Footballer Nile Ranger cleared of rape

Nile Ranger leaving Newcastle Crown Court Nile Ranger was "delighted" with the jury's verdict, according to his lawyer

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Former Newcastle United footballer Nile Ranger has been cleared of rape, following a week-long trial.

The 22-year-old, who now plays for Swindon Town, had denied the charge, claiming the woman had consented to sex at a hotel in January 2013.

Newcastle Crown Court heard the woman had agreed to meet him after the pair had swapped a number of messages.

The player told the court he had never engaged in sexual activity with a female against her will.

During the trial, the jury heard Mr Ranger and the woman had met in a city centre bar and gone on to different clubs before eventually booking into the Carlton Hotel, in the Jesmond area of Newcastle.

'Nile Ripper'

Giving evidence, the woman said she had no memory of the night beyond the bar where they met, until she woke up naked next to the footballer in bed.

The jury took an hour to reach their not guilty verdict, after which Mr Ranger banged on the glass door of the dock and said: "Thank God for that."

He then thanked the jury and, as he removed his tie, said "What a joke" before leaving court with friends.

Previously, the trial had heard that after spending the night with the woman, the player told her she should take the morning after pill.

She left and they continued to swap messages that day, the court was told.

She then visited her GP, was checked at hospital and made a rape allegation to police.

After being arrested Mr Ranger told police the pair had sex more than once and that she had engaged "whole heartedly" and "enthusiastically".

The court heard they had been messaging for a year before the incident, with the player repeatedly trying to meet up with her.

This had led the woman to refer to him as a "predator" and "Nile Ripper" in some of the texts they exchanged, the jury learned.

Contract terminated

Mr Ranger made no comment on leaving the court but his solicitor, Geoffrey Forrester, said the footballer was delighted with the outcome.

During the trial the jury heard about trouble that Ranger had been in previously.

This included serving an 11-week sentence in a young offenders' institution when he was 15 after he took part in a street robbery.

Growing up in North London, he mixed with an older gang and also had convictions for burglary and handling stolen goods in 2007.

While giving evidence, Mr Ranger said his rape arrest was "one of the main reasons" his contract was terminated with Newcastle United.

The player told jurors he was about to be transferred to Hull City on loan from Newcastle when the rape allegation was made.

He said his contract with the club, and the loan arrangement, ended after his arrest.

He then moved to League One side Swindon Town where, he told the court, he had enjoyed success on the field.

The Wiltshire club said: "At this point the club is not making any comment."

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    Roof with a hole

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    Nicky Thornley

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    Jimmy Nail (centre) with other The Last Ship cast members

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    13:42: Charity champ Tony on the show today Jon Harle BBC Newcastle

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    13:33: Council's £1.3m to renovate empty homes

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    An empty home

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    Ryan Taylor
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    Changes in smoking

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    Siem de Jong

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    11:15: Dance teacher retains title

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    People at meeting in Hartlepool

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    • BBC Tees: Hartlepool Council has recorded a vote of no confidence in the board of North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust and called on the entire board to resign.
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    Alfie Joey

    Clive Rudd said: Central motorway rush hour traffic

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    Michael Nixon, who manages the branch in Benwell, says: "This'll be our third Christmas and we've expanded every year. It's reached a much bigger level than we anticipated when we first started."

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    09:10: Vote of 'no confidence' Colin Briggs BBC Look North

    Hartlepool Council has recorded a vote of no confidence in the board of North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust and called on the entire board to resign.

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    People attending meeting

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    09:00: News on the hour

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    • BBC Newcastle: In the run up to Christmas, BBC Newcastle has learned a food bank in our area, named the busiest in the UK, is having to rely on donations from across the country to cope with demand.
    • BBC Tees: Hartlepool Council has recorded a vote of no confidence in the board of North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust and called on the entire board to resign.
    08:56: In the news today
    08:48: Chancellor backs local newspapers Northern Echo editor Peter Barron

    "Local papers are the civic lifeblood of the country," says Chancellor George Osborne.

    08:43: Popular man 'had love for life' The Gazette

    A popular Stockton man who died from a drug overdose "had a lot of love for life" and had no intention to kill himself, a coroner ruled.

    Christopher Watson

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    It's thought a fire at a house in Stockton at the weekend was started deliberately.

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    08:31: Delays after three-car crash on A19 Sunderland Echo
    08:25: Man in court over death

    A man's due in court later after the death of a man in Washington at the weekend.

    John Potts, 45, from Sunderland, was discovered outside the NE38 Sports Bar in Barmston on Sunday.

    NE38 Sports Bar, Barmston

    Gordon Robson, 26, from Waskerley Road, in Barmston has been charged with manslaughter.

    08:08: Limited sunny intervals Lisa Gallagher Weather Presenter, BBC Look North

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    Weather forecast

    Maximum temperature: 7C (45F). Check the forecast near you.

    08:03: Three-vehicle accident

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    Apart from the usual build up, roads across Teesside are looking ok. Get more on BBC Travel News for Teesside and Tyne and Wear.

    08:00: Good morning Lloyd Watson BBC News

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