Convicted paedophile Barry Bennell has died in prison at the age of 69, the Ministry of Justice has said. The disgraced former football coach was suffering from cancer and passed away at HMP Littlehey in Cambridgeshire over the weekend.
The ex-Crewe Alexandra youth coach, who also worked at Manchester City as a scout and had a spell at Stoke City, had been serving a 34-year sentence for child sex offences. Bennell had been convicted of over 50 sexual offences against young boys.
Bennell was jailed in Florida in 1994 for raping a British boy on a football tour in America. He also faced prison sentences in the UK in 1998, 2015, 2018 and 2020.
A Prison Service spokesperson said: “Prisoner Barry Bennell died at HMP Littlehey on 16 September 2023. As with all deaths in custody, the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman will investigate.”
More than 100 victims were thought to have come forward to allege abuse against sexual predator Bennell. He was sentenced at Chester Crown Court in October 2020 to an additional four years, when he was already serving 30 years, after pleading guilty to three counts of buggery and six counts of indecent assault against two boys.
Sentencing Bennell in February 2018, Judge Clement Goldstone QC described him as “the devil incarnate”. The court heard he was a “child molester on an industrial scale”.
Judge Goldstone said: “Your behaviour towards these boys in grooming and seducing them before subjecting them to, in some cases, the 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.”
Bennell worked for Crewe, Man City and Stoke during the 1980s and 1990s, using his position of power to abuse his victims. Many of his victims described in court how they had turned to alcohol following Bennell’s abuse.
One victim said: “Not a day goes by without thinking about the abuse I suffered. I loved football and like most boys it was my dream to play professionally. My dreams were shattered and I often think what could have been.”
He added: “I often thought of ending my own life but I didn’t, knowing the shame it would bring on my family.”