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Ex-West Ham star Da Costa cleared of sex attack at Faces

PUBLISHED: 18:33 16 September 2011

Manuel Da Costa

Manuel Da Costa

Former premier league footballer Manuel Da Costa was today (Friday) cleared of groping a woman in a Gants Hill nightclub today, but fined £1,000 after he admitted slapping her.

The 25-year-old was accused of sexual assault in Faces, Cranbrook Road, in October, after a woman claimed he had touched her breast and groin as she walked past his VIP table.

He admitted assaulting the 20-year-old, but said it was a reflex action after she “overreacted” to the physical contact by hitting him.

Judge David Radford fined Mr Da Costa £1,000 and ordered him to pay £250 compensation to the victim.

He granted an application for taxpayer to fund the costs the footballer incurred attending his trial.

Da Costa will have seven days to pay the fine, or will face a 28 day prison term in default.

The judge said: “There is no reason to believe that you will have any difficulty in paying it, given your substantial livelihood as a professional footballer.’

The woman claimed when she had passed his table he grabbed her hand to stop her, before putting one hand on her groin over her dress and squeezing her breast with the other.

The victim said she flinched before slapping Mr Da Costa in the face. She said he then struck her hard in return.

She also alleged he slapped her again before being asked to leave the club.

Mr Da Costa, told the jury through a French interpreter the woman had made eye contact with him and walked towards him as if she wanted to talk to him.

He said he took her hand, placed one hand and her shoulder and the other on the small of her back as he stood up to talk to her, as the club was loud so he could not hear her.

He said it was possible that he had accidentally brushed her breast with his hand as the venue was very crowded and they were close together, but insisted he had not squeezed it or touched her.

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