Barry Bennell victim tells court Neil Lennon walked in after abuse

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Former Celtic manager Neil Lennon walked into a caravan moments after Barry Bennell had abused one of his victims, a court has heard.

Giving evidence at Liverpool Crown Court on Wednesday, the final complainant to give evidence to the trial said the 64-year-old former coach had abused him over a number of years after he began playing youth football for Crewe Alexandra.

He said the final assault happened when Bennell arranged for him to stay in a caravan ahead of a game.

Hibernian v Rangers – Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership – Easter Road
Hibernian manager Neil Lennon (Jane Barlow/PA)

“Not long after he abused me in that caravan, a red-haired lad came into that caravan who was six years older than me.

“That lad I now know to be Neil Lennon, who was staying in those digs.”

Lennon, now head coach of Scottish club Hibernian, previously played for Crewe Alexandra.

The complainant told the court he had been abused on trips to Gran Canaria and America with Bennell.

Barry Bennell court case
Court artist sketch of Barry Bennell at Liverpool Crown Court via video-link (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

He said: “The next morning his words to me were ‘You seem chirpy today’ and I said to him ‘How do you want me to act?’

“I was a 13-year-old boy. How do you want me to act? His words were ‘You must have enjoyed it’.”

The complainant described being forced to perform oral sex on Bennell in the car while the coach was driving.

On another occasion, he said, he and another boy were abused by Bennell at the same time while they were in his bed.

He also told the court that Bennell attempted to abuse him while his wife Linda, the sister of victim Andy Woodward, was in the same house but had gone to the kitchen to make a drink.

Barry Bennell court case
Bennell is standing trial at Liverpool Crown Court over a string of child sex allegations (Peter Byrne/PA)

The victim said he had not told anyone about the abuse until 2016.

He said: “I wanted to be a footballer. I wanted to impress my parents, I wanted to impress my dad most of all, so by telling them that, I know it would have devastated them, which it now has.”

Eleanor Laws QC, defending, said Bennell accepted abusing the complainant 30-35 times over a two to three-year period but denied forcing him to perform oral sex or raping him.

She asked the complainant: “I’m going to suggest that you are a victim of Barry Bennell, he did sexually abuse you and you have every right to and reason to be angry with him, do you agree with that?”

The complainant replied: “Yeah.”

She said: “Have you been encouraged by anyone to exaggerate what has happened to you?”

The complainant said: “No, not at all.”

Bennell denies 48 offences, including indecent assault, buggery and attempted, buggery against 11 complainants between 1979 and 1991.

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