Suffolk: Athletics coach Stephen Benson was obsessed with runner, court told

Stephen Benson leaving Ipswich Crown Court.

Stephen Benson leaving Ipswich Crown Court. - Credit: Andrew Partridge

AN ATHLETICS coach was “obsessed” with a teenager who has accused him of raping her, it has been alleged.

The sister-in-law of the alleged victim told a jury at Ipswich Crown Court she felt Stephen Benson spent an abnormal amount of time with the girl when he was not training her.

The witness said she was concerned the alleged victim did not seem to have any friends and did not have a social life.

“She didn’t have friends she could call up and she didn’t meet them in town or go to the cinema.”

The witness said Benson made her feel uneasy and she did not agree with a lot of things he said.

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But she denied a suggestion from defence counsel Naomi Perry that she had been “abrasive and confrontational” towards Benson and had made it clear that she did not like him.

The woman said she did not dispute that Benson was a good coach but felt he was obsessed with her sister-in-law.

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She denied a suggestion from Mrs Perry that Benson had not been obsessed with the teenager and had just been coaching her.

“He was always there. I just thought it was unusual for a man of his age to spend so much time with a teenage girl,” she said.

Benson, 50, who taught PE at Copleston High School in Ipswich as well as being a coach with Ipswich Harriers, has denied 11 offences of rape, six offences of indecent assault, two offences of sexual activity with a child and two offences of sexual assault.

Riel Karmy-Jones, prosecuting, has claimed that over a period of 20 years from the 1980s, Benson abused his position and groomed a series of girls for his “own benefit and sexual gratification”.

The girls were in their mid-teens when the alleged abuse started and they had not complained to anyone about what was happening because they were either too embarrassed or didn’t think anyone would believe them, Miss Karmy-Jones said.

She accused Benson of “worming” his way into their lives and “stealing the last part of their childhoods” by drawing them into sexual relationships with him.

Miss Karmy-Jones claimed the girls had submitted to his demands until they were old enough to know better and managed to break away.

The court heard that after his arrest Benson denied the allegations. The trial, which is expected to last several weeks, continues today.

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