Abusive coach Barry Bennell had 'power hold' over ambitious boys

Bessie Dean
January 13, 2018

An alleged victim of Barry Bennell has told a jury he knew "there were hundreds out there" with similar stories and recounted one trip away with the former Manchester City and Crewe Alexandra coach when one of his young team-mates woke to find a severed sheep's head in his bed.

Bennell, who is appearing in court via video-link due to illness, denies 48 counts of child sex abuse.

He said he first met Bennell when he came to a football training session as a scout for Manchester City.

The witness said he and other boys were invited to stay at Mr Bennell's home - above a video shop he owned - where the alleged abuse began.

A transcript of a police interview with Mr Bennell in February a year ago was read to the court, which included a denial that he had abused Mr Unsworth.

He said: "I had a victim; I didn't need two or three or four".

He said Mr Bennell's interest in him eventually "fizzled out", adding: "As soon as you started turning up with pubic hair you were past your sell-by date and you were gone". He has already served prison sentences in England and the USA but says he is the victim of a malicious campaign motivated by attention-seeking and compensation claims.

The boys, who dreamed of a life in professional football would often stay over at Bennell's various addresses on the pretext of preparing for matches, Mr Johnson told the court.

He said he had not told anyone about the abuse until November 2016 when he saw other alleged victims of sexual abuse on the Victoria Derbyshire show. "One, they wouldn't believe you and, two, I'm going to jeopardise where I want to get to in professional football".

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According to Sky News, the jury was shown a television interview in which former footballer Andy Woodward spoke up about being abused.

Being questioned by Eleanor Laws QC, representing Bennell, the victim said he had never discussed claiming monetary compensation, although he had been contacted by a solicitor about a civil claim.

Mr Unsworth said the abuse would take place regularly, if not every time Mr Bennell gave him a lift.

"That was his scene, he would try and scare the lads", he told the court.

He said he remembered the complainant was "nice looking", but said he was not one of the boys he had abused.

The court heard Bennell would "play fight" with the boys and put on horror films for them to "soften them up".

Before the trial, he admitted seven charges of indecent assault committed between 1981 and 1991, relating to three boys aged between 11 and 14.

The trial, which is expected to last eight weeks, continues.

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