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

The People - - News Features -

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

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