Neville father's 'drunken assault'

Witney Gazette: Neville Neville denies a single sex assault charge Neville Neville denies a single sex assault charge

A woman has claimed the father of England footballers Gary and Phil Neville sexually assaulted her in her car and said: "I like the chase".

The alleged victim said Neville Neville, 63, drunkenly forced himself upon her after she gave him a lift home following a night out in his home town of Bury, Greater Manchester.

He was said to have lunged at her as he thrust his tongue down her throat before he put his hand up her shirt and grabbed her breast.

The middle-aged woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, then alleges that Neville placed his hands down her trousers, pushed her thighs apart and put his "big fat" hands inside her underwear.

But a jury at Bolton Crown Court heard the defendant later told police that the sexual encounter was consensual and progressed after they shared a "passionate" kiss as he went to leave the vehicle.

His sons sat in the public gallery as the case against their father was outlined by Crown prosecutor Peter Cadwallader.

The alleged victim later came into court to give evidence from the witness box where she swore the oath.

The woman turned to Neville in the dock as she concluded the vow by stating: "And nothing but the truth."

The incident took place in the early hours of March 23 when the woman offered Neville a lift home because of the snowy weather, she said in a video of her police interview which was played to the jury of eight women and four men.

She thought she was doing him a favour but now felt he had "abused that kindness".

She said: "I feel cheap. I have never been made to feel like that in my life."

Describing the moments before the alleged sexual assault, she said Neville told her to pull over.

"He said 'Turn the engine off' and I just did it. He took his seatbelt off. I didn't take mine off."

She then spoke of how he "pounded" on her.

"He forced his head on me," she said. "It was a really forceful kiss. His tongue, like, forced down my throat. I had never been in a situation like that, especially with someone I knew."

She said she initially thought she would be blamed for what had happened for not pushing him off.

"I just froze," she said, "My whole body froze. I could not speak. I just panicked. Normally I am a confident person but I just froze.

"He forced himself on me totally. His hand up the side of my shirt, inside my bra. He grabbed hold of me but at the same time forcing me down with his face. He is a very, very big man. That was stopping me moving.

"He went down my trousers... he forced my legs apart and he was trying to rip my trousers off.

"I said 'Stop what you are doing'. I didn't say 'No'.

"I said 'You are a married man, are you not happy?' and he said 'I'm very happy'.

"I said 'What are you doing?' and he said 'I like the chase'."

The alleged victim told the interviewer that she tried to rationalise with Neville.

"I thought to myself 'I need to get him out of the car'," she said. She said the car was too small to which Neville replied 'let's go back to yours'.

'I said to him 'no, you have drank too much, you need to get home'.

She said he then got out of the car. "He said something but I can't remember what," she said.

"I just remember him standing up, getting out of the car and me pressing the button to lock the door, and I just drove off.

"I sobbed all the way home. Just shocked. I didn't know what to do. I went home and I just sat there trying to think.

"I thought that it was my fault because I didn't push him off me. I thought no-one would believe me. He is an upstanding member of the community."

She said she could tell Neville was drunk but "not bladdered".

Asked to detail her description of being "pounded", she said: "He like jumped on me. He just turned on me. I just didn't expect that."

She said his build was "massive", "fat" "very tall" and "very stocky".

The officer asked her if she had said 'no' at any point during the alleged assault.

She replied: "No, I don't know why."

Asked if he could have misinterpreted the situation, she said: "I was stiff. I could not move, I did not respond.

"He used his hand to pull my legs apart. "I said 'stop it' twice while he was down there."

She explained before going to the police that she was wary of media involvement.

Asked why, she said: "Because of who he is. He is the father of Gary and Phil Neville, the footballers. I didn't want any of it in the Press. I am a private person. I didn't want any gossip."

The woman - who said she feared she was going to be raped - told the interviewer she now felt angry after her initial thoughts of guilt.

"Yesterday I was vulnerable, I was fearful," she said. "I questioned myself. And today I am really angry.

"The thought he could do that without my consent and to think he 'likes the chase' made me feel dirty."

Opening the case, Mr Cadwallader said Neville did not deny the incident took place but told detectives it was consensual.

He said he had leaned across to give a parting farewell kiss and it turned into a "passionate, consensual" kiss which progressed from there.

"He accepted what she said had physically happened did happen, save for that it was all with consent," Mr Cadwallader told the jury.

He added: "The Crown say it was not consensual and he knew full well it was not consensual because she told him so."

Mr Cadwallader said it was the Crown's case that the woman did not consent to the sexual activity and the defendant did not reasonably believe that she had consented.

Neville denies sexual assault.

The trial, estimated to last up to five days, continues tomorrow.

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