Footballer Benjamin Mendy has been found not guilty of charges brought against him accusing him of the rape of four women and sexually assaulting another, at parties held at his £4.8m mansion in Prestbury, Cheshire, many during the Coronavirus lockdowns of 2020.
However, a jury at Chester Crown Court were unable to reach a majority verdict on two other charges, one of rape and another of attempted rape, meaning that the Manchester City full-back will now face a second trial, along with his friend and co-defendant Louis Saha Matturie, 41, who was also found not guilty of three counts of rape, but likewise faces further charges.
Mendy – who was the world’s most expensive defender when he joined City in the summer of 2017 – and Matturie had first been arrested on 11 November 2020. The 28-year-old former French international had been on trial for five months since proceedings began on 10 August 2022, and will now have to attend a pre-trial hearing on 27 January, with a new date of 26 June set for the follow-up trial, which it is estimated will last between two and three weeks.
Judge Everett discharged the jury of seven men and four women on Friday 12 January after they had deliberated for nearly 70 hours, over the course of 14 days.
Mendy denies both outstanding charges, repeatedly stating that all the women involved had wanted to have sex with him. In a statement issued by his solicitors after the verdicts, he was said to be “delighted” with the acquittals and now looked forward to “clearing his name” on the two remaining counts, so that he could “start rebuilding his life”.
His employers Manchester City who suspended the player in August 2021 when he was officially charged with sexual offences, said in a statement: “Given that there are open matters related to this case, the club is not in a position to comment further at this time.”
Mr Matturie, who has been describer as Mr Mendy’s “fixer”, will go on trial separately for his remaining charges, in the week commencing 18 September 2023.
Girls invited back for lockdown parties
During the six-month trial, jurors were told that Mendy would frequently lure young women into “toxic and dangerous” situations at his luxury home, and Matturie would act as the player’s “fixer” by getting girls as young as 17 to accompany them to enjoy illegal lockdown parties; following evenings/nights spent in the VIP sections of clubs, drinking very expensive bottles of Champagne.
Mobile phones taken away
Several victims claimed during the trial that upon arrival at Mendy’s house, they would have their mobile phones confiscated straight away, leaving them completely vulnerable. Many labelled the footballer as a “predator”.
Guardiola called to give evidence
The highly respected Manchester City manager, Pep Guardiola was called to give a character reference and described his player as a “really good boy”, but admitted that he was unhappy about the parties; however he added that although he could control his players when together in training sessions, or in match situations, what they did in their private lives, he could not; before pointing out “I am not his father.”
Not guilty of charges but reflection accepting of need to change
When Mendy gave his own evidence, his responses to the questions put to him were quite revealing; but all the time remaining firmly of the stance of being not guilty of the charges brought against him. He said meeting women and having sex with them was “so easy” simply because of the status a footballer has in society.
He openly admitted to bedding multiple women on the same night; confessing in a reflective tone: “For me it was normal, I realised just now it sounds bad.” He continued to enlighten the jury about his time in prison on remand where he had time to contemplate the consequences of his behaviour, and said he only then realised that it was possible to “hurt” women’s feelings even “if we were both happy to have sex”, but insisted that if a woman ever said “no”, he would be “fine, accept it and stop.”
Judge dismisses jury with no agreement settled
On 5 December 2022, Judge Steven Everett, told the members of the jury that if positive verdicts had not been reached by the end of that week they would come back in the week prior to Christmas, and if still not decided then deliberations could resume in the new year. He reiterated to them that there was “no pressure of time”.
When this week, he brought the jurors back into court and asked if they would reach further verdicts if given more time, the foreman of the jury answered negatively, informing the judge that they had reached a point where they simply could not agree. He thanked them for being true to their duty, before formally dismissing them.
From world record holder to courtroom shame
Mendy joined Marseille as a teenager before moving to Monaco, and then sealing a big money move to Manchester City, for a fee believed to be £52m, which was at that time a new world record for a defender. His court case cost him the opportunity of representing his country at the recent World Cup tournament in Qatar.
Goodbye to fancy motor
Once suspended, his wages stopped and in order to meet his hefty legal fees, he unfortunately had to sell his Lamborghini Aventador! He last played for the club on August 15, 2021, during their 1-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur.
Unlikely to play for City again
His contract thought to be of around £90,000 per week at the time of his suspension, runs out in the summer and it is unlikely that City would renew it, even if he is cleared of the final two charges.
Should he be able to resume his career, it is highly likely that he will need to move abroad to continue playing.