Jurors in the rape trial of Manchester City footballer Benjamin Mendy have been told to question the credibility of their accusers.
Lisa Wilding KC, in her closing defense speech on behalf of Mendy’s friend and co-accused, Louis Saha Matturie, highlighted the evidence of one complainant, a 19-year-old woman, who told jurors from the witness box that both men had raped her.
But during the 16-week trial, mobile phone video emerged of her having “enthusiastic” sex with Matturie on an occasion she claimed she was being raped.
Jurors at Chester crown court were directed to find both men not guilty of those charges against her.
Wilding said: “She sat in this courtroom and looked you in the eye and gave what would have, perhaps, been a compelling and convincing account of being raped multiple times by these two men. Like so many of the witnesses in this case, she is caught up in a tangled web of connections, contacts and knowledge.
Why is that important? Because of collusion. You have to consider in respect of each of the women who came to this courtroom to give evidence, is their evidence reliable? Is their evidence solid?
This case rests on the credibility of witnesses. People lie.”
Two other complainants, who also knew each other, then made “remarkably similar” allegations that Matturie had raped them both while sleeping, Wilding said.
Wilding cited the account of another woman, aged 23, who claimed Matturie raped her at 5.30am in Mendy’s Mercedes car while on a trip to a local garage to buy more alcohol for a party at the footballer’s house.
She stayed at Mendy’s house afterwards and had sex with three other men, and as she stepped out of the gates at Mendy’s mansion at 10.03am, sent a text to a friend saying “Hahaha I have slept with Jack Grealish,” the jury heard.
Such behavior was “inconsistent” with an allegation of rape, Wilding said.
Her case was “inextricably linked” to that of a 17-year-old who alleges she was raped twice by both Mendy and Matturie the same night, it is alleged.
Wilding said the allegation against Matturie, that he raped her in a cinema room at Mendy’s house while others were present, then went to his flat in Manchester where he raped her a second time, made “absolutely no sense”.
Voice messages sent to her friends later that same day, where she called the party, the “best night of my life” were, “not a reflection of someone who has been raped,” Wilding added.
Prosecutors claim Mendy lured young women into “toxic and dangerous” situations where they were raped and sexually assaulted at a flat he rented in Manchester city centre, and his home, the Spinney, in Mottram St Andrew, in the Cheshire countryside, used for “ after-parties” including regular lockdown-busting gatherings.
Matturie is alleged to have been the “fixer” to get girls back to the parties after nights spent drinking in VIP lounges at Manchester nightclubs.
Both defendants say any sex with women was consensual.
Mendy denies seven counts of rape, one count of attempted rape and one count of sexual assault against six young women.
Matturie, of Eccles, Salford, denies six counts of rape and three counts of sexual assault involving seven young women.
The trial was adjourned until Tuesday morning.