Ex-England football triallist weeps as he talks of abuse

Ex-England schoolboy football triallist weeps as he tells High Court he ‘started not being a nice person’ after being abused by paedophile coach Barry Bennell

  • The man wept as he said he became aggressive and tried to hurt people while playing after Bennell abuse 
  • Eight men, now in their 40s and 50s, have made damages claims against Manchester City Football Club
  • They say Bennell abused them while he was scout for club but City disputes claims 
  • Bosses say Bennell had been a local scout in the mid-1970s but was not between 1979 and 1985

A former England schoolboy football triallist today wept as he told the High Court he ‘started not being a nice person’ after being abused by paedophile coach Barry Bennell.  

The man, who now lives near Glasgow, told a judge that his dream of being a professional footballer had ‘soured’ after Bennell’s abuse.  

Mr Justice Johnson was told by the man that he continued to play football after suffering at the hands of Bennell but said he would ‘rather get in a fight’ than show his ability.  

The man told the judge: ‘When Bennell did what he did, that’s the time I started not being a very nice person.

‘I became aggressive playing football.

‘I tried to hurt people and, I am embarrassed to say that, although I still played football, I would rather get in a fight than show my ability.

‘I played with a secret.’

The man, who now lives near Glasgow, told a judge that his dream of being a professional footballer had ‘soured’ after Barry Bennell’s abuse.  Pictured: Bennell in 1995

He said he played in an England schoolboy trial and was approached by clubs including Tottenham and Leeds.

The man said he had played for a team which Bennell coached in Derbyshire when he was a boy.  

He said Bennell was known to be linked to City and boys from the team went on to sign associate schoolboy forms with the club. 

In evidence, the man said Bennell chose ‘the most decent lads’ from an area of Derbyshire.

Sometimes boys from Scotland and Wales would ‘turn up’ and play for the team, according to the man.

He remembered a friend on his team who went on to train at Stoke City. 

The man spoke as part of evidence given at a High Court trial in London today.

Eight men, now in their 40s and 50s, have made damages claims against Manchester City Football Club which have been disputed by bosses. The judge has heard the eight men were sexually and emotionally abused by Bennell between 1979 and 1985 and are claiming damages after suffering psychiatric injuries. Pictured: Bennell’s scout card 

The judge heard Bennell, who used to live near Buxton, Derbyshire, and is now serving a jail sentence after being convicted of sexual offences against children, had abused young footballers he coached after inviting them to stay at his home.

Eight men, now in their 40s and 50s, have made damages claims against Manchester City Football Club.

They say Bennell, now 67, abused them while they were schoolboys playing football in the north-west of England more than 30 years ago and claim he was a scout for City at the time.

The judge has heard the eight men were sexually and emotionally abused by Bennell between 1979 and 1985 and are claiming damages after suffering psychiatric injuries. 

Six are also claiming damages for loss of potential football earnings. Manchester City disputes the claims. 

Bosses say Bennell had been a local scout in the mid-1970s but was not a scout between 1979 and 1985.

Another man spoke at the trial yesterday, telling the judge that his father had been ‘warned of’ Frank Roper who was a scout formerly linked to Blackpool that was convicted of sex abuse offences and is now dead. Pictured: A later photo of Bennell, who was a football coach and scout for many years 

Another man spoke at the trial yesterday, telling the judge that his father had been ‘warned of’ Frank Roper who was a scout formerly linked to Blackpool that was convicted of sex abuse offences and is now dead. 

He indicated to the judge that the warning made him feel he could trust Bennell.

The victim was a talented schoolboy footballer and is now in his 50s.   

He told Mr Justice Johnson, in a written witness statement read out by a lawyer, that Bennell had warned his father off Roper because ‘he molested boys’.

He added: ‘I felt I could trust him (Bennell) because he was right about Roper.’

The witness statement said that Bennell had a ‘magnetic personality’ and added: ‘Everyone gravitated towards him – parents and children alike.’

