Tuesday 23 January 2018

Paedophile at centre of football scandal found unconscious in hotel

Bennell’s home was searched. Photo: PA
Bennell’s home was searched. Photo: PA

Dean Gray

Convicted paedophile Barry Bennell was believed to be receiving treatment in hospital yesterday after police were called to a "welfare incident" at a hotel.

The 62-year-old is understood to have been found unconscious and not breathing at the Novotel Hotel in Stevenage, England, on Friday night.

He was taken to Lister Hospital in Hertfordshire, where he remained last night. Thames Valley Police, who are investigating fresh allegations of child abuse against him, refused to confirm or deny whether Bennell was involved.

A spokesman for the force said: "Police officers attended an address in Knebworth Park, Stevenage, just before 11pm on Friday in connection with a fear for welfare incident.

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

Officers from the Hertfordshire Constabulary also attended the incident on Friday night.

Bennell was last seen by a neighbour at his address, in Milton Keynes, last week, shortly before he was faced with fresh allegations that he sexually abused boys while working as a football coach.

The former youth scout and junior football coach served three prison terms for child abuse but is now at the centre of a new child abuse scandal after former footballers outed him as their abuser.

On Thursday, officers from Thames Valley Police removed items and a dog from Bennell's home.

Neighbours confirmed a marked police car had been stationed outside his home over the weekend and an unmarked police car was at the scene.

Bennell worked at Crewe Alexandra 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.

Separately yesterday, a leading Tory MP has said the internal Football Association investigation into child abuse allegations in soccer needs to be much wider and have greater independence.

Damian Collins, chairman of the Commons culture, media and sport committee, 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 comments came as Labour's former sports minister Richard Caborn said he raised concern about possible abuse 15 years ago. As many as seven professional football clubs are now embroiled in the growing child sex abuse scandal.

Irish Independent

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