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Serial paedophile and former football coach Barry Bennell dies in prison

Former football coach and serial paedophile Barry Bennell has died in prison, the Ministry of Justice said.

Described as a “pied piper” figure who preyed on young boys who dreamt of becoming professional footballers, Bennell was serving a 34-year sentence for child sex offences in HMP Littlehey in Cambridgeshire.

He was convicted of more than 50 sexual offences against 22 boys in 2018. He was given a 30-year sentence, but this was extended to 34 when he was further convicted of abusing two other boys.

He used his position as a youth coach in the 1980s and 1990s to abuse boys in his care. Judge Patrick Thompson told Bennell that he “grossly abused” his role “in order to use those boys as your sexual playthings.”

Former football coach and serial paedophile Barry Bennell has died in prison

He said that boys were “children whose parents trused and respected you, when in fact you were a parent’s worst nightmare”. More than 100 victims were believed to have come forward to allege that they were abused by Bennell.

Bennell abused his victims while they were staying at his homes in Crewe and Furness Vale, Derbyshire. He also abused others at children’s home Taxal Edge, the court heard.

Bennell boasted that he could find professional football clubs their next young star and he would scout boys across the North West and the Midlands.

In 2020, the court was told that Bennell had a detached retina after being attacked in prison and was also in remission from cancer.

At his sentencing hearing in 2020, Owen Edwards, prosecuting, said the case would be the final prosecution after a decision to proceed only with cases involving the most serious offences.

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