Manchester City footballer Benjamin Mendy has been found not guilty of the rape of a 19-year-old woman on the direction of a judge.
His co-accused, Louis Saha Matturie (41) was also cleared of two counts of rape and one of sexual assault against the same woman after the prosecution offered no further evidence against the defendants on those four counts.
Matturie wiped tears from his eyes as he stood in the dock and the formal not guilty verdicts, as directed by the judge, were given by the foreman of the jury at Chester Crown Court.
Judge Stephen Everett warned jurors not to speculate as to why the prosecution had decided not to pursue guilty verdicts in relation to the charges concerned and to continue to “faithfully” try the defendants on the multiple charges they still face.
Earlier, jurors were told of a private video of the woman having “enthusiastic sex” with Matturie, when she claimed she had been raped.
The 20-minute mobile phone video was taken by Matturie on August 1st, 2021, the court heard, a week after both men had allegedly raped the same woman on the same night the previous weekend at the footballer’s mansion in Prestbury, Cheshire.
The woman had told the jury Matturie sexually assaulted her for a second time at a flat in Salford on August 1st, 2021, after clubbing at China White nightclub in Manchester.
Lisa Wilding KC, defending Matturie, suggested what happened between them was, “consensual, willing and enthusiastic” sex, not rape, Chester Crown Court heard.
The woman denied this, claiming the incident left her feeling “shamed and disgusted”.
Ms Wilding continued: “When you and he had sex … you and he filmed that sex. You know that you and he had a discussion beforehand, words to the effect, ‘Let’s make our own little movie’.”
The witness replied: “No. I wouldn’t do that.”
Ms Wilding added: “He had his phone right in front of you all the time you and he was having sex.”
The woman replied: “I was not aware of that.”
Ms Wilding said: “You looked directly at the camera more than once, enjoying what you were doing?”
The woman, who became tearful, replied: “No.”
Ms Wilding continued: “The sex took nearly 20 minutes. You had sex initially on your knees. You then gave him oral sex, looking at the camera.
“Did you then sit on top of him, gyrating and smiling at the camera?”
“No,” the woman replied.
Ms Wilding said: “Well, then I’m going to have to ask you to look at some images.”
The hearing was then adjourned and when court resumed after lunchtime, Timothy Cray QC, prosecuting, told the court the prosecution was not now seeking guilty verdicts on alleged sexual offences involving the 19-year-old complainant.
Jurors were then directed to enter not guilty verdicts against the defendants.
The rape charge dropped against Mendy related to a week before the incident with Matturie when the woman had alleged after a night out clubbing she awoke at Mendy’s house to find the 28-year-old footballer raping her.
The same night, July 24th, 2021, Matturie is also alleged to have raped her according to DNA evidence, but she has “no memory” of the incident, the court heard. That count was also dropped.
Prosecutors have alleged Mendy is a “predator” who “turned the pursuit of women for sex into a game”.
Mendy still faces seven counts of rape, one count of attempted rape and one count of sexual assault against six young women.
Matturie, the footballer’s friend and fixer, is alleged to have had the job of finding young women for sex.
Matturie, of Eccles, Salford, still denies six counts of rape and three counts of sexual assault relating to seven young women.
Both men say if any sex did take place with women or girls, it was consensual.
The trial was adjourned until Wednesday morning.
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can call the national 24-hour Rape Crisis Helpline at 1800-77 8888, access text service and webchat options at drcc.ie/services/helpline/, or visit Rape Crisis Help.
In the case of an emergency, always dial 999/112.