Paedophile football coach Bennell given go ahead to appeal against sentence

Barry Bennell was imprisoned in February after being convicted of 50 child sexual offences Credit: PA

Serial paedophile football coach Barry Bennell has been granted permission to appeal against his 30-year jail sentence.

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

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.

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

A spokesman for the Judicial Office said a date had not yet been set for the sentence appeal hearing.

Bennell may have more than 100 victims in total as an additional 86 complainants have come forward to say they too were abused by him.

Cheshire Police continues to investigate.

Bennell, who has changed his name to Richard Jones, 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.