Former football coach Barry Bennell has today (Monday 19 February) been sentenced to 31 years for a string of sexual offences against young boys many years ago.
The 64-year-old was found guilty of 43 offences including indecent assault, buggery and attempted buggery following a five week trial at Liverpool Crown Court.
Bennell had pleaded guilty at the start of the trial to seven further offences.
The offences relate to 12 victims and took place between 1979 and 1989.
Detective Inspector Sarah Oliver, who has been leading on the case, said: “Today Barry Bennell has been sentenced for a string of sexual offences against young boys many years ago. There is no doubt that he is a predatory paedophile who abused his position of trust as a football coach for his own sexual gratification.
“Bennell was highly regarded in his field and took advantage of these young boys at a time in their life when he knew they were vulnerable and dreamt of making it in the world of professional football. He knew exactly what he was doing was wrong but carried on regardless.
“He has shown a complete lack of empathy throughout the proceedings and the victims have had to relive what happened to them all those years ago – this has been an upsetting and difficult experience for them.
“Bennell shattered the hopes and dreams of many of these young boys and they have had to carry the burden of what happened to them around for years.
“Their bravery and courage in coming forward after all this time is remarkable and I would like to thank them for the support they have given throughout this case.
“I hope that the outcome today provides them some comfort after what has been a truly horrendous experience in their lives.
“Victims of crime are at the heart of everything we do here at Cheshire Police. A dedicated team of officers have worked tirelessly throughout this investigation gathering evidence and providing specialist support to the victims.
“Anyone who has suffered from sexual abuse – whether it took place recently or many years ago - should never feel ashamed about talking about what has happened to them.
“Some of Bennell's victims have chosen to waive their anonymity in a bid to raise awareness of the issue and to encourage and support others in a similar situation and their actions should be commended.
“The successful prosecution today of offences which took place many years ago should give others hope that they can have the confidence to come forward and talk about what happened to them and that their concerns will be taken seriously.
“Anyone who has been a victim of sexual abuse - no matter how long ago the incident took place - is urged to come forward and report it to police. You will be listened to, your concerns will be taken seriously and we will do all we can do to provide you with the specialist support you will need.”