Manchester City footballer Benjamin Mendy found not guilty of rape and sexual assault charges
ITV Granada Reports journalist Emma Sweeney reports from Chester Crown Court.
A Premier League footballer has been cleared of sex attacks on four women following a six-month trial - as prosecutors say they will seek a retrial over two other allegations.
Benjamin Mendy thanked jurors in a statement released through his solicitor and said he was “delighted” to be acquitted of most charges and looked forward to fully “clearing his name”.
The 28-year-old French international denied seven counts of rape, one of attempted rape and one of sexual assault relating to six women.
The Manchester City star was cleared of six counts of rape and one of sexual assault against five women following a six month trial at Chester Crown Court.
A jury was unable to reach decisions on one count of rape and one count of attempted rape.
Mendy covered his face with both hands, and gently rocked back and forth as the verdicts were delivered.
The unanimous verdicts were delivered on Wednesday by the seven men and four women on the jury, one juror having been discharged earlier for medical reasons.
The verdicts could not be reported until jurors concluded considering the remaining two counts, after they were given a majority direction by Judge Steven Everett, meaning he would accept a 10-1 majority on any verdict.
But after 14 days of deliberation, jurors could not reach verdicts on Mendy’s alleged attempted rape of a woman, 29, in 2018 and the rape of another woman, 24, in October 2020.
Judge Everett discharged the jury on Friday, ending the trial.
The Manchester City player's co-accused, Louis Saha Matturie, 41, was also cleared of three rape charges relating to two teenagers.
The jury was unable to reach verdicts on three counts of rape and three counts of sexual assault against him by five other women.
He had denied six counts of rape and three counts of sexual assault relating to seven women.
Throughout the trial both defendants maintained any sex with women was consensual.
The allegations and trial had been “absolute hell” for Mendy, the court heard, and his life in football “is over” as he would “never escape” the accusations.
The footballer was first arrested in November 2020 after the alleged triple rape of the 24-year-old woman at his home in Cheshire the previous month.
He was released under investigation before he was later accused of sexually assaulting another woman, aged 24, two months later, and while on police bail for that offence, was later accused of the rape of three other women, one aged 17 – all offences of which he was cleared.
Mendy was suspended by Manchester City in August 2021, after he was charged with rape
Timothy Cray KC, prosecuting, said Mendy thought about what was “in his pants” and that was why he got it “terribly wrong” in believing women were consenting to sex.
Lisa Wilding KC, representing Matturie, suggested all the women involved were in some way connected through friendships, social media connections or by attending parties.
Lawyers for both men said each allegation was “riddled with inconsistencies and flaws”
Mr Mendy, who is currently suspended by his club Manchester City, told the court it was "honestly, so easy" for him to meet women to have sexual activity with.
But the French international said being in prison while on remand for the charges had made him “learn lots of things about life”.
He acknowledged the way he spoke to women had been "disrespectful" but stressed that if a woman said “no” he would “be fine, I’d accept it and I’d stop”.
Closing the case, jurors had been told by defence barristers to end Mr Mendy's “absolute hell", and acquit him of rape.
Eleanor Laws KC, defending the Premier League player, said his life in football “was over”, but that none of the claims of sexual abuse by six women were reliable.
Both men deny all charges.
A re-trial for Benjamin Mendy, at Chester, lasting two to three weeks has been set for 26 June.
Judge Everett brought jurors back into court and asked if they would reach further verdicts if given more time.
The foreman of the jury replied: “No. We are at a point now where we can’t agree.”
Judge Everett told them: “It is not unusual that jurors don’t reach verdicts on some counts. You have to be true to your duty.”
Mendy nodded as he was told by the judge there will be a pre-trial hearing on 27 January and he will go on trial on 26 June.
The Manchester City footballer is said to be "delighted" to have been cleared and says he “looks forward” to clearing his name at a re-trial over two other allegations and “rebuilding his life”, his lawyer said.
Jenny Wiltshire, of Hickman & Rose, said: “My client Benjamin Mendy would like to thank the members of the jury for their dedication and commitment.
“He also thanks everyone who supported him, and particularly the witnesses who gave evidence on his behalf in the glare of such intense publicity.”
She said he was “delighted that he has been unanimously acquitted” of most of the charges he faced.
She added: “He looks forward to clearing his name in relation to the other two charges so he can start rebuilding his life.
“Until these proceedings have concluded neither I, nor my client, are able to comment further.
A spokesperson from Manchester City said: "Manchester City FC notes the verdict from Chester Crown Court today, where a jury has found Benjamin Mendy not guilty of seven charges. The jury is hung on two charges and the trial is now over.
"Given there are open matters related to this case, the Club is not in a position to comment further at this time."