Paedophile football coach loses appeal to have 30-year sentence reduced
Victims of paedophile football coach Barry Bennell have spoken of their relief after he failed in a Court of Appeal bid to have his 30-year jail term cut.
Three judges in London ruled on Wednesday that the length of his jail term for multiple offences against 12 boys he coached was not excessive.
The former Crewe Alexandra coach and Manchester City scout was sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court in February for 52 offences committed against 12 boys he coached between 1979 and 1991.
Bennell may have more than 100 victims in total as an additional 86 complainants have come forward to say they were abused by him, and an investigation by Cheshire Police is ongoing.
Former Manchester City youth player Gary Cliffe, 47, one of Bennell’s victims who waived his right to anonymity, said after the Court of Appeal ruling: “It is the right decision.
“The big thing is there are other lads waiting for justice and I hope that now the police can get on with interviewing Bennell and charging him.
“If any good comes of this, the message needs to go out and others need to know it is going to be dealt with seriously and you’re going to get serious jail.”
Kim Harrison, a specialist abuse lawyer for firm Slater and Gordon which is representing a number of Bennell’s victims, said: “My clients are relieved the court has rejected Bennell’s plea for a reduced sentence.
“However, yet again he has put his victims through further trauma, tormenting them through this process.
“An attempt to reduce his sentence does not echo the actions of someone that feels remorse.”
During his six-week trial, Bennell, 64, was said to have committed “industrial scale” levels of abuse against vulnerable prepubescent boys in his care.
Complainants told how he had a “power hold” over them as they dreamed of becoming professional footballers.
Labelling him “the devil incarnate”, Judge Clement Goldstone QC told him he would serve half of the 30-year term in custody with the rest on licence.
He was also ordered to serve an additional licence period of one year.
Judge Goldstone said Bennell’s abuse had destroyed the enthusiasm his victims had for playing football and had led to them suffering problems including suicidal thoughts, alcoholism and depression.
He had previously served three jail terms, totalling 15 years, for similar offences involving 16 other victims.
Bennell’s appeal was listed under his new name, Richard Jones, and was heard by Lady Justice Hallett, Mr Justice Stuart-Smith and Mr Justice Choudhury.
Lady Justice Hallett told the court Bennell was a “sexual predator of the worst kind” and his offending included “several campaigns of rape on a huge scale”.
She said the consequences for victims have been “appalling” and their victim personal statements made “extremely distressing reading”.
Dismissing Bennell’s challenge, the judge added: “The sentence was severe, particularly when he has already served three prison sentences for similar offending.
“But in our judgment the offences were so serious, the timescale so extended, the aggravating factors so numerous and the mitigation so limited, that it would be wrong for this court to interfere with the sentence.”
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