The trial of Manchester City footballer Benjamin Mendy and his co-accused had all the making of a good drama but with a plot twist that they are innocent, a court heard.
Money, sex and celebrity had all featured in the trial said Lisa Wilding KC, defending Louis Saha Matturie, 41, the Premier League player’s friend and ‘fixer’, in her closing speech for the defence.
It had begun in August with prosecution claims the men in the dock were sexual “predators” and “monsters” Ms Wilding said, but the “plot twist” came with the evidence from one woman, 19, who claimed in the witness box at Chester Crown Court that both men had raped her.
Mobile phone video later emerged of her having “enthusiastic” sex with Matturie on an occasion she claimed she was being raped. The judge ordered the jury to acquit both defendants on those charges.
Ms Wilding said: “This case, and I don’t say this flippantly at all, has all the makings of a good drama; it has money, sex, it has celebrity.
“But like all good dramas, there was, I suggest, before your eyes over the last 15 weeks the most significant plot twist.
“Because much as you may have started this case looking at them in the dock and thinking, ‘How could you? You will I’m sure have kept an open mind.
“I suggest you have the clearest example of how chillingly easy it is to make a false allegation by a girl who is at the heart of that complex spiders web of connections.”
The jury has heard claims all the complainants are in some way connected through friendships, social media connections or by attending parties.
But Ms Wilding said each allegation against Matturie is, “riddled with inconsistencies and flaws”.
“I suggest there will have come a point when you thought, ‘Hang on a minute. These girls aren’t telling the truth,'” Ms Wilding said.
And she asked jurors not to hold it against Matturie that, unlike Mendy, he did not go in the witness box in his own defence.
“His silence cannot, of itself, prove he is guilty,” she added.
Ms Wilding said the sexual habits and lifestyles of the defendants, did not make them rapists.
She added: “Women have earned sexual equality and young people, your life experience may tell you, approach sexual encounters very differently to those who earned that sexual equality 40 years ago.
“You may be under clear impression from what you have seen in this case that many of the women in this case actively pursued sexual encounters with men they hardly knew and that is their right.
“But consensual sex is a complex thing. Regret and hurt and embarrassment can all follow consensual sexual intercourse.”
Prosecutors claim Mendy lured young women into “toxic and dangerous” situations where they were raped and sexually assaulted at a flat he rented in Manchester city centre, and his home, The Spinney, in Mottram St Andrew, in the Cheshire countryside, used for “after-parties” including regular lockdown-busting gatherings.
Matturie is alleged to have been the “fixer” to get girls back to the parties after nights spent drinking in VIP lounges at Manchester nightclubs.
Both defendants say any sex with women was consensual.
Mendy denies seven counts of rape, one count of attempted rape and one count of sexual assault against six young women.
Matturie, of Eccles, Salford, denies six counts of rape and three counts of sexual assault relating to seven young women.
The trial continues with the judge expected to take around a week to sum-up the evidence before the jury retires to consider verdicts.