Barry Bennell died in 'significant pain' while serving 34-year prison sentence

Barry Bennell was in ‘significant pain’ when he died in prison last September while serving a 34-year sentence, a coroner has ruled. The disgraced former football coach, who had been convicted of several child sex offences, was found dead by a prison officer conducting hourly checks at HMP Littlehey in Cambridgeshire.

An inquest was held in Huntingdon under the name Richard Jones after Bennell had his legally changed prior to his death. It was concluded that he died of natural causes, with coroner Elizabeth Gray saying he had a history of throat cancer from 2004 before a recurrence in 2016.

Bennell was diagnosed with cancer of the tonsils following a biopsy in early 2023 and was in palliative care at the time of his death in September. The coroner said his ‘means of communication was to write things down’ and that he was in a ‘significant amount of pain which was managed by the healthcare team at the prison’.

Last summer, Bennell was treated for chest pain before his speech began to deteriorate in late July. The coroner added that Bennell discharged himself from Hinchingbrooke Hospital against medical advice just four days before he died.

Two days prior to his death, Bennell was said to have become confused but decided not to return to hospital for further treatment. The former coach, who was jailed in 2018 after being found guilty of 52 child sex offences against 12 boys, had previously tried to kill himself and was found with opiates in his possession.

A report from the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman said the care Bennell received was of a ‘good standard and equivalent to that he would have received in the wider community’. His medical cause of death was recorded as bilateral bronchopneumonia, with the coroner citing squamous cell carcinoma of the oropharynx as a contributing factor.

Bennell, a former Manchester City scout, abused boys he coached in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. He was first jailed in 1994 for raping a British boy on a football tour in America before facing additional prison sentences in 1998, 2015, 2018 and 2020.

More than 80 alleged victims came forward to report abuse at the hands of Bennell following his convictions in 2018. During his sentencing, judge Clement Goldstone referred to Bennell as the ‘devil incarnate’ and described his behaviour as ‘sheer evil’ after his victims were subjected to ‘the most serious, degrading and humiliating abuse’.

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