Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

Barry Bennell abuse complainant says ex-Crewe manager Dario Gradi arranged sleepovers

Barry Bennell Photo: Cheshire Police

An alleged victim of former football coach Barry Bennell stayed at his house after an arrangement made with ex-Crewe Alexandra manager Dario Gradi, a court has heard.

Liverpool Crown Court was shown a video of a police interview with the complainant, who alleges he was raped by Bennell, 64, between 18 and 20 times at his home.

He said he would stay at the coach's house with other boys while playing for Crewe's youth team.

Asked whose idea it was to stay there, he said:

The football club.

"It would have been Dario Gradi, the manager."

"Dario was the manager and Barry was in charge of the youth."

– Alleged victim

But alleged victim also said Gradi stopped him staying there after about 18 months, adding: "I grew up thinking Dario saved me from Barry."

He told police how Bennell had first tried to touch him while he was in a bunk bed but he told him to "go away".

He said: "

Nothing happened then for a while and he started to kind of play mind games, saying I wouldn't be able to play for England.

"He wasn't playing me in the right position. I got dropped out of the football team.

"I think it was five or six weeks later, that was the first time it happened."

He added: "He had this power over you and he had this nasty streak.

"He could turn on you just like that. He would say 'I'll ruin your football career'."

– Alleged victim

The complainant broke down in tears on occasions as he described being "paralysed with fear" while he was abused by Bennell.

He said: "You feel like you're paralysed. All I'm trying to think about is my football. I can't say anything because of my football."

The complainant told police that the abuse - alleged to have taken place over an 18-month period - ended when Gradi stopped him staying at Bennell's home.

He said: "Dario Gradi stopped me staying with Bennell. I was not allowed to stop there any more."

Asked what was the reason given, he replied: "I have no idea. All I can remember is it just stopped.

"I grew up thinking Dario saved me from Barry. I never stayed there again."