ABUSE CLAIMS FOOTIE COACH ‘PINNED WIT­NESS TO WALL LIKE DARTH VADER’

Midweek Sport - - NEWS -

A FOOT­BALL coach pinned a school­boy to the wall in Crewe Alexan­dra’s chang­ing rooms with a “Darth Vader grip” af­ter he in­ter­rupted him fondling an­other young­ster, a jury has heard.

The wit­ness told Barry Ben­nell’s sex abuse trial the de­fen­dant then threat­ened he would ruin his foot­ball ca­reer if he told any­one what he had seen.

Liver­pool Crown Court heard the wit­ness gave his ac­count of the al­leged in­ci­dent in the 1980s to po­lice af­ter read­ing re­ports about Ben­nell in 2016.

Giv­ing ev­i­dence yes­ter­day, the then Crewe youth team player re­called that he rushed back to the club’s Gresty Road ground from the nearby rail­way sta­tion af­ter he re­alised he was miss­ing one of his foot­ball boots.

He told the court as he en­tered the chang­ing room, he saw a young boy half-dressed, sit­ting on Ben­nell’s knee.

The wit­ness re­called see­ing Ben­nell’s left arm around the young­ster in a “cud­dling fash­ion” and Ben­nell was fondling him down his foot­ball shorts.

He said: “Barry was star­tled to see me come back. He got up and shouted at me, ‘What the f**k are you do­ing?’

“At that point he jumped up, stormed at me and pinned me to the wall.

“If you can imag­ine Star Wars and Darth Vader…it was like a Darth Vader grip.”

He said the young boy ran out of the chang­ing room and Ben­nell ( left) told him: “You have not seen any­thing.

“If you say any­thing to any­one I will make sure I fin­ish your foot­ball ca­reer here and now.”

The wit­ness said that from then on Ben­nell had a “psy­cho­log­i­cal hold” over him.

The young boy the wit­ness claimed Ben­nell had fon­dled is one of 11 com­plainants aged from eight to 14 who say they were abused by Ben­nell, 64, be­tween 1979 and 1990.

Ben­nell de­nies in­de­cent as­sault, bug­gery and at­tempted bug­gery.

The trial con­tin­ues.

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