Former Sheffield United star Gary Speed told police sex abuser Barry Bennell 'never behaved inappropriately towards him'

Former Sheffield United star Gary Speed was interviewed twice during police investigations into Barry Bennell but said the coach never behaved inappropriately towards him, his family has said.

Friday, 16th February 2018, 8:00 am
Updated Friday, 16th February 2018, 8:05 am
Gary Speed.

Speed, who hanged himself in 2011 at the age of 42, was mentioned during the 64-year-old's trial at Liverpool Crown Court as one of four players who had taken their own lives after being coached by the convicted child sex abuser.

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Barry Bennell.

One of Bennell's victims said he had tried to contact Speed's parents after he read in the paper they had no explanation for his death. The court later heard there was no evidence to link any of the four deaths to Bennell.

The League Managers Association issued a statement on behalf of Speed's family after the jury found Bennell guilty on Thursday of 43 sex offences against 11 boys.

The statement, which was released "in light of recent speculation", said the father-of-two had spoken to police investigating allegations about Bennell on two occasions.

It said: "On both occasions Gary made it quite clear that he did not know anything about Bennell's alleged behaviour and also made it clear that Bennell had never behaved inappropriately towards him."

Barry Bennell.

The statement said police were satisfied there was no evidence to link the Bennell investigation to Speed and the prosecution had made clear during the trial there was no evidence called at Speed's inquest to suggest his death was linked to the ex-Crewe Alexandra coach.

A former victim of Bennell's abuse had told jurors that "four people from teams I have played with, with Bennell, have taken their own lives."

He added: "Whether they have taken their lives due to Barry solely I don't know, but all I know is how it's had an impact on me and how it could impact on other people."

He said he wanted to get in touch with Speed's parents after he read in the paper that they had not been able to get closure because they had no explanation for his death.

Speed was found dead by his wife at their home in November 2011.

Alan Davies - a Wales international who played for Manchester United and Swansea City - committed suicide in Horton, South Wales, in February 1992 by carbon monoxide poisoning.

A third man, Mark Hazeldine, committed suicide in February 2006.

Police were unable to trace the fourth man named by the witness and were unable to confirm whether he was alive or dead.

Speed's inquest heard that he was was found hanged. The hearing was told how Mr Speed and his wife, Louise, had been going through "ups and downs" but were "working through" their problems at the time of his death.

Bennell, who worked at a string of top clubs including Manchester City and Crewe Alexandra, will be sentenced on Monday.