England rugby star Zach Kibirige found not guilty of raping woman he met on Tinder
A young England rugby union player has been cleared of raping a woman he met on the dating app Tinder.
Newcastle Falcons winger Zach Kibirige, 21, said the hour-long sexual encounter he had with the woman at her home in November was consensual.
On the fourth day of his trial, a jury at Newcastle Crown Court cleared him of four counts of rape, attempted rape, sexual assault and assault by penetration.
Kibirige, who gained top grades at A-level and is studying for a psychology degree alongside his rugby career, was accused of raping the woman when they met for the first time.
The pair had swapped almost 1,000 WhatsApp messages over a fortnight before he went round for "cuddles" and to watch a film.
He told the court they began kissing passionately on her bed and he claimed she said at one point: "You are going to have to try harder than that."
They grabbed each other as they kissed, before having sex in a number of positions, he told the jury.
The complainant, who cannot be identified, claimed Kibirige, who is the son of a hospital consultant and a GP, put his hands round her neck and she was too scared to shout out for help.
Giving evidence from the witness box on Monday, the player denied throttling the woman.
Kibirige said that, after they had sex, he left as he had to get to sleep because he had training the next morning.
"I don't think she was best pleased," he told the jury.
"She said 'Are you not going to stay and cuddle for a while and watch the end of the film?'"
Driving home, he received messages from the complainant saying what had happened was "not OK".
Nicholas Lumley QC, defending, asked Kibirige: "Did you think for one moment you had done anything wrong?"
The 5ft 10in defendant replied: "Absolutely not."
That night he received a message from one of the complainant's friends accusing him of rape.
He did not reply, explaining: "I couldn't see any good coming out of it."
Mr Kibirige's girlfriend, Samantha Whatmore, whom he started dating after the rape allegation was made, gave evidence to say he was not aggressive and had never made her do anything she did not want to do.
More to follow