British football coach sentenced to more prison time for abuse

A British court has sentenced Barry Bennell, a former football coach, to a further four years in prison for raping and abusing two boys when they were aged 11 and 14 during the 1970s and 1980s.

Bennell was the subject of Al Jazeera’s investigation Football’s Wall of Silence, which looked at sexual abuse at British football clubs.

The English courts refer to such cases as “historic abuse”. There’s nothing historic about it for the survivors.

Football’s Wall of Silence revealed that at least four of Bennell’s former players have died, due to suicide or alcohol and drugs. Many other survivors are now receiving counselling or therapy.

The investigation also revealed

Hundreds of abuse victims

About 100 men have come forward in the last few years who say they were abused by Bennell, whose crimes went on for almost 20 years at youth teams linked mainly to Manchester City and Crewe Alexandra football clubs.

He first faced justice in 1994, after taking a group of young British footballers on a summer footballing tour to the United States.

One boy returned home early and told his parents of the abuse, leading to Bennell being arrested in Florida and sentenced to four years in prison for “lewd and lascivious behaviour”.

After his return to the UK, he was convicted of two dozen more counts against another six boys, and a further sentence of two years followed in 2015 when he admitted to abusing one more boy.

Then, in 2018, he was sentenced to 30 years in prison with an additional year on licence.

that one of Bennell’s likely victims was former Wales manager Gary Speed, who took his own life in 2011.

One of the survivors said in a statement to the court he had given up football because of Bennell.

“He ruined my childhood dreams and took that away from me,” he said.

The Offside Trust, which represents survivors of football abuse, said it welcomed the additional sentence but was disappointed that more cases were not being heard.

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