Barry Bennell: Who is man behind football's abuse scandal?

Four former footballers has admitted they were abused by Bennell

BY Newstalk 13:40 Thursday 24 November 2016, 13:40 24 Nov 2016

For more than a decade Barry Bennell was one of the most respected talent spotters in the game - but his place in football was a front for a perversion the scale of which is only now becoming clear.

The 62-year-old coached and scouted junior players during a career that saw him employed by clubs such as Stoke City, Manchester City and Crewe Alexandra. He would travel around the North West and the Midlands, looking for boys aged nine to 14 to play in junior football teams in Derbyshire, Staffordshire and Cheshire. The paedophile would invite boys to stay in his home or take them on football tours - but in 1992 he was sacked by Crewe for reasons that have never been made public.

Bennell - who according to the Stoke Sentinel was employed as a residential care worker in a Derbyshire children's home in the 1970s - went on to work in the US, where his insights and methods on the field earned him acclaim. But two years later he was arrested in Florida and served a four-year sentence for offences against a boy during a football tour. US authorities described him as having "almost an insatiable appetite" for young boys.

After being deported he pleaded guilty to 23 specimen charges - dating from 1978 to 1992 - at Chester Crown Court and was jailed for nine years. Another 22 offences were left on file. At his sentencing, Judge Huw Daniel said: "You are a paedophile, that is not in doubt."

Unlike comparable scandals of recent years, his legacy of abuse received negligible media coverage - just a smattering of local reports and a short article in The Independent.

According to the latter, those basic court reports reveal how Bennell showed boys films such as The Exorcist to frighten them into sharing his bed. There would often be two or three boys in the bed with him as the assaults took place.

In May last year, he was jailed for two years for sexual offences committed against a 12-year-old boy in 1980. During the court case he described himself as a "monster".

Bennell, who also goes by Richard Jones, is currently out on licence and is permanently suspended from football.
His abuse is back in the spotlight after former Crewe Alexandra player Andy Woodward gave a harrowing account to The Guardian of abuse he says was perpetrated by Bennell and which has blighted his life.

Since that interview, three former professional footballers and several other people have contacted police over alleged sexual abuse carried out by the former coach.

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