Victims are giving evidence against Barry Bennell in the Liverpool Crown Court.
Bennell who worked as a football coach for various youth teams denies sexually abusing 11 boys between 1979 and 1980. He is facing 48 charges.
Bennell is appearing at Court by video link as he is too ill to give evidence.
Victims are giving evidence of the abuse they suffered by Bennell and the affect the abuse they suffered has had on their lives.
One victim, a man in his forties who was a former player of Manchester City’s junior team in the 1980’s said that, “he could no longer go back to his home town because there were too many bad memories from his time in City’s junior system in the 1980’s”
He gave evidence that, “ Bennell had convinced him he would become a professional footballer. We idolised him. He was God. This man was showing me how to do things with a football I’d never seen before.”
“ Barry took me to Maine Road, Manchester City’s ground at the time and the Platt Lane training ground. I met some players. I met the chairman at the time. At that age, I was in awe around all these stars. It was brilliant. I was being told that when I was a certain age I’d sign schoolboy forms and had a career ahead of me.”
“I thought this is it I’ve made my dreams; I’m going to be a footballer. At Maine Road, he was God, from the security lads at the player’s entrance up. He made you feel special.”
A video of a police interview was shown to the jury in which he said, “Bennell drove a car in City’s colours and gave boys designer sportswear – stuff you saw professional players wearing to help win them over. He might give you a pair of boots and say: “ These are for you but later on you have to be good to me.”
“Barry said to me he was going to see me all right, make sure I got a contract at Manchester City, a big house, a nice car. He said he’d been good to me so I had to be good to him. I thought he meant I had to play well.”
“ Instead he said there were around 10 occasions when Bennell made him perform a sex act on him, leaving him so traumatised he gave up football a year later and went off the rails.”
The Court also heard that Bennell coached at the Butlin’s holiday camp in Pwllheli Wales. One victim gave evidence that that he met a girlfriend at Butlin’s and that, Bennell “had disliked him so much that he humiliated him by excluding him from the team and by playing him as a goal keeper.”
In a police interview, Bennell said, “he was attracted to the boy and had put him through his usual procedure of grooming.“ I thought I was quite good at what I did but never followed it up because I had been unable to arouse him and couldn’t get past the first stage. That had been a complete turn off and a bit of a shock.”
Victims have stated that Bennell has an arrangement with Crewe Alexandra that he was allowed to have boys stay over at his house. Up to 12 youth players were allowed to stay at anyone time and he abused so many of the boys that the boys had” arguments about getting beds regarded as a bit safer.”
One victim said that, “ he was 12 at the time and alleges he was raped 12 to 20 times until his sleeping arrangements changed without any explanation, two years later.”
Evidence has also been heard that the victims believe that others knew about the alleged abuse. One victim said that he thought that chief scout Ken Barnes knew about the abuse. Mr Barnes played for Manchester City between 1950 and 1961, he died in 2010.
Another victim also named Mike Grimsley, as another staff member he believed was aware of claims made against Mr Bennell. Mr Grimsley managed a Manchester Youth Team.
Dario Gradi, manager of Crewe Alexandra’s youth team is thought to have arranged for the boys to stay at Bennell’s house.
The Court also has heard evidence that people who worked with Bennell then went on to take their own lives. The witness who cannot be named said, “Whether they have taken their own lives due to Barry solely I don’t know but all do know it how it’s had an impact on me and how it could impact on other people.”
He also said, “One of the four people who had taken their own lives was Gary Speed, the former Wales manager who hanged himself in 2011. He said he had tried to contact Mr Speed’s parents because he had read in a newspaper that they had not been able to get closure because they had no explanation for his death.”
Bennell has been described by the prosecution as a, “devious paedophile.” The trial continues.
Jordans successfully represent and obtain compensation for client’s who have suffered abuse whilst playing in youth football teams including Manchester City. We are highly experienced in representing victims of abuse. If you have been affected by anything in this article, please contact the abuse team on 0800 9555 094.