Football coach Barry Bennell was ‘industrial scale’ child abuser, court told
Bennell, 64, has refused to give evidence at his trial.
Former football coach Barry Bennell was a “child molester on an industrial scale”, a court has heard.
In his closing speech on Monday, prosecutor Nicholas Johnson QC told Liverpool Crown Court Bennell himself had described his house, which had a pool table, arcade machines and exotic pets, as a “bit of a kids paradise”.
Mr Johnson said: “The child catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang … did it with cherry pie and lollipops.
“We suggest Mr Bennell is a child molester on an industrial scale and that’s why he went to these lengths to get so many lads round to his house.”
The jury was directed to return not guilty verdicts in relation to three offences the 64-year-old is charged with.
Giving legal directions, Recorder of Liverpool Judge Clement Goldstone QC said there was not evidence in relation to three counts of indecent assault.
He said one of the charges related to an offence alleged to have taken place in the changing rooms of Crewe Alexandra, where Bennell was a coach, but the abuse described by the complainant in court was less serious than the offence described in the particulars of the case.
Bennell denies 45 other offences of indecent assault, buggery and attempted buggery relating to 11 complainants between 1979 and 1990.
Mr Johnson told the jury all of the complainants in the case had “cared only about one thing – becoming a professional footballer”.
He said: “Many would do anything to achieve their dream.
“Barry Bennell knew that and he exploited that.”
Referring to Bennell’s decision not to give evidence in the trial, he told the jury: “You will remember that Mr Bennell made repeated denials in interview, backed up by a request to take a lie detector test.
“We have 12 lie detectors in this court and I’m looking at you.
“The lie detector test is going into the witness box, being asked the difficult questions and answering the difficult questions, if you can.”
He said Bennell had groomed the parents of the complainants so he could carry on the abuse and even married the sister of Andy Woodward, who he has previously admitted abusing.
Mr Johnson said: “We suggest he put his own considerations, his own desires, before any other.
“He didn’t care about the damage he caused.
“We know from the evidence he abused Andy Woodward, he buggered him, and then he married his sister.
“Just imagine. What does that tell you about his attitude to other people and their expendability to him?”
Bennell, who is appearing in court via video-link for health reasons, shook his head at times as Mr Johnson spoke.
The court heard in one police interview the former Manchester City scout had told officers: “I was a manipulating, conniving bastard of a person, but I was not evil.”
Mr Johnson told the jury: “Well, ladies and gentlemen, he was manipulating and conniving. He manipulated those boys and he is now trying to manipulate you.”
The trial will continue on Tuesday when Eleanor Laws QC, defending, will deliver a closing speech.