A football coach who was described as a “child molester on an industrial scale” has been jailed for 31 years for sex offenses against boys between 1979 and 1990.
Barry Bennell, 64, was convicted of 43 charges on Tuesday, February 13, after a trial Liverpool Crown Court.
Judge Clement Goldstone QC, sentencing Bennell on Monday, February 19, described him as the “devil incarnate”.
Bennell worked at a number of clubs in the north west of England, including Manchester City — who are currently top of the English Premier League — and Crewe Alexandra.
David Lean, who was sexually abused twice by Bennell when he was just 12 years old, said the way the Crown Prosecution Service had acted was an “absolute scandal”.
— Press Association (@PA) 19 February 2018
”Bennell wasn’t some strange guy in a back alley with a dirty mack, he was a trendy, athletic, passionate football coach who looked like [1980s football star] Kevin Keegan and ultimately sucked everybody in,” Mr. Lean told Sputnik.
He was abused at Bennell’s home in 1980 but swore to himself that he would not reveal the abuse while his mother was alive.
“Five days after my mother’s funeral in 2013 I walked into Macclesfield police station and reported it,” Mr. Lean told Sputnik.
Barry Bennell sentenced to 31 years imprisonment after being found guilty of 43 counts of child sex abuse.
— Dan Roan (@danroan) 19 February 2018
But he said the CPS had decided it was “not in the public interest” to prosecute Bennell, who had been convicted of other offenses in 1998.
Mr. Lean remains furious and claims 15 victims came forward in the 1990s but the CPS had decided to proceed with only allegations involving only six victims and he claimed they had made a “plea bargain” with Bennell’s lawyers which meant he was only served six years in prison.
Link to Two Football Suicides
He said he believed two footballers who later took their own lives had been abused by Bennell.
Gary Speed, the former Leeds and Wales player, hanged himself in 2011 when he was manager of Wales, while Alan Davies, who played in an FA Cup Final for Manchester United, committed suicide in 1992.
Three former players with Manchester City are suing the club for failing to protect them from abuse at Bennell’s hands and Crewe Alexandra are also expected to face lawsuits for allegedly ignoring warnings about Bennell.
Mr. Lean, who played youth and reserve football for Preston North End but never broke into the game, said he had been desperate to play for Manchester City’s feeder team, which Bennell managed, and agreed to come to spend the night at Bennell’s home in Cheshire prior to an all-day training session.
‘I Was Lost and Terrified’
He said Bennell sexually assaulted him on two separate occasions.
“It was my first sexual experience. I was completely lost and terrified. I wasn’t sure what was going on. I was terrified of it happening again,” Mr. Lean told Sputnik.
He said his father picked him up from Bennell’s house but not had picked up on his son’s body language or his half-hearted attempts to tell his father what had happened.
“My father died in December 2015. The last conversation I had with him two days before he died he apologized to me. It was never his fault. Barry Bennell was a professional. He kidded everybody. I don’t blame my mum or dad. My dad wanted the best for me and I wanted to be a footballer,” Mr. Lean told Sputnik.
The jury heard Bennell turned his house into a “kids’ paradise”, with amusement arcade machines, exotic pets and a pool table in an attempt to lure boys.
After the allegations against Bennell emerged, a number of other former footballers alleged they had been abused by coaches at several other clubs, including Chelsea, Southampton, QPR and Charlton Athletic.
— ITV News (@itvnews) 15 February 2018
Mr. Lean said most professional football league clubs now had safeguarding measures in place and were conscious of the duty of care they had towards young footballers.
“But grassroots football scares the life out of me. Anybody involved in a position of trust with access to children will always have the opportunity to abuse. Managers are picking players up from home at the age of 11 because parents often don’t go to football,” Mr. Lean told Sputnik.
The CPS are expected to issue a statement shortly and Manchester City, Crewe Alexandra and the Football Association are also expected to react to the sentencing.
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