Liverpool - Former
British football trainer Barry Bennell was sentenced to 30 years in
prison on Monday for abusing 12 boys he coached between 1979 and 1991,
with the judge branding him "sheer evil".
Bennell, 64, who coached at Manchester City and other teams, was
found guilty last week of dozens of child sexual offences, including
indecent assault, buggery and attempted buggery.
Police have said scores more complainants have come forward since the
case started, bringing the number of possible victims to more than 100.
"You were the devil incarnate. You stole their childhoods and their
innocence to satisfy your own perversion," Judge Clement Goldstone said
as he read out the sentence in a court in Liverpool, northwest England.
"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."
Bennell, who has already served three jail terms totalling 15 years
for similar offences involving 16 other victims, stared at the floor and
nodded as Goldstone handed down the sentence.
Some members of the public began to applaud as he was sent down, but the judge ordered them to stop.
He outlined how Bennell's abuse had destroyed the enthusiasm his
victims felt for football and caused them to suffer problems including
suicidal thoughts, alcoholism and depression.
Earlier in the hearing Monday, one of his victims walked over to the courtroom dock and calmly said: "Barry. Barry. Why?"
During his six-week trial, Bennell was accused of committing
"industrial scale" levels of abuse against vulnerable pre-pubescent boys
in his care.
Victims told how he had a "power hold" over them as they dreamed of becoming professional footballers.
Bennell's latest crimes emerged in late 2016 when former Liverpool
and Tottenham star Paul Stewart broke his 40-year silence and revealed
how he was abused as a teenager, shortly after former Crewe player Andy
Woodward went public with allegations against Bennell.
The case has sparked wider allegations of sexual and physical abuse
of boys at football clubs across Britain in the 1970s and 1980s, some of
whom went on to become heroes of the terraces and international stars.
Nearly 800 victims have come forward against more than 100 coaches,
leading to accusations that some of the game's most famous and loved
clubs covered up allegations of abuse of boys in their care.