A victim of disgraced football coach Barry Bennell says the paedophile passed him on to another abuser.
Jason Dunford said he was approached by youth coach Frank Roper within an hour of leaving Bennell’s squad.
The 47-year-old is among victims who fear Roper and Bennell were part of a wider football paedophile ring.
The angry victims of Barry Bennell (pictured) hit out at footballing authorities today after the paedophile coach was convicted of abusing young players
He told Mirror Online of the horror he felt as he was molested by Roper, saying: ‘I was thinking, ‘This is what goes on in football. I’ve chosen the wrong sport here.’
Victims, coaches and club officials alike have expressed concerns that Bennell shared boys’ details and did not always act alone.
Bennell is believed to have swapped victims with other paedophiles during his 20-year reign of abuse that saw him prey on over 100 young footballers.
The former Crewe coach, 64, was allegedly known as the ‘Man United scout’, organising trips to their training ground and also boasting close links to Manchester City.
Speaking outside Liverpool Crown Court, Chris Unsworth, Micky Fallon and Steve Walters told how paedophile coach Barry Bennell’s actions inflicted decades on pain on scores of young boys who thought he would help them fulfill their dreams of becoming footballers
He is also reported to have swapped his young victims with other known paedophiles, including Frank Roper – the Manchester-based scout who abused England star Paul Stewart, according to the Mirror.
The revelations come after he was found guilty of the final seven of 50 child sex charges he will be sentenced for on Monday. It will be his fourth jail term for similar crimes.
Bennell was convicted of abusing 11 young football hopefuls today and faces a lengthy jail term
The total number of boys he abused could be well over 100, with 86 others having come forward since the fill horror of his reign of terror came to light.
In emotional scenes outside court, former trainee players hit out at clubs, who they said hushed up fears over abuse to protect their reputations.
Ex Crewe player Steve Walters said: ‘We suffered because of a disgusting predator but we also suffered sometimes because the sport we loved decided that the reputation of a coach, club or a sport was put above the protection of children.’
He accused the game’s authorities of turning a blind eye to the grooming by Bennell of hundreds of young footballers ‘in plain view’ and that a ‘culture of complacency and cover up was allowed to take root’.
Former Sheffield United and Crewe footballer Andy Woodward, who waived his anonymity in November 2016 to speak about the abuse, said: ‘Football clubs were accountable for this.
‘(They) could have stopped this for so many years and so many of us, and some aren’t even still with us now, and that could have been stopped. I think now’s the time that does come out.’
It is claimed that it was widely known Bennell was a risk to children as early as the late-1970s but clubs ‘ignored warnings’ and he continued to work in the game.
Anger at clubs and authorities came as:
- It emerged Bennell may have as many as 114 victims and could face further prosecution after an additional 86 complainants came forward.
- Former Manchester City youth coach Steve Fleet said he spoke out to stop the club hiring Bennell for a full-time role more than 30 years ago after hearing rumours he was ‘dodgy’.
- Another person with ‘potential historic connections’ to Manchester City has been linked with serious allegations of child sex abuse, the club said.
- It emerged victims have launched civil claims for damages against Manchester City and Crewe Alexandra.
- Former Crewe manager Dario Gradi faced renewed questions about a letter he sent defending Bennell 24 years ago.
Andy Woodward (pictured with his partner Zelda Worthington today) came forward and exposed Bennell’s reign of terror. He called for Crewe Alexandra to apologise
After being convicted of 36 child sex charges earlier this week, a jury at Liverpool Crown Court found Bennell guilty of seven more charges today. He had pleaded guilty to seven additional counts before the trial.
A cheer of ‘yes’ came from the public gallery, where six complainants sat with family members, as the final verdicts were read out. Some people were in tears.
Bennell, who appeared via videolink from prison, could be seen shaking his head at times and muttering when the guilty verdicts were returned.
Bennell – once described as the ‘Jimmy Savile of football’ – carried out sex attacks on youngsters at his lavish home, at a Butlin’s holiday park, in his car and on football tours.
Bennell, who worked with Crewe Alexandra, Stoke City and Manchester City in the 1980s and 90s, has previously received three jail sentences for similar offences.
