Thu. Dec 1st, 2022

Benjamin Mendy’s lawyer said she would not want her daughter to go to a party if the Manchester City footballer was there, but insisted that did not mean he was a Jimmy Savile-style rapist or groomer.

Eleanor Laws KC told the jury at Mendy’s rape trial that the 28-year-old regularly had unprotected sex at parties at his Cheshire villa with “women he didn’t know since Adam”. But “it’s not criminal” to have sex with multiple women without a condom, she stressed.

He wasn’t “like Jimmy Savile was, dressing up and hiding a dark side,” Laws said. She said the footballer had made no attempt to hide his very active sex life, and as a result had made “monumental mistakes, mistakes that are morally dubious”, through what she described as his “hedonistic” behaviour.

But, she said, “he’s not been accused of being really callous about feelings, he’s not been accused of being really direct, he’s not been accused of having sex with multiple different women, sometimes going off with someone’s wife in front of them — all really reckless behavior.”

In her closing arguments on Thursday, Laws said Mendy’s accusers were “real-life grown women making decisions” to return to his mansion after a night out.

They were women who went to Manchester nightclubs to drink and dance, who “wanted to meet someone like Mr Mendy, even though they might not want to admit it”, she said. They wanted “a speck… of stardust,” she said.

She reminded the court that seven women had appeared in court to accuse Mendy of raping or attempting to rape them. All charges against one woman were dropped weeks into the trial after a video emerged of her having “enthusiastic and apparently consensual sex” with Mendy’s friend and “fixer”, Louis Saha Matturie. The video was taken a week after the night she claimed Mendy and Matturie raped her.

“The reality is, as you’ve seen, people are making false allegations … in a really convincing way,” Laws said.

She sought to dismiss the idea put forward by the prosecution at the start of the trial that the women were trapped in Mendy’s walled mansion, known as The Spinney, sometimes locked in “panic rooms” against their will.

“This was not a house of horrors with women who were deliberately locked in panic rooms, unable to get out or unable to leave,” she said. Details that may have seemed “sinister” at first had perfectly rational explanations, she said.

A number of women said they thought they were locked in rooms in Mendy’s home while he allegedly raped them.

Earlier in the trial, Manchester City employee Jodie Deakin said she arranged for special locks to be fitted to his bedroom and study doors after she discovered a number of empty Rolex and Cartier watch boxes in his bedroom after a party.

She said: “I wanted to [the lock] to be there to have a little refuge, to lock people away, and that was his safe haven. There was a fingerprint recognition function, but it was never installed because, to be honest, I didn’t know how. We set a code for him.”

In his closing argument, prosecutor Timothy Cray KC asked the jury to imagine whether they would want their “daughter, niece or roommate” back at Mendy’s house for an after party in years to come.

In her speech, Laws admitted: “I certainly wouldn’t want my daughter going to this guy’s party and Mr Mendy being there.”

But she suggested that such feelings were irrelevant in this case: “Of course, one would hope that when our children grow up, they will decide that they only want to have sex in a romantic relationship and that they never want to go to a party at Spinney’s.

“Sure, that might be an ideal world, but the real world is that the women who go to these parties wanted to be there and make grown-up decisions—decisions that they may have regretted, sometimes even immediately afterward.”

Mendy denies seven counts of rape, one count of attempted rape and one count of sexual assault against six women. Matturie, 41, of Eccles, Salford, denies six counts of rape and three counts of sexual assault in relation to seven young women.

The trial continues.