Phil Neville 'erupted' at father

Salisbury Journal: Neville Neville arrives at Bolton Crown Court where he faces charges of sexual assault against a woman who had offered him a lift home following a night out Neville Neville arrives at Bolton Crown Court where he faces charges of sexual assault against a woman who had offered him a lift home following a night out

Former England footballer Phil Neville "erupted" when his father told him he had cheated on his mother, a court has heard.

Neville Neville, 64, made the confession following his arrest for allegedly sexually assaulting a woman in her car near his home.

The complainant has told a jury at Bolton Crown Court that the defendant forced himself upon her after she gave him a lift home following a night out in his home town of Bury, Greater Manchester, in the early hours of March 23.

Neville claims the sexual encounter was consensual and denies the offence.

Giving evidence today, Neville described how he told his family about the incident following his arrest.

After telling his wife at the police station, they drove home where Phil and his sister, Tracey, a netball international, were waiting.

Neville's barrister, Orlando Pownall QC, asked: "What did Philip say?"

Neville replied: "He erupted, basically. He said 'You have got the most loveliest wife ever'. He said 'She loved you to death'. I was crying at this stage.

"Tracey had obviously broken down.

"He (Phil) turned round to me and said 'I'm not going to ask if you sexually assaulted her, I know you would not do that.'

"I said 'Philip, I did not sexually assault that woman.'

"He said 'Stop crying then, pull yourself together, get in there (the kitchen), you have got some explaining to do with Mum'."

Manchester United coaching staff member Phil Neville and his fellow England international footballing brother, Gary, sat in the public gallery as their father gave evidence in his defence.

Neville voluntarily went to his local police station on the afternoon of March 24 and gave his version of events without asking for a solicitor.

He told the court that he initially thought the police wanted to speak to him about a recent incident where he said he had nearly knocked down a boy while driving.

At the end of the interview, when he was told about the nature of the complaint, he requested a phone call to his wife, Jill.

He told the jury, his voice breaking: "I'm going to drop the biggest bombshell ever on my family.

"I thought basically I have not sexually assaulted anybody, I don't need a solicitor. I said I want to speak to my wife because I knew she would be worried.

"I was worried as well that I was going to drop the biggest bombshell of her life on top of her."

His barrister asked him: "Did it cross your mind to say nothing?"

He said: "Never."

Mr Pownall asked: "Did it cross your mind to deny it and avoid upset for your family?"

Neville replied: "No."

His barrister continued: "How easy was it to tell the truth?"

The defendant said : "It was very easy to tell the truth."

Mr Pownall asked: "How hard was it, knowing about the bombshell you have described?"

Neville said: "It was hard."

His barrister asked: "When did that bomb explode?"

He answered: "With my wife on the car park of the police station."

He recalled a conversation with the interviewing detective constable after the tapes had been switched off for his interview.

"He said 'Look, you have more or less told the same story. It's 50-50, either you have lied or she has lied, it's as simple as that'.

"I turned round and said 'I'm ruined, I have ruined my family's life and my life here'."

He said another officer told him: "Thousands of people commit infidelity and get over it."

Neville said he replied: "Do you want to come home with me and tell my wife that?"

He then told the jury how he told his wife about the allegation.

"We got in the car and she said 'What has happened?' and I said 'I have been accused of sexual assault'," he said.

"She said 'Who with?...Do I know her?'.

"I said 'I don't think you do'. She said 'Did you have sex with her?'. I actually said yes, we did have a sexual encounter and she just broke down.

"She said 'Where did you do it?' and I said 'At the end of our road'. That made her more upset."

He said his wife "stormed" into the kitchen when they entered the house as he explained the situation to his son and daughter.

Mr Pownall asked if he had since had a conversation with his wife in which she had asked a particular question that he would never forget.

Neville, who was wearing his wedding ring in court, replied: "She asked why did I do it?

"First I said I didn't know. I was in a state. I told her everything from start to finish, I told her everything but she couldn't understand why I had done this.

"I said 'I have let you down, I have let you down so badly, it's hard to explain why.'

"She turned round and said 'Did you enjoy it?' and I said 'Yes, I did'.

"She then said... I won't swear...'That's the bleeding reason why you did it'."

Mr Pownall said: "The suggestion is that you pounded on (the alleged victim) in the circumstances she has described, clearly against her will. Is that something you would have enjoyed or ever have done?"

