Neville Neville's alleged sex assault 'was a bit Mills and Boon'
Updated 5:08pm Thursday 19th December 2013 in News
NEVILLE Neville's encounter with his alleged sexual assault victim was "a bit Mills and Boon", a court heard.
The father of former England footballers Gary and Phil Neville, from Bury, has admitted that he "imperilled his marriage and his children's affections, trust and respect", but is not guilty of sexual assault, his defence lawyer has told a jury.
Neville, aged 64, is said to have drunkenly forced himself on a woman in her car 20 yards from his home, but the defendant claims the sexual encounter was consensual.
The jury of eight women and four men listened to closing speeches from prosecution and defence counsel at Bolton Crown Court, along with Neville's two sons and his daughter, netball international Tracey, in the public gallery.
The incident took place in Greenmount in the early hours of March 23, when the middle-aged complainant offered Neville a lift home in bad weather.
Peter Cadwallader, prosecuting, said the case was not about "precision of recollection" but about who is telling the truth.
"Nothing seriously has been suggested to you about why (the alleged victim) should tell a pack of lies.
"Nothing has been put forward by the defence as to why she should lie about it. Has she really put herself through the ordeal of this trial on the back of a pack of lies?" he said.
"There can hardly be anyone in this country who has not read a newspaper or watched television over the last few years who does not know that is very likely to be a traumatic ordeal to give evidence when one is alleged to be the victim of a sexual crime.
"If she had this consensual liaison with the defendant and then afterwards regrets it, or is even ashamed of it, the last thing she is going to do is to be talking about it.
"Is it not a remarkable coincidence that neither of them had any sexual interest in one another up until that very moment and suddenly in an instant without any preamble at all they both fall into each other's arms. A bit Mills and Boon that, isn't it?"
The Crown suggests that once Neville started kissing her, he could not stop and lost his self-control, Mr Cadwallader said.
A combination of alcohol, opportunity and the fact that he fancied her led to him committing the offence, he said.
It is alleged Neville lunged at her, thrust his tongue down her throat, put his hand up her shirt and grabbed her breast.
The complainant then says he placed his hand down her trousers and sexually assaulted her.
Orlando Pownall QC, defending, told the jury: "There is nothing Mills and Boon about it. It is squalid whichever way one looks at the facts.
"Most, if not all, of the evidence given involves details of events that are seldom talked about in private, yet alone aired in public."
It would be natural to feel sympathy for the alleged victim but feel limited sympathy for his client, he said.
"Mr Neville, upon his own admission, did something he should never have done," the barrister said.
"Sympathy for the Neville family and, in particular, his wife (Jill). Sympathy wherever it lies will play no part in your deliberations. For a true verdict is a dispassionate one."
Gary Neville was not called to give evidence because of his "celebrity status", he said.
"It simply is this. He was a son, no more or less, called on behalf of his father to give in brief an account of his experience of his father," Mr Pownall said.
He asked the jury to disregard the alleged victim's comparison of Neville to Stuart Hall when it was put to her that no one else had ever made a similar complaint about the defendant.
"Contrast that with the present case," he said. "Not one other complaint. Not one other communication, false or otherwise, to suggest that this defendant has been involved in any similar activity before and he accepts, from the word go, he had kissed and intimately touched (the alleged victim)."
He asked the jury to consider whether it is the case that the complainant bitterly regretted her actions on the night and maybe convinced herself that it was without her consent.
"This defendant has done wrong. He should never have kissed (the alleged victim). In doing so he imperilled his marriage and his children's affections, trust and respect, and he is going to have to live with that.
"But on a fair assessment of the evidence heard, he is not guilty of the allegation made," Mr Pownall said.
The jury is expected to be sent out to consider its verdicts later.