Sport Soccer

Sunday 22 October 2017

Paedophile football coach Barry Bennell brought to hospital in 'fear for welfare incident'

Barry Bennell and (right) Andy Woodward
Barry Bennell and (right) Andy Woodward
Paedophile soccer coach Barry Bennell Photo: PA

Paedophile football coach Barry Bennell has been taken to hospital after police responded to a "fear for welfare incident" at an address in Stevenage on Friday night.

Bennell, a youth coach who worked for Crewe, Manchester City, Stoke and several junior teams in north-west England and the midlands, was given a four-year sentence for raping a British boy on a football tour of Florida in 1994 and then a nine-year sentence in 1998 for 23 offences against six boys in England.

Former Crewe player Andy Woodward waived his anonymity earlier this month to speak about the abuse he suffered at the hands of Bennell, which has led to a number of other former footballers coming forward to make further allegations of abuse.

A statement from Thames Valley Police said: "Police officers attended an address in Knebworth Park, Stevenage just before 11pm on Friday, November 25 in connection with a fear for welfare incident.

"A 62-year-old man was located and was taken to hospital in order to receive medical treatment, where he remains.

"At this stage of enquiries, it would be inappropriate to comment further."

More than 20 former players have come forward with allegations of historical child abuse, prompting the Football Association to step up its review.

On Sunday the FA instructed independent leading counsel Kate Gallafent QC to oversee its internal review, assessing ''what information the FA was aware of at the relevant times, what clubs were aware of, and what action was or should have been taken''.

Her recommendations will be considered but the FA accepts a full, wide-ranging inquiry may yet be necessary.

Damian Collins, chairman of the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee, accused the FA of being slow in responding to the growing scandal.

The MP for Folkestone & Hythe told the BBC: "This internal review needs to go much wider. They need to make it clear that this is a full investigation. The person leading it can take it in whatever direction they want, that anyone in football who is called as a witness is compelled to give evidence.

"We have seen allegations that clubs paid off players to keep quiet. People have come forward saying that people within their club knew, that they made complaints that weren't acted on, the people at the FA knew, and, therefore, what did the FA do with the evidence they were given?

"I think too often, particularly in football, where independent investigations are launched, they often have very narrow terms of reference and their findings are kept private."

The Metropolitan Police, Hampshire Police and Cheshire Police have said they are investigating allegations of abuse in the football community.

Northumbria Police said it was investigating an allegation by an unnamed former Newcastle player that he was abused in the club's youth system. Newcastle said they would co-operate with authorities ''if or when the club receives further information".

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