NILE RANGER TRIAL: Swindon striker tells court he has "never" had sex with a woman against her will (From This Is Wiltshire)
NILE RANGER TRIAL: Swindon striker tells court he has "never" had sex with a woman against her will
SWINDON Town striker Nile Ranger who is accused of raping a woman in a hotel told a jury he has "never" had sex with a woman against her will.
The 22-year-old former Newcastle United player admitted he had "quite a few" one-night stands after he broke into the first team.
Ranger, who is currently nursing a hamstring injury which meant he sat down to give evidence at Newcastle Crown Court, denied raping the woman he had been messaging over three to four months last January, insisting they had consensual sex twice.
Toby Hedworth QC, defending, listed Ranger's previous convictions which include burglary, handling stolen goods and robbery when he was a teenager growing up in north London.
His offences continued after he signed for Newcastle United and he was sentenced for drink driving in November 2011, drunk and disorderly, scuffling with two police officers on another night out, and battery when he pulled his then girlfriend's hair last year, Mr Hedworth said.
His barrister then asked: "Have you ever had sexual activity with a female against her wishes?"
Ranger replied: "Never."
The woman alleged she was raped in the Carlton Hotel, Jesmond, after agreeing to meet the footballer in a city centre bar.
She said she could not remember anything until she woke up naked in the hotel room the next morning. Ranger told her she should take the morning after pill and she left, and they continued to swap messages that day.
She then visited her GP, was checked at hospital and made a rape allegation to police.
After Ranger was arrested, his solicitor gave police a hand-written statement in which he said they got drunk, went to the hotel and had sex twice in "various positions", the jury heard.
In a second police interview the player revealed he paid £30 for the room, which was half-price because he was friends with the manager.
He told detectives he helped the woman get up in the road outside the hotel after she dropped her handbag, rubbed her back and comforted her.
In the interview he said: "I'm a gentleman yer kna (you know), I'm rubbing her back, making sure she's all right, holding her."
The next morning Ranger took a photograph of the hotel sheets with the room key on the bed, but he deleted the image after he was arrested, the court heard.
Asked by Mr Hedworth how he now felt about taking the picture, he told the court: "It was wrong, but at the time I was not thinking."
Asked why he took it, Ranger replied: "I haven't a clue, to be honest."
Mr Hedworth asked why he deleted the picture of the sheets, which experts were able to retrieve.
Ranger replied: "I knew the picture was wrong. I knew it did not look right."
He said the rape arrest was a factor in his contract ending on Tyneside.
"To be honest, with Newcastle I was getting in a bit of bother, lateness and stuff," he said.
"It was like a ticking time-bomb with the whole rape allegation. It affected me."
On the day of his arrest he was packing to move on loan to Hull City - then third in the Championship and chasing promotion to the Premier League, he said.
"I was getting no love or first-team action with Newcastle," he said. "I was literally packing my things on the day of my arrest. Once I got arrested, the next day it was all over the press."
Ranger told the jury the loan move to Hull fell through.
"With football and a lot of things, it put a pause on a lot of things," he said.
His contract at Newcastle United was terminated in due course, the jury heard. Since then he has signed for Swindon Town and started scoring goals again until injury struck.
During the evening out, Ranger said the woman's dancing with him was sexual.
The pair smoked "shisha pens" - which contain flavoured smoke - in the Tup Tup bar, he said.
"We were doing blow-backs. Basically it was like kissing," he said.
"She seemed cool with that as well."
They agreed to leave and got a taxi to the hotel, he recalled.
There, they had consensual sex, Ranger said, during which she was "active".
Asked how he felt to be arrested for rape, Ranger said: "I was shocked. I know I'm not a rapist. I was very shocked by that."