Benjamin Mendy’s barrister said she wouldn’t want her daughter to go to a party if the Manchester City footballer was there, but insisted that did not mean he was a rapist or a Jimmy Savile-style groomer.
Eleanor Laws KC told the jury in Mendy’s rape trial that the 28-year-old regularly had unprotected sex at parties in his Cheshire mansion with “women he didn’t know from Adam”. But it was “not criminal” to have sex with multiple women without a condom, she stressed.
He was not “like Jimmy Savile was, grooming and hiding a dark side”, said Laws. She said the footballer made no attempt to hide his very active sex life, and as a result made “monumental mistakes, mistakes that are morally dubious”, via what she described as his “hedonistic” behaviour.
But, she said, “he is not being charged with being really callous about feelings, he’s not charged with being really direct, he’s not charged with having sex with a number of different women, sometimes going off with someone’s woman in front of them – all really thoughtless behaviour”.
In her closing speech on Thursday, Laws said Mendy’s accusers were “real-life adult women making real-life adult choices” to return to his mansion after nights out.
They were women who went to Manchester nightclubs to drink and dance, who “want to meet someone like Mr Mendy, despite perhaps not wanting to admit it”, she said. They wanted “a sprinkle … of stardust”, she said.
She reminded the court that seven women appeared in court to accuse Mendy of raping or attempting to rape them. All charges relating to one woman were dropped a few weeks into the trial after a video emerged of her having “enthusiastic and obviously consensual sex” with Mendy’s friend and “fixer”, Louis Saha Matturie. The video was taken a week after the night she had claimed both Mendy and Matturie had raped her.
“The reality, as you have seen, is people do make untrue allegations … in a really compelling way,” said Laws.
She sought to dispel the idea put forward by the prosecution at the start of the trial that women were trapped in Mendy’s gated mansion, known as The Spinney, sometimes locked in “panic rooms” against their will.
“This was no house of horrors with women being deliberately locked in panic rooms unable to get out or unable to leave,” she said. Details which may have initially seemed “sinister” had entirely rational explanations, she said.
A number of women said they thought they were locked in rooms in Mendy’s house as he allegedly raped them.
Earlier in the trial, Manchester City employee Jodie Deakin said she arranged for special locks to be fitted on his bedroom and study doors after she discovered a number of empty Rolex and Cartier watch boxes in his bedroom after a party.
She said: “I wanted [the lock] to be there so he had a bit of sanctuary, to lock people out, and that was his safe haven. There was a fingerprint recognition function but it never got set up because, to be honest, I didn’t know how to. We set a code for him.”
In his closing speech, prosecutor Timothy Cray KC asked the jury to imagine whether they would want their “daughter, niece or flatmate” to go back to Mendy’s house for an afterparty in years to come.
In her speech, Laws conceded: “I certainly would not want my daughter to go to a party of this type and if Mr Mendy was there”.
But she suggested such feelings were irrelevant to the case: “Of course, one would hope that our children, when they grow up, decide that they want to have sex only ever in a loving relationship, and never want to go to a party at the Spinney.
“Of course, that might be the ideal world, but the real world is that the women that go to these parties wanted to be there and they are making adult choices – choices that perhaps they may have regretted, sometimes even straight away afterwards.”
Mendy denies seven charges of rape, one charge of attempted rape and one charge of sexual assault, against six women. Matturie, 41, of Eccles, Salford, denies six counts of rape and three counts of sexual assault relating to seven young women.
The trial continues.