Ex-football coach Bennell 'told alleged abuse victim cancer was payback'

Former football coach Barry Bennell described himself having cancer as "payback" in a Facebook message sent to one of his alleged victims, a court has heard.
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Barry Bennell
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Ex-football coach Barry Bennell admits seven child sex offences

The complainant, who gave evidence from behind a screen, told Liverpool Crown Court on Monday he had met Bennell, 64, when he was scouted by him after playing football for a school team.

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The former Crewe Alexandra coach denies four counts of buggery against the alleged victim and 44 other counts of sexual abuse against 10 complainants all alleged to have taken place between 1979 and 1990.

The jury was shown a Facebook message sent to the complainant in 2009 which he believed to have been sent by Bennell, who has since changed his name to Richard Jones.

The message, sent from an account with the name Richard Barry, said: "Good to see you have a family and enjoying life.

"I got cancer a while back and it's left me in a mess.

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"Won't go into details but it's not pretty. Payback I hear you saying, well I understand that.

"If you could find time could you drop me a line saying how your life is going.

"All the best, Barry."

The complainant told the court he never replied to the message.

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He said he was abused repeatedly by Bennell at the coach's home addresses and on trips to Butlins in Pwllheli, Wales, and to Spain.

He described a final incident happening at Bennell's home when he had gone to talk about discussions Bennell was having with Ken Barnes, from Manchester City.

He said: "The conversation at the time was that we were unsure about the future of football and Barry was discussing with Ken Barnes at the time about signing on and Barry advised me to hold back, to make them wait."

He said Bennell told another boy who was staying at the house to go upstairs and abused him on the sofa in his lounge.

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Asked how he felt after, he said: "The lowest of them all. The lowest I've ever felt in my life.

"I was a biggish, strongish 14-year-old lad and I felt like I had been raped. I felt the worst I'd ever felt."

The jury heard the complainant had asked Bennell what he would do if he told someone about the abuse.

He told the court: "He said this had happened to players playing professional football now, and named a player, and said nobody would ever believe me."

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The court heard the alleged victim had made a statement in 1994, when Bennell was accused of abuse by another boy, in which he had accused Bennell of attempted buggery but not buggery.

Asked by Eleanor Laws QC, defending, why he did not allege buggery at that time he said: "I wasn't strong enough and I wasn't brave enough."

The court heard he applied for compensation after Bennell pleaded guilty to offences in 1998 and, after rejecting two higher offers, he was awarded about £2,000.

Asked if he was aggrieved about being offered a smaller amount, he said: "I have been aggrieved for 38 years, £2,000 or £3,000 makes no difference at all."