Paedophile football coach denies abusing four men seeking damages from Man City

Paedophile former football coach Barry Bennell has denied abusing a number of men who have made damages claims against Manchester City at a High Court trial.

Bennell, who is in jail after being convicted of child sex offences, told a judge that he had not abused all the men involved in the litigation.

Eight men have made damages claims against City.

The eight men, who are now in their 40s and 50s, say Bennell, now 67, abused them when they were playing schoolboy football for teams he coached in the North West of England between 1979 and 1985.

Barry Bennell damages
Barry Bennell is a witness in a High Court damages case (PA)

They claim that Bennell, who became a coach at Crewe in 1985, was a scout for City during that time and argue that the relationship between Bennell and City was “one of employment or one akin to employment”.

City bosses deny that claim.

Mr Justice Johnson began overseeing the trial, at the High Court in London, in late October.

Bennell, who gave evidence via video link from a prison near Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, where he is being held, said he had not abused four of the men.

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

Lawyers representing the men finished calling evidence on Wednesday, and lawyers representing City began calling evidence on Tuesday.

Barry Bennell Damages
Eight men have made damages claims against Manchester City football club (Mike Egerton/PA)

Bennell was the first witness called by lawyers representing City.

Mr Justice Johnson has heard that Bennell, who used to live near Buxton, Derbyshire, had abused schoolboy footballers after inviting them to stay at his home.

The eight men are claiming damages after suffering psychiatric injuries.

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

Mr Justice Johnson has been told that Bennell is serving a 34-year 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.

Bennell was questioned by barrister James Counsell QC, who is representing the eight men.

Mr Counsell asked Bennell if he had abused the men when they were boys.

He denied abusing four of the men.

“Really?” asked Mr Counsell.

“Really”, replied Bennell.

He admitted abusing others.

Barry Bennell damages
A judge is overseeing a trial at the High court after eight men made damages claims against Manchester City (Nick Ansell/PA)

Mr Counsell asked Bennell about his wider abuse of boys between the 1970s and 1990s.

“How many boys do you say you have abused?” Mr Counsell asked.

Bennell replied: “I am not answering that question.”

He added: “I am not prepared to go into that.

“I’ve been found guilty. I’ve plead guilty. I’ve done time. I’m doing time. What do you want?”

Bennell told the judge, in a written witness statement, that he had not been City “coach” scout during the years the men say they were abused.

He also said his “junior teams” had no connection with City.

Bennell said: “… the reality is that I was never a MCFC coach and after 1978/1979 my junior teams had no connection at all with MCFC.”

Bennell told the judge that he has changed his name to “Richard Jones”.

He wore a red sweatshirt and light blue face mask.

Bennell said he wanted to wear a mask while answering questions.

He said he had recently “had five teeth out”.