Jury in trial of Barry Bennell sent out to consider verdict

The jury in the trial of former football coach Barry Bennell has been sent out to consider its verdict.

The five men and six women were sent out to deliberate on Thursday morning following a month of evidence in the trial at Liverpool Crown Court.

Bennell, 64, denies 48 offences, including indecent assault, attempted buggery and buggery, relating to 11 complainants, aged between eight and 15, and alleged to have happened between 1979 and 1990.

Barry Bennell court case
Barry Bennell court case

The jury was directed to return not guilty verdicts in respect of three of the counts of indecent assault because there was no evidence.

During the trial, the court heard Bennell compared to the Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, as he invited boys to his house where he had arcade games, a pool table, videos and exotic pets including a puma and a monkey.

In his closing speech, Nicholas Johnson QC, prosecuting, said: "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 11 complainants, as well as witnesses who Bennell has admitted abusing, gave evidence about abuse by the former Crewe Alexandra coach, who was described as having a "power hold" over them.

The court heard when he was a scout for Manchester City he was treated like "God" at the club's Maine Road ground and one complainant alleged chief scout and former player Ken Barnes had known about the abuse.

Barry Bennell court case
Barry Bennell court case

One of Bennell's victims, who he had pleaded guilty to abusing in 1998, said he knew of four men who had been coached by Bennell, including former Wales manager Gary Speed, who had gone on to take their own lives.

But the jury was later told there was no evidence to link their deaths to Bennell.

In transcripts of police interviews which were read in court, Bennell, who has changed his name to Richard Jones, told the police about his grooming process and abuse of boys, but claimed the complainants in the case were "jumping on the bandwagon" following publicity.

The former coach, who appeared via videolink from prison for the hearings, chose not to appear in the witness box and no evidence was called by the defence.

In her closing speech, Eleanor Laws QC, defending, described Bennell as a "sitting target" and asked jurors to put their "understandable potential revulsion" aside when considering verdicts.

She said: "The defendant is a known target and he coached these boys.

"They know when making allegations, whether truthful or not, that they are making allegations against a convicted paedophile."