Barry Bennell: A cruel and arrogant paedophile

By John Harrison
BBC News

image copyrightPA

Barry Bennell, who has been convicted of 43 counts of historical child sex offences, was interviewed dozens of times by police. Those who questioned him say he is a "cruel" and "selfish" man who failed to show "one iota" of remorse.

"The only person that matters to Barry Bennell is Barry Bennell," says Detective Inspector Sarah Oliver, who sat through 30 interviews with the convicted paedophile.

She is one of 25 detectives who worked on the investigation into Bennell's abuse - which is one of the biggest and most complicated cases in the history of Cheshire Constabulary.

Bennell was a "predatory paedophile" who preyed upon the dreams of young footballers he was supposed to be coaching, his trial at Liverpool Crown Court heard.

He was a child molester on an "industrial scale".

'Child Catcher'

In his house in the Peak District, he had arcade machines, a pool table, and big TVs. At various times he owned a monkey and a wild cat.

It was a "a kids' paradise", Bennell once boasted to police.

media captionBarry Bennell told police interviewers: "I always thought I was brilliant."

During the trial, prosecutors compared him to the Child Catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Yet throughout his numerous interviews, Bennell remained "completely indifferent" to the suffering he caused, DI Oliver says.

He is a "cruel" and "selfish" man, she adds.

When police raided a small bungalow at the top of a quiet cul-de-sac in Milton Keynes in November 2016, the crimes Bennell had committed came as a complete surprise to his neighbours.

Bennell had lived in the council-owned bungalow under the name Richard Jones for more than four years, they said, running a small computer repair business.

He made extra money by selling items online and at car boot sales, according to one neighbour.

He had dogs, all named after Hebridean islands. Bennell's golden retriever Skye was taken by police when they raided his home.

Residents had run-ins with him - mainly about people collecting items from his house late at night and taking up parking on the road.

He was "arrogant" and "thought he was untouchable," one added.

Bungalow in Devon

His Facebook profile - in the name of Richard Barry - includes photographs of Bennell's visits to theme parks, including Thorpe Park and Alton Towers, to north Wales and a safari park; holidays to Gran Canaria and Derbyshire.

Another photo from his past shows him coaching young footballers in the US - a country in which he spent three years in prison for abusing a boy at a holiday camp.

Bennell's neighbours knew he was unwell. He was being fed through a tube in his stomach and he lived with a woman, who he claimed was a female carer.

When he suddenly vanished for a year in 2015, most assumed he had died.

The woman told one neighbour he was staying at a bungalow in Devon.

image captionBennell's golden retriever Skye was led away from his home in Milton Keynes after his arrest in 2016

But Bennell was not in Devon. He was in prison for a third time - his second time behind bars in the UK for child sex offences.

"Then one day I saw him out there," a neighbour said pointing towards the street. "I rang my friend and said 'you'll never guess who has just come back from the dead.'"

Within another year, Bennell had been named by a string of ex-footballers as a serial paedophile and child rapist. He was re-arrested in November 2016 and remanded in prison, where he has been ever since.

Before his trial began Bennell admitted seven charges of indecent assault on three boys.

His bungalow was boarded up for months after a window was smashed. A family now lives there.

'He was angry'

Officers had to complete a 300-mile roundtrip from Cheshire to HMP Woodhill, in Milton Keynes, to interview Bennell.

"There was initially a sense from him that he was angry and he didn't really see why he should have to account for what happened all those years ago," DI Oliver says.

"He was quite indignant actually."

media captionBarry Bennell told police how he groomed young boys

In one interview, Bennell said he remembered one complainant as "a good looking lad", but denied he had abused him.

"I remember him because I remember thinking that you know, he was the one, the one who got away..." he told police.

One victim's description of Bennell was put to him - a stocky man with blond permed hair who "loved himself".

"I always thought I was brilliant," Bennell told officers, adding: "And it wasn't permed, it was natural."

'Too young'

In another police interview, Bennell denied abusing a boy, suggesting he was too young for his taste.

He couldn't have done it, he argued, because he "aimed" for 13 year olds.

"That was puberty age and they were becoming a bit more strong-willed and not tied to the apron strings," he told police.

Throughout questioning, Bennell has been "utterly indifferent to the fact he has traumatised these boys", says DI Oliver.

"Not once has he shown one iota of empathy to his victims and what he has put them through."

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionAndy Woodward attended the trial with his wife Zelda

During the trial, at Liverpool Crown Court, Prosecutor Nicholas Johnson QC made a point of reminding the jury that Bennell had married the sister of one of his victims.

Andy Woodward, who waived his right to anonymity to speak about being repeatedly abused by Bennell as a young boy, at one stage had to describe his abuser as his brother-in-law.

"Just imagine," Mr Johnson urged the jury.

"What does that tell you about his attitude to other people and their expendability to him?"

'Little boys again'

Bennell did not attend the five-week trial.

In his absence, his defence team accused his victims of making allegations in order to get compensation.

But those victims, DI Oliver says, were just "little boys who wanted to play football".

"When you hear them give their evidence in court they are little boys again and they are waiting for him to say sorry."

They are still waiting.

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