Barry Bennell: Paedophile former football coach has died in prison

Former football coach and serial paedophile Barry Bennell has died in prison, the Ministry of Justice has said.

The ex-Crewe Alexandra coach and former Manchester City scout, who reportedly had cancer, had been in HMP Littlehey, near Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, where he was serving a 34-year sentence for a number of child sex offences.

The 69-year-old – who was once described by a judge as the “devil incarnate” – died on Saturday.

Bennell, also known as Richard Jones, abused boys he coached in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.

He was in jail after being convicted of sexual offences against boys on five separate occasions – four in the UK and one in the US.

Bennell was first jailed in Florida in 1994 for raping a British boy on a football tour in America, before going on to face prison sentences in the UK in 1998, 2015, 2018 and 2020.

In February 2018, Bennell was jailed for 30 years after being convicted of 50 child sexual offences committed against 12 boys he coached between 1979 and 1991.

During that trial at Liverpool Crown Court, Bennell’s victims told how he had a “power hold” over them as they dreamed of becoming professional footballers.

He was said to have been treated like “God” at Manchester City’s Maine Road ground.

Bennell abused the boys at his homes, where he had arcade games and exotic pets including a puma and a monkey, but also on trips away, and in his car while on the way to and from training.

Bennell is set to give evidence to a High Court trial on behalf of Manchester City
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Bennell, also known as Richard Jones, abused boys in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s

‘You stole their childhoods’

Sentencing Bennell, the Recorder of Liverpool, Judge Clement Goldstone QC, told him: “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.”

He said Bennell had appeared to his victims as a God but added: “In reality, you were the devil incarnate.

“You stole their childhoods and their innocence to satisfy your own perversion.”

The judge said Bennell “may well die in prison”.

The defendant had shown no remorse whatsoever for his offences, with the exception of some relatively minor abuse he admitted, the judge added.

In October 2020, he was jailed for an additional four years after pleading guilty to nine sexual offences, including six counts of indecent assault against two boys.

The offences happened between 1979 and 1988 when the victims were aged between 11 and 14.

At his sentencing hearing at Chester Crown Court, prosecutor Owen Edwards said Bennell was responsible for “industrial sexual abuse of boys”, as well as being instrumental in forging the careers of several international footballers.

The court was told Bennell had a detached retina after being attacked in prison and was in remission from cancer.

A Prison Service spokesperson said on Monday: “Prisoner Barry Bennell died at HMP Littlehey on 16 September 2023. As with all deaths in custody, the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman will investigate.”

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