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'The devil incarnate': Paedophile former football coach Barry Bennell sentenced to 31 years

Serial paedophile Barry Bennell was labelled "the devil incarnate" as he was sentenced to 30 years in prison for abusing young boys.

Former football coach Bennell will serve half his sentence in custody with the rest on licence, with an additional licence period of one year.

The 64-year-old had been convicted of 50 child sexual offences against 12 boys who he coached, which took place between 1979 and 1991.

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Judge Clement Goldstone QC, said he had appeared to his young victims as a kind of God, but his abuse of them "was sheer evil".

In reality, you were the devil incarnate. You stole their childhoods and their innocence to satisfy your own perversion.

– Judge Clement Goldstone QC
Bennell was confronted by his victims during sentencing.

Police now believe Bennell may have more than 100 victims in total.

He has already served three jail terms, totalling 15 years, for similar offences involving 16 other victims. A further 86 people have now come forward to say they too were abused by him.

Today, some of his victims had a chance to confront him face-to-face as they gave their impact statements in court.

Victim Gary Cliffe approached the former Crewe Alexandra coach in the dock to ask "why?", but got no reply.

In his statement, Mr Cliffe said it was still "hard to effectively put into words the hell and mental suffering I have endured", 30 years on from the abuse.

He added: "I look back on my childhood with regret and deep sadness."

Bennell arrives at Liverpool Crown Court for sentencing. Credit: PA

Another victim, Christopher Unsworth, said Bennell "destroyed" his childhood dreams of being a footballer.

"What is now even more upsetting for me is the realisation that I have sacrificed my own chance of having a family of my own due to a medical procedure I elected for," he said.

"I made this decision because of the overwhelming fear I had of not being able to protect my own children against predatory people like Bennell, and I could not risk the same horrendous abuse happening to them."

He added: "Today I give my guilt and shame I have carried over the years back to you."

Bennell, who wore a blue jumper and white polo shirt for the hearing, looked at the floor as victims read out their impact statements.

He repeatedly shook his head and mouthed "no" as the judge summarised his offences in the sentencing.

The coach smirked as he was led from the dock to begin his lengthy sentence.

Bennell victims Micky Fallon, Chris Unsworth and Steve Walters speak outside court. Credit: ITV News

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."

Steve Walters, who was also abused, said Bennell had shown "not one ounce of remorse, not one shred of decency" throughout the case.

Survivors urged others who are suffering abuse to speak out as they pledged to help others within sport.

Mr Unsworth said the support they had received through the criminal case showed that ultimately "Love will always conquer evil."

Detective Inspector Sarah Oliver of Cheshire Police said she hoped the sentence would bring some closure to those he attacked.

"No term of imprisonment can ever return a childhood taken away but I hope that this sentence will serve as a beacon of light to others that have been abused," she said.

"No matter how long ago that has taken place, justice can still be served and offenders can still be held to account."