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Former football coach Barry Bennell admits nine sexual offences

Barry Bennell who coached and sexually assaulted boys who dreamed of becoming club players for Manchester City
Eleanor Barlow, Press Association

Former football coach and serial paedophile Barry Bennell has pleaded guilty to nine sexual offences.

The 66-year-old former Crewe Alexandra coach, also known as Richard Jones, entered the pleas at Chester Crown Court on Friday, by video-link from HMP Littlehey in Cambridgeshire.

He admitted three counts of buggery and six counts of indecent assault in relation to two complainants between 1979 and 1988.

The victims were aged between 11 and 14 at the time.

Bennell, who used to work as a scout for Manchester City, is serving a 30-year prison sentence after being convicted of 50 child sexual offences in 2018.

The latest case was adjourned for medical reports on the defendant to be prepared.

Judge Patrick Thompson said he would have to put himself in the position of the judge who sentenced Bennell in 2018 and decide how much extra he could have imposed had he been aware there were two more complainants.

He added: "It is important the two victims have the opportunity to come to court."

He adjourned the case to October 5.

Eleanor Laws QC, defending, asked that Bennell not be required to attend court in person for his sentencing.

She said: "Notwithstanding that these are serious matters, and ordinarily one would expect his attendance, he is, as your honour might know, not very well.

"Even if there were not a pandemic, he is vulnerable in terms of his health."

Barry Bennell, who used to work as a scout for Manchester City, is serving a 30-year prison sentence after being convicted of 50 child sexual offences in 2018

Judge Thompson said he would allow Bennell to attend by video-link.

He told Bennell: "You have pleaded guilty to very serious matters. You will receive a custodial sentence, the length of that is to be determined by me."

Bennell is serving his fourth jail term, having previously been sentenced for similar offences involving 16 other victims.

The latest charges were brought by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) after it reviewed a file of evidence from Cheshire Police relating to allegations of non-recent child sexual abuse.

The Offside Trust, set up by former footballers to support survivors of abuse, posted on Twitter: "Another huge day of justice for more survivors.

"We are so pleased for our friends and their families. Special thoughts go to all those who have not had their cases heard. We stand with you all."

Following his last trial, it was revealed that 86 more complainants had come forward to report abuse by Bennell, meaning he may have more than 100 victims.

The PA news agency understands that police investigations into Bennell have now concluded.

In 2018, the then Recorder of Liverpool, Judge Clement Goldstone QC, branded Bennell "the devil incarnate" and told him he "may well die in prison".

Detective Inspector Sarah Oliver, of Cheshire Police, said: "Today, Barry Bennell has pleaded guilty to a number of sexual offences - sparing his victims the trauma of having to relive what happened to them, during a trial.

"This would undoubtedly have been a very difficult and upsetting experience for them. I hope that this decision will help to provide some closure after so many years of pain trying to deal with and make sense of what happened to them.

"Bennell abused his position of trust as a football coach for his own sexual gratification. He was highly regarded in his field and took advantage of this by preying on these two young boys at a time in their life when he knew they were vulnerable and dreamt of making it in the world of professional football.

"He knew exactly what he was doing was wrong but carried on regardless.

"Anyone who has suffered from sexual abuse - whether it took place recently or many years ago - should never feel ashamed about talking about what has happened to them. Help and support is available to those who need it.

"I commend the victims for their bravery and courage in this case and would like to thank them for their support throughout the investigation."

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