Barry Bennell warned parent about scout who ‘molested boys’, judge told

·3-min read
Ex-football coach and convicted paedophile Barry Bennell (PA) (PA Wire)
Ex-football coach and convicted paedophile Barry Bennell (PA) (PA Wire)

Paedophile football coach Barry Bennell warned a parent about a scout who “molested boys”, a High Court judge has heard.

One of Bennell’s victims told Mr Justice Johnson how his father had been “warned off” Frank Roper, a scout formerly linked to Blackpool who was convicted of sex abuse offences and is now dead.

The man, who was a talented schoolboy footballer and is now in his 50s, indicated that the warning had made him feel that he could trust Bennell.

He was giving evidence at a High Court trial, being overseen by Mr Justice Johnson in London, on Thursday.

A Manchester City corner flag. PA/Mike Egerton (PA Archive)
A Manchester City corner flag. PA/Mike Egerton (PA Archive)

The judge has heard that Bennell, who used to live near Buxton, Derbyshire and is now serving a jail sentence after being convicted of sexual offences against children, had abused young footballers he coached after inviting them to stay at his home.

Eight men, now in their 40s and 50s, have made damages claims against Manchester City Football Club.

The men say Bennell, now 67, abused them when they were playing schoolboy football in the north-west of England more than 30 years ago. They claim that he was a scout for City when he abused them.

City bosses dispute that claim.

I felt I could trust him (Bennell) because he was right about Roper

Barry Bennell victim

The man told Mr Justice Johnson, in a written witness statement read out by a lawyer, that Bennell had warned his father off Roper because “he molested boys”.

He added: “I felt I could trust him (Bennell) because he was right about Roper.”

The witness statement said that Bennell had a “magnetic personality” and added:

“Everyone gravitated towards him – parents and children alike.”

He said Bennell was “attached” to City and he had considered himself to be playing for a City team.

The man said the name of the youth side he had played for was “kind of irrelevant”.

He told the judge he considered he had the “opportunity to play for Manchester City” and added: “I was playing for Manchester City.

“I had a professional club in the top league knocking on my door.

“I wanted to become a professional footballer and Bennell would be the one to get me there.

“You have got a club like Manchester City who Bennell is attached to.”

The judge 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.

Manchester City disputes the claims.

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

Mr Justice Johnson has been told 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 in Cambridgeshire.

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