Former Northern Ireland footballer sex attack victim tells court he cannot erase abuse

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.

Saturday, 20th November 2021, 8:08 am
Updated Saturday, 20th November 2021, 8:21 am
Mark Williams

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.

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

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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.

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.

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.

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