He said Bennell was ‘attached’ to City and he had considered himself to be playing for a City team.

Bennell is due to give evidence, by video link from prison, later in the trial. Pictured: Bennell while he was a football coach

The man said the name of the youth side he had played for was ‘kind of irrelevant’. 

He told the judge he considered he had the ‘opportunity to play for Manchester City’ and added: ‘I was playing for Manchester City.

‘I had a professional club in the top league knocking on my door. I wanted to become a professional footballer and Bennell would be the one to get me there.

‘You have got a club like Manchester City who Bennell is attached to.’ 

Mr Justice Johnson has been told Bennell, a former Crewe Alexandra coach, is serving a 34-year prison sentence after being convicted of sexual offences against boys on five separate occasions, four in the UK and one in the US, and is being held at HMP Littlehey, near Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire. 

Bennell is due to give evidence, by video link from prison, later in the trial.

Decades of abuse before he was finally brought to justice: Timeline of the Barry Bennell case 

Early 1970s: Starts his coaching career aged about 18 at renowned London-based junior club Senrab FC, Bennell told police.

Mid to late 1970s: Coaches at Butlin’s holiday camp in Pwllheli, North Wales, and also begins working with Manchester youth team Whitehill FC, he also tells detectives.

November 1979 to July 1981: Employed as a resident social worker at the now closed Taxal Edge children’s home in Whaley Bridge, Derbyshire.

1982 to 1985: Coaches youth teams in Derbyshire which provided several youth recruits for Manchester City.

1985 to 1992: Bennell is employed by or on behalf of Crewe Alexandra apart from a spell coaching in Georgia, United States, in 1989 and 1990.

1990: Marries Linda Woodward, sister of one of his abuse victims, Andy Woodward. The couple go on to have two children.

1992 to 1994: Bennell is employed by or on behalf of Stoke City.

1994: He is arrested while on a 10-week tour of the United States when coaching a Staffordshire youth team.

1995: He is convicted in Florida of four counts of indecent assault on a young boy and sentenced to four years in jail. Spends time in custody prior to his conviction. His victim was also abused by Bennell in Britain, which leads to a domestic investigation.

January 1997: Bennell is featured in the Channel 4 documentary series Dispatches. Former youth player Ian Ackley waives his anonymity and tells the Soccer’s Foul Play programme he was sexually abused by Bennell.

September 1997: US authorities deport Bennell to the UK at the conclusion of his sentence and on his arrival he is charged with sexual offences relating to a number of complainants.

June 1998: He pleads guilty at Chester Crown Court on the first day of his scheduled trial to 23 counts of sexual abuse relating to 15 complainants, aged from nine to 14, between 1978 and 1992. Victims include Mr Ackley and Mr Woodward. Twenty-two alleged offences are left to lie on file. He is sentenced to nine years in prison.

May 2015: Bennell pleads guilty at the same court on the first day of his scheduled trial to sexually abusing a 12-year-old boy in 1980. He is jailed for two years. His victim did not come forward in 1997 because of the effect he said it would have on his mother. When she died in 2013 he contacted police. The court hears he was abused at Bennell’s living quarters at Taxal Edge while staying with him as he took part in coaching sessions in Macclesfield.

November 2016: Mr Woodward waives his anonymity to give emotional, powerful interviews to the Guardian and BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme. It leads to a number of complainants against Bennell contacting police and a fresh investigation begins.

January 2018: Bennell goes on trial at Liverpool Crown Court accused of 48 historical child sex offences against 11 complainants between 1979 and 1990.

February 2018: Bennell is jailed for 30 years at Liverpool Crown Court after being convicted of 52 child sexual offences against 12 boys in 2018.

July 2020: Bennell admits nine more sex offences – three counts of buggery and six counts of indecent assault in relation to two complainants between 1979 and 1988 who were aged between 11 and 14 at the time.

October 2020 : Bennell is sentenced at Chester Crown Court to four years in prison, in addition to the 30-year sentence he is already serving, for nine sexual offences against two boys.

 

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