The trial against the four footballers is taking place at the Old Bailey (Reuters)
The trial against the four footballers is taking place at the Old Bailey (Reuters)

The trial of four footballers, including the son of Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, on charges of sexual assault and voyeurism has opened at the Old Bailey.

Brighton and Hove Albion players Anton Rodgers, 19, Lewis Dunk, 21, and George Barker, 21, along with former teammate Steve Cook, 21, who now plays for Bournemouth, are accused of sexually assaulting a 19-year-old woman at a hotel room after celebrating a cup final win.

A court was told that the four defendants photographed the incident at the Jury's Inn Hotel in Brighton in July 2011 because they wanted to have a "permanent record of their conquest" following their victory in the Sussex Senior Cup against Eastbourne Borough.

Rodgers, Dunk and Barker, all of Brighton, and Cook, of St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex, denied all charges.

Richard Barton, prosecuting, said: "This case concerns how a group of young professional footballers, intoxicated after a night out together celebrating a cup final victory, took advantage of a young woman, who herself was intoxicated and who was obviously in a vulnerable condition.

"After taking her back to a hotel room, they waited until she had fallen asleep and was unable to resist and then sexually assaulted her in a deliberately humiliating way.

"They compounded the humiliation by taking photographs of themselves doing so in order to have a permanent record of their conquest."

He added: "They did so for their own gratification, intending to share the photographs between themselves and they may have done so to share with others at their football club.

"These were the actions of a group of arrogant young men labouring under the misguided belief that by reason of their privileged position they could with impunity take advantage of a young woman in this way because even if she realised what they had done to her, she would not dare report it."

The alleged victim said she did not tell police about the incident for "fear of repercussions". The 19-year-old finally made a complaint after she was taunted by another footballer at the club.

Liverpool manger Brendan Rodgers was in court for the opening of the trial (Reuters)
Liverpool manger Brendan Rodgers was in court for the opening of the trial (Reuters)

The court heard how the woman had met the footballers at a nightclub and how one of them bought her a drink.

The prosecution said there was no suggestion that the accused spiked her drink.

He added that the case was not an example of an intoxicated woman regretting her actions during a drunken night out.

He continued: "This is a case of a group of men taking advantage of a woman who through a combination of drink and tiredness, ended up unconscious.

"She was not in a condition to resist, give consent or prevent things happening."

The court heard how the woman slowly started remembering parts of the night, including walking to the hotel with Dunk and waking up the next day in a hotel bed next to Rodgers.

The court heard how the woman woke with her dress "pulled up, exposing her body [and] her breasts".

The woman then asked Rodgers if she could use his phone to contact her sister, which he finally reluctantly agreed to.

She scrolled through the photos on the handset to see a series of images of semi-naked men surrounding a woman in a pink dress lying on a bed.

Barton added: "She looked at some of the many photographs and then realised to her horror that she recognised that the unconscious woman in the pink dress was herself.

"She has no recollection of these photographs being taken."

She pleaded with Rodgers to delete the photos, but he refused. The woman told to leave by fellow Brighton player Ben Sampayo, who was also staying in the room at the time.

Barton added: "The indifference shown towards her by Rodgers and the others that morning is indicative of the group's overall attitude to her and the events the night before."

The trial continues