Paedophile football coach Barry Bennell dies in jail

Paedophile former football coach Barry Bennell has died in prison, according to the Ministry of Justice.

The former Manchester City and Crewe Alexandra coach had been in HMP Littlehey, Cambridgeshire, where he was serving 34 years for child sex offences.

A Prison Service spokesperson said: “Prisoner Barry Bennell died at HMP Littlehey on 16 September 2023. As with all deaths in custody, the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman will investigate.”

Bennell was on an end-of-life pathway after being diagnosed with cancer Credit: Cheshire Police/PA

Bennell, 69, also known as Richard Jones, was jailed for 30 years in 2018 after being convicted of 52 child sexual offences against 12 boys.

He was ordered to serve an additional four years in 2020 after pleading guilty to other offences against two boys.

When he was sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court in 2018, Recorder of Liverpool Judge Clement Goldstone QC said he “may well die in prison”.

His final prison sentence, in 2020, was the fifth time he had been jailed.

At that hearing, the court was told he had a detached retina after being attacked in prison and was in remission from cancer.

Bennell, a former Manchester City scout, abused boys he coached in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.

In a statement, The Offside Trust, an organisation set up by survivors of child sexual abuse in sport, said: “The Offside Trust is aware of the news about the death of Barry Bennell whilst in prison.

“We are thinking of all the brave survivors, those who felt they could speak out, and those who still cannot.

“We at The Offside Trust understand the issues this may trigger for survivors and are here for everyone should they need us, please don’t suffer in silence.”

Bennell was first jailed in Florida in 1994 for raping a British boy on a football tour in America, before going on to face prison sentences in Britain in 1998, 2015, 2018 and 2020.

Following his convictions in 2018, more than 80 other alleged victims came forward to report abuse by him.

At his sentencing hearing in 2020, Owen Edwards, prosecuting, said the case would be the final prosecution after a decision to proceed only with cases involving the most serious offences.

He said Bennell was responsible for “industrial sexual abuse of boys”, as well as being instrumental in forging the careers of several international footballers.