Paedophile football coach Barry Bennell has been sentenced to 31 years in jail, just days after being found guilty of a string of child sexual abuse offences.
Judge Clement Goldstone QC told Bennell he was "sheer evil" and the "devil incarnate" as the sentence was passed down at Liverpool Crown Court today (February 19).
The 64-year-old was found guilty of 43 counts of abuse pertaining to 11 victims last week, having pleaded guilty to further offences against a 12th victim at the start of the trial. The offences took place between 1979 and 1991.
During the course of his trial, Bennell was described as a "child molester on an industrial scale" who would not just groom his victims, but also their families.
The abuse was perpetrated when boys slept over at his home, in the car on the way to training and on holidays to Butlins in Wales. Survivors have spoken of being assaulted in the changing rooms at Crewe and even on the pitch at City's old stadium, Maine Road.
During the trial, the jury heard how Bennell would take his teams to a 'haunted house' in Wales and would show them horror movies in order that they would be more receptive to physical comfort, which would lead to abuse.
Bennell abused boys in his car whilst taking them to training and often used a game he called 'Follow Me', during which he would touch the child and require them to do the same in return. Assaults also took place under the cover of darkness in his bedroom while the victim's team-mates slept metres away.
Victims who had been coached by Bennell as boys told how he had a "power hold" over them as they dreamed of becoming professional footballers. He was said to have been treated like "God" at Manchester City's Maine Road ground.
The guilty verdicts prompted an outpouring of relief among survivors. One of Bennell's victims, Steve Walters, said “We suffered because of a disgusting predator. But we also suffered because sometimes the sport we loved decided that the reputation of a coach, a club or a sport was put above the protection of children.”