Premier League footballer Benjamin Mendy has been cleared of sex attacks on four women following a six-month trial, but prosecutors are aiming for a retrial over two other allegations.
The Manchester City star, 28, sitting in the dock at Chester Crown Court, covered his face with both hands, gently rocking back and forth, as the jury foreman, delivering the verdicts in a hushed courtroom, repeated “not guilty” to six counts of rape and one count of sexual assault, relating to four young women or teenagers.
The jury of seven men and four women failed to reach verdicts on a seventh charge of rape and one of attempted rape. Prosecutors said they would seek a retrial on those counts.
Mendy had been accused in court of being a predator who turned the pursuit of women for sex into a game. But the jury was also told that despite the drama the accused was innocent.
Unanimous verdicts were delivered on Wednesday by the 11-member jury, one juror having been discharged earlier for medical reasons.
Those verdicts could not be reported until jurors had 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.
Louis Saha Matturie, 41, his co-accused and alleged “fixer” was found not guilty by the jury of three counts of rape relating to two teenagers.
Jurors also failed to reach verdicts on three counts of rape and three counts of sexual assault against him by five other women.
Both had been on trial since August 10, accused of multiple sexual offences by 13 women.
Matthew Conway, prosecuting, said the prosecution will seek a retrial on the counts the jury could not reach verdicts on.
He said: “The prosecution has made a decision. We have made a decision today, which is to proceed on these counts in two separate trials and we seek today a provisional case management.”
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.
Mendy had been accused of being a “predator” who turned the pursuit of women for sex into a game, his trial heard, and that he invited young women into “toxic and dangerous” situations at “after-parties” at his £4.7 million Cheshire mansion in Mottram St Andrew, near Prestbury.
Jurors were also told by defence lawyers that while the trial, involving money, sex and celebrity, had “all the makings of a good drama”, it came with a significant “plot twist” — the accused were innocent.
Lockdown-busting parties were held both at Mendy's home and an apartment he rented on Chapel Street near Manchester city centre, the court heard.
Timothy Cray, prosecuting, said the footballer, a man with money, power and privilege, 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, representing Matturie, told jurors it was “chillingly easy” to make false allegations and suggested all the women involved, all in some way connected through friendships, social media connections or by attending parties.
Lawyers for both men suggested while the trial began with claims Mendy and Matturie were “predators” and “monsters”, each allegation was “riddled with inconsistencies and flaws”.
Jurors were told not to take a “moralistic” approach to the defendants' sexual lifestyles, and the approach of Cheshire Police was also criticised in court.
Mendy's lawyer Eleanor Laws said the sexual habits and lifestyles of the defendants did not make them rapists, and that women over the last 40 years had earned sexual equality, however that is expressed.
The footballer had denied seven counts of rape, one count of attempted rape and one count of sexual assault against six young women, between October 2018 and August 2021.
Matturie, of Eccles, Salford, denied six counts of rape and three counts of sexual assault relating to seven young women, between July 2012 and August 2021.
A statement from Mendy's club 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."