Jury sent out to consider verdicts in trial of former Norwich City player accused of sexually assaulting woman in nightclub

Former Norwich City player Robert Eagle. Picture: Archant

Former Norwich City player Robert Eagle. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant © 2006

A jury has been sent out to consider its verdict in the trial of a former Norwich City footballer accused of sexually assaulting a woman in a nightclub.

Robert Eagle, 31, has gone on trial at Norwich Crown Court accused of sexual assault following an incident at the former Mercy nightclub on Prince of Wales Road.

The jury of eight women and four men have been told that Eagle, who played for the Canaries 10 times, had been out with friends on February 4 last year when the incident happened.

It is said Eagle had been in 'high spirits' but had gone too far and 'ended up sexually assaulting a woman at the nightclub'.

The court heard that when the alleged victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, 'passed the defendant she felt a hand from behind go up her skirt and touch her over her underwear'.

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Eagle, of Central Road, Leiston, Suffolk, has denied sexual assault.

The jury was sent out to consider verdicts in the case shortly before noon today (Wednesday, January 23) Recorder Douglas Herbert told the jury they must decide the case on the evidence they have heard and not speculate on what evidence there might have been.

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He said the prosecution bring the case and therefore the burden was on them to make the jury sure of the defendant's guilt and 'nothing less than that will do'.

He said Eagle, who has one previous conviction for driving with excess alcohol dating back to 2011, should be treated by them as a man of good character.

Before the jury was sent out to deliberate they heard closing speeches from both the prosecution and defence.

Jane Oldfield, prosecuting, said there was 'no dispute' that the victim was entitled not to be assaulted by drunken men.

She said there was 'no dispute this was a sexual assault which goes way beyond drunken boisterousness'.

She said the question for the jury was whether they were sure Eagle was the man who assaulted the woman.

She said: 'The prosecution say that you can be sure he was'.

She told the jury that despite 'all the wonderful things' they had heard about Eagle it did not mean he did not do a 'very stupid thing' and a criminal thing.

Joanne Eley, closing the defence case, said Eagle was 'a man of good character'.

She said: 'Mr Eagle is 31 is, the defence say, not a sexual predator he's a father of two boys, one of those is particularly interested in football following in his father's footsteps.'

She said he was also step father to his partner's two children and who has been described in character references as 'selfless' to others and giving up his free time.

He had been described as a man who would 'give up his last penny if someone needed it'.

She said on his behalf that the offence he stands accused of was 'not something that's in his character'.

While giving evidence she said Eagle had offered an explanation that he had waved his hands behind her bottom.

She said that while it was right he had acted in a 'foolish' way he had shown some frankness by stating he had done so.

She said the incident happened in 'just a moment of seconds'.

And when things happen very quickly she said 'people can make mistakes'.

Miss Eley said it was for the prosecution to prove the case so that the jury were sure that Eagle was responsible for the sexual assault.

She said they just could not be sure who was responsible for this 'hand up the skirt' and therefore must return a not guilty verdict.

The trial continues.

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