Paedophile football coach Barry Bennell felt guilt over his crimes, court hears

·3-min read

Paedophile former football coach Barry Bennell has told a High Court judge about the “guilt” he felt.

Bennell, who is in jail after being convicted of child sex offences, had been visited in prison by one of his victims some years ago, Mr Justice Johnson heard.

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”.

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

Mr Justice Johnson is overseeing a trial at the High Court in London where eight men, who say they were abused by Bennell, are suing Manchester City.

The eight men, who are 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 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 had been a local City scout in the mid-1970s but not between 1979 and 1985.

Bennell has also denied being linked to Manchester City during the 1980s.

He says he was not a City scout at the time the men claim they were abused.

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

Barry Bennell Damages
Eight men have made damages claims against Manchester City football club (Mike Egerton/PA)

“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’.”

He added: “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.”

Bennell has told the judge he was a “local scout” for City between 1975 and 1979 – but not between 1979 and 1985.

But he said the “reality” is that he “was never” a Manchester City coach and “after 1978-1979” junior teams he coached had “no connection at all” with the club.

Bennell gave evidence via video-link from HMP Littlehey, near Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, where he is being held.

He has told the judge, in a written witness statement, that he had been convicted, at Chester Crown Court in 1998 and 2015, and at Liverpool Crown Court in 2018, of various sexual offences against “numerous boys”, and jailed.

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Barry Bennell being questioned via video link by James Counsell QC at the High Court in London (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

Bennell said several of those convictions related to six of the men making claims against City.

But, when questioned by James Counsell QC earlier in trial, he denied abusing four of the men.

He admitted abusing two others.

Mr Justice Johnson has been told that Bennell, who used to live near Buxton, Derbyshire, had abused schoolboy footballers after inviting them to stay at his home.

The eight men are claiming damages for psychiatric injuries.

Six are also claiming damages for loss of potential football earnings.

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.

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