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Barry Bennell 'sexually abused' Gary Speed, victims say

Barry Bennell 'sexually abused' Gary Speed, victims say
From Al Jazeera - February 15, 2018

Former British football coach Barry Bennell is facing sentence at a UK court on 50 offences of sexual abuse against 12 victims, aged between 8 -15 in the years 1979 and 1990.

In closing statements at Liverpool crown court in England, the prosecution said Bennell - who has been jailed three times before over sexual abuse - was a "child molester on an industrial scale".

The development comes as an Al Jazeera Investigation into the background of a trial has been told that a former premiership footballer, who killed himself at theage of 42, was alsoalmost certainly a child victim of the talent-spotting coach.

Gary Speed, whose 2011 death sent shockwaves across Britain's sports world, was described by Barry Bennell as a "special" child, a euphemism the now 64-year-old used for the boys he groomed, victims have said.

They also spoke of their own experiences of feeling compelled to accept Bennell's invites to stay at his house, because of their ambitions to succeed in football, where they were assaulted and intimidated into remaining silent over the abuse they suffered and witnessed.

Regarding Speed, a victim who wished to remain anonymous told Al Jazeera that he was "99.9 percent"certain the footballing legend was sexually abused as a child.

"I was there. I was a witness On a few occasions, Gary was in the same bed. Barry would abuse one of us then turn over and then abuse the other,"said the victim.

Another victim, who also requested anonymity, said he witnessed Bennell grooming Speed.

"I saw Gary come and go in Barry's life,"he said. "He was the one sat in the front seat, he was the one showered with gifts, he was the one that was the one coming on different holidays and different tours.

"I'd seen a pattern emerging with Barry with other young people. If you ask me, I would tell you that Gary will have suffered abuse at the hands of Barry."

The second victim added that he "assumed there would be a link to the abuse in [Speed's] teenage years to his suicide.

"There might have been other factors involved ... we will never know. But I think that will have had some part to play. I really do."

Bennell has always denied abusing Speed, the father of two sons who had played for clubs including Leeds United and Everton.

Meanwhile, Speed's family have rejected the possibility that their late relative was abused.

But Roger Speed, Gary's father, has said publicly that life would be easier if they knew why his son killed himself.

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