Footballers facing retrial after jury fails to reach verdict on sex assault

A PROFESSIONAL footballer from St Leonards could face a retrial over claims he sexually assaulted a teenager

as she slept in a hotel.

Steve Cook, who plays for AFC Bournemouth, was one of four footballers standing trial at the Old Bailey charged with sexual assault and voyeurism in relation to a 19-year-old girl in a Brighton hotel.

The 21-year-old from Perth Road, stood trial alongside Brighton players Lewis Dunk, 21, Anton Rodgers, 19, and George Barker, 21.

But after 25 hours of deliberation over five days the jury was unable to reach a verdict on the sex assault charges. Dunk was cleared of voyeurism.

All four could face a retrial later this year.

The court had heard the reserve players celebrated a cup final victory by snapping explicit pictures of themselves next to the young woman’s body as she slept, it is alleged.

The victim, who cannot be named, is said to have discovered the pictures on Rodgers’ phone the next morning.

Prosecutor Richard Barton said the Crown Prosecution Service was likely to seek a retrial on a date to be fixed.

The hearing is expected to take place after the close of this year’s football season.

During the two week trial, the footballers claimed the explicit snaps described by the victim had never existed.

Rodgers and Barker admitted exposing themselves but they denied they had touched the victim or taken any sexual gratification from the pictures.

Dunk said he had never seen any of the events because he was lying down on the floor talking to a girl on the phone.

And Cook claimed he had seen Barker and Rodgers exposing themselves but denied taking part and dismissed it as a juvenile prank.

A former William Parker schoolboy, Cook made his first team debut for Brighton at the age of 17.

He came on a substitute during a third round League Cup victory over Manchester City in September 2008.

Between 2009 and 2011 he went on loan to Havant and Waterlooville, Eastleigh, Eastbourne Borough, AFC Bournemouth and Mansfield Town.

On January 3, 2012 he signed a three-and-a-half year deal at AFC Bournemouth costing £150,000.

A defender, Cook has made 31 appearances for the Cherries since signing.