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Paedophile football coach Barry Bennell launches sentence challenge

Court of Appeal judges in London will review his 30-year jail term for sex offences against boys he coached between 1979 and 1991.

Paedophile football coach Barry Bennell is set to have his 30-year prison sentence reviewed by leading judges.

His bid to challenge the length of his jail term for child sex offences is to be heard on Wednesday by three judges in the Court of Appeal in London.

The former Crewe Alexandra coach and Manchester City scout was imprisoned in February after he was convicted at Liverpool Crown Court of  50 offences committed against 12 boys he coached between 1979 and 1991.

Bennell’s appeal case is listed under his new name, Richard Jones, and will be heard by Lady Justice Hallett, Mr Justice Stuart-Smith and Mr Justice Choudhury.

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 previously served three jail terms, totalling 15 years, for similar offences involving 16 other victims.

Bennell attended Liverpool Crown for sentencing but appeared via videolink from HMP Woodhill in Milton Keynes for the duration of the trial because of health problems.

Eleanor Laws QC, defending, said Bennell had suffered from cancer in the past and had operations to remove tumours from his tongue in 2004 and 2016.

Bennell was also on anti-anxiety medication, the court heard.

Miss Laws told the court that this meant his time in custody would be “less comfortable and more difficult” than someone without all those concerns.

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