The Devil incarnate
Judge blasts paedophile football coach as he jails him for 30 years
PAEDOPHILE football coach Barry Bennell was branded the ‘ Devil incarnate’ by a judge as he jailed him for 30 years yesterday.
He was sentenced for 50 crimes of sexual abuse against boys as young as eight, one of whom was raped more than 100 times.
Bennell, 64, who enticed boys with the dream of a professional football career, smiled as he was led from the dock at Liverpool Crown Court.
There were dramatic scenes at the hearing when one of his victims, Gary Cliffe, who has waived his right to anonymity, sought to confront him.
Mr Cliffe, now a police officer, was held back after walking towards the dock, asking: ‘Barry, Barry, why?’
Bennell glanced towards him, then returned to staring straight ahead.
Honorary Recorder of Liverpool Judge Clement Goldstone QC told him: ‘In one interview, you said that while it would be fair to describe you as manipulative, cunning... you were not evil.
‘You could not have been more wrong. 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.
‘To these boys, you appeared as a god who had it in his gift to fulfil their ambitions. In reality you were the Devil incarnate. You stole their childhoods and their innocence to satisfy your perversion.’
Bennell was found guilty of 43 counts of child sex abuse after a five-and-a-half-week trial.
The charges related to 11 boys abused between 1979 and 1991, when Bennell had links with Manchester City, Stoke City and Crewe Alexandra football clubs.
The pervert, who operated as a talent scout around northwest England until the mid1990s, had admitted seven other indecent assaults, including charges involving a 12th victim, before the trial.
His total sentence was 30 years plus a year’s extended licence, and he was placed on the sex offenders’ register for life. The judge said he had ‘shown no remorse whatsoever’.
There were shouts of ‘yes’ from victims and their families in the public gallery as details of the punishment were read out.
After Bennell was taken down, Judge Goldstone said he ‘may well die in prison’ and would not be eligible for release ‘until he is approaching 80’. Victim impact statements from those he abused were read to the court, some in person. All described suffering problems with relationships and trust.
One man said he had undergone a ‘medical procedure’ so he could not have children, another ended up with drink and drug problems that led to a spell in a young offenders’ institution, while others said they had considered suicide.
Chris Unsworth, who also waived his right to anonymity, said Bennell ‘ manipulated, groomed and controlled’ him to a point where he ‘couldn’t stand to be around football any more’.
Mr Cliffe said the extent of the abuse meant he ‘normalised it in order to cope’, adding: ‘This proved too much for me in the end, with my confidence and self-worth shattered’.
One of the victims who did not wish to be named said Bennell’s actions had ‘completely stolen my life from me’. Another added: ‘That monster decided it was fine to use me as a sex toy.’
The court heard Bennell abused victims at his home in Derbyshire as well as on trips to holiday camps and abroad. One boy was even abused by Bennell at his family home while his parents were downstairs.
Bennell operated by building up parents’ trust, then grooming their children by inviting them to his home, which had a pool table and exotic pets including a monkey. He would also treat them to free sportswear.
But the paedophile – likened at the trial to the Child Catcher in the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – would then terrify them by making them watch horror films so they would cuddle him.
He would then climb into bed with them and abuse them.
Bennell had previously served three prison sentences for abusing boys – a four-year term in the US in 1994, a nine-year sentence in 1998 and a two-year sentence in 2015.
He lived in Milton Keynes under the name Richard Jones after his most recent release.
Bennell may have more than 100 victims in total as an additional 86 complainants have come forward to say they were abused by him.
His time on remand since his arrest in November 2016 will count towards his sentence.
Pervert: Barry Bennell