Barry Bennell: Former Northern Ireland defender tells judge he 'cannot' erase paedophile coach from his mind

Ex-football coach and convicted paedophile Barry Bennell.
Ex-football coach and convicted paedophile Barry Bennell.

The ex-Wimbledon player says he suffers nightmares about the abuse the former Manchester City coach inflicted on him

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A former Northern Ireland defender has told a High Court judge that he cannot erase what paedophile coach Barry Bennell did to him when he was a boy.

Mark Williams, 51, who played for clubs including Watford, Wimbledon, Stoke City, Chesterfield, Shrewsbury and MK Dons, told Mr Justice Johnson about the psychological consequences of Bennell’s abuse.

He told how he had suffered nightmares and said he could not take Bennell out of his mind.

Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook showing victims looking on from the public gallery (foreground) as Judge Clement Goldstone QC sentences former football coach Barry Bennell at Liverpool Crown Court.
Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook showing victims looking on from the public gallery (foreground) as Judge Clement Goldstone QC sentences former football coach Barry Bennell at Liverpool Crown Court.

Mr Williams was giving evidence at a trial in the High Court in London being overseen by Mr Justice Johnson.

He is one of eight men, now in their 40s and 50s, who have made damages claims against Manchester City.

They say Bennell, now 67, abused them when they were playing schoolboy football for teams he coached in the north-west of England between 1979 and 1985.

The men claim that Bennell, who is serving a jail sentence after being convicted of child sex offences in recent years, was a scout for City during that time.

It's part of my life - what happened to me

Mark Williams

City bosses dispute that claim.

They say Bennell had been a local scout in the mid-1970s but was not a City scout between 1979 and 1985.

Mr Williams, who comes from Stalybridge, Greater Manchester, and won more than 30 international caps, told Mr Justice Johnson that he had suffered nightmares.

“I cannot totally take him (Bennell) out of my mind,” he said.

“It is part of my life – what happened to me.”

Mr Williams gave evidence on Thursday.

Mr Justice Johnson had made an order saying that Mr Williams could not be named in media reports of the case, because he had been a victim of sexual abuse.

But the judge has now relaxed that order, after an application by a journalist, and says Mr Williams can be named in reports relating to part of his evidence.

The judge heard that Mr Williams had been named in media reports relating to Bennell’s abuse before the trial began.

Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of former football coach Barry Bennell appearing via video-link at South Cheshire Magistrates Court.
Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of former football coach Barry Bennell appearing via video-link at South Cheshire Magistrates Court.

He has been told how Bennell, who used to live near Buxton, Derbyshire, had abused young footballers after inviting them to stay at his home.

The eight men are claiming damages after suffering psychiatric injuries.

Six are also claiming damages for loss of potential football earnings.

Mr Justice Johnson has been told Bennell is serving a 34-year prison sentence after being convicted of sexual offences against boys on five separate occasions, four in the UK and one in the US, and is being held at HMP Littlehey, near Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire.

Bennell is due to give evidence by video link from prison on November 30.