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Titus Bramble, Sunderland Defender, Denies Sexual Assault Charges

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BRAMBLE
Bramble has denied the charges | PA

A Premier League footballer groped one woman's bottom in a club before repeatedly sexually assaulting another in the back of a taxi, a court heard today.

Sunderland defender Titus Bramble, 30, denies four counts of sexual assault alleged to have happened during a night out in Yarm, Teesside, on September 28 last year.

Shaun Dodds, prosecuting at Teesside Crown Court, said: "It is significant that we have here key witnesses who don't know each other and are both making separate and independent allegations against this defendant's sexual conduct in the early hours of September 28."

The taxi driver was so concerned about the activity in the back of his cab he drove straight to a police station, the court heard.

The first complainant was in the Cross Keys bar in Yarm, which is a pub with a nightclub upstairs, the jury of seven women and five men heard.

She was standing near the bar at about 1am when someone squeezed her right buttock, Mr Dodds said.

When she turned round she saw a man smirking at her, and he was alone.

"The Crown say it was this defendant," Mr Dodds said.

She told a male friend and he explained: "He plays for Sunderland Football Club," the prosecution said.

"She didn't know who he was. (She) said 'I don't care what he does, he is not grabbing my arse like that."

Mr Dodds said she approached the man, who was still smirking and told him "Don't you touch me like that again" before he was ushered away by friends.

When news of the second complainant appeared on the television news the next day the first woman told her father and police were called, the court heard.

She later picked Bramble out in an identity parade, Mr Dodds said.

The footballer denies he was the man who groped the woman, Mr Dodds said.

Around 30 minutes after, a woman Bramble knew was helping a friend who felt unwell.

He led her into an alleyway and kissed her but after a moment she stopped as she knew he had a girlfriend, Mr Dodds said.

He asked her to go to a Middlesbrough nightclub but she declined, though she agreed to share a taxi with him so she could be dropped off at home, the jury heard.

"Once in the taxi, the defendant told the driver to take them to Wynyard where he lives," Mr Dodds said.

There followed an argument between the driver and the player about payment, until Bramble handed over £15 and the woman £5 and the prosecution alleged she believed she was still being dropped off at her home.

During the journey Bramble told the woman his relationship was over, the court heard, then he leaned across and put his hand on her leg and moved it up.

Mr Dodds said: "The prosecution say she tells him to stop and moves his hand away."

She again said "no" when Bramble tried to kiss her, the jury heard.

He then took her hand and placed it on his crotch, over his jeans.

"She started to feel scared at this stage," the prosecution said.

She told the driver to head towards her home, and not in the Wynyard direction, the jury heard. But Bramble told the driver to go his home.

He then grabbed her hand and again placed it over the crotch of his jeans.

Mr Dodds said she pulled her hand away, saying "This is not right. Stop."

The driver became aware something was wrong when the woman got hold of his arm.

He later described her as looking very sad and scared.

Such was his concern, he drove to Stockton police station on the pretext there was a problem with the fare, the jury was told.

Mr Dodds said: "He was driving there because of his concerns about what he could see happening in the back of the taxi."

The driver went into the police station, followed by Bramble and the woman, and asked to speak to an officer away from the footballer, Mr Dodds said.

Meanwhile, the complainant locked herself in a toilet and refused to come out until she was sure Bramble was not there.

He was subsequently arrested and did not reply when the allegations were put to him, Mr Dodds said.

His defence will be that he did not touch the first complainant and that any sexual activity in the taxi was consensual, Mr Dodds said.

The first victim, giving evidence from behind a screen, told the court she felt someone grab her bottom and turned to see Bramble "smirking" at her.

"I was stood with my friends and I felt this hand grab the right-hand side of my bum," she said.

"As I turned round I saw him smirking at me. He was very close.

"He was directly behind me.

"I felt very uncomfortable."

She told a male friend she had been groped.

"I said 'He's just grabbed my arse'," she told the court.

"He said 'He plays for Sunderland FC'.

"I said 'I don't care what he does - he's not grabbing me like that'."

The victim said Bramble was "just staring" at her as she spoke to her friend.