February 19, 2018 / 4:43 PM / a year ago

Former football coach jailed for 30 years for child sex abuse

LONDON (Reuters) - Ex-football coach Barry Bennell was jailed for 30 years on 50 counts of child sexual abuse by a judge on Monday who called him the “devil incarnate.”

The 64-year-old Bennell, once a scout for Manchester City and Crewe Alexandra, abused 11 boys aged eight to 15 between 1979 and 1990 on an “industrial scale”, Liverpool Crown Court had heard.

“To those boys you appeared as a god... in reality you were the devil incarnate,” Judge Clement Goldstone said. “You stole their childhoods and their innocence.”

He added: “Your behaviour towards these boys in grooming and seducing them before subjecting them to, in some cases, the most serious, degrading and humiliating abuse, was sheer evil.”

Half of the jail term will be served in custody with the rest on licence, plus another one year licence period.

Bennell was charged in November 2016 after prosecutors received a file of evidence from Cheshire Police.

In testimony, several victims estimated Bennell had sexually abused them on more than 100 occasions.

Bennell had been previously convicted three times of child abuse. He received jail sentences in the UK and in the US in 1995, 1998 and 2015.

Allegations of child sex abuse in English soccer from the 1970s through to the 1990s have shocked Britain and led to deep soul-searching in the game amid fears hundreds of young boys might have been involved.

Reporting by Stephen Addison; editing by Guy Faulconbridge

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