UK

Barry Bennell victim says he hopes last years were as ‘difficult as possible’

Barry Bennell has died in prison (Cheshire Police/PA)
Barry Bennell has died in prison (Cheshire Police/PA)

A victim of serial paedophile Barry Bennell said he hopes the former coach’s last 10 years were as “difficult as possible”.

The former Crewe Alexandra coach, 69, died on Saturday at HMP Littlehey in Cambridgeshire, where he was serving a 34-year sentence for child sex offences, the Ministry of Justice said.

David Lean, who was abused by Bennell after meeting him at Butlin’s holiday park in Pwllheli, North Wales, said he was “glad” to hear of his death.

Barry Bennell
Barry Bennell (PA)

He told the PA news agency: “It’s sort of happened in the way I wanted it to happen because I wanted him to go to prison for a period of time.

“I just hope that last 10 years has been as difficult as possible.”

Mr Lean, 56, a counsellor, said: “I appreciate he’s got children – and ultimately my thoughts are with his children today – but my thoughts are also with the many survivors because of the pain he has put everybody through.”

The Offside Trust, set up by survivors of child sexual abuse in sport, including some ex-footballers abused by Bennell, said it was aware of news of his death.

A spokesman said: “We are thinking of all the brave survivors, those who felt they could speak out, and those who still cannot.

“We at the Offside Trust understand the issues this may trigger for survivors and are here for everyone should they need us. Please don’t suffer in silence.”

Bennell, also known as Richard Jones, was jailed for 30 years in 2018 after being convicted of 50 child sexual offences against 12 boys.

He was ordered to serve an additional four years in 2020 after pleading guilty to nine other offences against two boys.

Bennell had cancer for a number of years and had operations to remove tumours from his tongue in 2004 and 2016, although he was said to be in remission in 2020.

His cause of death has not been disclosed.

HMP Littlehey, near Huntingdon, is a prison for male sex offenders.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “Prisoner Barry Bennell died at HMP Littlehey on September 16.

“As with all deaths in custody, the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman will investigate.”

When Bennell was sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court in 2018, Recorder of Liverpool Judge Clement Goldstone QC said he “may well die in prison”.

His final prison sentence, in 2020, was the fifth time he had been jailed.

Bennell, a former Manchester City scout, abused boys he coached in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s.

Barry Bennell
Barry Bennell appearing via video link before Michael Kent QC at the High Court in London (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

He was first jailed in Florida in 1994 for raping a British boy on a football tour in America, before going on to face prison sentences in Britain in 1998, 2015, 2018 and 2020.

Following his convictions in 2018, more than 80 other people came forward to report being abused by him.

At his sentencing hearing in 2020, Owen Edwards, prosecuting, said the case would be the final prosecution after a decision to proceed only with cases involving the most serious offences.

He said Bennell was responsible for the “industrial sexual abuse of boys” as well as being instrumental in forging the careers of several international footballers.

In court during his 2018 trial, Bennell’s victims said he had a “power hold” over them as they dreamed of becoming professional footballers.

He was said to have been treated like “God” at Manchester City’s then-ground Maine Road.

He abused the boys at his homes, where he had arcade games and exotic pets, including a puma and monkey, but also on trips away and in his car while on the way to and from training.