Benjamin Mendy raped women in locked ‘panic rooms’, jury told

The Manchester City defender Benjamin Mendy raped women in locked “panic rooms” in his isolated mansion from which they believed they could not escape, a court has heard.

The 28-year-old French player abused his wealth and fame to lure women back to his gated Cheshire home and rape them when they either said no or were too drunk to consent, a jury at Chester crown court heard on Monday.

The court heard he found many of the women in Manchester nightclubs, often with the help of his “fixer”, a 41-year-old called Louis Saha Matturie, known as Saha, who is on trial alongside him charged with multiple counts of rape and sexual assault.

The pair are accused of showing “callous indifference” to the 13 young women they allegedly attacked. The sexual conquest of young women became “a game”, the court heard.

Opening the case, prosecutor Timothy Cray told the jury that Mendy was a “reasonably famous” footballer at the time of the offences.

“He had a contract with Man City and he was a World Cup winner with the French national team,” Cray said. “And these days fame brings attention. Fame also brings money. And because of this, Mendy’s wealth and status, others were prepared to help him to get what he wanted.”

One of Saha’s jobs was “to find young women and to create the situations where those young women could be raped and sexually assaulted,” Cray added.

The men had a joint purpose, the court heard. “In their minds, and we say this could not be clearer, the stream of women they brought to their homes existed to them purely to be pursued for sex,” Cray added.

Two of the women told police they were “passed between” both men at parties at Mendy’s multimillion-pound mansion. Five said they were raped or sexually assaulted solely by Mendy and six solely by Saha. The men deny all 22 charges brought against them.

The allegations against Mendy are all said to have taken place at his gated mansion in the hamlet of Mottram St Andrew near Macclesfield, between October 2018 and 2021. The nearest town, Prestbury, was a 15 minute walk along an unlit country lane, the jury heard.

“It was isolated, about 17 miles south of the centre of Manchester as the crow flies, but if you turned up there and you had never been there and the big old gates locked behind you, you may well have felt that you were vulnerable,” Cray told the jury, before showing them drone footage of the semi-rural location.

One of the complainants had to ask the housekeeper to let her out of the locked mansion gates after her alleged ordeal, the jury heard.

Some of the women told police they had their phones taken off them on arrival. Ostensibly this was to protect Mendy and others from unwanted social media intrusion, but it also left them unable to call for help, the court heard.

One of the women said she had gone to Mendy’s house to meet another man and made it clear she was not there to have sex with the footballer but he attempted to rape her regardless, the court heard.

Another told detectives she was on her period when she was raped. One woman, who accuses both men of rape, was 17 at the time. One, the court heard, was sexually assaulted when “more or less minding her own business in Mendy’s kitchen”.

Two of the women said Mendy raped them in locked rooms – an office and the main bedroom. The jury was shown video footage showing a police officer demonstrating the locks on the doors, as Cray explained they were legitimately used by wealthy individuals.

“The logic is that if you are likely to be a target for burglars, the locks in effect create a panic room that you can’t get in from the outside, but you can open them from the inside if you know what to do. The point is that you have to know how to open them from the inside, and you’ll perhaps see how the witnesses might have gotten the impression … that they are locked in,” said Cray.

Both men knew what they were doing, Cray said. “They were not in some happy state of sexual ignorance about how this all works – they knew very well what they were doing. They turned the pursuit of women for sex into a game, in effect, and if women got hurt or distressed – too bad. Make it go away.”

He added: “In this day and age, no one can doubt, can they, to use the common saying, that ‘no means no’. That’s no longer some sort of grey area, or some sort of an open door for a man to push through regardless … In this day and age, no one can doubt, you don’t lose that right because you’ve been to a bar or dressed for a nightclub or gone to a footballer’s house and you are partying.”

The prosecutor told the jury that the defendants were likely to argue that the women alleging rape and sexual assault “consented to sex willingly, often enthusiastically”, said Cray.

The trial continues.