The horrifying crimes of serial sex offender and paedophile Barry Bennell came under the spotlight recently in BBC documentary mini-series Football’s Darkest Secret, but where is Barry Bennell now?
Former football coach Bennell sexually assaulted multiple young boys under his care.
The landmark three-part series, sadly no longer available on iPlayer, examined the historic child abuse which took place in youth football.
The real life story was also the focus of a BBC Two dramatisation called Floodlights. In it, Shameless actor Gerald Kearn portrayed abuse victim Andy Woodward, opposite Jonas Armstrong as Barry Bennell.
Barry Bennell exposed by brave victim Andy Woodward
Andy Woodward, now 49, is a former professional footballer and an incredibly courageous man.
He was one of the first to speak up about the abuse he suffered from the age of 11 by coach Barry Bennell.
Andy was a victim of repeated sexual abuse while a trainee at Crewe Alexandra in the 1980s.
In November 2016, Andy finally came forward with evidence against youth coach Bennell.
His decision to waive his anonymity gave others the courage to come forward.
In the storm that followed, more than 800 victims came forward.
More than 300 football clubs were implicated and 300 suspects identified.
Andy admits he regularly had to fake injuries during games due to panic attacks.
What has Andy said about abuse?
Andy has been suicidal “on probably 10 occasions” and has spent his professional life battling depression and anxiety.
He says: “It’s a dirty secret, deep inside you.
“It’s like a stutter, but it’s like even if you want to say it, there’s something in your mind that stops you.”
In a previous interview with the Guardian, Andy says: “It was either threats of violence or he’d use football to manipulate control.
“If I upset him in any way, he’d drop me from the team.”
In an awful twist of fate, Barry Bennell MARRIED Andy’s sister.
Andy describes seeing his sister marry his abuser as “torture”.
Andy went on to become a police officer and has written a book about his experience of sexual abuse.
Who else did Barry Bennell abuse?
Over 800 people came forward accusing Barry of molesting them.
Former England player Paul Stewart says: “I had some highs in my career.
“But I never enjoyed them because I had this empty soul, I was dying inside.”
Manchester City player David White admits: “The reason I couldn’t tell anybody else was for fear of my dad finding out.”
After the guilty verdicts, victims Andy Woodward, Micky Fallon, Chris Unsworth and Steve Walters read statements outside Liverpool Crown Court.
She says: “Football largely ignored it in the hope it went away. And, guess what? It went away.”
Barry Bennell victim Jamie Cartwright on SAS: Who Dares Wins
A recruit on the 2021 series of SAS: Who Dares Wins has also bravely spoken out about being abused by Barry Bennell.
Jamie Cartwright was a victim between the ages of 11 and 13 and kept it secret for 25 years.
Jamie hopes that other abuse victims will be encouraged to come forward about their own experiences.
He said: “If somebody watches me on SAS, and thinks, ‘If he can do that, I’m going to speak to my mate, or talk to my wife’.
“It doesn’t have to be childhood trauma, it can be anything.
“The truth sets you free, it’s a scary path but then you start to heal.”
Did Barry Bennell abuse Gary Speed?
Welsh professional footballer and manager Gary Speed took his own life on November 26 2011.
Barry Bennell coached Gary as a boy.
An anonymous victim told Al Jazeera that he had witnessed Gary Speed being abused.
However, police interviewed Gary twice during earlier investigations and he said he was never harmed by Barry.
The inquest into Speed’s death found no links.
Mr Bennell’s trial heard that Gary was one of four players coached by him who went on to take their own lives.
Who is Barry Bennell?
Former Chelsea youth player Barry Bennell was employed by Crewe Alexandra Football Club in the 1980s and 1990s.
He had close associations with Manchester City and Stoke City.
But he was also a predatory paedophile.
He abused parents’ trust and molested dozens of child victims in Britain and the US from the 1970s to the early 1990s.
Barry abused some victims up to 100 times.
Where is Barry Bennell now?
Mr Bennell was convicted of sexual abuse against 22 boys. He was sentenced to a 34 year prison sentence.
His first conviction was in Florida in 1994 for the rape of a British boy. A judge later sentenced him to nine years in prison in 1998.
He admitted 23 specimen charges of sexual offences against six boys aged nine to 15.
A judge jailed Barry Bennell for a further two years in May 2015 for another historic case involving a 12-year-old boy in Macclesfield. Barry was branded “the devil incarnate” for abusing young boys on an “industrial scale”.
Barry Bennell died in prison at the age of 69. The Sun reported that he died of cancer at HMP Littlehey in Cambridgeshire on September 16, 2023.
Football’s Darkest Secret on BBC iPlayer
The three-part series features heartbreaking testimony from former youth players who suffered abuse at the hands of Barry Bennell.
Football’s Darkest Secrets explores the historic child abuse that took place in youth football in England from the 1970s to the 1990s.
Directed by BAFTA-winner Daniel Gordon, the docu-series also examines the code of silence surrounding the abuse.
The first episode focuses on former footballer Andy Woodward’s 2016 revelation of abuse at the hands of the youth coach.
Floodlights on BBC Two – what’s it about and how can I watch it?
Floodlights on BBC Two is a feature-length drama telling the real story of former professional footballer Andy Woodward.
Viewers are told at the start of the drama: “On November 16, 2016, a former professional plunged British football into its biggest ever crisis and changed sport forever.”
That footballer was Andy Woodward – or Woody to his teammates.
He waived his anonymity to speak publicly about the abuse he suffered at the hands of predatory coach Barry Bennell.
Floodlights is a drama depicting Andy’s life – from a boy who seemingly had the world at his feet, to a victim of sexual abuse.
The film examines the power and control held by Barry Bennell.
In a sickening scene, Barry Bennell tells his abuse victim Andy Woodward that he “still loves him”.
Floodlights originally aired on Tuesday, May 17 2o22, at 9pm on BBC Two, and was available on BBC iPlayer afterwards.
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