Harrogate Town footballer Simon Lenighan cleared of rape charges

Simon Lenighan. Picture: Ross Parry Agency
Simon Lenighan. Picture: Ross Parry Agency
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A Harrogate footballer has been found not guilty of a raping a young woman in an alleged sex attack in a hotel room.

Harrogate Town player Simon Lenighan, 20, and another man, Nathan Campbell, 24, were today each cleared of three charges of rape over the alleged incident at the Etap hotel in Leeds city centre.

A jury of seven men and five women reached the verdicts after a four-week trial at Doncaster Crown Court.

Members of Lenighan’s family wept with relief in the public gallery as the verdicts were announced by the jury foreman.

After the case, Lenighan, a former Leeds United youth player, said he was now hoping to get his football career “back on track.”

He said: “I am happy with the verdict and that the truth has come out.

“It just feels like I could not get my life going. I’m just glad that it is now all over.”

Lenighan gave evidence at the trial in which he told the court the allegations and subsequent court proceedings had led to him losing his contract with Leeds United.

The court heard the woman was alone when she was woken up by a chambermaid at the hotel after a night out in the city in August 2012.

Her mobile phone and money were missing and she alerted police who found video footage on Campbell’s mobile phone.

The trial heard a mobile phone was used to video the woman and Lenighan and Campbell were laughing as they avoided being seen on the camera.

The jury saw footage which showed the woman lying naked on a bed and intimate shots of her body.

Lenighan and Campbell met for the first time on the night of the alleged incident, August 28, as they drank in the Tiger Tiger bar in Leeds.

The woman, who knew Lenighan, had also been drinking in the bar and agreed to go back to the hotel, now an Ibis, with the two men.

Prosecutor Andrew Haslam said friends were concerned for her safety because she had so much to drink, with one describing her as “very drunk”.

After they were arrested both men admitted having sex with the woman but claimed she was a willing partner.

Lenighan claimed they started to have sex but he realised she was too drunk and she said no.

When Nathan Campbell was arrested by police they found the video on his mobile phone.

Lenighan, of Harrogate, and Campbell, of Bradford, were also found not guilty of perverting the course of justice.

Campbell has pleaded guilty to one offence of sexual assault in relation to the incident.

He has also been convicted of assault occasioning actual bodily harm in relation to a separate attack on a different victim, described in court as an offence of domestic violence.

He was remanded in custody until his sentencing hearing.