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Who is Barry Bennell? The former coach found guilty of horrific child sex abuse

18:00 EAT 19/02/2018
Barry Bennell
The 64-year-old was sentenced to 31 years in prison after being convicted of 43 counts of historical sexual abuse against youth footballers

Barry Bennell was found guilty of 50 charges of child sex abuse dating back to the 1980s this week as one of his victims, Andy Woodward, described that "justice has been served".

The ex-youth football coach was sentenced to 31 years  for the historic crimes of rape and molestation against young, male footballers who were under his duty of care.

He'd already been found guilty of abusing a child in the US back in 1994 and he reappeared in the headlines in late 2016 when accusations emerged of historic abuse at numerous British clubs.

Bennell was formerly employed by Crewe Alexandra, Manchester City and Leeds United. He also had close links with Stoke City and Manchester United

Who is Barry Bennell?

Bennell, 64, is a convicted paedophile who had unfettered access to children in his role as football coach at top UK clubs between 1979 and 1990.

He changed his name to Richard Jones and was a former youth player at Chelsea before going on to coach players as young as eight years old.

Mr Woodward, who was subjected to years of abuse by Bennell in his youth, was pivotal in bringing the accusations against him to the attention of the general public.

He said: "The football clubs that were accountable for this... 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."

Bennell also ran summer camps in the US, which led to his first conviction abroad.

What was Barry Bennell charged with?

Following a month-long trial, Bennell was found guilty of multiple sexual abuse offences against young boys he coached during the 1980s while working as a coach at Crewe Alexandra and Man City.

Benell has also served three prison sentences relating to sexual abuse against young footballers over a 20-year period aged between 8 and 14.

In the most recent trial at Chester Crown Court, Benell was found guilty by a unanimous of a further 43 counts of historical child sexual abuse and male rape from incidents between 1979 and 1987.

He was described as a “child molester on an industrial scale” by Judge Clement Goldstone QC and is said to have assaulted some victims over 100 times. 

The jury at the latest trial heard that Bennell enticed boys to his house with arcade games and exotic pets and was compared by prosecutors to the child catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Since November 2016, a further 86 allegations against Bennell have been reported. 

Why was Bennell taken to hospital?

In November 2016, following a number of allegations being made against Bennell, he was found unconscious and not breathing in a hotel room and taken to hospital. 

The incident happened after four former footballers, including Woodward, that were coached by Bennell went on TV and claimed they'd been abused by the ex-coach.

He was also charged with two counts of inciting a boy to commit acts of gross indecency, five counts of indecent assault and one count of serious sexual assault against a minor.

Bennell had previously served three sentences for molesting young players, including spending three years in a prison in the US.

Who were Bennell's victims?

In the most recent trial Bennell has been convicted of 50 charges against 12 young players who he coached, but 98 former footballers - including the 12 victims providing evidence in the current trial - are understood to have complained to police that they were abused by Bennell.

After Woodward came forward in late 2016, his former team-mate Steve Walters and two former Man City players David White and Paul Stewart all made similar allegations against Bennell.

Four of the former youth players who were coached by Bennell have gone on to commit suicide.

During the inquest into the death of former Welsh player and manager Gary Speed's it was found that him and former Manchester United player Alan Davies had both been coached by Bennell, although there was no evidence they had been abused by Bennell.

“I know there’s many, many more lads out there and I’m hoping they can find strength," Gary Cliffe, who was abused by Bennell, told the Guardian. "They don’t have to go to the police, just confide in family, friends because they cannot carry that burden."