Friday 23 February 2018

Speed 'one of four who took own life after being coached by sex abuser'

Gary Speed died in 2011. Photo: PA
Gary Speed died in 2011. Photo: PA

Eleanor Barlow

Former Wales manager and Premier League footballer Gary Speed was one of four men who went on to take their own lives after being coached by Barry Bennell, a court has heard.

Liverpool Crown Court heard evidence from a victim who Bennell had admitted abusing in 1998, when he was jailed for nine years. He told the court he tried to contact the parents of Speed, who hanged himself in 2011 aged 42, to tell them about the abuse.

The victim said: "Four people from teams I have played with, with Bennell, have taken their own lives."

He added: "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."

He said he wanted to get in touch with Speed's parents because he had read in the paper that they had not been able to get closure because they had no explanation for his death.

Speaking about contacting other alleged victims of Bennell, the victim said: "When people are breaking down on the phone, on the verge of suicide, when you hear of people who have taken their own lives..."

Bennell denies 48 offences of child sexual abuse against 11 complainants between 1979 and 1990.

The victim told the court he knew of former youth players who had been left "destitute" and with alcohol problems.

Asked about claiming compensation, he told the court: "For me, it's about justice. I'm sick to death of this being part of my life and I just want to put it to bed once and for all."

He said there was an ongoing civil case against Manchester City. Earlier on Wednesday, the court heard a complainant in the case believed Manchester City's chief scout Ken Barnes had known about the abuse.

The victim, against whom Bennell has admitted one count of indecent assault, said he played for one of the junior Manchester City teams and was abused by Bennell more than 100 times over four years. The court heard he thought Mr Barnes, who died in 2010, had known about the abuse.

Irish Independent

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