Barry Bennell ‘shooed away’ from Manchester United, victim tells judge

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Paedophile former football coach Barry Bennell was “shooed away” from Manchester United, one of his victims has told a High Court judge.

The man, who was a talented schoolboy footballer, told Mr Justice Johnson what he believed United’s attitude to Bennell had been when giving evidence at a High Court trial in London on Thursday after suing Manchester City.

He described Bennell as a “devil incarnate” who would make schoolboy footballers he coached clean up dog mess if they did not play well.

The man, who is now in his early 50s, said he first met Bennell when aged about 12 in the early 1980s, and wiped away a tear as he told Mr Justice Johnson of his feelings.

He is one of eight men who have sued Manchester City for damages after complaining of being abused by Bennell more than 30 years ago while playing schoolboy football in the north-west of England.

They say Bennell was operating as a Manchester City scout at the time.

One victim told Mr Justice Johnson, earlier in the trial, that Bennell carried a blue Manchester City calling card, describing him as himself as City’s “north-west representative’.

Barry Bennell damages
BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE A business card given out by Barry Bennell in which he describes himself as Manchester City’s ‘north-west representative’. The card has been shown at the High Court (Bolt Burdon Kemp/PA)

City dispute claims made by the men.

The man told Mr Justice Johnson that he had first met Bennell in the early 1980s.

He said Bennell had been introduced as a Manchester City scout and told Mr Justice Johnson that “everybody knew him as the Manchester City scout”.

The man told how Bennell would take schoolboy players to watch games at City’s Maine Road stadium – and to their training ground.

He added: “I believe he was shooed away from Manchester United.”

The man said trips to City games were a “kind of reward” if youngsters played well.

“If you got on the wrong side of him you were dropped,” said the man.

“He didn’t accept losing very well.”

The man said Bennell had two dogs and added: “If you didn’t play well, or anything like that, you had to clean up all the dog faeces in the cellar.”

Mr Justice Johnson has heard that Bennell, who worked as a coach at Crewe Alexandra, 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 Littlehey prison near Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire.

He has been told the eight men, who are now in their 40s and 50s, 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.

Lawyers representing City say Bennell was a “local scout” in the mid-1970s but say he did not have a role in the 1980s.

City deny that Bennell was an employee or in a relationship “akin to employment” at “the material times” and deny being vicariously liable.

Mr Justice Johnson has heard how the club had set up a compensation scheme more than four years ago.

Bennell was jailed in 2018 after being convicted of abusing the man, and a number of other victims, after a hearing at Liverpool Crown Court.

The man said crown court judge Clement Goldstone had described Bennell as “sheer evil” and the “devil incarnate”.

“He was,” the man told Mr Justice Johnson on Thursday.

“To this day he has shown zero remorse.”

Judge Clement Goldstone QC sentences former football coach Barry Bennell at Liverpool Crown Court (Elizabeth Cook/PA)
Judge Clement Goldstone QC sentences former football coach Barry Bennell at Liverpool Crown Court (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

The man recalled Bennell’s demeanour at the Liverpool Crown Court sentencing hearing.

“Throughout the hearing he was laughing, smirking,” the man told Mr Justice Johnson.

“He had just no acceptance.

“No remorse.”

The man said Bennell’s football coaching was “second to none”.

He said Bennell sometimes brought professional footballers “with him” and recalled meeting former Manchester United stars Gordon Hill and Steve Coppell.

The man explained in a written witness statement: “I was in awe of Bennell as he was from a big professional club.

“I saw Bennell as the route to a professional career with Manchester City.”

He added: “I have always wanted an apology from Manchester City but feel it’s gone too far now as they have treated us with no compassion at all.”

A lawyer representing City told the judge it was inaccurate to suggest that the club did not care.

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