Benjamin Mendy, the Manchester City footballer, raped several women in the “panic rooms” of his isolated country mansion, a court has heard.
The 28-year-old is on trial at Chester Crown Court accused of eight counts of rape, one count of attempted rape and one count of sexual assault. He denies the charges.
It is alleged that he raped five women in the cinema and panic rooms – so called because of locking mechanisms stopping them opening from the outside – at his gated mansion in rural Cheshire, or while they were unconscious. The youngest woman was 17, the court heard.
His co-defendant, Louis Saha Matturie, is alleged to have had the job of finding young women for Mr Mendy and creating “situations where those young women could be raped and sexually assaulted”. He also denies all the charges against him.
Timothy Cray QC, prosecuting, said Mr Mendy’s mansion – called The Spinney and in the village Mottram St Andrew – was “part and parcel of how the defendants were able to gain control over their victims”.
“It was isolated or so many of the witnesses thought, and once they were there, with the gates locked behind them, they felt vulnerable,” he told jurors.
On several occasions, the women had their phones confiscated from them upon arrival, the prosecutor said.
He added: “I can imagine Mr Mendy did not want Pep Guardiola [the Manchester City manager] to see him on Instagram out late at night with a load of girls. But it also had the effect of the women feeling quite cut off.”
The attitude of Mr Mendy and Mr Matturie was that, once the doors closed behind the women at his mansion or a separate flat they used in Chapel Street, they were “available for sex”, Mr Cray told jurors.
He said: “Put another way, the prosecution accept that some women would consent to having sex with Mendy, but not every woman would or did.”
The big jump Mr Mendy made, he said, was to act as though every woman who arrived at his home were available for sex. “Together, they [the defendants] had convinced themselves that the free, informed consent to sex of the women who came into their orbits just did not matter,” Mr Cray said.
The men allegedly turned the “pursuit of women for sex into a game”.
Opening the trial, Mr Cray said the the case had “very little to do with football”, adding: “Instead, we say, it is another chapter in a very old story: men who rape and sexually assault women, because they think they are powerful, and because they think they can get away with it."”
Defendants ‘would not take no for an answer’
Mr Mendy was a “reasonably famous football player” who was a World Cup winner with the French national team and had a contract with Manchester City, the jury were told.
“Because of his wealth and status, others were prepared to help him to get what he wanted," the prosecutor said, including Mr Matturie, whom he said was Mr Mendy’s “friend and fixer”.
He continued: “The allegations show that one of Saha’s jobs for Mendy was to find young women and to create the situations where those young women could be raped and sexually assaulted.”
The two men, the prosecutor said, showed a “callous indifference to the women they went after”.
Mr Cray said: “Our case is that the defendants’ pursuit of these 13 women turned them into predators, who were prepared to commit serious sexual offences. The fact they would not take no for an answer, or that they engineered situations where no was not even an option, is something you will hear time and time again.”
The defendants will claim that either the sexual encounters were consensual or did not happen at all, the prosecutor told the jury.
Women felt ‘trapped and isolated’
Mr Mendy's gated mansion is 17 miles south of central Manchester and a 15-minute walk away from the nearest village of Prestbury, which heightened the sense some women had of being “trapped and isolated”, the prosecutor said.
Drone footage showing the mansion surrounded by fields was played to the jury, as well as bodycam footage of the many floors and rooms it contained, including a gym with murals of Mr Mendy on the walls.
The prosecutor said: ”Once you are in the house, if you do not know it, it is not the easiest to know where you are, where you are going or where your friends might be."
Another feature of the mansion was special locking mechanisms on the doors, ostensibly used to create a “panic room” in case of burglary so they can only be opened from the inside and not the outside.
However, the prosecutor said, you have to know how to open the doors to these rooms from the inside to leave, which several of the women did not, leading them to feel as though they were locked inside at the time of their alleged assaults.
The offences are alleged to have taken place between October 2018 and August last year.
Mr Matturie, 40, of Eccles, Salford, denies eight counts of rape and four counts of sexual assault relating to eight young women. The alleged offences span July 2012 to August last year.
Mr Mendy has played for Manchester City since 2017, when he joined from Monaco for a reported £52 million. He was suspended by the club after being charged by police.
The trial continues.