Ex-Watford footballer Ashley Charles cleared of raping woman at London hotel

·2-min read
 (PA)
(PA)

A former Watford FC footballer has been cleared of raping a woman after a night out at luxury clubs in London’s West End.

Ashley Charles, 23, was accused of having sex with the woman as she slept at an East End hotel room, while his friend - ex-Love Island contestant Dennon Lewis - was sleeping nearby.

But the footballer, now plying his trade with Wealdstone FC, denied the allegation and insisted her allegation of rape was false.

Following a trial at Snaresbrook crown court, Mr Charles was found not guilty by a jury on a rape charge and an alternative count of sexual assault by penetration.

During the criminal proceedings, Mr Lewis – a contestant on the fifth series of ITV’s Love Island – gave evidence in support of his long-term friend.

“I met Ash through playing football”, he said, giving evidence via videolink.

“I got to know him very well,  He’s an unbelievable boy, very very polite, respectful. I can’t speak highly enough of Ash. He’s a very respectful young man.”

He said he questioned the veracity of the rape allegation at the time, asking the woman “are you sure?” when she accused his friend.

Mr Lewis, who now plays for Boreham Wood FC, met Mr Charles during their time in the Watford youth ranks and have remained friends, the court heard.

The court heard the men had been out in central London with fellow footballer Michael Philips, at clubs Mahiki, Club Maddox, and Lords London, on March 14 last year.

They were joined by two women and eventually went back to their hotel room in east London.

One of the women had consensual sex with Mr Philips, and then in the morning alleged she had woken up to find Mr Charles “on top of her” having sex. But the footballer insisted the claim was false, and pulled down his boxer shorts to show his penis to his friend in a bid to prove that he had not been engaged in sexual activity.

Charles, who lives in Watford, denied rape and an alternative charge of assault by penetration. He was found not guilty by a jury on both counts.

In a statement following the verdicts, Wealdstone FC said it “is aware of the not-guilty verdict from Snaresbrook Crown Court in the case involving player Ashley Charles.

“The club can also confirm it only became aware of the incident on Monday evening via the national media and immediately made the player unavailable for selection.

“The club will now sit down and discuss the matter with Ashley and look to support his integration back into the playing squad in due course.

“We recognise that this has been an incredibly difficult time for everyone involved in the case.”

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