The investigation into him was the largest of its kind ever carried out by Cheshire Police.
The force’s Detective Inspector Sarah Oliver said: ‘We have interviewed nearly 2,000 people in relation to this investigation since November 2016, we’ve taken over 500 statements, we’ve interviewed Barry Bennell 30 times.’
The investigation is still ongoing, amid fears Bennell may have scores more victims.
Bennell has previously been jailed three times for child sex abuse in the US and Britain
DI Oliver added: ‘At its peak there have been 25 detectives allocated to this investigation. We’re still running this inquiry with 10 members of staff, both detectives and police staff resources, who are working full time on this inquiry.’
Complainants, who had been coached by Bennell as boys, told how he had a ‘power hold’ over them as they dreamed of becoming professional footballers.
He was said to have been treated like ‘God’ at Manchester City’s Maine Road ground.
The court has heard Bennell compared to the Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as he invited boys to his house where he had arcade games, a pool table, videos and exotic pets including a puma and a monkey.
In his closing speech, Nicholas Johnson QC, prosecuting, said: ‘We suggest Mr Bennell is a child molester on an industrial scale and that’s why he went to these lengths to get so many lads round to his house.’
Bennell took youngsters to his home, where he had installed arcade games and a pool table
In transcripts of police interviews which were read in court, Bennell, who has changed his name to Richard Jones, told the police about his grooming process and abuse of boys, but claimed the complainants in the case were ‘jumping on the bandwagon’ following publicity.
He chose not to appear in the witness box and no evidence was called by the defence.
Victim David Lean was abused by Bennell aged 12 after attending a football course at a holiday camp in 1979.
He told Sky News: ‘He was everything you wanted to be. He had all the trendy gear, all the latest stuff.
‘It was like there was two of him.. my dad thought he was the nicest, most fantastic bloke. But it was almost like a smokescreen… obviously, now, that was part of the grooming process.’
Victim David Lean told Sky News that Bennell was everything young boys wanted to be
He said Bennell had two personalities and changed when he got boys behind closed doors
One of Bennell’s victims, who he had pleaded guilty to abusing in 1998, previously told the jury he knew of four men who had been coached by Bennell, including former Wales manager Gary Speed, who had gone on to take their own lives. The jury was later told there was no evidence to link their deaths to Bennell.
Jackie Lamb, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said after the verdicts were delivered: ‘Barry Bennell is a predatory paedophile who groomed and abused young boys who dreamed of a career in professional football.
‘He claimed his accusers were making up stories about him following previous convictions and stories in the media but thanks to the evidence from his victims, the CPS and police were able to build a strong case to expose Bennell’s denials as lies.’
She paid tribute to the victims who had come forward to give evidence, adding: ‘I hope this outcome gives them some sense of justice being done after so many years.’
Det Insp Sarah Oliver said: ‘As a football coach he should have provided nothing more than safety and support for the players in his care, instead he abused them.
A number of civil claims for damages have been launched by victims of Bennell against Manchester City and Crewe Alexandra, with more set to follow.
There are also questions over whether anyone in football knew of Bennell’s crimes and why more wasn’t done.
Crewe director of football and ex-manager Dario Gradi has previously stated that no-one at the club was aware of Bennell’s crimes until he was arrested in the US in 1994 and then first prosecuted.
He is currently suspended from football by the Football Association (FA), which is conducting an independent review of historical child abuse in the game from the 1970s up to 2005.
Both League Two outfit Crewe and Premier League table-toppers Manchester City are conducting their own investigations.
The court heard three former junior footballers are suing Manchester City while one is planning to sue Crewe and the FA for damages.
Three other complainants in the current trial have sought legal advice on a potential compensation claim for injuries and losses.
‘For decades we have lived in fear’: Emotional statements from three victims who stood ‘united in justice’
Three of Barry Bennell’s victims faced the media ‘united in justice’ shortly after the last verdicts were reached by jurors to read emotional statements outside court.
Steve Walters, Micky Fallon and Chris Unsworth gave their reactions under the banner of the Offside Trust – an organisation set up by ex-professional players to end abuse in sport and support survivors.
