Albion players "assaulted woman", court hears

The Argus: Clockwise from top left: Steve Cook, George Baker, Anton Rodgers and Lewis Dunk Clockwise from top left: Steve Cook, George Baker, Anton Rodgers and Lewis Dunk
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A group of footballers took pictures of themselves sexually assaulting a drunken 19-year-old woman, the Old Bailey heard today.

The Brighton and Hove Albion players wanted to have "a permanent record of their conquest", jurors were told.

The four sportsmen took the young woman back to their hotel room and assaulted her after celebrating victory for their club in the Sussex Senior Cup, it was alleged.

Brighton and Hove Albion players Anton Rodgers, 19, Lewis Dunk, 21, and George Barker, 21, and former team-mate Steve Cook, 21, who now plays for Bournemouth, deny sexual assault.

Rodgers and Barker, both of Highview Avenue North, Brighton; Dunk, of Woodbourne Avenue, Brighton; and Cook, of Perth Road, St Leonards also deny voyeurism.

The offences were said to have happened at the Jury's Inn Hotel in Brighton in July 2011.

Humiliating

Richard Barton, prosecuting, said: "This case concerns how a group of young professional footballers, intoxicated after a night out together celebrating a cup final victory, took advantage of a young woman, who herself was intoxicated and who was obviously in a vulnerable condition.

"After taking her back to a hotel room, they waited until she had fallen asleep, and so was unable to resist, and then sexually assaulted her in a deliberately humiliating way.

"They compounded the humiliation by taking photographs of themselves doing so in order to have a permanent record of their conquest."

He added: "They did so for their own gratification, intending to share the photographs between themselves and they may have done so to share with others at their football club.

"These were the actions of a group of arrogant young men labouring under the misguided belief that by reason of their privileged position they could with impunity take advantage of a young woman in this way, because even if she realised what they had done to her, she would not dare report it."

He said the teenager - described as chatty and bubbly - did not tell police for six months "through fear of repercussions".

She finally made a complaint about being "repeatedly taunted" about the incident by another footballer at the club.

The families of the accused, including Rodgers' father Brendan Rodgers, manager of Liverpool FC, were in the public gallery as the case was opened.

Taking advantage

Mr Barton said the woman spent the evening at four nightclubs.

At the last, Lola Lo, she met a number of footballers out celebrating and one bought her a drink.

"It would seem alcohol played a part in the events that night," said Mr Barton.

A friend of the woman did not consider her to be so drunk that she was a danger to herself.

It is possible her drink might have been spiked but there was no suggestion the accused had interfered with her drink, the prosecutor added.

But this was not a case of a drunken young woman who did things when drunk that she later regretted.

Mr Barton continued: "This is a case of a group of men taking advantage of a woman who through a combination of drink and tiredness, ended up unconscious.

"She was not in a condition to resist, give consent or prevent things happening."

She could remember waking up in a hotel room the next day in a double bed with Anton Rodgers next to her.

Another player, Ben Sampayo, was asleep on a single bed in the room, which had been booked for them by the club.

Mr Barton said Rodgers was wearing only his underwear and she did not have her bra on.

"Her dress was pulled up, exposing her body.

"Toilet paper was strewn around the room and there were remnants of shaving foam."

The woman had tried to ring her sister but her mobile battery was dead.

Mr Barton said she asked to use Rodgers'. He was reluctant at first but agreed after she was persistent.

She could not remember her sister's number and scrolled through photographs on the handset.

"She saw there was a whole series of photographs of a young woman.

"The woman was lying on a bed, clearly not awake and, in some of them, semi-naked men around her.

"She looked at some of the many photographs and then realised to her horror that she recognised the unconscious woman was in fact herself.

"She has no recollection of these photographs being taken."

It was the prosecution case that the men in the pictures were the defendants.

Mr Barton said the woman woke Rodgers up and asked him to delete the pictures.

"She wanted him to get rid of the photographs but he simply laughed at her. He told her that these were nothing to do with her," added the prosecutor.

"She pleaded with Rodgers to delete the photographs but he told her 'Sorry, we are going to a barbecue'.

"He locked himself in a bathroom and had a shower. She was told by Sampayo to leave, which she did.

"The indifference shown towards her by Rodgers and the others that morning is indicative of the group's overall attitude to her and the events the night before."

Mr Barton said Sampayo had woken when the woman was allegedly arguing with Rodgers and she asked him how he would feel if it was him.

"He said that if there were a group of women with their genitals exposed near his face he would be proud of that and would put any photographs of it on Facebook."

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