: Starts his coaching career aged about 18 at renowned London-based junior club Senrab FC, Bennell told police. 

Mid to late 1970s: Coaches at Butlin’s holiday camp in Pwllheli, North Wales, and also begins working with Manchester youth team Whitehill FC, he also tells detectives.

November 1979 to July 1981: Employed as a resident social worker at the now closed Taxal Edge children’s home in Whaley Bridge, Derbyshire.

1982 to 1985: Coaches youth teams in Derbyshire which provided several youth recruits for Manchester City.

1985 to 1992: Bennell is employed by or on behalf of Crewe Alexandra apart from a spell coaching in Georgia, United States, in 1989 and 1990.

1990: Marries Linda Woodward, sister of one of his abuse victims, Andy Woodward. The couple go on to have two children.

1992 to 1994: Bennell is employed by or on behalf of Stoke City. 

1994: He is arrested while on a 10-week tour of the United States when coaching a Staffordshire youth team.

1995: He is convicted in Florida of four counts of indecent assault on a young boy and sentenced to four years in jail. Spends time in custody prior to his conviction. His victim was also abused by Bennell in Britain, which leads to a domestic investigation.

January 1997: Bennell is featured in the Channel 4 documentary series Dispatches. Former youth player Ian Ackley waives his anonymity and tells the Soccer’s Foul Play programme he was sexually abused by Bennell.

September 1997: US authorities deport Bennell to the UK at the conclusion of his sentence and on his arrival he is charged with sexual offences relating to a number of complainants.

June 1998: He pleads guilty at Chester Crown Court on the first day of his scheduled trial to 23 counts of sexual abuse relating to 15 complainants, aged from nine to 14, between 1978 and 1992. Victims include Mr Ackley and Mr Woodward. Twenty-two alleged offences are left to lie on file. He is sentenced to nine years in prison.

May 2015: Bennell pleads guilty at the same court on the first day of his scheduled trial to sexually abusing a 12-year-old boy in 1980. He is jailed for two years. His victim did not come forward in 1997 because of the effect he said it would have on his mother. When she died in 2013 he contacted police. The court hears he was abused at Bennell’s living quarters at Taxal Edge while staying with him as he took part in coaching sessions in Macclesfield.

November 2016: Mr Woodward waives his anonymity to give emotional, powerful interviews to the Guardian and BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme. It leads to a number of complainants against Bennell contacting police and a fresh investigation begins.

January 2018: Bennell goes on trial at Liverpool Crown Court accused of 48 historical child sex offences against 11 complainants between 1979 and 1990.

February 2018: Bennell is jailed for 30 years at Liverpool Crown Court after being convicted of 52 child sexual offences against 12 boys in 2018.

July 2020: Bennell admits nine more sex offences – three counts of buggery and six counts of indecent assault in relation to two complainants between 1979 and 1988 who were aged between 11 and 14 at the time.

October 2020 : Bennell is sentenced at Chester Crown Court to four years in prison, in addition to the 30-year sentence he is already serving, for nine sexual offences against two boys.

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