The trust was launched in November 2016 after fellow victim Andy Woodward waived his anonymity to detail his abuse at the hands of Bennell.
Mr Fallon, targeted at Crewe by Bennell, said: ‘We stand before you today as men united but, at the same time, we were very young boys. We were little boys with a dream and our innocence was shattered.
‘Our dreams turned into the most horrendous nightmare. For decades that nightmare has haunted us. For decades we held our silence just like our abuser told us to.
‘For decades we have lived in fear because we may be grown men stood in front of you now but we were once a little child.
‘That fear never ever leaves you, the fear not only of abuse but that you will not be believed if you speak out.
‘But today, we faced that fear. We broke the silence and we took back our voice. We looked our abuser in the eye. We are no longer afraid of you, Barry Bennell.
‘Today justice was done and you no longer have any power over us. You are nothing to us at all.’
Steve Walters broke down in tears midway though his speech outside court after Bennell was sentenced
Former Crewe player Mr Walters accused the sport of football of putting its own needs above those of children.
He said: ‘We suffered because of a disgusting predator but we also suffered sometimes because the sport we loved decided that the reputation of a coach, club or a sport was put above the protection of children.
‘Our abuse is punctuated by the failure of adults to protect innocent children, the failure of adults to act when abuse was reported, the failure to be vigilant and brave.
‘We suffered because of a culture of complacency and cover up (which) was allowed to take root.
‘We suffered because of an environment where children were terrified to speak out, where children were silenced by the stigma around abuse.
Mr Walters accused the sport of football of putting its own reputation above those of young players
‘Today for us is about finally getting justice, we hope it will see this cruel, manipulative man taken off the streets forever, this man who was allowed to roam free and who to this day has denied us the truth.’
Mr Unsworth, abused by Bennell while playing youth football at Manchester City, said: ‘Our justice is your justice, your suffering is our suffering.
‘We stand together and together we have this message to all those who abuse children or turned a blind eye or cover up child sex abuse – your time is up.
‘Our case was about abuse that took place decades ago but child sex abuse is happening today and it is destroying lives. Families are wrecked, relationships are poisoned and some wounds can never be healed.
‘But from this tragedy there is hope. The healing journey of survivors is a difficult road, but one we no longer walk alone. Thanks to organisations like the Offside Trust, survivors are supported.
‘Unspoken truths and frightened whispers have turned into powerful voices.
‘Tomorrow is a new day and all of us at the Offside Trust ask you to join us in our efforts to support the healing journey of survivors and make sport a safer place for children.’
How I stood my ground to keep monster Barry Bennell out of Manchester City: Former youth team boss Steve Fleet on how ‘something wasn’t right’ about paedophile football coach
MailOnline’s Mike Keegan spoke to Steve Fleet, the man who put his job on the line to stop Barry Bennell getting a full-time job at Manchester City in 1979, only to see his ugly shadow return to the scene following his own departure.
‘I could tell as soon as I saw him – something wasn’t right.’ Steve Fleet is remembering the first time he saw Barry Bennell.
The former Manchester City goalkeeper was in charge of the club’s youth team when the man we now know as a predatory paedophile, tried to grab himself a job at Maine Road.
Speaking from the kitchen of his neat and tidy home near Stockport, Fleet, now 79, thinks it was around 1979. ‘I knew who he was,’ he recalls. ‘Everyone on the football scene did.
Bennell, pictured when he worked for Crewe Alexandra in 1989
You’d hear it on the coaching circuit. Everybody had a bit to say. ‘Don’t touch him with a bargepole – there’s something not right about him’.
It was the gossip. Nobody had seen anything but they could all sense it.’ Fleet was summoned to see then chief scout Ken Barnes. ‘Ken wanted to bring him in to work with me,’ he recalls.
‘He had a load of great kids playing for his teams and he was trying to get in at all the top clubs. Ken wanted him.’
Fleet knew all about Bennell. ‘In the school holidays he’d fetch his kids here to train with other school kids and I’d be in charge of that,’ he says. He could sense something was wrong.
‘It was nauseating. He was like a Michael Jackson. The kids would all follow him. The way he spoke to them, it was like baby talk, he was too familiar with them.’
