South Yorkshire footballer cleared of grooming teenage girl
A South Yorkshire footballer has been cleared of a string of sexual offences involving a 14-year-old schoolgirl.
Jack Tuohy, aged 20, who is on the books at Barnsley club Shaw Lane and earns Â£100 a week, was found not guilty of two counts of engaging in sexual activity with a child, two counts of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and one count of meeting with a child following sexual grooming.
Jurors, who took one hour to return their verdicts, heard the former League One footballer, who used to play for Oldham Athletic, met the 'football-mad' complainant at a schools tournament in 2015.
It was alleged that Tuohy went on to groom the youngster, who sent him a topless selfie photograph, through social media, before she performed a sex act on him in his car parked in a secluded location in Oldham.
But Tuohy's lawyers suggested it was the girl who initiated contact shortly after the tournament with the then 19-year-old and that she had known him for 'some considerable time' and had 'liked' photographs he had posted on social media.
Paul Hodgkinson, representing Tuohy, told the court the portrayal of his client as a 'manipulative' individual who preyed on a 'starstruck' besotted schoolgirl was 'nonsense'.
He said Tuohy was 'not some over-privileged, arrogant overpaid footballer driving around in his Lamborghini' but someone who had played football every spare second of his life and had been with Oldham Athletic since the age of 13.
He said he was not 'a party animal' but someone on modest wages at Oldham, when the alleged offences were said to have taken place.
Tuohy, who wept when he was cleared, maintained he believed the girl was aged 16 and denied her claim that she told him her real age.
His legal team said the footballer, who has attracted interest from the Republic of Ireland national team in the past, is hoping to resume a 'very promising career'.
Jeremy Moore, of Carter Moore Solicitors, said: "Jack always maintained his innocence on these very serious allegations and is delighted that the jury came to the only sensible verdicts in this case.
"His life has been on hold for 18 months during which time he has been under the most severe stress.
"The family would now ask that they be left alone so that Jack can resume his very promising career."