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Monday 21 May 2018

'Barry... Barry... why?' asks victim of evil paedo coach who gets 30 years

Barry Bennell heard from four of his victims in court. Photo: AP
Barry Bennell heard from four of his victims in court. Photo: AP

Paedophile football coach Barry Bennell has been jailed for 30 years after being confronted by some of his many victims in court.

The 64-year-old, who abused young boys on an "industrial scale", was described as "the devil incarnate" by the Recorder of Liverpool, Clement Goldstone QC.

The judge said: "Your behaviour towards these boys in grooming and seducing them before subjecting them to, in some cases, the most most serious, degrading and humiliating abuse was sheer evil."

He said Bennell, who was convicted of abusing 12 young footballers he coached between 1979 and 1991, had appeared to his victims as God, but added: "In reality, you were the devil incarnate.

Perversion

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

Earlier, several of his victims read out personal impact statements detailing how the horrific abuse they had suffered at his hands as children had destroyed their lives.

Gary Cliffe, a police officer, approached the glass dock after reading out his statement and said calmly: "Barry, Barry, why?"

Bennell did not respond and looked downwards as court staff intervened before a police officer escorted Mr Cliffe, a detective constable with Staffordshire Police, to his seat in the packed public gallery.

Mr Cliffe, who waived his right to anonymity, said: "I have had over 30 years to consider, reflect and make sense of what he did to me, yet I still find it hard to effectively put into words the hell and mental suffering I have endured during this period of time.

"I look back on my childhood with regret and deep sadness."

He was one of four complainants who went into the witness box at Liverpool Crown Court to read their statements, while those of three others were read out by prosecutor Nicholas Johnson QC.

Bennell, the former Crewe Alexandra coach and Manchester City scout, was convicted of 50 child sexual offences, many of those specimen counts reflecting the numerous occasions the "industrial scale" abuser targeted some of his 12 victims between 1979 and 1991.

Dressed in a pale blue jumper and grey jogging bottoms, he stared ahead with his arms folded when he was taken into court but then looked downwards as the victim statements were read out.

One victim who read a statement to the court said: "Not a day goes by without thinking about the abuse I received. I was just a child.

"I am determined to claim back control of my life and live it to its fullest."

Another complainant, Chris Unsworth, who also waived anonymity, said Bennell had "destroyed" his dream of becoming a professional footballer.

Stolen

Another victim said: "I feel I have never escaped my past and have never learned to cope ... I feel Barry and Crewe Alexandra have completely stolen my life from me. The upset this man and Crewe Alexandra has caused me really is immeasurable."

Another complainant to go in the witness box told the court: "This man took my one and only childhood without a second thought and with no regret or remorse.

"My parents feel responsible for not seeing what was going on but I do not hold them responsible at all in any way."

The fourth complainant to read out his statement in court said: "This monster decided it was fun for him to use me as a sex toy. Someone he could get his kicks from."

Eleanor Laws QC, mitigating, said Bennell had suffered from cancer in the past and had operations to remove tumours from his tongue in 2004 and 2016 but was presently cancer free.

He was also on anti-anxiety medication, she added.

"All of this, we submit, means his time in custody will be less comfortable and more difficult than it would be for someone without all these concerns," she said.

Miss Laws said Bennell had served a total of 10-and-a-half years in custody over three prison terms - one in the United States - but had been at large for a total of nine years since 1994.

It is understood that around 100 new victims have come forward since the start of the latest investigation.

Bennell was told he would serve half his sentence in custody with the rest on licence, with an additional licence period of one year.

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