Barry Bennell was a 'persistent' offender, court told


Prosecutor Nicholas Johnson QC said: 'Although it seems that Mr Jones, or Mr Bennell, was a skilled and relatively successful coach, we allege that he had a much darker side.

"He was a predatory and determined paedophile".

Bennell equipped his home with arcade machines, a pool table and televisions to entice boys to stay the night.

Some of the alleged victims described being threatened by Bennell if he believed they might tell someone what happened.

Johnson said one complainant alleged he was abused in the changing rooms at the stadium at Crewe, which now plays in the fourth professional tier of English soccer.

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Bennell, who has since changed his name to Richard Jones, is accused of 48 counts of child sexual abuse.

The complainant alleged Bennell would turn the lights off once the boys were in bed and would play music to mask the sound of the abuse, the court heard.

But one boy who initially rejected Bennell's advances found himself being played out of position in the team. Five weeks later Bennell raped him, it was alleged.

That complainant had described the last time he was abused - after he met Mr Bennell to discuss signing forms for Manchester City - as the "worst day of his life".

Some of the alleged victims said they were haunted by the smell of Bennell's sweat and aftershave.

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Mr Johnson told the court that these were specimen charges and the total number of rape and sex assault allegations made by the boys ran into hundreds.

The jury heard that part of the evidence in the case involved serious sexual allegations made against Bennell by young footballers, some of which he had pleaded guilty to and served prison sentences for in the UK and the United States.

Before the trial, Mr Bennell admitted seven charges of indecent assault committed between 1981 and 1991, relating to three boys aged between 11 and 14.

Mr Johnson told the jury that the boys had been "systematically victimised by a devious paedophile".

After a long summary of the counts against Bennell, the prosecution told the jury they have "only scratched the surface" of the detail they will hear during the trial.

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Another alleged victim told police he was abused by Bennell in his Mercedes auto as he took him to and from training sessions.