Three Brighton footballers, including Liverpool manager Brendan Rogers' son Anton - plus one Bournemouth player - cleared of sexual assault

 

Four footballers were cleared today of sexually assaulting a 19-year-old woman in a hotel room.

Jurors at the Old Bailey also found them not guilty of voyeurism at a retrial.

Brighton and Hove Albion players Anton Rodgers, 20, Lewis Dunk, 21, and George Barker, 21, and former team-mate Steve Cook, 22, who now plays for Bournemouth, had maintained their innocence.

They were given bail throughout the trial and their families, including Rodgers' father - Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers - watched the proceedings.

The prosecution said the players were celebrating victory in a local cup in July 2011, when they came across the drunken woman at a club.

She woke up at the Jury's Inn hotel to find her strapless dress pulled down and said she saw explicit pictures on Rodgers' mobile phone.

Richard Barton, prosecuting, said these were taken as a "permanent record of their conquest".

But despite forensic tests on all the players' phones, only one photograph was found on Barker's phone.

It showed the sleeping woman with shaving foam spelling out GB on her thigh. Barker was next to her doing a thumbs-up sign and smiling.

Another player, Leon Redwood, said he went into the room at night and sprayed the foam.

Barker and Rodgers said the woman had joined in the "boy's banter". She climbed into bed with them and started kissing them.

Dunk and Cook said they were sleeping on the floor and did not get involved with the woman.

The woman was said to have "told a pack of lies" following the incident.

She agreed she lied to police and her employers but said she had been humiliated by the sportsmen.

She complained to police about the players six months later after getting into a volatile relationship with another player, Kazenga LuaLua.

He wound her up about her photographs being shown around the club and kidded her that a video would be put on YouTube.

Police have been unable to find anyone at the club who had seen pictures of the woman.

The woman admitted an assortment of lies, including:

:: Missing work earlier that day and ringing in to say her father had been involved in a traffic accident;

:: Missing work the next day and saying she had been assaulted in the street by three men named Jack, Ben and Sam;

:: Producing a black dress instead of the pink dress that she had been wearing;

:: Missing work a month later because she was at Gay Pride celebrations and telling her bosses she had been drugged.

The woman hoped she would be taken out by Redwood on July 16, but started kissing and dancing with another player, Roland Bergkamp, after seeing him with another girl.

She said she was not drunk and could remember nothing after taking a drink in the club.

But her friend said they had each drunk between 10 and 15 shots of alcohol and shared a bottle of wine.

Jurors at an earlier trial in February could not agree verdicts but found Dunk not guilty of voyeurism.

Brighton this week released Rodgers and his team-mate Ben Sampayo, who was a reluctant prosecution witness in the case.

There were tears in the public gallery from the mothers and girlfriends of the footballers as the seven men and five women returned their verdicts.

The young sportsmen were released from the dock and wept in a group hug outside.

Visibly shaken, they were comforted by their families.

Dunk's father Mark said: "I believed 100% that he was innocent and now it has been proved in court.

"I hope he will be able to build up his career again. This sort of thing would have an effect on anybody's career."

Solicitor Steven Barker said: "Lewis is grateful to the jury for their consideration of his case and their verdicts.

"Lewis would like to thank his family and girlfriend, everyone at Brighton and Hove Albion football club, his many friends and supporters and his legal team for their support.

"Lewis is looking forward to putting the ordeal of being wrongly accused of these matters behind him and regaining his place in the Brighton first team."

PA

News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Bruce, left, with Cream bandmates Ginger Rogers, centre, and Eric Clapton in 1967
people
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
News
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
arts + entsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker