Tyne & Wear

Rape-accused Newcastle Falcons' Zach Kibirige 'respects women'

Zach Kibirige Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Zach Kibirige was invited to the woman's house to "watch a film and have a cuddle", the court heard

A professional rugby union player has denied raping a woman he met on dating app Tinder, insisting to a court he "respects women."

Zach Kibirige, of Premiership team Newcastle Falcons, denies subjecting the woman to a series of sexual offences at her home, in November.

But, Mr Kibirige told Newcastle Crown Court that nothing happened that was "against the woman's will".

Earlier, the woman said the player, 21, gripped her throat before raping her.

Mr Kibirige denies four counts of rape, attempted rape, sexual assault and another serious sexual assault over a period of about an hour.

Beginning the case for the defence his barrister, Nicholas Lumley QC, asked the player: "Did you rape [the complainant]?"

The 5ft 10ins tall defendant, who has also played for England Under-17s and Under 20s, replied from the witness box: "Absolutely not."

Watching film

Mr Lumley then asked: "Did you do anything with her against her will?"

Mr Kibirige replied: "No, I did not."

Mr Lumley asked: "Did you go round to her flat to rape her?"

Mr Kibirige, who was born in Middlesbrough and brought up in Yarm, Teesside, replied: "No."

He told the court he had never been sent off, had no previous convictions, cautions or police reprimands.

In November, he was not playing for the Falcons as he was still recovering from an ankle injury, the court heard.

Mr Lumley asked Mr Kibirige: "Do you respect women?" He replied: "Absolutely."

He said he met the complainant at her home for the first time after they swapped WhatsApp messages, having initially matched on Tinder.

He said he was sober on the night he went to her home and claimed they started to watch a film in her bedroom.

The trial continues.

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