Neville Neville found not guilty of sexual assault
Neville Neville leaving Bolton Crown Court after he was found not guilty today. Dave Thompson/PA Wire
The father of football stars Gary and Phil Neville has been cleared of sexually assaulting a woman in a car just yards from his home.
Neville Neville, aged 64, of Larkfield Close, Greenmount, was found not guilty by a jury at Bolton Crown Court today.
The jury took just under 75 minutes to reach a unanimous verdict.
Mr Neville bowed his head as the woman foreman delivered the verdict, then breathed a sigh of relief and looked upwards before he mouthed "Thank you" in the direction of the jury.
After he was told he could leave the dock, he stepped out and hugged his legal team.
Neville’s sons, Gary and Phil, were in court when their father was cleared.
Asked for a comment outside the courtroom, Neville said: "I can't say anything right now. Maybe later."
His son, Gary, who cried as the verdict was delivered, stepped in and said: "Dad, come on. He won't be saying anything."
Mr Neville was accused of sexually assaulting a woman in her 40s after a night out in Greenmount on March 23, when the woman had offered him a lift home because it was snowing.
The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said Neville had drunkenly kissed her in a “forceful” way, and put his hands up her shirt and down her trousers.
Mr Neville accepted the woman's physical account of events, but he said that the “sexual encounter” was consensual, which the woman denied.
The woman told the court: “If it was consensual why did I go home, why didn’t I take him home? Why did I take him home to his wife? Why? Because it wasn’t consensual. He forced himself on me.”
Mr Neville, a former Bury FC director, had told the court that he “did not imagine for one moment” that the woman would make a complaint against him after the incident.
On Wednesday, Mr Neville’s son Gary, the former Manchester United captain, appeared as a character witness, and told of the impact the incident has had on his father’s marriage.
Gary Neville said: “They are broken. I have gone round for my tea every Thursday and have gone out for a meal at a Chinese restaurant every Friday.
“They are vacant. They just disappear when we are together. It has ripped the soul out of their marriage. He has made a big mistake.”
Mr Neville admitted to the court that he had made a “major error”.
He added: "I have got the most wonderful family in the world and I made a major error. You cannot even say it was a mistake because I knew what I was doing.”