Over more than a day-and-a-half, defendant Luiz da Silva Neto set out his response to the allegations he drugged and sexually assaulted two men in a west Oxfordshire cottage last winter.

Despite close cross-examination from prosecutor Matthew Walsh, the 35-year-old maintained that he had not drugged the two alleged victims and any sexual activity between them was entirely consensual.

Prosecutors claim da Silva Neto drugged the first complainant at the Middle Barton cottage, where they had travelled from London in order to carry out some DIY. The man was said to have awoken in the night to find the defendant performing a sex act on him.

The second victim was allegedly ‘tricked’ into da Silva Neto’s car after he came out of nightclub Raffles, on Chelsea’s Kings Road, on December 10 last year. He claims to have woken up at 10am the following morning in the cottage with only a ‘tunnel vision’ memory of being fed a drink the night before.

Both alleged victims said they were heterosexual.

Oxford Mail: The trial is being heard at Oxford Crown Court Picture: NQThe trial is being heard at Oxford Crown Court Picture: NQ

From Brazil to the UK

By the time of the alleged offending, da Silva Neto said he was in a bad way. He was living a drug-fuelled party-heavy lifestyle in the capital and had lost almost 20kgs in a year. “I looked really, really bad,” he told the jury on Wednesday.

A decade earlier, he was a different man.

He told the jury he came from his native Brazil to the UK in 2009 to study.

Then in his early 20s, he said he would work 18-hours a day. Starting at 6am, he would work until midday, then study at a ‘school’ on the Tottenham Court Road, central London, until 3.30pm. He then returned to work until midnight.

But when he left school two years later, it gave him more time for meeting people and he threw himself into the capital’s party scene.

He took a wide range of drugs, including GBL. “When you start going out when you’re fresh-faced on the gay scene, people offer you stuff. To be part of the group of the club I would say yes. I started to realise I had a very addictive personality so it did take over a little bit,” he said.

He would sometimes go to parties ‘in nice penthouses in London by the river and the drugs were laid down on the table for free’, he told the jury.

Those ‘chemsex’ parties might involve men having sex with each other – either in bedrooms or in what he termed ‘very dirty orgies’.

A regular user of ‘G’ – or GBL – his drug use spiralled during the pandemic, when he was ‘just using drugs all day’.

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November 2021

Da Silva Neto said he and the first alleged victim had gone down to his cottage in Middle Barton, west Oxfordshire, on the evening of November 10 in order to carry out some DIY before guests visited later in the week.

Before leaving London, the pair and the defendant’s partner had eaten dinner at da Silva Neto’s flat. He had exchanged texts with his drug dealer trying to arrange to buy ‘G’ and crystal meth.

When that proved unsuccessful, he and the alleged victim went to Bayswater, west London for around two hours. Da Silva Neto went upstairs to his friend’s flat while the other man waited in the car. Aside from some cannabis, he was unable to get any drugs, he said.  

Arriving in Middle Barton later that evening, they taped up the doors and after oing some sanding in the property, they shared ‘two or three’ Corona beers each, he said.

The defendant said he had smoked crystal meth while the other man went outside for a ‘cigarette’, which he suspected had contained cannabis.

As they sat in the living room, da Silva Neto played heterosexual pornography on the TV. He claimed to have noticed the other man was sexually aroused.

“I made a joke of it and asked him if he wanted me to help it,” he said.

“I just went for it,” he added. “It was almost a dare, joke kind of thing.”

The other man was said to have removed his genitals from his trousers before the defendant began performing oral sex on him, he told the jury.

Asked by his barrister why he believed the other man was consenting to the sexual activity, da Silva Neto said: “He was touching himself and he was looking at me.”

The defendant said he stopped as the other man was a friend of his and his partner.

Afterwards, da Silva Neto went upstairs to bed, while the second man went to sleep on the sofa.

He denied claims made by the alleged victim that he had made-up a bed for him on the living room floor. Jurors were shown a still image from a video walk-through of the house in which a heavy table could be seen between the two sofas, leaving very little floor space.

The defendant strenuously denied drugging the man, who claimed to have seen a syringe on the side the following morning.

Oxford Mail: The cottage was in Middle Barton, west Oxfordshire Picture: NQThe cottage was in Middle Barton, west Oxfordshire Picture: NQ

Under cross-examination da Silva Neto told the court the alleged victim ‘was consenting' and 'awake' when the pair had intimate contact.

Prosecutor Matthew Walsh said: "Do you accept that you and he both cannot be telling the truth? One of you must be lying."

Da Silva Neto replied: "Yes."

Mr Walsh said: "If a person drugs another person causing them to pass out, the person who passed out cannot be consenting to what takes place?"

He added 'it would be obvious' to the person who did the drugging that the other person was not consenting.

Mr Walsh told Da Silva Neto that the prosecution's case is that he drugged the alleged victim.

Da Silva Neto replied 'that is not the truth, not at all' and added 'I have never, ever given anyone any drugs'.

The prosecutor asked the defendant about the time they had arrived at the cottage. Having told detectives that they reached Middle Barton at 7pm or 8pm, he told the jury ‘it was quite late, it was 10.30 [or] 11’. However, evidence from his phone pointed to them arriving at 12.50am.

Mr Walsh questioned whether the pair of them would have started taping up doors and sanding down floors, as the defendant suggested, if they had arrived that late.

Da Silva Neto said: “We did work that late at night. I was high, as well. I didn’t think it was too late to do any work so that is what I did.”

December 2021

Prosecutors say the second victim was kidnapped by the defendant outside the Kings Road nightclub, drugged with some substance, taken to Oxfordshire and raped and sexually assaulted. The man, who gave evidence last week, denied having any memory of meeting the defendant in Chelsea, being taken to a flat in Bayswater or meeting the defendant’s friend ‘Melissa’.

The defendant told the jury that the man, who was out on the night of December 9 with colleagues, had got into his Zipcar hire vehicle willingly.

Oxford Mail: Raffles nightclub, Kings Road Picture: NQRaffles nightclub, Kings Road Picture: NQ

The pair drove to da Silva Neto’s friend’s flat, where the man was said to have undressed and ‘posed’ for the defendant’s camera, before they went to an off-licence, picked-up the defendant’s female friend then drove to da Silva Neto’s cottage in Middle Barton, Oxfordshire.

During the drive, they were allegedly listening to music, talking about their lives and the alleged victim was ‘making advances’ to da Silva Neto’s female friend, ‘Melissa’, in the car. The defendant took ‘some crystal meth’ on the drive and he claimed the alleged victim ‘had a little bag of cocaine’.

When they reached the cottage, da Silva Neto claimed the man had helped him take ‘laundry’ and other items into the house.

The man went to the bathroom. The defendant, who earlier that evening had been videoing men at pub urinals, said he went to check on the man and inadvertently pressed ‘record’ on his phone’s camera.

“After I started the video – I didn’t realise I started the video – I put the phone in the back of my [trouser] pocket. We went downstairs. When we got downstairs he opened his zippers and got his genitalia out I was surprised and I said: ‘Oh my God’,” the defendant told jurors.

Asked why he had said ‘oh my God’, da Silva Neto said: “I was surprised with the size of it.”

In that state of undress, the alleged victim was said to have helped move wood by the log fire.

The defendant said the man went into his bedroom and they watched pornography together. The man began performing a sex act on himself, he claimed, before asking the defendant ‘if he wanted’ to perform oral sex on him. That lasted several minutes, with both men performing oral sex, it was claimed. Da Silva Neto had gone upstairs to speak to his friend 'Melissa' during pauses in the encounter, he said.

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The man left by taxi the following day. “He turned his phone on and was talking to me, saying he was in a lot of trouble with his wife. He said ‘my wife is going to kill me’,” da Silva Neto claimed.

The defendant flatly denied spiking the married man's drink, telling prosecutor Mr Walsh: "I cannot say he is lying because I do not know the guy. I do not know if he was being himself that night."

Da Silva Neto added: "It seems to me that he was a guy outside a nightclub. He was looking for some fun and a night out.

"I invited him, not thinking that he would come with me.

"It is not something I would have done if I was not high to be honest.

"I cannot say if he was spiked in the club or not.

"Having met him for the first time, I cannot say he was not acting in his normal self."

Later, Mr Walsh asked: “If you had drugged him that would prevent him being able to consent. Do you agree with that as a proposition?

He replied: “It could have been the case, yes.”

“That’s what happened, isn’t it?”

No, it wasn’t, the defendant said.

Mr Walsh put his case to the defendant: “That was your plan when you picked him up and you tricked him into the car and you spiked his drink and you gave him more drugs later on and then you did those things to him without his consent.”

Da Silva Neto denied it. “I have never done anything to him without his consent,” he said.

The barrister asked da Silva Neto whether he had told the second man about his sexuality. The defendant replied: “It’s not like I go to people ‘hi, my name is Luiz, I am gay by the way’.”

Charges

Da Silva Neto, of Riverlight Quay, Wandsworth, denies administering a substance with intent and engaging in penetrative sexual activity without consent with two men. He is accused of the rape and kidnap of the second man, against whom the defendant is accused of committing an offence with intent to commit a sexual offence.

The trial continues.

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This story was written by Tom Seaward. He joined the team in 2021 as Oxfordshire's court and crime reporter.  

To get in touch with him email: Tom.Seaward@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @t_seaward