I was abused by Barry Bennell when I was on a youth team – Gary Speed was among four he coached who took their lives | The Sun

ONE of Barry Bennell's young victims told how ex-Premier League star Gary Speed was among four men who later took their own lives having been coached by the serial paedophile.

Former Wales international midfielder and manager Speed played for one of the junior football teams run by sex offender Bennell, who has died in prison aged 70.

One of Bennell's victims told a Liverpool Crown Court trial in 2018 how he tried to contact Speed's parents after their son hanged himself at the age of 42 in November 2011.

Speed was Wales manager at the time of his death, having played in the Premier League for Leeds United, Everton, Newcastle United and Bolton Wanderers.

Bennell's death was confirmed this afternoon by the Prison Service.

The Sun understands that the paedophile, who had cancer, died on Saturday morning at HMP Littlehey in Cambridgeshire.

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Bennell had worked in the 1980s and 1990s as a youth coach at Crewe Alexandra, Manchester City and Stoke City.

He also had links to youth teams across Cheshire, Derbyshire, Greater Manchester and Staffordshire, exploiting his position to sexually abuse young boys.

Bennell was first put behind bars for four years in the United States in 1994 after abusing a 13-year-old British boy at a football camp in Florida.

He later returned to Britain, where his lengthy record as a predator was exposed in 1997 by Channel 4's Dispatches film Soccer's Foul Play.

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Bennell was imprisoned for nine years at Chester Crown Court after admitting 23 charges dating back to the 1970s.

He confessed in 2015 to enticing a boy under the age of 14 to commit an act of gross indecency in the early 1980s, receiving a further two years in jail.

More courageous victims then came forward after ex-footballer Andy Woodward went public with how he had been groomed and abused by Bennell for four years, starting when he was aged only 11.

Bennell was found guilty of more than 50 sexual offences against 22 boys at Liverpool Crown Court in 2018 and sentenced to 34 years.

That trial heard from a victim who brought up Speed's name, as he told the court: "Four people from teams I have played with, with Bennell, have taken their own lives.

"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."

Speed's mum Carol has said her son was interviewed twice by police over Bennell and insisted he was never assaulted.

And his dad Gary said: "I don't think so – Gary wouldn't have it. Honestly, no way.

"He was old enough in the head even at that age he knew what he wanted. He was a clever lad."

But an alleged witness claimed Bennell assaulted him while Gary was in the same bed — and said he was "99.9 per cent certain" the future star suffered the same sickening treatment.

Bennell's death on Saturday came at HMP Littlehey, a prison for sex offenders.

Eight men abused by Bennell are reportedly appealing after having their damages claim against Manchester City dismissed by the High Court.

An inquest into Speed's death recorded a narrative verdict, saying he died from "self-suspension" but with the coroner unable to say whether he intended to kill himself.

Hours before his death Speed had appeared as a guest on BBC1 show Football Focus.

He then watched Newcastle play at Old Trafford against Manchester United alongside former team-mate Alan Shearer, before driving home to Huntington in Cheshire.


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His widow Louise, who discovered his body, later revealed a poignant letter he wrote about his mental health struggles when aged just 17.

Louise suffered more heartbreak earlier this year when her new husband Quinton Bird died from brain cancer aged 53.

If you are affected by any of the issues raised in this article, please call the Samaritans for free on 116123.

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