Former Plymouth Argyle player Liam Head cleared of rape charge
A FORMER Argyle and international footballer is free to resume his professional career after being cleared of raping a teenager he met online on a first date.
Liam Head was capped for England at under 16 and 17 level and was a promising young striker with Argyle when he was arrested for the alleged rape two years ago.
His career has stalled in the two years it has taken to clear his name and after loan spells at Tiverton Town and Forest Green Rovers he has returned to his old club at Bovey Tracey.
He was found not guilty after telling a jury at Exeter Crown Court the woman, who was over the age of 16, had initiated sex and consented to everything that took place.
He said they had driven in his car to a car park at Chudleigh to talk after meeting through a social internet site and she had then suggested moving to an even more secluded lay-by in a country lane.
Head told the jury that she had started most of the sexual activity and told him she would 'sleep with him' if he had a condom.
Head, now aged 21, of Newton Road, Bovey Tracey, denied rape and was found not guilty and discharged.
Recorder Mr Andrew Oldland, QC, told the jury: "Thank you for the obvious care and attention you have given to this anxious and difficult case."
His family let out a loud cheer from the public gallery as the jury foreman announced the verdict and he collapsed sobbing with relief in the dock.
After the case a family member said: "We have been through two years of hell. Liam can get on with his life again now."
During a week long trial the jury heard two very different accounts of what happened inside Head's Honda in the car park of Chudleigh Cricket Club.
The complainant said they had known each other some years before but lost touch until Head asked to become her friend on the internet and they made contact again.
There had been some sexual banter in the texts they exchanged before arranging to meet but she insisted she made it clear throughout that she did not want sex on a first date.
She wanted to go to a pub or club but Head suggested going to the car park because he had a strict training regime with Plymouth Argyle which banned him from doing so.
The woman told the jury he took her phone off her and they kissed and cuddled but he then made demands which ended in them having full sex on the back seat.
She denied being star struck or boasting to her friends about dating a footballer and said she had no interest in the game.
Head said the girl had been a willing participant throughout and had helped him by partially removing her leggings.
He said: "I began to touch her and she felt as if she enjoyed it. There was no resistance, physical or verbal. None at all. .
"She did not say anything. I believed she was enjoying it. She asked me if I realised there was CCTV and suggested we move.
"I did not know the area at all but it was she who suggested turning left into the country lane. I did not know if we were going to have sex but thought we would continue to do stuff.
"It was both of us who decided to stop in the lay-by. It was pretty dark there.
She asked me not to tell anyone but she did not say anything about being sex buddies.
"She began touching me again. She came out and said that if I had a condom she would sleep with me."
Head said he had one in the driver's pocket and she then climbed into the back seat first and he followed and that she agreed to everything that happened afterwards.