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Rape accused rugby player "left handprint marks on woman's neck"

Zach Kibirige
Zach Kibirige

A professional rugby player accused of raping a woman he met on Tinder left red marks on her neck, she told police.

The woman also alleged her legs were bruised following the attack at her home, which she said was carried out by Newcastle Falcons and England under-20 winger Zach Kibirige.

The 21-year-old defendant, on trial at Newcastle Crown Court, denies four counts of rape, attempted rape, sexual assault and assault by penetration.

He told police after he was arrested that the midnight encounter was unplanned but consensual.

A video of her interview with a detective was played to the court, in which she claimed the incident in November left her with "red marks, like finger marks" on her neck.

She told the officer: "It looked like a handprint."

The pair had swapped almost 1,000 Whatsapp messages before meeting for the first time at her home.

In a message sent that evening she had outlined in capital letters she wanted "JUST cuddles", the jury heard.

Kibirige replied "sure", the jury heard.

But the complainant has said after he came round, he subjected her to a series of sexual offences over a period of about an hour.

The prosecution said she made a reference in a Whatsapp message as he made his way home to being "bucked and ditched", adding "that was not OK" and "I only wanted a cuddle".

During cross-examination Nicholas Lumley QC, defending, asked the woman if she had used the phrase "just a f*** and leave" in a message to a friend after the alleged rapes.

She told Mr Lumley she could not remember.

She was "completely sober" at the time, the jury heard.

Mr Lumley asked why she had used the expression "bucked and ditched" in a message to the defendant, she wept as she replied: "I was in a state of shock.

"I knew what had happened, I was not processing it.

"I was scared."

Mr Lumley asked her about a message she sent to another friend describing the incident as "borderline rape".

She replied: "I was in a state of shock, I had not really processed what was going on.

"It had just happened."

The case continues.

Under cross-examination, the complainant said she went out in Newcastle city centre the night after the alleged rape, but went to a venue she felt safe in, rather than a nightclub.

Mr Lumley told the jury she had said in a Victim Impact Statement that she felt "unsafe" going out in case she saw the defendant.

The barrister asked the complainant why she had not done anything to stop his client if she did not want it to happen.

She replied emotionally: "It was easier to go along with it and get him out.

"I thought it was the best option just to go along with it. He looked angry."

Mr Lumley suggested that the sex had been consensual and that afterwards she had regretted it.

She replied: "I was scared. I was shaking. I couldn't do anything to stop it. I thought just go along with it."

Mr Lumley said: "You were angry with him and angry with yourself. That's why we are all here.

"It's not about rape is it?"

She replied tearfully: "He raped me.”