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Woman 'not awestruck by Neville'

A woman who says she was sexually assaulted by the father of former Manchester United footballers Gary and Phil Neville has denied she was "awestruck" by him.

The alleged victim said Neville Neville, 64, drunkenly forced himself upon her after she gave him a lift home following a night out in his home town of Bury, Greater Manchester.

A jury at Bolton Crown Court has heard that Neville claims the encounter was consensual after they shared a "passionate" kiss as he went to leave her car.

The incident took place in the early hours of March 23 when the middle-aged woman offered Neville a lift because of the snowy weather.

Giving evidence, the woman, who is a Manchester United supporter, said she knew the defendant but not on a personal level.

Orlando Pownall QC, cross-examining, suggested to her that, like it or not, his client was "a bit of a celebrity in the area".

"His children are well-known and as a result he is well-known," he said to her.

She replied: "He is not a celebrity.

"I just said he is an upstanding member of the community because of what he had done for Bury Football Club. He saved Bury Football Club. That to me was good."

She said she agreed that what happened was unexpected and that neither had been flirtatious beforehand.

Mr Pownall said: "Mr Neville does not have a reputation for lunging at women, does he?"

The witness said: "Neither did Stuart Hall."

The barrister said as she had mentioned Hall, he noted that not one person had come forward to make a similar complaint as a result of the publicity of his client's arrest.

She said: "Do you blame them? Look at this (gesturing to the courtroom). Look at what am I going through. People are frightened, I am so frightened. I am telling the truth."

Neville denies sexual assault.

The woman said she told Neville to "stop it" twice at the end of the alleged assault but did not say "no"

to him at any point.

"I was stiff, I was stiff," she said. "It was like my body was saying it was not consensual, this.

"I was stiff. That is 'no' without saying 'no'.

"When someone pounds on you, you freeze."

She agreed with Mr Pownall that she had considered herself a confident person.

The barrister said: "There is no reason why Mr Neville would see you as a vulnerable reason."

Raising her voice, she said: "Course he knew. Because he pounded on me. He took me and he should not have done it. That is how he knows."

She continued: "I took him home to his wife and he pounded on me. That is the truth."

Mr Pownall said: "I am going to suggest to you that you made a number of mistakes. You have rewritten events."

She said: "No."

Mr Pownall continued: "He said 'Thank you for the lift', leant over and said 'Give us a kiss, sweetheart'."

The witness replied: "Do you think that is the truth? That is absolute lies."

He said: "There was a kiss."

She said: "No, there was not a kiss for me. He pounded on me."

Mr Pownall said: "He kissed you on the lips and your mouth was open."

She said: "No, because his tongue was down my throat. He pinned me to the seat. You don't really have a choice.

"I did not kiss Neville Neville. I honestly didn't."

The woman said her only concern was to get "an old man" home.

She denied she could have easily got out of her car during the alleged assault or raised the alarm in a quiet residential area.

Mr Pownall said she came up with her version of events after regretting the consensual sexual activity.

"Look at me," she addressed the jury. "Look at him. Would I go with that man? Do you think I would let that man do that to me?

"I'm worth more than that. I would never let an old man like that do that to me."

Mr Pownall said: "This is about your pride. You are an attractive lady who would not be seen dead with an 'old man' like Neville Neville and you would not want the public to know that."

She denied the suggestion.

The barrister said: "The truth is, although you both regret it, that you did raise yourself up and facilitated what he was doing."

"No, I gave him a lift home," she answered.

"If it was consensual why didn't I take him home? I had an empty house."

She denied she had been aroused during the incident and said: "I have done nothing wrong. He attacked me."

Mr Pownall said: "All you have done wrong is after the event you have convinced yourself that it was other than it really was."

He suggested that at one point she said to him: "Is it just sex then?"

And he replied: "Is it 'eck."

She said she did not say that.

She said Neville looked towards the back seat after sexually assaulting her.

"That fuelled fear," she said. "I thought he was going to rape me."

Mr Pownall said: "I am going to suggest that Neville Neville is the sort of person that, if he had done something stupid, would have said sorry there and then.

"Did he say sorry?"

"No," she said.

Gary Neville was among those in the public gallery as the witness was cross-examined.

Mr Pownall said Neville got out of the car and his last words to the woman in effect were: "It's going to be pretty embarassing when we see one another."

"That is an absolute pack of lies," she said.

The barrister said: "And that set you thinking 'What is going to happen?' - because your reputation means a lot to you."

"It does," she said.

"You were concerned it was a taint on your reputation.

"What occurred at that time was an agreement between two adults."

The alleged victim told a friend about the incident before going to the police.

Giving evidence, her friend said: "She said 'You won't believe what happened to me last night - I was virtually raped'.

"She said 'It was Neville Neville. I gave him a lift home in my car."

She urged the woman to go the police but she said: "I can't. It's Neville Neville. It's who he is. The press will be involved."

"I said 'You have got to do the right thing'," the witness told the jury. "'You have done nothing wrong'."

Mr Pownall asked her if she agreed that she was "pretty influential" in the alleged victim going to the police.

"Without you she might not have gone?" he said.

"She would have gone herself," she replied, "but she was terribly shocked. I encouraged her to do the right thing.

"I said we have laws in this country and what he has done is against the law."


From Belfast Telegraph