Paedophile former football coach Barry Bennell died of natural causes – inquest

Barry Bennell Credit: PA Media

Paedophile football coach Barry Bennell died in his prison cell while on an end-of-life pathway for cancer of the tonsils, having to write things down to communicate and to be fed with a tube, an inquest heard.

The former Crewe Alexandra coach, 69, was found dead by an officer during hourly checks at HMP Littlehey in Cambridgeshire on September 16 last year.

He had been serving a 34-year sentence after being convicted of a number of child sex offences.

Bennell had legally changed his name to Richard Jones, and Monday’s inquest in Huntingdon was held under this name.

Serial paedophile Barry Bennell abused dozens of boys Credit: Peter Byrne/PA

Recording a conclusion of natural causes, Cambridgeshire’s area coroner Elizabeth Gray said Bennell had a history of throat cancer from 2004 and had a recurrence in 2016.

She said that a biopsy in early 2023 led to a diagnosis of cancer of the tonsils and at the time of his death his care was palliative.

The coroner said Bennell was fed with a tube and his “means of communication was to write things down”.

She described Bennell having a “significant amount of pain which was managed by the healthcare team at the prison”.

Ms Gray said Bennell was seen for chest pain in July 2023 and in late July his speech started deteriorating.

He had discharged himself back to prison from Hinchingbrooke Hospital contrary to medical advice on September 12, four days before his death.

She said he had become confused on September 14 but declined to attend hospital.

Ms Gray said Bennell had previously tried to kill himself and had been found with opiates in his possession.

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

She recorded his medical cause of death as bilateral bronchopneumonia, citing squamous cell carcinoma of the oropharynx as a contributing factor.

A report from the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman concluded that the care Bennell received was of a “good standard and equivalent to that he would have received in the wider community”, the coroner said.

Police attended, as is standard procedure, following his death and no signs of third party involvement were identified.

The coroner said: “I’m satisfied the conclusion for Mr Jones is he died as a result of natural causes.”

Manchester-born Bennell had been transferred to HMP Littlehey in July 2019.

He 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.

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

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

He 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.