Barry Bennell sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court

Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of former football coach Barry Bennell appearing at Liverpool Crown Court
Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of former football coach Barry Bennell appearing at Liverpool Crown Court
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Barry Bennell has been jailed at Liverpool Crown Court for 30 years for abusing 12 young footballers he coached between 1979 and 1991.

The 64-year-old, who wore a blue jumper and white polo shirt for the hearing, was transferred from HMP Woodhill in Milton Keynes to Liverpool Crown Court.

Jason Dunford (left) and Chris Unsworth outside Liverpool Crown Court

Jason Dunford (left) and Chris Unsworth outside Liverpool Crown Court

He had appeared via videolink from prison for his five-and-a-half week trial because of health problems.

The former Crewe Alexandra coach will be sentenced for 50 child sexual offences, with many of those specimen counts to reflect the numerous occasions the "industrial scale" abuser targeted some of his 12 victims between 1979 and 1991.

One of Bennell's victims approached the dock after reading an impact statement to the court and said "Barry. Barry. Why?"

He was stopped from getting close to the dock by a court usher and asked to return to his seat by Recorder of Liverpool, Judge Clement Goldstone QC.

Bennell stared ahead at the judge with his arms folded as sentencing began but he looked downwards when the victim statements were read out - some by the complainants from the witness box and some by prosecutor Nicholas Johnson QC.

One victim who read a statement to the court said: "Not a day goes by without thinking about the abuse I received. I was just a child."

Eleanor Laws QC, mitigating, said Bennell had suffered from cancer in the past and had operations to remove tumours from his tongue in 2004 and 2016.

She said he was also on anti-anxiety medication.

She said: "All of this, we submit, means his time in custody will be less comfortable and more difficult than it would be for someone without all these concerns."

The Recorder of Liverpool, Judge Clement Goldstone QC, described Bennell as "the devil incarnate".

He said: "Your behaviour towards these boys in grooming and seducing them before subjecting them to, in some cases, the most most serious, degrading and humiliating abuse was sheer evil."

He said Bennell had appeared to his victims as a God but added: "In reality, you were the devil incarnate.

"You stole their childhoods and their innocence to satisfy your own perversion."

The court was told that Bennell will serve half his sentence in custody with the rest on licence, with an additional licence period of one year.