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Ex-All Black Mils Muliaina tells of court hell after case dropped

Published 19/10/2015

Mils Muliaina has been cleared of sexual assault
Mils Muliaina has been cleared of sexual assault

Former New Zealand rugby union international Mils Muliaina has lifted the lid on his seven-month court hell after being wrongly accused of groping a woman.

The All Blacks legend was today cleared of grabbing a 19-year-old's bottom, which was alleged to have happened on the dancefloor of a busy Cardiff nightclub.

He was later arrested by police moments after a cup match before being charged with sexual assault.

A judge heard the decision to prosecute the World Cup winner was "outrageous" and his legal team said the mistaken identity case should never have come to court.

The Crown Prosecution Service decided to discontinue proceedings after deciding there was not enough evidence.

Muliaina, who has won 100 international caps, said he was pleased proceedings were now over.

But he told reporters the events of the past few months had been very difficult for him.

He said: "It's been incredibly frustrating not to be able to publicly comment about it.

"While I understand the police have a job to do, the manner in which I was arrested I find difficult to understand.

"I can still hold my head up high and, as the judge said, this is no stain on my character. I have always known that I did not do anything wrong.

"I don't even know the woman and I don't know what happened, but I wasn't the person who had done what she said had happened."

The police investigation began in March after a woman complained she had been groped while on a night out in the Welsh capital.

Muliaina, who was playing for Irish side Connacht at the time, had been in Cardiff playing in a league match against Cardiff Blues.

The following month, TV cameras showed Muliaina being led away by police following a European Challenge Cup quarter-final tie in Gloucester.

From the outset, Muliaina denied any wrongdoing and his legal team said Muliaina would be pleading not guilty when given the chance.

However, the case never got to the plea stage after the Crown decided not to pursue matters any further.

Defending counsel John Charles Rees QC said the prosecution case had been "wholly defective".

He told Judge Eleri Rees: "My client is a professional athlete whose reputation has been reduced while the complainant remains anonymous.

"The allegation was that her bottom had been fleetingly touched on a busy nightclub dancefloor.

"He has denied doing anything wrong from beginning to end."

Speaking outside to reporters afterwards, an emotional Muliaina - who now plays for Italian side Zebre - thanked his family, friends and fans for their support.

He added: "When I first found out the charges were going to be withdrawn I instantly thought of my son - he should have never have had to go through this.

"I'm looking forward to going back home and spending some time with him and wishing him a happy birthday."

Muliaina's solicitor, Matthew De Maid, said the defence would be applying for costs in the case.

During his international career, Muliaina scored 33 tries in his 100 appearances and was part of the New Zealand side that won the Rugby World Cup in 2011, along with claiming the Tri-Nations crown on six occasions.

Muliaina left Connacht at the end of last season, and has since agreed a deal to play for Italian side Zebre, although he is yet to make his debut for the club.

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