A Sunderland footballer has been cleared of raping a woman he met on a dating site.
Jack Diamond, 23, was accused of groping and then raping the alleged victim at the house he then shared with teammate Anthony Patterson in May 2022.
Newcastle Crown Court has heard Sunderland winger Diamond had invited the woman, who he met on Tinder, to spend the night and there had been some sexual activity before they fell asleep.
But prosecutors claimed Diamond then woke up, started to ‘feel and caress’ her and she asked him to stop but he carried on.
Diamond, of Fatfield, Washington, Tyne and Wear, denied rape and assault by penetration throughout the case and was today found not guilty on both charges.
Speaking outside the steps of court following his acquittal, Diamond said he’s now looking forward to playing football again.
He said: ‘I have today been acquitted of all charges at Newcastle Crown Court.
‘I have always maintained my innocence and today marks my total exoneration underlined by the jury reaching its verdict in seven minutes.
‘I am grateful to the jury for considering the evidence carefully and for reaching what is the correct conclusion.
‘I always said I was looking into clearing my name in court.’
He added: ‘The last 18 months have been hugely challenging.
‘I would like to thank my legal team Mrs Laws KC, Mr Derbyshire and the entire team for their dedication and skill.
‘I would also like to thank all my family and friends who have been with me during this time.
‘I now look forward to resuming my career.’
On Monday, a jury took about 15 minutes to find him not guilty of both charges.
Applause could be heard from the public gallery after the verdicts were announced.
After being asked to sit following the announcement, Diamond put his head in his hand and started sobbing.
During the trial Diamond gave evidence from the witness box and said it was he who refused to have sex with the woman, which left her in a ‘huff’.
He told jurors he grew up in Washington and signed his first professional football contract with Sunderland at age just 16, then spent time on loan with other clubs.
Diamond said he made it clear on his Tinder dating profile he was looking for something ‘not serious’.
He said on the night in question he invited the woman over to ‘relax’ and ‘cuddle’.
He told jurors the woman got into his bed with him and added: ‘We just started cuddling, touching each other. We were both touching each other.
‘It lasted a little while then started to get a bit more heated, she mounted me and got on top of me.’
Diamond said he told the woman he did not think sex was a ‘good idea’ and explained to the jury this was because he feared things ‘getting a bit too serious’.
He said after being rejected, the woman turned away from him in bed and appeared to be in a ‘huff’.
Diamond said to ‘comfort’ the woman he started to initiate things again and they started kissing.
He said he then got on top of her but she told him ‘I think the moment has gone’ and they stopped.
Diamond said the woman left the house shortly afterwards and told jurors: ‘Reflecting on it now, maybe shows she wanted some kind of attention, for me to say something more to her, ask her to stay.’
His barrister Eleanor Laws KC asked Diamond if he did anything to the woman without consent and he replied: ‘Absolutely not’.
Miss Laws asked Diamond if he would ever ‘carry on’ after a woman asked to stop and he told the court: ‘I would never, ever think of doing that, ever.’
Miss Laws asked Diamond if he had raped or sexually assaulted the woman and he replied: ‘Absolutely not’.
In her closing speech, Eleanor Laws KC, defending Diamond, said he was ‘not the entitled, arrogant footballer who thought the world owed him everything, but a 19-year-old man (when he first met the complainant) who made mistakes.’
Ms Law told jurors: ‘He is not on trial for being immature, he is not on trial for making mistakes, he is not on trial for misreading the signals about whether he had hurt someone.’
The player was on loan with Lincoln City last season but the deal was terminated after he was charged, and Sunderland suspended him.