"No," said Neville. "I'm not an aggressive person, I'm not, honestly. I have never pounded on a girl."

Mr Pownall continued: " Did you have reason to believe that the activity that each of you has described was against her will?"

"No," replied Neville.

In her evidence, the alleged victim claimed that Neville lunged at her and thrust his tongue down her throat before putting his hand up her shirt and grabbing her breast.

The middle-aged woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, alleges that Neville then placed his hand down her trousers and sexually assaulted her.

Under cross-examination from prosecuting barrister Peter Cadwallader, Neville said he did not fancy the woman up to the point of sexual activity.

He agreed though that in the car he had told her: "We all fancy you."

Neville explained: "I was being nice to her. It was a throwaway comment."

The prosecutor said: "The truth is that you did fancy her."

"No," he said.

"And that is why you sexually assaulted her."

"No," he repeated.

Neville denied he was affected by alcohol after earlier drinking two medium white wine and sodas, together with four double vodkas.

"I very rarely get drunk," he said.

Mr Cadwallader said that weighing 17 stone (108kg) - more than double the weight of the alleged victim - he would have easily been able to control her and keep her in her seat.

"Would you have been able to do that?" asked Mr Cadwallader.

"I don't know," said Neville, "I wouldn't have done it."

Parked up 20 yards from his home, he said he turned to give the woman a goodnight kiss on the cheek when she turned her head and they kissed on the lips.

Neville said he then asked her to drive further on as he said a neighbour's car passed and they were in the middle of the road.

Mr Cadwallader said they were now virtually outside Neville's own house.

Neville said the woman became "sexually enthusiastic" and put her tongue down his throat.

The barrister asked: "Do you agree that your behaviour, whether consensual or non-consensual, so close to your own house was quite extraordinary?"

"At the time we were both enjoying it," Neville replied. "It's a question my wife has asked me many times."

"I'm sure she has," said Mr Cadwallader.

Neville went on: "At the end of the day, we were both kissing. I believe we were both enjoying kissing. I was kissing a younger woman and it carried on."

The prosecutor said: "May I suggest that the reason you did it was because your faculties had been affected by drink and you had lost your self-control."

Neville replied: "That is totally untrue."

Mr Cadwallader said: "That is why you were involved in sexual activity outside or near your own home."

"No," he said.

"That is why you attacked her," said the barrister.

"That did not happen," said Neville. "That's not true."

Mr Cadwallader said: "Once you started the assault, you just continued, didn't you, pushing the boundaries?"

"No," he replied.

"Was it a case that you were just trying it on initially and it went further when it became obvious she was not consenting?" asked Mr Cadwallader.

Neville said: "That's not true."

Mr Cadwallader continued: "And you stopped when you realised it was just fruitless because she was frozen like a doll."

"That's not true," said Neville.

He denied that the woman was frozen and frightened as he pinned her against her seat.

"She never indicated at any time she was frightened," he said. "She never showed any signs she wanted to stop. If she did I would have stopped."

Mr Cadwallader put it to him: "She couldn't get out of the car because you were on top of her."

Neville replied: "I would like to know how I did it. It's not true. It's not possible."

Earlier, he said that before he left the car he told the woman she was "lovely" and he stroked her face.

"She asked if I was happy and I said 'I'm the happiest man in the world'.

"Then she turned round and said 'This is just sex' and I said 'No, not at all'.

"She said 'What is it then?' and I said 'It's an opportunity that we both responded to'."

Neville denied the woman's claims that after he sexually assaulted her he told her: "I love the chase."

"I did not chase that woman," he said.

He agreed he had asked her if she wanted full sex even though the jury has heard he was incapable because of various medical conditions.

Neville said: "That question - I cannot believe I said it. I cannot understand why I said it."

He added: "When I got out of the car I did not leave a woman who had been sexually abused."

He said he did not know why someone would make such a false allegation against him but he did not believe it was for money.

Asked by Mr Pownall why he kissed the woman near his own home, Neville replied: "I have got the most wonderful family in the world... I made a major error.

"I cannot even say it was a mistake. I knew what I was doing. I was enjoying the moment. She was enjoying the moment.

"When it all finished it became a mistake. My biggest nightmare."

The trial continues tomorrow.

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