Benjamin Mendy raped women in ‘panic rooms’, jury told | UK news

The Manchester City footballer Benjamin Mendy raped women in “panic rooms” in his isolated mansion from which they believed they could not escape, a court has heard.

The 28-year-old French international defender abused his wealth and fame to lure women back to his gated Cheshire home and rape them when they either said no or were too drunk to consent, a jury at Chester crown court heard on Monday.

The court heard he met many of the women in Manchester nightclubs, often with the help of his “fixer”, Louis Saha Matturie, 41, known as Saha, who is on trial alongside him charged with multiple counts of rape and sexual assault.

The pair are accused of showing “callous indifference” to the 13 young women they allegedly attacked. The sexual conquest of young women became “a game”, the court heard.

Opening the case, the prosecutor, Timothy Cray, told the jury Mendy was a “reasonably famous” footballer at the time of the offences, having won the World Cup with the French national team. “These days fame brings attention. Fame also brings money. And because of this, Mendy’s wealth and status, others were prepared to help him to get what he wanted,” said Cray.

One of Saha’s jobs was “to find young women and to create the situations where those young women could be raped and sexually assaulted”, Cray added.

In July 2021, Saha offered to pay a woman to attend a party at Mendy’s home with a friend – instead of working a shift at a nightclub, the court heard. The woman later told police Mendy raped her in his cinema room without using a condom. Two of Mendy’s associates blocked her friend when she went to look for her, the jury was told.

Mendy and Saha had a joint purpose, the court heard. “These women were disposable: things to be used for sex, then thrown to one side,” Cray said.

Two of the women told police they were “passed between” both men at Mendy’s multimillion-pound mansion, where he held pool parties. One was so drunk she only found out both men had had sex with her when semen from each was found in her knickers, the court heard.

Five said they were raped or sexually assaulted solely by Mendy and six solely by Saha. The men deny all 22 charges brought against them.

The alleged offences by Mendy are said to have taken place at his gated mansion in the hamlet of Mottram St Andrew, near Macclesfield, between October 2018 and 2021. The nearest village, Prestbury, was a 15-minute walk along an unlit country lane, the jury heard.

Some of the women told police they had their phones taken off them on arrival. Ostensibly this was to protect Mendy and others from unwanted social media intrusion – “I imagine that Mendy did not want Pep Guardiola to see him out late on Instagram with a load of girls,” said Cray – but it also left them unable to call for help.

One of the women, described by Cray as “the opposite of a football groupie”, said Mendy tried to rape her after she went to his house to meet another footballer.

Another told detectives she was on her period when Mendy raped her. One woman, who accuses both men of rape, was 17 at the time. One, the court heard, was sexually assaulted when “more or less minding her own business in Mendy’s kitchen”.

Two of the women said Mendy raped them in rooms they believed to be locked. The jury was shown video footage of a police officer demonstrating the locks on the doors, as Cray explained they were legitimately used by wealthy individuals.

“The logic is that if you are likely to be a target for burglars, the locks in effect create a panic room that you can’t get in from the outside, but you can open them from the inside if you know what to do. The point is that you have to know how to open them from the inside, and you’ll perhaps see how the witnesses might have gotten the impression … that they are locked in,” said Cray.

Both men knew what they were doing, Cray said. “They were not in some happy state of sexual ignorance about how this all works – they knew very well what they were doing. They turned the pursuit of women for sex into a game, in effect, and if women got hurt or distressed – too bad. Make it go away.”

He added: “In this day and age, no one can doubt, can they, to use the common saying, that ‘no means no’? That’s no longer some sort of grey area, or some sort of an open door for a man to push through regardless … You don’t lose that right because you’ve been to a bar or dressed for a nightclub or gone to a footballer’s house and you are partying.”

The prosecutor told the jury the defendants were likely to argue that the women alleging rape and sexual assault “consented to sex willingly, often enthusiastically”, said Cray.

The trial continues.

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