Footballers 'had taken photos of assault on woman, 19', court hears

Anton Rodgers with his father Brendan.

A woman told a court in England today she woke up half-naked in a hotel bed next to a footballer after a night out clubbing in Brighton.

She said she could not remember getting there and was horrified to find mobile phone pictures of four footballers assaulting her.

Anton Rodgers was asleep in the bed wearing only his boxers and when she woke him, he seemed unconcerned, she told the Old Bailey.

The woman, who was 19 during the alleged assault in July 2011, gave evidence against the four players from behind a curtain.

She said she discovered the pictures after asking to use Rodgers’s phone.

Brighton and Hove Albion players 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-on-Sea, East Sussex, also deny voyeurism.

Members of their families, including Rodgers’s father – Liverpool football club manager Brendan Rodgers, watched the trial from the public gallery.

The prosecution allege the players took advantage of the teenager’s unconscious state to commit sex acts and take pictures of her.

The woman said she woke up next to Rodgers, adding: “I felt ashamed, embarrassed. I couldn’t believe it had happened.

“I started shaking Anton. I was saying ’Why did you do this? I thought you were a nice guy’.

“I was angry. I told him to delete them. He said he was not going to delete them. He was not at all concerned.”

She said another player, Ben Sampayo, who was also sleeping in the room at the Jury’s Inn hotel, woke up as they were arguing.

She told jurors: “I explained about the photographs. He said ’I am not going to lie. If I were awake, I would have joined in’.

“If he was in my place, he would upload it as a profile picture.”

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. Her breasts were exposed.

“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 wearing a pink dress.

“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 in the pink dress 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.”

The woman told police she had seen a number of photographs of sexual acts being performed on her, the court heard.

She recalled one of the photographs showed the initials ’GB’ sprayed on her thigh in shaving foam, with one of the defendants – George Barker – stood next to her grinning, the court heard.

The defendants were arrested on January 19 and interviewed by police.

Cook admitted that photographs had been taken of the woman with some of the players’ genitals showing, but claimed he was in the background and did not take part.

In a prepared statement, Barker said only one photograph had been taken of the woman, which featured his initials written in shaving foam on her leg.

Dunk told police he woken up to see another player – Leon Redwood – writing ’GB’ on the woman’s leg in shaving foam but claimed he had not seen any photographs.

Rodgers refused to answer police questions, the court heard.

Another player – Ben Sampayo – was also interviewed by police and admitted to seeing photographs of the woman unconscious after he had been woken in the night by his teammates.

The jury was shown a photograph recovered by police from Barker’s mobile telephone, which featured the defendant standing next to a woman, with the initials “GB” written in white foam on her leg.

No other photographs of the alleged abuse were found by police, the court heard.

Mr Barker told the jury the woman had provided a “clear and compelling account” of what the four defendants did at a time when she was “unconscious and so very vulnerable”.

“Some of these defendants accept that something inappropriate did happen, but point the finger at someone else, denying their own involvement,” he said.

“Sadly the truth is that they were in it together. They deliberately humiliated her and they did so for their own sexual gratification.

“If anyone during the trial were to suggest that it was a joke, then you may think it was singularly unfunny and constitutes conduct going far beyond that which would ever be considered acceptable even in jest between friends.

“Here it was with a vulnerable unconscious young woman and as such, the prosecution say, it constituted criminal sexual misconduct.”

The woman missed work that day but arrived the following day wearing "scruffy clothes'' and appeared as though she had not slept, the court heard.

After she was questioned by her manager, she claimed she was attacked in the street but said she did not know the names of the men involved, fearing the repercussions of reporting the footballers, Mr Barton said.

She provided detailed descriptions of the men to police in the hope the footballers would be identified as her attackers, jurors were told.

The prosecution say the woman’s initial refusal to identify the defendants as her attackers proved she did not willingly take part in any sexual acts in order to sell a “kiss and tell” story.

“She is not a young woman who is a wannabe ’wag’ but rather she was clearly mortified by what she subsequently found out had happened to her as she lay unconscious on that bed”, said Mr Barton.

The jury heard that the woman saw two of the defendants – Rodgers and Barker - some time after the incident, when Barker allegedly said: “Do you remember having sex with me?”

The woman eventually went to police some six months after the alleged offences when another Brighton footballer, who cannot be named for legal reasons, revealed he had seen intimate photographs and videos of her from the hotel.

He claimed they had been shared among his teammates and threatened to post the photographs and videos online, the prosecutor said.

The woman spoke to her employers before contacting police on January 12, the court heard.

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