Ex-football coach Barry Bennell has been found guilty of multiple sex offences against boys in the 1980s.
Liverpool Crown Court heard Bennell had a “power hold” over aspiring players aged between eight and 15 and abused them on an “industrial scale”.
The 64-year-old was convicted of 36 charges against 10 boys, including indecent and serious sexual assaults. The jury is still considering verdicts on seven counts and will continue their deliberations on Wednesday.
Prosecutors had described Bennell as a “predatory and determined paedophile”. They compared him to the Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, while his victims described his home as a “paradise” for young boys, where they would play games and be given takeaway food.
Boys were abused at his home – where he had arcade games and exotic pets including a puma and a monkey – on trips away, and in his car on the way to and from training. The youth scout and junior football coach was associated with a number of clubs including Crewe Alexandra, and Manchester City – where he was said to have been treated like “God”.
In his evidence to the court, one victim, Chris Unsworth, said Bennell had raped him “about half a dozen times”. He was a junior footballer playing for his local club and Bennell at the time worked as a scout for Manchester City. Bennell was convicted of all five charges against Mr Unsworth, when he was aged between eight and 14.
Bennell, who is now known as Richard Jones, appeared in court via videolink due to illness.
The jury was told Bennell had previously received three jail sentences in the UK and in the US after being convicted of abusing boys. He chose not to offer any evidence or witnesses in his defence and had told police he was suffering from cancer, which in turn had caused memory problems. His barrister accused the complainants of inventing stories about him and “jumping on the bandwagon”.
The jury of five men and six women had spent four days deliberating after the five-week trial. They were considering a total of 48 charges against 11 complainants which Bennell had denied at the start of the proceedings. He was convicted of 36 charges relating to 10 complainants.
During the trial, the judge had directed them to find him not guilty on three of the charges. Two counts he was found guilty of carried alternative charges – which the jury will no longer be dealing with.
The judge has told the jury he will accept a majority verdict on the seven charges on which they have not yet reached verdicts. Four of these charges relate to an 11th complainant.