Norfolk

Ex-Norwich player Robert Eagle guilty of sex assault in nightclub

Robert Eagle Image copyright Focus Images Ltd
Image caption Robert Eagle, who played for Norwich City and non-league club Lowestoft Town, was found guilty of sexual assault

A former professional footballer who put his hand up a woman's skirt at a nightclub has been found guilty of sexual assault.

Ex-Norwich City player Robert Eagle, 31, was on a night out with 10 friends when he assaulted the woman in a booth at Mercy in Norwich last year.

In court, Eagle of Leiston, Suffolk, denied touching her, claiming he only made a caressing gesture as "banter" to make his friends laugh.

He is due to be sentenced in March.

The court heard that when the woman complained to bouncers, Eagle, who last played for Norwich City in 2008, was removed from the nightclub and was handed over to the police.

Jane Oldfield, prosecuting, said during the trial: "The truth is you got carried away under the influence of alcohol and touched the victim inappropriately."

Night of celebration

Norwich Crown Court heard Eagle, who last year played for Leiston Football Club, had been on a Christmas night out with 10 other team mates and was also celebrating the birth of his baby.

The group had been drinking from about 21:00 GMT on 3 February, before going to the nightclub, then entering a private booth in the VIP area.

There they consumed bottles of whisky and vodka, although Eagle claimed he only had two or three single shots with coke.

Image copyright Focus Images Ltd
Image caption Eagle is due to be sentenced on 14 March

In his filmed police interview, shown to the court, Eagle said he remembered "misbehaving, doing lads things" but denied having touched the victim.

When asked by the investigating officer if he was drunk, Eagle replied, "I was on my way."

The former manager of Mercy, Glen Sarabi, said Eagle told him: "I know I've done wrong, let me just step over the rope and we'll forget about all this."

Following the jury's unanimous verdict, Recorder Douglas Herbert released Eagle while pre-sentence reports were carried out.

Speaking to Eagle's barrister he added, "This is not a case where I am saying Mr Eagle will go into custody."

Sentencing is due to take place in March.

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