Serial paedophile football coach Barry Bennell may well die in prison said a judge who jailed him for 30 years and branded him the “the devil incarnate”.
The former Crewe Alexandra coach and Manchester City scout was convicted at Liverpool Crown Court of 50 child sexual offences committed against 12 boys he coached between 1979 and 1991.
Sentencing Bennell, 64, on Monday, the Recorder of Liverpool, Judge Clement Goldstone QC, told him “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.”
He said Bennell had appeared to his victims as a God but added: “In reality, you were the devil incarnate.
“You stole their childhoods and their innocence to satisfy your own perversion.”
Bennell had shown no remorse whatsoever for his offences of buggery, attempted buggery and indecent assault, with the exception of some relatively minor abuse he admitted, added the judge.
As the judge recapped the individual offences, Bennell regularly shook his head in the dock and also sighed, mouthed “no”, smirked, raised his eyebrows and looked to the ceiling.
Judge Goldstone said Bennell’s abuse had left a “trail of psychological devastation” and destroyed the enthusiasm his victims had for playing football.
This had led to “zero” prospects of a career in professional football and resulting problems including suicidal thoughts, alcoholism and depression, he continued.
He said: “Each has suffered and now, more than 30 to 35 years after you ruined these boys’, now men’s, lives, continues to suffer.”
Bennell looked at the floor and nodded as the judge sentenced him before he smirked again as he was led from the dock.
Some members of the public began to applaud as he was sent down, but were stopped by the judge.
Bennell will serve half his sentence in custody and will then be released on licence unless the Parole Board considers he poses a risk to the public.
He will also serve an additional 12 months on licence after completing his jail term.
His time on remand since his arrest in November 2016 will count towards his sentence.
However the judge said Bennell – who is said to be in “poor health” after the removal of two cancerous tumours in his mouth – “may well die in prison”.
Bennell has already served three jail terms for similar offences involving 16 other victims.
The judge noted that Bennell had not taken the opportunity to “wipe the slate clean” in 1998 before he was jailed for nine years.
Bennell may have more than 100 victims in total as an additional 86 complainants have come forward to say they too were abused by him.
After Bennell was taken from the dock, Judge Goldstone said he had some observations to make about the outstanding complaints.
Judge Goldstone said: “I would only invite the police and the Crown Prosecution Service and the complainants themselves to consider carefully whether there exists at this time a continuing public interest, as opposed to the complainants’ private interest, in bringing any further prosecutions before the court.”
Speaking outside court, victim Andy Woodward, whose decision to go public led to the latest trial, said he had mixed emotions.
He said: “No sentence is long enough for that man and right to the death he didn’t show any remorse or say sorry to anyone.”