Jurors in the trial of Manchester City footballer Benjamin Mendy have been told to end his “absolute hell” and acquit him of rape.
Eleanor Laws KC, defending the 28-year-old Premier League player, said his life in football “was over”, but that none of the claims of sexual abuse by six women were reliable.
Ms Laws, in her closing speech to the jury following three months of evidence at Chester Crown Court, said claims Mendy is a “predator” who used his fame to attack women – with the prosecution comparing him to Jimmy Savile, were “utterly ridiculous”.
Ms Laws said: “He’s not the kind of character to deliberately harm anyone under any circumstances.
“If you are not sure he’s a predatory monster, he’s entitled to acquittal. It is one word against another.
“His life as he knew it is over, in football, in the UK – these accusations, he will never escape.
“Look up Ched Evans, men who have been falsely accused, they never escape them.
“Look up what’s happened since. Please just focus on the evidence and if you are not sure about these counts, please use common sense and bring an end to this absolute hell.”
Ms Laws also told jurors there will be “pressure on you” with “headlines” and people who may “chip in” having read about the case but not seen witnesses tell “lie after lie” in court.
She called on jurors to have “courage and conviction” when considering their verdicts.
After Ms Laws’ closing speech, jurors were brought back into court by Judge Steven Everett who said he wanted to say “a few things” about Ms Laws’ closing speech.
Judge Everett said Jimmy Savile had “nothing whatsoever” to do with this case, as prosecutors had suggested.
He also said he hoped jurors would not feel “pressured or people will be chipping in”.
He added: “If you think there’s pressure on you, put it to one side.
“Where it is suggested there is a weight of expectation, that’s something I do not agree with.
“Some of you may remember the case of Ched Evans. It’s got nothing whatsoever to do with this case. So, I don’t want you to look up Ched Evans, because you are doing something I asked you not to do, look at social media.”
Prosecutors claim Mendy lured young women into “toxic and dangerous” situations where they were raped and sexually assaulted at a flat he rented in Manchester city centre, and his home, The Spinney, in Mottram St Andrew in the Cheshire countryside, used for “after-parties” including regular lockdown-busting gatherings.
Louis Saha Matturie, 41, is alleged to have been the “fixer” to get girls back to the parties after nights spent drinking in VIP lounges at Manchester nightclubs.
Both defendants say any sex with women was consensual.
Mendy denies seven counts of rape, one count of attempted rape and one count of sexual assault against six young women.
Matturie, of Eccles, Salford, denies six counts of rape and three counts of sexual assault relating to seven young women.
The trial was adjourned until Monday morning.