The jury in Manchester City defender Benjamin Mendy’s rape trial has been told to question the credibility of their accusers.
In her closing speech, defence lawyer Lisa Wilding KC highlighted behaviours from accusers that were “inconsistent” with an allegation of rape.
She spoke about the evidence of one complainant, a 19-year-old woman, who told jurors from the witness box that 28-year-old Mendy and co-accused Louis Saha Matturie had raped her.
But mobile phone evidence emerged during the 16-week trial at Chester Crown Court of her having “enthusiastic” sex with Matturie on an occasion she claimed she was being raped.
Jurors in the trial were directed to find both men not guilty of those charges against them.
Ms Wilding said: “She sat in this courtroom and looked you in the eye and gave what would have, perhaps, been a compelling and convincing account of being raped multiple times by these two men.
“Like so many of the witnesses in this case, she is caught up in a tangled web of connections and contacts and knowledge.
She added: “Why is that important?
“Because of collusion. You have to consider in respect of each of the women who came to this courtroom to give evidence, is their evidence reliable? Is their evidence solid?
“This case rests on the credibility of witnesses. People lie.”
The defence lawyer went on to say that two other complainants, who also knew each other, also made “remarkably similar” allegations that Matturie had raped them both when they were sleeping.
Ms Wilding then told jurors about the account of another woman, aged, 23, who claimed 40-year-old Matturie raped her at 5.30am in Mendy’s Mercedes car while travelling to a local garage to buy more alcohol for a party at the footballer’s house.
She later stayed the night at Mendy’s house and had sex with three other men, Ms Wilding said, and when she left the footballer’s mansion at 10.03am, sent a text to a friend saying: “Hahaha I have slept with Jack Grealish.”
Ms Wilding said such behaviour is “inconsistent” with an allegation of rape.
She said this case was “inextricably linked” to that of a 17-year-old who has accused both Mendy and Matturie of raping her twice that same night.
Voice messages sent to her friends shortly after hear her describe the party as the “best night of my life”, which Ms Wilding said is “not a reflection of someone who has been raped”.
Prosecutors told the jury that Mendy lured young women into “toxic and dangerous” situations where they were raped and sexually assaulted.
They said the attacks took place at a flat he rented in Manchester city centre, as well as his home, The Spinney, in Mottram St Andrew, in the Cheshire countryside, which he used for “after-parties” including regular lockdown-busting gatherings.
Matturie has been accused of being a “fixer” to bring girls back to the parties after nights out in VIP lounges at Manchester nightclubs.
Both men claim any sex with women was consensual.
Premier League star Mendy denies seven counts of rape, one count of attempted rape and one count of sexual assault against six young women.
Matturie, from Salford, denies six counts of rape and three counts of sexual assault against seven young women.
The trial was adjourned until Tuesday morning.