Nobody had mentioned the word paedophile. ‘It was different times and people would look the other way,’ Fleet said.
‘People just said he was weird. You’d heard about the house he had with a monkey and a baby puma to attract the kids. It was bizarre and not right.’
Fleet passed on his concerns to Barnes. ‘We were great friends and the only confrontation we ever had was over Barry Bennell,’ he remembers. ‘I told him – I can’t work with him. I put my job on the line. I didn’t want him near my club.’
Fleet remembers that he and Barnes went to see then manager Tony Book to discuss the situation, and were told to go to the now-deceased director Chris Muir. One victim told Liverpool Crown Court that he thought Barnes, who passed away in 2010, was aware of Bennell’s abuse.
Bennell, pictured in 2012, said he felt the cancer he now has was ‘karma’ for what he had done
Fleet, however, thinks he may have not grasped what was going on. ‘I was brought up in Salford and had seen a few things that were not right when I was a kid,’ he says, recalling a grisly tale of a local old man who would pay kids to perform sexual favours.
‘I don’t think that Ken, to be fair, had had those experiences and he thought football was a man’s game where it couldn’t happen. Maybe he was naïve.’
Fleet, who has fully participated in City’s ongoing investigation into their relationship with Bennell, adds that he had to stand his ground to keep the monster out of the club he loved.
‘They tried to persuade me,’ he recalls. ‘They said he was a star maker but I just couldn’t have him near the club. I told them I would leave.’ It was a big call. This was a time well before wages skyrocketed and Fleet could not just retire and spend his days on the golf course. There were bills to be paid.
The next couple of weeks were spent nervously awaiting City’s decision but he eventually won the day and Bennell went away – for the time being. ‘He stopped coming down and I didn’t see him again,’ he recalls.
Fleet, who would go on to have a long and distinguished career in coaching, left City in 1981 shortly after John Bond arrived as manager and brought in his own people. Bennell would not stay away.
He continued to run boys teams in the area linked with the club and would often take youngsters to matches at Maine Road with tickets he was given by City.
There is no evidence that he was ever taken on in a full-time role but the link is undeniable and City’s probe, which is understood to have cost more than £1m and which is in its latter stages, focusses on the extent of the relationship.
This is believed to be Bennell’s business card when he used the City brand
Fleet, who comes across as an honest man with a deep sadness over what subsequently happened after he had left the club, has spoken to solicitors as part of the investigation. ‘They told me to be transparent and I told them everything I know,’ he says.
‘I don’t think he was ever on the payroll but I do think they may have paid him expenses.
‘Scouts still at the club after I left told me they’d eventually got rid of him for selling the complimentary tickets they gave him for kids.’
His next words appear to be quite damning. ‘I’m not sure,’ he adds. ‘I think they found out about him.’ I ask Fleet why nobody ever went to the police, a move that may have stopped Bennell and saved a number of boys from life-changing, harrowing ordeals.
‘I can’t speak for others but I couldn’t prove anything,’ he says. ‘I hadn’t seen anything. I just knew it was unhealthy. These days they have set things up that make it very difficult for someone like that to get a job. In them days it was just word of mouth. It’s all coming to light now which is a good thing and they punish them. It’s the same with Rolf Harris, Stuart Hall – it’s come to them.’
What does Fleet think now when he reads about Bennell? He pauses. ‘I’m just glad it’s out in the open,’ he says.
‘I’m glad that that side of humanity is being exposed. Without wanting this to come out the wrong way, I suppose I am happy that I was right all those years ago.’
Manchester City identify another former coach linked with child sex abuse after Barry Bennell conviction
Manchester City say they have identified another person with ‘potential historic connections’ to the club who has been linked with serious allegations of child sex abuse.
The Premier League outfit launched a QC-led review in November 2016 to investigate whether Barry Bennell used City to facilitate abuse of young footballers.
The probe, which Sportsmail understands has so-far cost close to £1m, is also looking at whether any other paedophile may have used their connections with City to commit offences at any point from 1965 to the present day.
Bennell, pictured near his home in Buckinghamshire in 2012
As well as identifying Bennell’s activities, the review has uncovered a second man called John Broome – who is now dead – but is not believed to be linked to Bennell.
Following the conclusion of Bennell’s trial, City released a statement on the progress of their investigation, which remains ongoing.
It read: ‘Whilst Manchester City FC is restricted as to what it can make public at present, the Club can confirm that to date, the Review Team has identified serious allegations of child sex abuse in respect of two identifiable individuals with potential historic connections to Manchester City.
‘One of these individuals is Barry Bennell. The second identified individual – John Broome – is deceased and is not believed to be linked to Bennell. Investigations into Mr Broome and his alleged offences continue.’
Manipulative paedophile gained the trust of parents and even married one victim’s sister adding to his pain
Self-confessed manipulative paedophile Barry Bennell lured his victims in with the promise of a career in football.
The former scout and coach has admitted grooming and abusing young footballers in his care.
But he continued to deny allegations of abuse made by complainants who gave evidence in his trial at Liverpool Crown Court and claimed they were ‘jumping on the bandwagon’ following publicity about his crimes.
The scandal was exposed after Andy Woodward bravely waived his anonymity to speak about the abuse he suffered
Accused by one complainant of smirking as he watched proceedings via video-link from prison, Bennell shook his head and could be seen speaking at times during the trial, although he could not be heard.
In lengthy police interviews, the 64-year-old denied the claims of his victims, but told officers of his grooming process and attraction to teenage boys.
He described what he found good-looking in a boy as ‘nice face, smiled a lot, always laughing, blond hair’.
Describing himself, he said: ‘I was a bit full of myself, I always thought I was brilliant.’
Bennell, who changed his name to Richard Jones, had part of his tongue removed due to oral cancer and told detectives he thought the disease, which left him needing to be fed through a tube, was ‘karma’.
Over the years Bennell, who chose not to give evidence during his trial, kept pets including a puma and a monkey, as well as dogs such as an Alsatian and a Pyrenean mountain dog.
Groups of boys would stay at his homes, often with two sharing a double bed with him and others in bunk beds, and he would order takeaways and play horror films to scare them.
Bennell, who has cancer, appeared in court via a video link from prison
One complainant told the court: ‘Every boy just dreamed of being a footballer, so everybody wanted to please him.’
Bennell admitted to police that he would ‘make a point’ of meeting the parents of his victims, to gain their trust.
He married the sister of victim Andy Woodward and went on to have two children with her.
Bennell told police he began playing football as a child and moved into coaching at the age of 18, working with Senrab, a team connected to Chelsea, when he was 20 or 21.
Bennell would run football tours abroad and summer camps to get children away from their parents
Afterwards he moved to the North West and began working with a club connected to Manchester City, before moving to Crewe Alexandra.
He also coached at Butlin’s holiday camp for the Daily Express and spent two years as a residential social worker living in a children’s home in Derbyshire, before running a number of video shops.
In 1990 he moved to America, later returning and splitting his time between the UK and the USA.
He left Crewe for Stoke City, telling police he had been upset when Crewe Alexandra manager Dario Gradi excluded him from an exhibition of youth team skills at Anfield.
It was in America in 1994 that Bennell was first convicted of abusing a boy and spent three years in prison.
He told police: ‘I was thrown in with absolute murderers, rapists, everything and I’d have done anything to get out of there.’
When Bennell did get out of the US prison, he was deported to the UK, where police had launched an investigation into abuse in this country.
The coach went on to serve two jail terms in this country for abuse of 16 boys, before returning to prison following the new allegations in November 2016.
‘Barry Bennell had a great ability to communicate with kids’: How Crewe director of football Dario Gradi wrote glowing character reference for serial paedophile after he was arrested for child abuse in 1994
‘Barry Bennell had a great ability to communicate with kids’: How Crewe director of football Dario Gradi wrote glowing character reference for serial paedophile after he was convicted of child abuse in 1994
Dario Gradi, director of football at Crewe Alexandra, faces renewed questions about a letter he sent defending serial paedophile Barry Bennell 24 years ago.
Gradi’s glowing character reference for Bennell, written after the coach had been arrested for sexually assaulting a 13-year-old boy in the United States in August 1994, was part of an extraordinary campaign to limit Bennell’s time behind bars.
Crewe Alexandra director of football Dario Gradi (right) faces questions about whether he hindered police attempts to catch serial paedophile Barry Bennell (left)
Former Alex manager Gradi wrote a glowing character reference for Bennell after the coach had been arrested for sexually assaulting a 13-year-old boy in the United States in August 1994
Liverpool’s Rob Jones and Middlesbrough’s Craig Hignett – both players Bennell had coached – were also among the 32 people fooled into writing statements in support of the paedophile.
Some of the most grievously abused boys, including Bury defender Andy Woodward and Crewe midfielder Steve Walters, also contributed.
Bennell was found guilty of 43 sex offences in total by a jury at Liverpool Crown Court on Thursday. He will be sentenced on Monday.
Former Crewe boss Gradi, who has been suspended by the Football Association pending an investigation into sexual abuse in football, wrote a letter to a court in Jacksonville, Florida, designed to help reduce Bennell’s jail term on six charges of child abuse, to which he pleaded guilty.
Gradi wrote on Crewe Alexandra headed notepaper to say that Bennell had ‘a great ability to communicate with kids and was responsible for bringing many boys to this club.’
Former Liverpool player Rob Jones (right) was also among those who supported Bennell
Several ‘are now professional players,’ Gradi added. He had known Bennell for a decade and worked with him for five years, Gradi said, concluding: ‘Not once during that time have I ever received a complaint from a boy or his parents of a sexual nature.’
Gradi and Crewe have not responded to Sportsmail’s requests for comment about the character reference he provided that year.
There were 32 letters in all, demonstrating how comprehensively this serial paedophile had fooled football.
Former Liverpool defender Jones described how much he ‘respected’ Bennell and added: ‘Not once did I ever have any cause to be concerned about my personal safety’. Hignett, then at Middlesbrough, sent a handwritten note saying he had ‘the greatest respect for Barry’.
But it is the Gradi letter – one of three sent from Gresty Road staff on club notepaper in 1994 – which will be of most interest to an FA-convened inquiry into historic sexual abuse in football.
Ex-Middlesbrough striker Craig Hignett was among 32 fooled into backing Bennell’s character
The inquiry is already examining a claim that the 76-year-old Gradi tried to ‘smooth over’ an allegation of abuse against coach Eddie Heath, when the pair worked together at Chelsea in the early 1970s.
Gradi has said of that allegation: ‘It would be inappropriate and unfair on all parties to comment piecemeal through the media… in connection with historic allegations.’
Gradi, described as ‘one of English football’s best developers of young players’ by the National Football Museum, insisted in November 2016 that he knew nothing of Bennell’s crimes until he was first arrested in 1994.
Yet Hamilton Smith, a Crewe board member from 1986 to early 1990, said in November 2016 that he was so concerned about Bennell that he had convened two management meetings in the late 1980s – the second of which was in Gradi’s office and which he attended.
Some of the most grievously abused boys, including Andy Woodward, also contributed
There is no suggestion that Gradi is himself under suspicion of abusing minors. Officers from Cheshire Police routinely asked young players about Gradi during their first inquiry in 1998 and have received nothing but positive comments about him.
When Bennell admitted to 22 offences in 1998, Chester Crown Court heard that one had taken place at Gradi’s house, although there was no suggestion that the manager knew what had happened. Further offences took place on a Crewe Alexandra training pitch and in a club dressing room.
Bennell left Crewe abruptly in 1992 following a row, it has emerged. Gradi told police in 1998 that Bennell had been preparing to take a group of young Crewe players on trip to United States six years earlier when a dispute occurred about the number of mothers who wanted to accompany them on the trip. Bennell wanted one mother for every five children, while other Crewe staff wanted a bigger ratio.
There was also a disagreement about Bennell’s insistence that his favoured players should get game-time in the US. Other staff felt that all boys be given equal opportunity, since all had been asked to contribute financially to the trip.
Gradi told Cheshire Police that he had supported those who wanted more mothers involved and more boys getting game time. An argument ensued and Bennell was dismissed soon afterwards.
