Sunday 25 February 2018

Footballer Neville cries in court as father is cleared of sexual assault

Neville Neville
Neville Neville
Gary Neville
Phil Neville

Kim Pilling

The father of former Manchester United and England footballers Gary and Phil Neville has been cleared of sexually assaulting a woman.

Neville Neville (64) admitted he engaged in sexual activity with the middle-aged complainant in her car just 20 yards from his house but said it was consensual.

The woman told a jury at Bolton Crown Court that Mr Neville drunkenly forced himself upon her.

After hearing the verdict, Mr Neville breathed a sigh of relief and looked upwards before he mouthed "Thank you" in the direction of the jury.

Asked for a comment outside the courtroom, Mr Neville said: "I can't say anything right now. Maybe later."

His son, Gary, who cried as the verdict was delivered, stepped in and said: "Dad, come on. He won't be saying anything."

The incident took place in the early hours of March 23 in Mr Neville's home town of Bury, Greater Manchester, following a night out. He said that as the complainant parked her car near his home he leant over and said: "Give us a kiss, sweetheart."

He said he was expecting to kiss her on the cheek but she turned her head, their lips locked and it turned into a "passionate kiss".

Mr Neville said the woman responded enthusiastically and sexual activity carried on until he asked if she wanted full sex and she said: "Don't be silly."

The woman told police later the same day that the former Bury Football Club director had drunkenly forced himself upon her and she had frozen as he stuck his tongue down her throat, groped her, licked her face and then put his hands down her trousers.

Mr Neville voluntarily went to his local police station the following day and gave his version of events without wanting a solicitor.

At the end of the interview, when he was told about the nature of the complaint, he requested a phone call to his wife, Jill, club secretary with Bury FC, who was given the freedom of the town last year.

Gary and Phil Neville sat in court throughout the trial to support their father. Yesterday, an emotional Gary Neville went into the witness box to defend his father's reputation.

He revealed that his parents were "broken" and the soul of their marriage had been "ripped up" as, close to tears, he added that he did not want his mother to be called to give evidence.

Gary Neville said of his father: "I could never say a bad word about him. He is a human being, he has made mistakes but nothing like this.

"It is so completely removed from the existence I have had in my life and for the whole of the family. We have never had anything like this at all."

He said he would go to his parents for tea every week but said they were now "vacant".

"They disappear when they are together," he said. "It's ripped the soul out of the marriage.

"My mum stands by him because she believes in him 100pc. He has made a big mistake."

Irish Independent

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