Christopher Twigg has been found not guilty of sexual assault after making a ‘heartfelt apology’ to his victim for his behaviour
A Durham University student and rugby international has been cleared of three sex attacks on a female undergraduate after giving her a ‘heartfelt apology’ instead of going to trial.
The jury in the trial of Christopher Twigg, 20, who has played for the Thai rugby team, were sworn in and the case was about to begin when he was given the chance to make amends without admitting his guilt.
In an unusual legal twist Twigg, his alleged victim and lawyers in the case held a meeting in which he gave her a ‘heartfelt apology’ which was deemed enough to ‘meet the public interest.’
He had been accused of three sexual assaults on the same victim.
The first was said to have happened soon after he started his career at Durham between October 1st and November 18th 2017.
The second and third assaults, in which he was alleged to have touched the complainant in a sexual way without her consent, both took place on November 18th of the same year.
It is understood that Twigg was drunk, wearing a tutu and the alleged incidents occurred after he had been on a university rugby social event.
Twigg did not admit any guilt over the allegations, but apologised for ‘dreadful behaviour’
He has been suspended by the university since the allegations were made and has been working for his father’s company in Cheshire.
On Tuesday, the second day of the hearing, Twigg and his alleged victim met face to face in an anteroom upstairs in the court building and he made his apology.
Although prosecutors claimed his behaviour had been ‘dreadful’ towards the young woman, he was allowed to walk free with all charges against him dropped.
The judge in the case told him he had indulged in ‘downright rude and quite intimidating behaviour’ but directed the jury to reach not guilty verdicts.
Twigg was charged with three counts of sexual assault, said to have been committed shortly after he began a sport, exercise and physical activities course at Durham University, in October and November 2017.
Twigg, who has built a successful rugby career, had been university rugby social event on the night the allegations related to, the court heard
The rugby league star from Tarvin, in Cheshire, denied all three charges and expected to face trial at Durham Crown Court.
But before the case began his defence counsel, Sarah Forshaw, QC, a leading barrister specialising in sexual offending, raised concern about disclosure of evidence to her by the Crown.
Although a jury was sworn in, it heard no evidence in the case, and prosecuting counsel Chris Baker told the court: ‘Upon deliberation and consultation with the complainant a view was taken that a heartfelt apology to her would meet the public interest in this case.
‘This has now taken place and she was content with the apology that she received.
‘Myself, defence counsel and the officer overseeing this case were present and we were all agreed that it was a heartfelt apology for some dreadful behaviour that took place that night.
‘The Crown’s view is that we will now offer no evidence in the case.’
Twigg has previously played for the Thai rugby team in its inaugural international in 2017
Judge Jonathan Carroll told the defendant: ‘I understand that you have now apologised to the girl in this case and that both counsel have taken the view it was a genuine and heartfelt apology.
‘I can only echo that was the very least you could have done. You were in drink and have allowed horseplay to elevate itself.
‘At the very least it was downright rude and a quite intimidating behaviour which had a very significant impact on your victim.
‘I acknowledge it has also had a devastating effect on you, ending your university education and damaging your rugby career, so you have learned in a very hard way a very difficult lesson.
‘Go away and reflect how you behaved in drink so you never see yourself before the court again.’
His case came before Durham Crown Court (pictured) before not guilty verdicts were entered
On the judge’s direction, the jury returned formal not guilty verdict to all three charges.
Ms Forshaw said, given the outcome, she would be applying for a contribution to her client’s costs in the case.
In February 2017, Twigg played in the historic debut match for the Thai rugby league team in its inaugural international against El Salvador.
The winger had previously played rugby union before switching codes and signing for Warrington Wolves of the Super League as a schoolboy.
However he was released and played his club rugby for Woolston Rovers RLC where he was approached to play for Thailand through his grandmother’s heritage.
Twigg declined to comment at his parents’ £800,000 home near Chester today.
Acquittal follows series of sex cases at Durham University
This week’s case comes after a series of sex cases involving Durham University students.
In 2016, student Louis Richardson, the former secretary of the university’s prestigious Union Society, was accused of raping a woman when she was ‘crazy drunk’.
But he was cleared by a jury after less than three hours of deliberations and later told of the ’15 months of absolute hell’ he had been put through by the case.
Durham student Louis Richardson (left) was cleared of rape. The rape case against Alastair Cooke (right) was dropped
In 2017, Samuel Bunyan was jailed for more than two and a half years for sexually assaulting a fellow undergraduate as she slept, having spent the night drinking together.
The victim said she was ‘seven out of ten’ drunk when she went to bed and woke up to find Bunyan with her and her jumper pulled up and bra undone.
The same month as the Bunyan case, another Durham student, Alastair Cooke, saw the rape case against him dropped.
Mr Cooke, a third-year geology and geophysics student, was weeks away from an expected first class degree when he was arrested in 2015 on suspicion of raping a 23-year-old student in her home when she drunk.
A series of high profile cases linked the university have come before the courts
After the case against Cooke was dropped, Mr Cooke’s barrister Cathy McCulloch warned that attitudes to sex and alcohol must change in universities.
She said: ‘Young men need to learn that if a woman presents as drunk but gives all the signs, as they see it, of consenting, she can still say later that she was not fit to consent.’
ITV research last year found Durham University has the ninth highest rate of reported rape, sexual assault and harassment of UK universities.