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Barry Bennell tells judge of ‘guilt’ and says abused boys deserve compensation

·3-min read

Paedophile former football coach Barry Bennell has told a High Court judge about the “guilt” he felt and said abused boys deserved compensation.

Bennell, who is in jail after being convicted of child sex offences, told Mr Justice Johnson he had “lost control of everything” and was “used to that now”.

He said was getting on with his life in jail, for the rest of his life.

Bennell was giving evidence in a trial at the High Court in London, where eight men, who say they were abused by Bennell, are suing Manchester City.

He said he had been visited in prison by one of his victims some years ago. The victim wanted to sue a football club Bennell had worked at and wanted him to sign a statement.

Bennell told the judge that “because of the guilt” he felt, he had told the man he would “sign anything”.

The eight men, now in their 40s and 50s, say Bennell abused them when they were playing schoolboy football for teams he coached in north-west England between 1979 and 1985.

They claim that Bennell, who became a coach at Crewe Alexandra in 1985, was a scout for City during that time, and argue that the relationship between Bennell and City was “one of employment or one akin to employment”.

City bosses deny that claim. They say Bennell was a local City scout in the mid-1970s but not between 1979 and 1985.

Bennell has also denied being linked to City during the 1980s. He says he was not a City scout at the time the men claim they were abused.

Barry Bennell damages
Barry Bennell told the court he was not employed by Manchester City at the time of the offences (PA)

He told the trial on Wednesday that one of his victims had visited him in prison with a solicitor.

“He sat down with me and he said, ‘I would like to sue Crewe Alexandra, to say they knew about the abuse’,” said Bennell.

“Because of the guilt I felt at the time for the abuse I had done, I said, ‘I will sign anything’.

“I just wanted to do anything I could for the victim. I would have signed my life away. There is no way I could make up for what I did.

“I would rather get up now and go back to my cell. I would rather be in my cell. I don’t want this at all.”

Bennell told the judge he had abused boys at a “different time”, adding: “I am in jail now and I am paying the price for it and I am doing time.

“I am getting on with my life here in jail for the rest of my life, and that is fine.

“The first thing that happened to me here in prison is that you lose control of everything. I am used to that now – I accept it.”

Barry Bennell on video-link
Barry Bennell on video-link (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

A barrister representing the men asked Bennell – who was the first witness called by lawyers representing City – why he was giving evidence at the trial.

James Counsell QC suggested that Bennell was still trying to exert control over the eight men.

Bennell, who gave evidence by video-link from HMP Littlehey, near Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, where he is being held, said he had made a witness statement because he was “asked to”.

Mr Justice Johnson has heard that Bennell is serving a 34-year sentence after being convicted of sexual offences against boys on five separate occasions – four in the UK and one in the US.

Mr Counsell suggested he had waited until the last minute to plead guilty in criminal proceedings.

“I was advised by my solicitor to plead not guilty – nothing to do with control whatsoever,” Bennell said.

“I knew I was guilty – I knew I was going to jail.

“The boys that were abused – they deserve compensation.”

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