A Sunderland football coach described club player Jack Diamond as, “a respected professional and humble young man”, a court heard today (Friday, February 5).

But ex-Sunderland AFC striker Michael Proctor, who is now the club’s first-team coach, said he was “incredibly shocked” to hear that Mr Diamond had been accused of raping a young woman.

A statement from Mr Proctor was read to the jury at Newcastle Crown Court on the fourth day of the trial of the 23-year-old winger, who is alleged to have both raped and sexually assaulted the woman at his flat, in Washington, overnight on May 7/8, 2022.

The court was previously told that the pair had met on the dating app Tinder in 2019, for what was by mutual agreement a mostly sexual relationship.

The Northern Echo: Sunderland footballer Jack Diamond has gone on trial at Newcastle Crown Court accused of rape and

But after Mr Diamond invited her over late on the night of Saturday, May 7, she later left and accused the footballer of forcing himself on her, against her will.

Mr Diamond denied the allegation and told police any sexual activity was consensual.

As the defence case in the trial came to a close, a character statement was read to the jury, from Mr Proctor.

He described having witnessed Mr Diamond growing from being, “an ambitious boy”, into a, “respected, humble, professional young man.”

Mr Proctor said he had been an academy coach at the club and so worked with the defendant from the age of 15 upwards and has, more recently overseen his continued development to the first-team level.

He said he had, “thoroughly enjoyed” working with the defendant, and was happy to give the statement, “to demonstrate the type of character” of Mr Diamond.

Mr Proctor spoke of being, “incredibly shocked to see the position Jack has found himself in”, having witnessed the “tremendous desire and dedication” he had shown to make a career in football for himself.

He said the defendant had shown, “commitment and made sacrifices, both on and off the pitch.”

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Another statement was read from the defendant’s older sister Chloe who described her younger brother as having always appeared “nice and kind” among female company all his life.

She added that she had yet to come across anyone who did not get on with him, describing him as, “grounded and funny”.

Earlier, further testimonials were made on the third day of the trial, from Harrogate Town assistant manager Paul Thirlwell, who worked with Mr Diamond during two loan spells with the North Yorkshire club, between 2019 and 2022, and current Sunderland goalkeeper Anthony Patterson, who described himself as the defendant's “best friend” and his flatmate at the time of the alleged incident.

Mr Thirlwell described the defendant as, “an honest lad, really humble, really hardworking … all the characteristics we look for in bringing a player into the club.”

Mr Patterson said he had not seen any disagreements between Mr Diamond and the complainant.

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He said he had come back to the flat late on the night of the alleged sexual offences but did not see her at all, before going to bed.

Mr Diamond, of Fatfield, Washington, denies both the charges of sexual assault and rape.

Closing speeches will be given by the respective counsel for the prosecution and defence, David Povall and Eleanor Laws KC, on Monday, followed by the summing up of Judge Edward Bindloss, before the jury is sent out to begin its deliberations.