By Ahmet Gurhan Kartal
LONDON (AA) - A British court on Monday sentenced a former football coach for 31 years in prison over child abuse offences.
Barry Bennell, 64, was found guilty on 50 counts of child sexual abuse for his offences between 1979 and 1991 during his work as a youth team coach in Manchester City and Crewe Alexandra clubs.
Sentencing Bennell for 31 years, Liverpool Crown Court’s judge Clement Goldstone branded the convict as "sheer evil".
His past abuse came into light last year when former Bury and Sheffield United player Andy Woodward told the Guardian newspaper he had been abused at Crewe Alexandra as a young boy by Bennell.
Shortly after the revelations were made, Bennell was found unconscious at a hotel and taken to hospital.
British police had launched Operation Hydrant into the allegations after more than 370 people followed Woodward's lead. Since he spoke out, more than 55 professional and non-league football clubs’ names have been linked to similar allegations in a country-wide scandal engulfed the football world.
Bennell was described by the prosecution as an “industrial-scale child molester” and a “predatory and determined paedophile”, during his 5-week trial.
“To those boys you appeared as a god... in reality you were the devil incarnate. You stole their childhood and their innocence to satisfy your own perversions,” judge Goldstone said.
Bennell trial has prompted another 86 people to make complaints against the former Manchester City and Crewe Alexandra youth team coach.