‘I am not a rapist,’ footballer tells jury
SWINDON Town striker Nile Ranger yesterday told a jury he has never had sex with a woman against her will.
But the 22-year-old ex-Newcastle United player, who denies raping a woman in a hotel, said he had quite a few one-night stands.
Ranger, who has a hamstring injury, sat down to give evidence at Newcastle Crown Court.
He 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, asked his client: “Have you ever had sexual activity with a female against her wishes?”
Ranger replied: “Never.”
The woman alleged she was raped at the Carlton Hotel in the Jesmond area of Newcastle 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 allegedly told her she should take the morning after pill.
After she left the hotel, they continued to swap messages throughout the day, the court heard.
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,” said Ranger. “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.
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, he said.
“We were doing blow-backs. Basically it was like kissing. 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.”
The case continues