Victim tells judge how passing Barry Bennell’s old house chills him to the core

·3-min read

A man who was a talented schoolboy footballer has told a High Court trial how driving past a house where he was sexually abused by paedophile former coach Barry Bennell chills him to the “core”.

The man told a judge that the experience made him feel physically sick.

He told Mr Justice Johnson how he went silent at “what went on at that house”.

The man was giving evidence at a High Court trial being overseen by Mr Justice Johnson in London.

He said Bennell, who used to live near Buxton, Derbyshire, and is now serving a jail term after being convicted of child sex crimes, had created an attractive environment for young people.

The man said he had stayed at Bennell’s “football-orientated” home as a boy and regularly been abused.

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 schoolboy football in the north west of England more than 30 years ago.

They claim that Bennell was a City scout when he abused them.

City bosses dispute that claim.

Barry Bennell damages
A Manchester City corner flag. PA/Mike Egerton

The man, who, the judge has ruled, cannot be named in media reports, said he first met Bennell when he was around 11 or 12.

“He approached me and said he was a Manchester City scout,” the man told Mr Justice Johnson.

“He gave me a calling card.”

The man said he played for a team coached by Bennell, trained with him at City’s training ground, and went to watch games with him at City’s Maine Road ground.

He said he, and other schoolboy players, would meet City stars.

“We also had access to all areas of Maine Road when it wasn’t match day,” the man said in a written witness statement.

“Bennell took us to the changing rooms and players’ entrance, he seemed to have the run of the place.”

He added: “If you ever suffered an injury or a strain, then the Manchester City physiotherapist would assess and treat you.”

The man said he also stayed at Bennell’s home.

“It was an environment a young person was attracted to,” the man said.

“Everything was football-orientated.

“Football was my world and revolved around him at the time.”

The man said he had suffered lifelong mental health problems caused by Bennell’s abuse.

“I frequently have to pass Bennell’s old house where much of the abuse took place and this makes me feel physically sick,” he said.

“I go silent and internally cringe at what went on at that house.”

He added: “When I drive past his house it sends a chill right down to my core.”

The man said Bennell’s abuse had scarred him and he had “lost his love” for football.

“I am sure that, but for the abuse, I could have become a professional footballer,” he told the judge.

“I was equal, if not better, than the 20-plus contemporaries who made it in football.

Mr Justice Johnson has heard that 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.

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

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, in Cambridgeshire.

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