Neil Lennon '˜walked into caravan just after Barry Bennell abused boy'
Hibs 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 today, 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 started 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.
He told the jury: “Straight away he tried to abuse me – straight away – and I found it odd, but the reason being an older lad was obviously staying in the same caravan.
“Not long after he abused me in that caravan, a red-haired lad came into that caravan who was six years older than me.
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“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.
He described crying as he was raped by the coach while staying in a “seedy motel” in Orlando, Florida.
“The next morning his words to me were ‘you seem chirpy today’ and I said to him ‘How do you want me to act?’ he said.
“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 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.
“This time I moved away as he tried to get me to do stuff, whilst his own wife was out in the kitchen,” he said.
“It’s the one time I could get away and I remember Linda coming back in the room asking if everything was OK.”
The victim said he had not told anyone about the abuse until 2016.
“I wanted to be a footballer,” he said.
“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 as many as 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.