Manchester City defender Benjamin Mendy has been found not guilty of the rape of a 19-year-old woman on the direction of a judge presiding over his trial for multiple alleged sexual offences.
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.
Judge Stephen Everett warned jurors at Chester Crown Court, in northwest England, not to speculate as to why the prosecution had decided not to pursue guilty verdicts on those charges and to continue to “faithfully” try the defendants on the charges they still face.
Earlier, jurors were told of a private video of the woman having what was described as “enthusiastic” sex with Matturie, when she claimed she had been raped.
The 20-minute mobile phone video was taken by Matturie on August 1 last year, the court heard, a week after both men had allegedly raped the same woman on the same night at the footballer’s mansion.
The woman had told the jury Matturie sexually assaulted her for a second time at a flat on August 1, 2021 after clubbing in Manchester.
Lisa Wilding, defending Matturie, suggested what happened between them was “consensual, willing and enthusiastic” sex, not rape, the court heard.
The woman denied this, claiming the incident left her feeling “shamed and disgusted”.
Wilding said: “I’m going to have to ask you to look at some images.”
The hearing was adjourned and when court resumed after lunch, Timothy Cray, prosecuting, said the prosecution was no longer 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 28-year-old 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 footballer raping her.
The same night, July 24 last year, Matturie is also alleged to have raped her according to DNA evidence, but she has “no memory” of that, the court heard. That count was also dropped.
Prosecutors have alleged France World Cup winner 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 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, it was consensual.
Mendy joined Premier League champions City from French side Monaco in 2017.
He has played 75 times for the club but his playing time was limited by injuries and a loss of form.
He was suspended by City after being charged by police in August last year.