Ex town player held in Spain

FORMER Ipswich Town star James Scowcroft was one of eight footballers in custody in Spain last night following sex assault claims by three women.The 28-year-old, who was raised in Bury St Edmunds, had been with the Leicester City squad on a warm weather training break in the Costa del Sol when the women claimed they were sexually assaulted in a hotel room.

FORMER Ipswich Town star James Scowcroft was one of eight footballers in custody in Spain last night following sex assault claims by three women.

The 28-year-old, who was raised in Bury St Edmunds, had been with the Leicester City squad on a warm weather training break in the Costa del Sol when the women claimed they were sexually assaulted in a hotel room.

It is alleged eight Leicester players forced their way into the room before an incident took place.

Police in Cartagena say the alleged victims - who were African-born according to Spanish TV channel Telecinco - were found to have injuries to various parts of their body when examined by doctors at Alicante general hospital.

Nine players were arrested on Tuesday after the women complained to police on Monday, police said.

Four were arrested for sexual assault and breaking and entering, one for assault and breaking and entering, and three for breaking and entering and leaving a crime scene without offering assistance.

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The ninth was arrested for leaving a crime scene without offering assistance but was later released.

The eight players, who it is understood vigorously protest their innocence, were appearing in court last night over the allegations.

Spanish television pictures showed several players being led into a police van - including James Scowcroft, Matt Elliott, Frank Sinclair and Danny Coyne.

Elliott was arrested in connection with breaking and entering and leaving a crime scene without offering assistance, Sinclair with sexual assault and breaking and entering and Coyne with breaking and entering and leaving crime scene without offering assistance.

German midfielder Steffen Freund was released after being questioned over leaving a crime scene without offering assistance.

It has not been revealed why Scowcroft was arrested.

The women, who were staying in hotel Los Belones in Cartagena, had been intending to return to Germany, where they are believed to live, but were persuaded by police to remain in the country to be interviewed, police said.

The women separately identified by photograph the footballers alleged to have carried out the assaults, establishing the level of involvement of each one of them.

A police statement said: "Agents of the judicial police, of the Cartagena division of the national police, arrested nine people, all members of English football club Leicester City, in relation to a sexual assault alleged by three women."

The players appeared before a judge yesterday morning before being taken into judicial custody, police added.

The rest of the squad cut short the week-long trip and flew back to England last night though club officials stressed they had not been thrown out of their hotel.

Leicester City issued a statement which said: "The club is aware that a number of players have been interviewed by Spanish police as a result of alleged incidents which took place during a club training camp in Spain.

"The club is co-operating fully with the authorities in their investigations but, as these investigations are still ongoing, is not in a position to make any further comment at this stage.'

The incident is the latest sex scandal to hit football in recent months and is the second time Leicester City has hit the headlines while staying at the exclusive La Manga resort.

Four years ago striker Stan Collymore let off a fire extinguisher in a bar and the squad was asked to leave their hotel.

La Manga managing director Tony Coles said yesterday: "I can confirm there was an incident.

"It is between two parties, the hotel is not involved. The matter is sub judice.'

He refused to comment further.

The club's chief executive Tim Davies is understood to have flown out to Spain to join manager Micky Adams, who has remained with the players.

Leicester, who are battling possible relegation from the Barclaycard Premiership, flew out to Spain on Sunday on the back of a run of 15 League and Cup games without a win stretching back three months.

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