Crystal Palace and Carshalton Athletic footballer Nathaniel Pinney expresses relief after clearing name over sex charges
A footballer has spoken of his relief after being cleared of sexual assault.
Former Crystal Palace striker Nathaniel Pinney, 22, of South Norwood, said he feels his reputation was "dragged through the mud" by claims that he groped a 23-year-old's breast in Wonderland club, Sutton.
But he admitted he regretted then punching the woman after she "came at him" in the early hours of August 7 last year.
Mr Pinney, who now plays for Carshalton Athletic, was alleged to have repeatedly pulled down the woman's top, exposing her bra and cleavage, before groping her breast.
It was claimed that he then slapped the woman's 21-year-old friend on the bottom after laughing off protests.
But a jury at Croydon Crown Court him not guilty of two counts of sexual assault on Friday at the end of a four-day trial.
Speaking after the verdict, the footballer said: "These allegations were hurtful. I knew from the start that I hadn't done it and I'm happy I can move on with my life now.
"My name has been dragged through the mud a bit. It has been in the newspapers and I've had lots of texts, so I am pleased my named has been cleared.
"I'm just happy that I can put this rubbish behind and me and concentrate on my football."
Mr Pinney expressed remorse about punching the 23-year-old woman, who he said had slapped him after accusing him of groping her.
He was given a £200 fine after pleading guilty to common assault.
He told the court had initially lied to police about the assault because he had been angry about the allegations.
Gordon Ross, defending Mr Pinney in court, said: "He accepts that he did hit the woman. He was so angry about the allegations. When she went for him then he punched her.
"But if these women were telling the truth you would have seen it on the CCTV. The police have pored over that CCTV and it is not there."
Mr Pinney made two appearances for Crystal Palace between 2008 and 2012.