The Manchester United footballer Mason Greenwood is no longer facing criminal proceedings over attempted rape after prosecutors dropped the case against him.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said there was “no longer a realistic prospect of conviction” after key witnesses withdrew their co-operation from the investigation.
Greenwood, 21, was arrested and later charged with attempted rape after an investigation launched in January 2022. The striker, who has played once for England, denied the charges and had been preparing to go on trial later this year until the CPS dropped the case on Thursday.
A CPS spokesperson said: “We have a duty to keep cases under continuous review. In this case, a combination of the withdrawal of key witnesses and new material that came to light meant there was no longer a realistic prospect of conviction. In these circumstances, we are under a duty to stop the case.
“We have explained our decision to all parties. We would always encourage any potential victims to come forward and report to police and we will prosecute wherever our legal test is met.”
Greenwood had been due to stand trial in November this year after being charged with attempted rape, assault and “repeatedly engaging” in coercive and controlling behaviour.
However, it can now be reported that key witnesses withdrew co-operation from the police investigation in April 2022.
A court heard last October how a central plank in the inquiry had collapsed only four months after Greenwood was arrested.
It is understood that police and prosecutors initially decided to continue with the case because of the significant level of public interest, given Greenwood’s high profile and the seriousness of the allegations.
But a fresh review of the case by CPS lawyers has concluded that there was no realistic prospect of conviction given the collapse of a central part of the police investigation.
Ch Supt Michaela Kerr, Greater Manchester police’s head of public protection, said: “Given the significant media coverage of this case, it is only fair that we share the news that the 21-year-old man who had been arrested and charged in connection with an investigation opened in January 2022 no longer faces criminal proceedings in relation to this.
“The investigation team has remained in regular contact with the legal team, providing any updates of note, and so understand the rationale for the discontinuation of proceedings at this stage, and that this decision has not been taken lightly.”
She said GMP would not comment on it in any further detail.
“I would, however, like to use this opportunity to reiterate GMP’s commitment to investigating allegations of violence against women and girls, and supporting those affected, regardless of their circumstances, throughout what can be a hard and upsetting time for them. An ever-increasing number of officers are receiving specialist training and the force is more consistently utilising tools, available via the criminal justice system, to keep people safe and to care for victims.
“If you feel you are or might be a victim, please don’t let this case put you off asking for help.” – Guardian