Barry Bennell abuse victim heard crying for help, court told

·4-min read

A man who was a promising schoolboy footballer has told a judge how he heard a child crying for help while being abused by paedophile former coach Barry Bennell during a stay at a Butlin’s holiday camp decades ago.

He told Mr Justice Johnson he heard the boy, who was with Bennell in a neighbouring room, crying: “Leave me alone.”

The man said he had also been abused by Bennell, who is now serving a jail term after being convicted of child sex crimes, and suggested he had been used as a decoy to lure the other boy.

The man was giving evidence at a High Court trial in London on Friday.

He is one of eight men, now in their 40s and 50s, who have made damages claims against Manchester City.

The men say Bennell, now 67, abused them when they were playing football in the north west of England more than 30 years ago.

They claim Bennell was a City scout when he abused them, but the club disputes that allegation.

Mr Justice Johnson has heard Bennell worked as a resident football coach at a Butlin’s holiday camp in Pwllheli, Gwynedd, four decades ago.

The man told the judge he recalled once being with Bennell at Butlin’s – and staying in the same room.

“He discovered another child and his family and used me as the decoy,” said the man.

“That night I was in a separate room and the other lad was with Bennell.

Barry Bennell damages
Manchester City say Bennell was not a scout for the club when he abused the men (Richard Sellers/PA)

“All I could hear was cries for help.

“‘What are you doing Barry?, ‘Leave me alone Barry’.

“As a young child you just cry.”

The man said Bennell was “one of the best coaches” and added: “He was one of the most charismatic people I have ever met.”

Mr Justice Johnson has heard the eight men were sexually and emotionally abused by Bennell between 1979 and 1985 and are claiming damages after suffering psychiatric injuries.

Six are also claiming damages for loss of potential football earnings.

Mr Justice Johnson has been told the man is claiming about £350,000 for loss of potential earnings.

City say Bennell had been a local scout in the mid-1970s but was not a scout between 1979 and 1985.

The man told the judge that, when a schoolboy, he had trained at City, had trials at Arsenal, Brighton, Sheffield United, Sheffield Wednesday, Burney and Blackburn and played at Crewe, York, and Stockport.

He said the late Ken Barnes, City’s chief scout in the 1970s and 1980s and a former player, said he had the ability to go on to captain England.

“Due to the abuse and confusion I felt, I lost confidence and lost my drive to succeed in football,” the man said in a witness statement.

Mr Justice Johnson said the man could not be identified in media reports of the case.

The judge has been told that Bennell, a former Crewe Alexandra coach, is serving a 34-year prison sentence after being convicted of sexual offences against boys on five separate occasions – four in the UK and one in the US – and is being held at HMP Littlehey near Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire.

The man told the judge in a written witness statement that he played for junior teams run by Bennell in the early 1980s.

He said he played for City feeder teams and Bennell had been “exclusively a scout for Manchester City”.

The man said he sometimes wore City kit provided by Bennell, who told him one shirt had belonged to former City, Manchester United and Scotland striker Denis Law.

“I distinctly remember that one of the kits I was given had holes near the cuff when we played,” he said.

“When Bennell gave me the kit he said that it was a special kit because it used to be Denis Law’s shirt and that the holes were put in by Law because, when it was cold, he used to put his thumbs through the holes to use the cuff to warm his hands.”

He said Bennell began to abuse him when he was about 12 and said the abuse increased in “frequency and severity” over time.

“I was in complete and utter awe of Bennell,” he said.

“It was always my dream to play for City and I, of course, knew he was working for them.

“There was no doubt in my mind of how important it was to please him if I wanted to become a footballer. I needed to have him on my side to get to my dream.”

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