By Pat Hurst and Josh Payne, PA
Manchester City footballer Benjamin Mendy is a “predator” who “turned the pursuit of women for sex into a game”, a court has heard.
The 28-year-old’s trial for eight counts of rape, one count of attempted rape and one count of sexual assault began at Chester Crown Court on Monday.
Prosecutors allege the French international defender showed a “callous indifference” towards his accusers – who were described in court as “vulnerable, scared, isolated”.
Mendy, a £52 million Premier League star who prosecutors said enjoyed a “privileged and moneyed lifestyle”, is alleged to have committed the offences against seven young women between October 2018 and August last year.
Jurors heard the footballer was “prepared to cross that line” of consent “over and over again” and if “women got hurt or distressed, too bad”.
Opening the case against the defendant, prosecutor Timothy Cray QC told a jury panel of eight men and six women, two of whom will be discharged after the opening: “The prosecution case is simple – it has little to do with football.
“Instead, we say, it is another chapter in a very old story – men who rape and sexually assault women because they think they are powerful, and because they think they can get away with it.”
Mr Cray said the feelings of the alleged victims “counted for nothing”, adding: “These women were disposable, things to be used for sex, then thrown to one side.
“That was the effect of deliberate, planned choices the defendants made, and the desires they let loose many times.”
Mendy’s co-accused, Louis Saha Matturie (40) denies eight counts of rape and four counts of sexual assault relating to eight young women.
Mr Cray told jurors that Saha, of Eccles, Salford, was Mendy’s friend and fixer, and one of his jobs was “to find young women and to create the situations where those young women could be raped and sexually assaulted”.
The prosecutor said Mendy was a “reasonably famous football player” who “because of his wealth and status, others were prepared to help him to get what he wanted”.
“Our case is that the defendants’ pursuit of these 13 women turned them into predators, who were prepared to commit serious sexual offences,” Mr Cray said.
“The acts that the defendants did together show callous indifference to the women they went after.
“In their minds, and this could not be clearer, the stream of women they brought to their homes existed purely to be pursued for sex.”
Mr Cray said “the fact they would not take ‘no’ for an answer” would be something the jurors will “hear time and time again”.
The prosecutor told jurors they will hear from 13 different women.
About 30 reporters packed the press benches as Mr Cray began his opening address.
The jury heard that central to the case is Mendy’s home, The Spinney, described as an isolated mansion, in Mottram St Andrew in rural Cheshire.
Mr Cray said there were five dates, between October 2018 and August 2021, when nine young women arrived at the footballer’s address and afterwards made complaints of rape and/or sexual assault against Mendy and Saha.
There are also four separate complaints against Saha involving allegations away from Mendy’s house, in Manchester and Sheffield.
Mr Cray said Mendy’s home was “part and parcel” of how the defendants were able to abuse their alleged victims.
Once at the house, the victims were vulnerable for a number of reasons, the jury heard, including having their mobile phones taken away once they arrived, some victims believing they were in locked rooms, and the differences in ages and wealth between the defendants and the complainants.
“Vulnerable, scared, isolated – these are words you’ll hear from lots of the witnesses,” Mr Cray said.
“Ask yourselves, as you get under the skin of what was happening, who had the power and control in the situations these women experienced and you will hear about?”
Mr Cray told jurors Mendy and Saha say in “broad terms” that all the women consented to sex, willingly with only a couple of allegations where there is a denial that anything sexual happened.
He said: “In this day and age, no one can doubt, can they, that ‘no means no’.
“That’s no longer some sort of grey area, or some sort of open door for a man to push through regardless.
“Everyone should have that basic choice that basic dignity, the right to say ‘no’ to sex, and you don’t lose that right because you’ve been to a bar or dressed for a nightclub or gone to a footballer’s house.”
Mr Cray continued: “We say these defendants weren’t in some happy state of sexual ignorance about how this all works, they knew very well what they were doing.
“They turned the pursuit of women for sex into a game and if women got hurt or distressed, too bad.”
The alleged offences span July 2012 to August last year.
Both men deny all charges.
The trial continues.