Barry Bennell to appeal his 30-year prison sentence
He will be eligible for early release after 15 years but is to argue sentence was excessive
A file court artist sketch of former football coach Barry Bennell appearing via video link at South Cheshire Magistrates Court earlier this year. Photograph: PA
Barry Bennell, the former football coach who was branded “sheer evil” and the “devil incarnate” after subjecting junior footballers from Manchester City and Crewe Alexandra to hundreds of sexual offences, is appealing against his 30-year prison sentence.
Bennell, still facing complaints from around 90 former players, has begun the legal process to argue he deserves a lesser sentence after a jury at Liverpool crown court found him guilty of 50 offences relating to 12 junior players, aged eight to 14, from 1979 to 1990.
The judge, Clement Goldstone QC, passed sentences totalling 454 years, to run concurrently, and told Bennell he would serve the longest individual term of 30 years, with another 12 months on licence. Bennell, 64, will be eligible for an early release after 15 years but is preparing a case to argue the sentence was excessive.
Passing sentence in February, the judge told Bennell a life sentence had been considered because of the “trail of psychological devastation” suffered by the victims and that the severity of the sentence was, in part, because the former coach and talent-spotter had shown no remorse.
“Your behaviour towards these boys in grooming and seducing them to, in some cases, the most serious, degrading and humiliating abuse was sheer evil,” Goldstone told him. “You appeared as a god who had it in his gift to help fulfil their ambitions and realise their dreams. In reality you were the devil incarnate. You stole their childhoods and their innocence to satisfy your own perversion.”
Bennell, described by the prosecution as an “industrial-scale child molester” and a “predatory and determined paedophile”, has previously served two prison sentences in England, as well as one in the United States, and the judge said the CPS would have to think carefully about pressing more charges when the defendant “may well die in prison”.
Eleanor Laws, the barrister defending Bennell, said her client was in remission from cancer, having needed two operations to remove tumours, and was subject to an “onerous” regime that meant he had to be fed via a tube eight times a day. To audible disquiet from the public gallery she said he was on anti-anxiety medication and had undertaken treatment programmes to deal with his paedophilia.