In Depth

Football sex abuse scandal: Who is coach Barry Bennell?

Convicted paedophile at centre of allegations is in hospital after being found unconscious

Barry Bennell, the former football coach central to the child abuse scandal that has rocked the sport, "has been rushed to hospital after being found unconscious at a hotel", reports the Daily Mail.

The convicted paedophile, who had been living in Milton Keynes under the assumed name Richard Jones, was staying in the Novotel in Stevenage since "Thames Valley Police moved Bennell from his bungalow last Thursday after neighbours complained to the local council and demanded he was evicted", reports the paper.

"Four police forces are already investigating complaints going back decades and an NSPCC hotline set up for former players has received more than 100 calls. Bennell is believed to be one of at least three coaches under investigation."

But what do we know about the man at the centre of the scandal?

"During his career he was associated with a number of clubs, most notably Crewe Alexandra – which was famed for developing talented young footballers," says the BBC.

"He worked there in the 1980s and 1990s and also had a close association with Stoke City and Manchester City, as well as with a number of junior teams in Derbyshire, Staffordshire, Cheshire and Greater Manchester.

"He ran summer holiday camps in the UK – including at Butlins – as well as youth football tours and summer soccer camps in the US."

He was sacked by Crewe in 1992, although the club did not give a reason for his dismissal. 

"He went on to work in the US, but his career was cut shot short two years later after he was arrested on sexual abuse charges," says ITV.com

"While working in the US, Bennell was convicted of raping a British boy at a football camp in Florida in 1994. After being deported back to the UK he pleaded guilty to 23 specimen charges – dating from 1978 to 1992 – at Chester Crown Court and was jailed for nine years.

But those offences, involving boys aged nine to 14, may only be the tip of the iceberg

"Another 22 offences against an unknown number of victims had been left on file because the Crown Prosecution Service decided it was better not to put boys of that age through the trauma of a trial," writes Daniel Taylor of The Guardian, the journalist whose interview with former Crewe player Andy Woodward brought the scandal to light two weeks ago.

"Bennell had worked in Crewe's youth system for years and Detective Chief Inspector Peter Duffy, who led the investigation, had already been quoted by the same newspaper saying he was convinced there were other victims who had never come forward."

After serving his sentence, Bennell, now known as Richard Jones, moved to Milton Keynes. However, he received a further sentence of two years after pleading guilty to sexually abusing another boy at a camp in Macclesfield in 1980.

Bennell has been likened to Jimmy Savile and has been described as a "pied piper" figure.

"It wasn't just children who were won over by this guy in designer gear, driving a Mercedes and talking about his friendship with various Chelsea first-teamers from his own days in their youth system," says Taylor. "Bennell was flash: he could do tricks with a ball that left his players in awe, and he could be charmingly persuasive, which was probably useful for someone who used to have a clothes stall on Manchester's Underground Market.

He "started coaching juniors in 1970, when he was 16, almost 25 years before he was finally locked up, and the really frightening thing here is that it is virtually impossible to calculate how many boys he had access to in that time", says Taylor. "How many more are to come forward? How many are holding back because of their own circumstances? And how many were lucky enough not to have experienced that side of him?"

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