Rape trial footballer: ‘Allegations cost me Leeds United contract’

Simon Lenighan. Picture: Ross Parry AgencySimon Lenighan. Picture: Ross Parry Agency
Simon Lenighan. Picture: Ross Parry Agency
A footballer told a jury his contract with Leeds United had been terminated after being accused of rape.

Simon Lenighan, 20, was a youth player at the Elland Road club when he is alleged to have raped a young woman in a hotel room along with another man who filmed the alleged sexual attack.

Lenighan and Nathan Campbell, 24, are accused of carrying out the rape in a room at the Etap hotel in Leeds city centre after night out in August 2012.

Both deny the charges, claiming the woman consented to sex.

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Lenighan, who now plays for Harrogate Town, gave evidence at the trial at Doncaster Crown Court.

He told the jury he was a member of Leeds United’s Under 18s squad at the time of the alleged incident.

Asked by his barrister, Lisa Judge, why he was no longer playing for Leeds, Lenighan replied: “Since all this happened, my contract got terminated.”

When asked who he was now playing for, he replied: “Just my local team.”

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Lenighan told the court that he knew the woman, describing her as a “friend he had sex with.”

The footballer said he had met with her on previous occasions and they had had consensual sex.

The court heard Lenighan had seen the girl earlier in the evening in Tiger Tiger bar in Leeds, where he also met Campbell for the first time.

Lenighan said he had initially believed Campbell when he had lied to him about being a professional footballer.

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The two men left the bar and went to a McDonalds restaurant before going to the hotel with the woman.

Lenighan described how he felt “excited” when the conversation between the three of them became sexual on the way to the hotel.

The footballer admitted to texting friends, including Leeds United first team player Davide Somma, that he was going “twos” on a girl shortly before going into the hotel room.

Lenighan said: “At that time I was showing off to be honest.”

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Ms Judge asked: “Do you think that was appropriate?” He replied: “I was being stupid. (Somma) was someone I looked up to at the time. I thought it was cool.”

The barrister then asked: “Do you think that now?” Lenighan replied: “Certainly not no.”

Lenighan described how he ran from the room when Campbell began filming the woman because he did not feel “comfortable” with it.

Ms Judge asked: “What would you do if someone had behaved in that manner to your sister?” The footballer replied: “I would be furious.”

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The barrister continued: “Why did you not man up and get back in that bedroom and stop what was occurring?”

Lenighan replied: “I wasn’t thinking straight.” He added: “I was a coward.”

Earlier, during cross-examination from prosecutor Andrew Haslam, Campbell told the court the woman had given “100 per cent consent” to having sex with himself and Lenighan. He said: “She was an active and willing participant.”

The trial has heard the alleged victim was naked and alone when she was woken up by a chambermaid the next day.

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Her mobile phone and money were missing and she alerted police who found video footage on Campbell’s mobile phone.

The prosecution say that the woman was so drunk she could not give meaningful and proper consent.

Lenighan, of Harrogate, denies three charges of rape and one of perverting the course of justice.

Campbell, of Bradford, denies three charges of rape and one of perverting the course of justice.

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