Barry Bennell trial: 'Manchester City knew about abuse'

Image source, Julia Quenzler.

Senior figures at Manchester City knew about sexual abuse happening at the club, a victim giving evidence against former football coach Barry Bennell has said in court.

Mr Bennell, who worked as a coach for various youth teams, denies sexually abusing 11 boys between 1979 and 1990.

He has admitted one count of indecent abuse of the same victim, who played for a junior Manchester City team.

The victim told Liverpool Crown Court he wanted the club to apologise.

He said in his evidence that he thought chief scout Ken Barnes knew about the alleged abuse.

Mr Barnes played for City between 1950 and 1961. He died in 2010.

The man, the fifth complainant to give evidence against Mr Bennell in the trial, also named Mike Grimsley, who managed a Manchester City youth team, as another staff member he believed was aware of claims made against Mr Bennell.

He claimed he was abused more than 100 times by Mr Bennell, who is now known as Richard Jones, over a period of four years.

He said: "I want an apology off Manchester City and anyone else, if possible," adding that he had asked a specialist lawyer to help him investigate the club.

When cross-examined by defence lawyer, Eleanor Laws, the man - who cannot be named for legal reasons - denied seeking compensation.

"If you think I am going to put myself through this, talk about being raped over 100 times, put myself through two-and-a-half years of this for damages, you are wrong," he said.

'Like suicide watch'

He also denied speaking to other alleged victims about seeking compensation, saying they spoke to each other for support.

"It's almost like a suicide watch," he added.

Ms Laws asked the alleged victim if he had called an NSPCC helpline, set up in November 2016, to tell them Dario Gradi, former manager of Crewe Alexandra where Mr Bennell was a coach, had been aware of the abuse.

He told the court that he could not recall doing so.

A further witness giving evidence in the trial, who also cannot be named, said he knew of four people who had worked with Mr Bennell who then went on to take their own lives.

He added: "Whether they have taken their lives due to Barry solely I don't know but all I know is how it's had an impact on me and how it could impact on other people."

He said one of the four people who had taken their own lives was Gary Speed, the former Wales manager who hanged himself in 2011.

He said he had tried to contact Mr Speed's parents, because he had read in a newspaper that they had not been able to get closure because they had no explanation for his death.

Mr Bennell is appearing in court via videolink due to illness. The trial is expected to last eight weeks.