Barry Bennell, former coach and serial paedophile, dies in UK prison

The youth football coach was sentenced in 2018 on 50 counts of abusing boys between the years of 1979 and 1991.

Crew stadium
Crewe Alexandra FC, where Barry Bennell was a former youth coach [File: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images]

Former football coach Barry Bennell has died in prison, aged 69, in the United Kingdom while serving a 34-year sentence for sexual offences, the Ministry of Justice said.

A spokesperson for the prison said on Monday that: “Prisoner Barry Bennell died at HMP Littlehey on 16 September 2023. As with all deaths in custody, the prisons and probation ombudsman will investigate.”

The serial paedophile, who was suffering from cancer, was sentenced in 2018 on 50 counts of abusing boys he coached between the years of 1979 and 1991.

He was convicted of his fifth jail term in 2020 and received an additional four years after pleading guilty to nine sexual offences, including six counts of indecent assault against two boys.

Police said at the time that his possible victims could number more than 100.

Bennell was first jailed in Florida in 1994 for raping a British boy on a football tour. He also was sentenced to prison in the UK in 1998, 2015, 2018 and 2020.

Judge Clement Goldstone, who was presiding over the case in 2020, said as he read out the extended sentence: “You were the devil incarnate. You stole their childhoods and their innocence to satisfy your own perversion.”

“Your behaviour towards these boys in grooming and seducing them before subjecting them to, in some cases, the most serious, degrading and humiliating abuse was sheer evil.”

Bennell’s case sent ripples through the British footballing world as wider allegations of sexual abuse of sexual and physical abuse of boys at football clubs across Britain in the 1970s and 80s.

Former Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur player Paul Stewart, who also played for the national England team, described how he was abused as a teenager during the trial.

His account came after former Crewe player Andy Woodward went public with allegations against Bennell.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies