Bennell a ‘child abuser on an industrial scale’

Barry Bennell was a child molester “on an industrial scale”, a court has heard.

The former football coach is on trial for sex crimes against promising young footballers, all of which he denies.

A jury at Liverpool Crown Court has already been directed by the judge to return not guilty verdicts in relation to three charges, leaving 45 (32 of indecent assault, 11 of buggery and two of attempted buggery) still to be deliberated on.

The court has been told that young boys would be given free sports kit at Bennell’s house and allowed to eat takeaway food.

There were also arcade games and a pet monkey.

During his closing speech, prosecutor Nicholas Johnson QC told the court that Bennell had described his house as a “bit of a kids’ paradise”.

He added: “The child catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang…did it with cherry pie and lollipops.

“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.”

The prosecution alleges the abuse took place at Bennell’s home, on tour with football teams in Wales and at the ground of Crewe Alexandra FC, where he worked as a youth coach at the time.

The charges faced by 64-year-old Bennell relate to 11 complainants and are alleged to have happened between 1979 and 1990.

Mr Johnson said Bennell had taken advantage of the complainants’ dreams of playing football at the top level.

He said: “Many would do anything to achieve their dream. Barry Bennell knew that and he exploited that.”

Mr Johnson told the jury that Bennell was “manipulating and conniving”.

“He manipulated those boys and he is now trying to manipulate you,” he added.

More from UK

Bennell, who is appearing in court via video-link due to ill health, chose not to give evidence during his trial.

On Tuesday, defence barrister Eleanor Laws QC will deliver her closing speech.