WOMAN GRABBED ME, SAYS RAPE ACCUSED
One of two footballers accused of raping a woman at a hotel told a jury on Tuesday that he never forced her to have sex.
Port Vale defender Clayton McDonald, 23, and Wales and Sheffield United striker Ched Evans, also 23, deny the alleged attack on the 19-year-old complainant at a North Wales hotel in May last year.
The woman told police she has no memory of the incident and the prosecution says she was too drunk to consent to sexual intercourse.
Giving evidence at Caernarfon Crown Court, McDonald, of Marys Gate, Crewe, Cheshire, said he met the complainant in the street following a night out with childhood friend Evans, of Ashtree Gardens, Millhouse Green, Penistone, South Yorkshire.
He said Evans, whose mother lives in Rhyl, had invited him and others for a bank holiday night out in the seaside town on May 29.
But because there was not enough space at Evans' mother's house, the Sheffield United star had booked him into a Premier Inn hotel nearby.
After visiting a number of bars, the group ended up at a takeaway where there was a disturbance and McDonald, who described himself as "a little bit drunk", decided to head for a taxi back to his hotel.
He said: "I got to a corner and turned around and saw a girl walk up to me.
"I said 'Hiya, where are you going?' and she said 'Where are you going?'
"I said I was going to my hotel and she said 'I'm coming with you'."
Asked by Lloyd Morgan, defending, how the complainant appeared, the footballer said she was "walking fine", holding a pizza box, and he was able to understand what she was saying.
"She was coming across very clear," he added.
After flagging down a taxi, he said the woman got into the back of the car but the driver told her she could only have food in the front so she got out of the vehicle and moved into the front passenger seat and he sat in the back alone.
During the drive to the hotel, McDonald said he asked her name, where her friends were and if she had had a good night, and she replied to all his questions.
He also said he sent a text message to Evans saying he had "met a girl".
At the hotel, he said they walked in "linking arms" and went to his room where they sat on the bed and she immediately began touching his genitals.
"I opened the door to room 14 and she walked in and put the pizza box on the side and sat on the bed," she said.
"I sat next to her and that's when she grabbed me."
Asked by Mr Morgan if he had forced her to do anything, the defendant replied "No".
"Was anything said between you?" the barrister asked.
McDonald replied: "No. I was in shock that she grabbed me, to be fair."
McDonald said the woman started undressing and he helped undo a couple of her buttons and then took his T-shirt off as she removed her own clothes.
They then began having sex and he said she was "moaning and groaning like she was enjoying herself".
Responding to questions from Mr Morgan, the footballer said the woman was awake throughout the sexual activity and was requesting he perform a sex act.
After about 10 minutes he noticed something at the window of the ground-floor room so got up to close the curtains.
The jury was earlier told that, as the incident took place, Jack Higgins, an "associate" of the footballers, and Ryan Roberts, Evans's brother, had watched through a window.
Video recordings found on Mr Higgins' phone showed he had been filming or trying to film the incident.
McDonald told the jury he noticed "two lads" at the window and it was Mr Higgins and Mr Roberts.
He added: "So I went to close the curtains and then I noticed that Ched had come into the room."
He said the woman also saw Evans, who then asked to "join in".
"I asked her 'Can he join in?' and she said 'Yes'," he said.
He said he then got off the bed and put his T-shirt back on as the woman asked Evans to perform a sex act.
McDonald said he watched Evans and the woman "for a little bit" and described her as "generally enjoying herself".
He then said he went to the bathroom and decided to leave.
"There was no point me being there. It's not really my thing to watch," he added.
He said he said "See you later" to Evans and the woman then went to ask the receptionist at the hotel to ensure she got home OK.
"She never had a handbag or a phone and I knew she wouldn't be able to phone anyone to come and get her," he added.
He met Evans outside the hotel and the pair walked back to his mother's house.
Asked again by Mr Morgan if he had forced the complainant to have sex, McDonald replied: "No."
"Was she awake?" the barrister went on.
"Yes," the footballer replied.
Mr Morgan said: "Was she able to speak and move about by herself?"
McDonald said: "Yes."
McDonald, wearing a blue suit, white shirt and grey tie, told the jury he met Evans when they were aged about 10 and part of the Manchester City youth academy.
During this time they shared digs in Manchester for around 10 years and became "very good friends", he said.
He added that they spoke often on the phone and socialised regularly and took holidays together.
He said by May last year he had been released by Walsall following a shoulder injury and he had undergone an operation on it several weeks before the incident.
The injury made some movements, such as removing his T-shirt, difficult, he added.
On the night of the alleged attack he had been drinking Jack Daniels and Coke and "a few" Jagerbomb cocktails.
In cross-examination by the prosecution, McDonald was shown CCTV footage which showed the complainant falling over in a kebab shop in his and Evans' presence.
After suffering the "spectacular fall", Evans appeared to step over the woman and shout towards McDonald and a third footballer and friend, Javan Vidal.
In the footage, McDonald was seen looking towards the woman after she fell, but he denied Evans had shouted anything towards him.
Further CCTV images showed the complainant apparently staggering from side to side as she approached McDonald from behind.
John Philpotts, prosecuting, asked McDonald: "Do you agree that her movements are not those of a normal person?
"I am not suggesting you saw that on the night, but if you had found that young woman moving in that way would it have sent alarm bells ringing?"
McDonald replied: "I would not have been worried at all, maybe it was due to the fact she had got high heels on."
Mr Philpotts asked McDonald if he understood the expression "on a mission".
He said: "As soon as you saw that girl, that was you, wasn't it? You were on a mission to take her back to that hotel."
McDonald replied: "No, I was not on a mission.
"It was not a situation where I needed to go out and get a girl, the situation just arose."
McDonald denied he had been planning on group sex that night, but admitted he and Evans had engaged in a threesome together in the past.
The barrister asked the defendant what he expected to happen at the hotel.
McDonald replied: "I didn't have anything in mind. Whatever happened would happen."
The prosecutor asked: "You expected to have sex, didn't you?"
The defendant said: "Not particularly. If the girl got back to the hotel then wanted to go home, she could go home."
Mr Philpotts put it to him: "Within 15 minutes of clapping eyes on this girl it was firmly in your mind that you were going to have sex with her."
McDonald responded: "If she didn't want sex, we wouldn't have sex.
"I was just seeing what would happen.
"I wasn't expecting it, but I thought it might happen."
The barrister asked: "What conversation did you have to establish she wanted to have sex with you?"
The footballer said he did not want to discuss sex in the presence of the taxi driver but reminded the court he had talked to her during the journey and she had "clearly" replied to his questions.
Mr Philpotts asked what would have been wrong with McDonald saying 'Are we on for some fun?', or words to that effect.
McDonald said his mind "wasn't fixed on having sex with her".
"I just didn't use those words," he added.
The barrister asked McDonald if he knew how the alleged victim felt about the men at the window, trying to film the incident.
"Was she aware of the lads at the window?" he asked.
The defendant said he was not "100% sure" she was aware and could not remember if she showed any reaction.
"You and Mr Evans were using her for your own sexual gratification, weren't you?" Mr Philpotts asked.
"Not really, because she was asking us to do different things and moving to different positions," the footballer replied.
McDonald denied the prosecution's suggestion that he left the room because "it had dawned on him what they had done".
"I felt I had done nothing wrong," he said.
"I felt she was enjoying herself."
Mr Philpotts asked McDonald if he had told reception to look out for the woman because he "felt sorry" for her.
"Not in any way, shape or form did I think I had done anything wrong with the girl," he replied.
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