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 By PA Sport

Barry Bennell case: Scores more say former coach abused them

Court picture of Barry Bennell appearing during his trial via video link
A court picture of Barry Bennell appearing via video link during his trial.

Paedophile football coach Barry Bennell may have assaulted more than 100 boys, Press Association Sport reported after his latest trial came to an end.

Bennell, 64, will be sentenced on Monday for abusing 12 boys.

The sentencing follows his latest convictions at Liverpool Crown Court for offences against youth footballers between 1979 and 1991.

Bennell, a former Crewe Alexandra coach and Manchester City scout who has already served three jail terms for similar offences involving 16 other victims, could face further prosecution after an additional 86 complainants came forward to say they too had been abused by him.

Bennell has been convicted at Liverpool Crown Court of a total of 43 counts of child sex abuse against 11 victims.

Before the trial started last month, he pleaded guilty to seven counts of indecent assault, including offences involving a 12th boy.

The jury found him guilty of the final three counts of indecent assault on Thursday after deliberating for 21 hours and seven minutes.

A cheer came from the public gallery, where six victims sat with family members, as the final verdicts were read out.

Victims had described in court the abuse they had suffered and then lived with so long. For some, the emotion was overwhelming and tears began to flow as the trial finally came to an end.

Bennell, who appeared via videolink from prison, could be seen shaking his head and muttering when the guilty verdicts were returned.

Outside court, Andy Woodward, who decision to speak out about Bennell's abuse led to the trial, said he was proud to have helped other victims get the justice they deserved.

He also demanded an apology from Crewe Alexandra.

Another victim, Micky Fallon, said Bennell had preyed on "little boys with a dream." He thanked the jurors, adding: "Because of you, the stolen voices of a generation have been heard."

Fellow victim Steve Walters, his voice breaking, called Bennell a "disgusting predator" and criticised a "culture of complacency" in football over child protection.

During the course of his trial, Bennell was described as a "child molester on an industrial scale" who would groom his victims and their families.

Complainants who had been coached by Bennell as boys told how he had a "power hold" over them as they dreamed of becoming professional footballers.

Bennell was compared to the Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, luring boys to his homes, where he had arcade games and exotic pets including a puma and a monkey.

He also abused them on trips away and in his car while on the way to and from football training.

In his closing speech, Nicholas Johnson QC, prosecuting, said: "We suggest Mr Bennell is a child molester on an industrial scale and that's why he went to these lengths to get so many lads round to his house."

One of Bennell's victims, who he had pleaded guilty to abusing in 1998, said he knew of four men who had been coached by Bennell, including former Wales manager Gary Speed, who had gone on to take their own lives.

But the jury was later told there was no evidence to link their deaths to Bennell.

Bennell, who appeared via videolink because of health reasons, declined to give evidence in his own defence.

The court heard transcripts of police interviews in which he admitted having a "grooming process" and being attracted to teenage boys but denied the new allegations and said complainants were "jumping on the bandwagon" following publicity.

His barrister, Eleanor Laws QC, described him as being a "sitting target" after being convicted of child sexual abuse in the 1990s and in 2015.

The Football Association released a statement welcoming the decision.

"We want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the traumatic experience the victims and survivors have endured at the hands of this individual, and the bravery they have shown in coming forward," the statement read. "We continue to signpost those who have suffered in this way to speak to Clive Sheldon QC whose team is conducting the independent inquiry into allegations of non-recent child sexual abuse in football."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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