Premier League footballer Benjamin Mendy has been cleared of sex attacks on four women but faces a retrial over alleged attacks on two others.
Mendy thanked jurors in a statement released through his solicitor and said he was “delighted” to be acquitted of most charges and looked forward to “clearing his name” in the retrial.
The Manchester City star, 28, sitting in the dock at Chester Crown Court, covered his face with both hands, gently rocking back and forth, as the jury foreman, delivering the verdicts in a hushed courtroom, repeated “not guilty” to six counts of rape and one count of sexual assault, relating to four young women or teenagers.
The unanimous verdicts were delivered on Wednesday by the seven men and four women on the jury, one juror having been discharged earlier for medical reasons.
The verdicts could not be reported until jurors concluded considering the remaining two counts, after they were given a majority direction by Judge Steven Everett, meaning he would accept a 10-1 majority on any verdict.
But after 67 hours and 17 minutes of deliberations, spread across 14 days, jurors could not reach verdicts on Mendy’s alleged attempted rape of a woman, 29, in 2018 and the rape of another woman, 24, in October 2020.
Judge Everett discharged the jury on Friday, ending the trial, but prosecutors immediately said they were seeking a re-trial on the outstanding counts.
A second trial, lasting two to three weeks, has been set for the same court on June 26.
Jenny Wiltshire, of law firm Hickman & Rose, said: “My client Benjamin Mendy would like to thank the members of the jury for their dedication and commitment.
“He also thanks everyone who supported him, and particularly the witnesses who gave evidence on his behalf in the glare of such intense publicity.
She said Mendy was “delighted that he has been unanimously acquitted” of most of the charges he faced.
Ms Wiltshire added: “He looks forward to clearing his name in relation to the other two charges so he can start rebuilding his life.”
Louis Saha Matturie, 41, his co-accused and alleged “fixer”, was found not guilty by the jury of three counts of rape relating to two teenagers.
Jurors also failed to reach verdicts on three counts of rape and three counts of sexual assault against him by five other women.
The defendants will be tried separately next time, with Matturie’s re-trial in September.
Mendy was suspended by Manchester City in August 2021 after being charged with rape.
A statement from the club said: “Given there are open matters related to this case, the club is not in a position to comment further at this time.”
Both defendants had first gone on trial on August 10, accused of multiple sexual offences against young women.
The allegations and trial had been “absolute hell” for Mendy, the court heard, and his life in football “is over” as he would “never escape” the accusations.
Mendy had been accused of being a “predator” who turned the pursuit of women for sex into a game, his trial heard, drinking champagne in VIP areas of Manchester nightclubs before inviting young women into “toxic and dangerous” situations at “after-parties” at his £4.7 million Cheshire mansion in Mottram St Andrew, near Prestbury.
But jurors were also told by defence lawyers that while the trial, involving money, sex and celebrity, had “all the makings of a good drama”, it came with a significant “plot twist” – the accused were innocent.
Lisa Wilding KC, representing Matturie, told jurors it was “chillingly easy” to make false allegations and suggested all the women involved were all in some way connected through friendships, social media connections or by attending parties.
Lawyers for both men suggested while the trial began with claims Mendy and Matturie were “predators” and “monsters”, each allegation was “riddled with inconsistencies and flaws”.
Mendy had denied seven counts of rape, one count of attempted rape and one count of sexual assault against six young women, between October 2018 and August 2021.
Matturie, of Eccles, Salford, denied six counts of rape and three counts of sexual assault relating to seven young women, between July 2012 and August 2021.