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Footballer cleared of rape condemns anonymity granted to accuser

Published 06/05/2016

Ex-Sunderland footballer Cabral, whose real name is Adilson Tavares Varela, has been cleared of raping a woman he met in a nightclub
Ex-Sunderland footballer Cabral, whose real name is Adilson Tavares Varela, has been cleared of raping a woman he met in a nightclub

A former Premier League player cleared of raping a woman filmed in bed with footballers days before taking the stand has criticised the anonymity granted to his accuser.

Cabral, an ex-Sunderland footballer whose real name is Adilson Tavares Varela, was cleared of two counts of rape by jurors shown footage of the woman in bed with the two Newcastle players after a night out.

The woman, 22, who cannot be named, claimed the Cape Verde-born midfielder had pinned her down and raped her after they met in a nightclub in January 2015.

Varela, 27, insisted the pair had consensual sex after going back to his flat with friends and was acquitted by jurors at Hull Crown Court after 75 minutes of deliberation.

Judge Jeremy Richardson QC referred to it as a "weak case", although stressed he was not critical of the Crown Prosecution Service as the case required trial by jury.

However the footballer said he felt it was unfair that the woman was able to continue living frivolously while his reputation was put on the line.

Speaking outside court, he said: "I think in England more than anywhere it's too easy for a girl to do something like this. She lied all about me but she had nothing. I go in the press, I'm accused of rape, but she has nothing, you can see in the courts she lived normally, she go out, she go drink, she go party, go to after-party, life was normal for her.

"I think you need to do something about this because it's too easy for a girl to say someone raped you, that is not sure, but their life keeps going."

The complainant, who cannot be named, was accused of having a liking for and seeking out black footballers after the footage emerged.

Jurors heard how the woman had returned to a Newcastle flat shared by footballers Kevin Mbabu, Rolando Aarons and Ivan Toney after a night out in the city just days before she was due to give evidence.

Mbabu told the court the footage showed himself, Aarons, the woman and her friend in his bed.

She and her friend had joined the men at his flat for an after-party and, when he woke up in the morning, they were in bed with him and Aarons, he said.

The complainant admitted knowing a series of players but denied having sex with all but one, with whom she had a longer relationship.

Giving evidence, Varela told the jury of five men and seven women that the woman was a liar.

He said: "I never raped her, I was not aggressive towards her."

Varela, who now plays for Swiss team FC Zurich, said after his acquittal that he was happy the case was over and he can focus on playing football, although the victory was a bitter one.

"You never feel good when some girl lies and say you rape her," he said outside the courtroom.

"Now everybody knows about your life because it goes in the press for everyone. You don't feel good.

"I was really angry for my family, for my friends, for this because everybody think 'You rape girls', 'you are a rapist'.

"Now the real story goes out. I am not guilty because all the people can see that what she said in the court all the time was a lie, not true."

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