VICTIM’S CAMPAIGN FOR JUSTICE REVEALED Police missed the chance to snare warped football paedo 20years earlier DAVID’S FURY AT L ACK OF FOLLOW-UP
Bennell was released six years later and remained free until 2015, when he was jailed for abusing former Preston North End defender David.
David, 12 when he suffered his ordeal, said: “It’s sickening. Now I’m left wondering if he could have got a much longer sentence much earlier.
“How do we know he didn’t attack more kids after he was released?”
Bennell victim Ian Ackley, 50, who spoke out in 1997, said of the police admission: “It’s a huge injustice and an insult to the victims. These boys could and should have been approached and given the opportunity to pursue this.
“Are you telling me if a murderer confessed to another murder, police wouldn’t follow it up? It’s their job.”
When David went to police in 2013, he was originally told Bennell would not be charged as he was the only new victim and he had already been jailed for similar crimes. He challenged the decision and Bennell was finally charged . But he only learned of the 1998 confession after the 2018 trial.
Cheshire Police apologised last year after admitting contacting the boys would have helped his case. David said: “I was stunned and angry. I went through two years of hell trying to get the police to charge Bennell.
“I could have been spared this if they’d just s spoken to the boys.”
David, of Preston, Lancs, met Bennell in 1979 at Butlin’s in Pwlleli, North W Wales. He said: “I was besotted with football. He told me I was a star of the future and he had links to Man City.”
P Parents Margaret and M Martin let him stay with B Bennell for a football course in Macclesfield, Cheshire, that year. David, a dad of two, said: “Bennell didn’t leave me a alone. He was pulling me into him, making me massage his groin. Then we went to bed and it got really weird.” Bennell was eventually convicted of four attacks over two nights.
At the time David was left feeling it was his fault – especially when Bennell turned up unannounced at his home.
He said: “My mum told me to take him upstairs and show him my trophies. He wasn’t aggressive. He said, ‘Don’t worry, I won’t tell what you did to me.’ I blamed myself and thought I was gay. I didn’t think I could tell anyone. He’d been my hero.”
David didn’t tell of his abuse, even when a 1997 documentary unmasked
Bennell. He said: “Mum confronted me after the programme and I told her nothing happened.
She said, ‘Thank God, I’m not sure I’d have been able to cope.’ I promised myself I wouldn’t disclose while she was alive. I have to live with the fact almost all of Bennell’s victims were abused after me. There may be over 100 I could have stopped.”
When Margaret died of cancer in 2013 David went to police without even telling his wife Teresa. He said: “Telling officers was emotional but it was when I got back to my car it hit me. I sobbed.”
He then confided in his family but was dismayed to get a letter saying it was not in the public interest to prosecute. His complaint sparked a case that changed guidance on historic child sex crimes.
A panel suggested prosecutors reconsider and Bennell was charged in 2014, pleading guilty the day of his Chester crown court trial in May 2015.
He got two years and the football abuse scandal erupted the next year .
Stars speaking out on their ordeals included exCrewe Alexandra player Andy Woodward.
Other players, including Manchester City youth star Gary Cliffe, had read about