Gradi (pictured in 2017) wrote on Crewe Alexandra headed paper to say Bennell had ‘a great ability to communicate with kids and was responsible for bringing many boys to this club’
Crewe Alexandra said in a statement: ‘The club would like to reiterate that it was not aware of any sexual abuse by Mr Bennell, nor did it receive any complaint about sexual abuse by him, either before or during his employment with the club.
‘Mr Bennell was employed by the club for two periods between January 1985 and January 1992. On both occasions, he left for football-related reasons. The first the club became aware of any offences committed by Mr Bennell was when he was arrested in the United States in 1994.
‘The club co-operated fully with the police investigation in relation to the prosecution of Mr Bennell in 1997/98. The club also cooperated fully in the production of the Dispatches programme that was broadcast around that time.
‘Further, the police have recently undertaken a thorough investigation to determine what knowledge Crewe Alexandra may have had of Mr Bennell’s offending whilst he was employed as a coach, which involved interviewing a significant number of individuals, including a former director of the club, Hamilton Smith. As a result of their investigations, the police found no evidence to corroborate that the club was aware of Mr Bennell’s offending.
‘The club wishes to make it absolutely clear that had it had any suspicion or belief that Mr Bennell was committing acts of abuse, either before, during or after he left the club’s employment, the club would have informed the police immediately.
‘The thoughts of everyone at the club go to the victims and their families at this difficult time.’
Decades of abuse before he was finally brought to justice: Timeline of the Barry Bennell case
Early 1970s: Starts his coaching career aged about 18 at renowned London-based junior club Senrab FC, Bennell told police.
Mid to late 1970s: Coaches at Butlin’s holiday camp in Pwllheli, North Wales, and also begins working with Manchester youth team Whitehill FC, he also tells detectives.
November 1979 to July 1981: Employed as a resident social worker at the now closed Taxal Edge children’s home in Whaley Bridge, Derbyshire.
1982 to 1985: Coaches youth teams in Derbyshire which provided several youth recruits for Manchester City.
1985 to 1992: Bennell is employed by or on behalf of Crewe Alexandra apart from a spell coaching in Georgia, United States, in 1989 and 1990.
1990: Marries Linda Woodward, sister of one of his abuse victims, Andy Woodward. The couple go on to have two children.
1992 to 1994: Bennell is employed by or on behalf of Stoke City.
1994: He is arrested while on a 10-week tour of the United States when coaching a Staffordshire youth team.
1995: He is convicted in Florida of four counts of indecent assault on a young boy and sentenced to four years in jail. Spends time in custody prior to his conviction. His victim was also abused by Bennell in Britain, which leads to a domestic investigation.
January 1997: Bennell is featured in the Channel 4 documentary series Dispatches. Former youth player Ian Ackley waives his anonymity and tells the Soccer’s Foul Play programme he was sexually abused by Bennell.
September 1997: US authorities deport Bennell to the UK at the conclusion of his sentence and on his arrival he is charged with sexual offences relating to a number of complainants.
June 1998: He pleads guilty at Chester Crown Court on the first day of his scheduled trial to 23 counts of sexual abuse relating to 15 complainants, aged from nine to 14, between 1978 and 1992. Victims include Mr Ackley and Mr Woodward. Twenty-two alleged offences are left to lie on file. He is sentenced to nine years in prison.
May 2015: Bennell pleads guilty at the same court on the first day of his scheduled trial to sexually abusing a 12-year-old boy in 1980. He is jailed for two years. His victim did not come forward in 1997 because of the effect he said it would have on his mother. When she died in 2013 he contacted police. The court hears he was abused at Bennell’s living quarters at Taxal Edge while staying with him as he took part in coaching sessions in Macclesfield.
November 2016: Mr Woodward waives his anonymity to give emotional, powerful interviews to the Guardian and BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme. It leads to a number of complainants against Bennell contacting police and a fresh investigation begins.
January 2018: Bennell goes on trial at Liverpool Crown Court accused of 48 historical child sex offences against 11 complainants between 1979 and 1990.
February 2018: Bennell is found guilty of 43 counts of child sexual abuse against 11 victims.