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Last Updated: Friday, 12 March, 2004, 15:51 GMT
Leicester footballers back in UK
Keith Gillespie, Frank Sinclair and Paul Dickov
Keith Gillespie, Frank Sinclair and Paul Dickov at Alicante airport
The three Leicester City footballers facing sex charges have arrived home after their release from jail in Spain.

Paul Dickov, Frank Sinclair and Keith Gillespie flew back to Luton from Alicante, a week after being sent to the Sangonera prison there.

The trio deny sexually assaulting three women in a La Manga hotel where the club was on a training break.

They arrived at the airport at 1445 GMT on Friday, and were immediately whisked out of a side entrance by police.

'Good spirits'

Explaining the use of the alternative exit, a spokesman for the airport said: "We have an airport to run and we have to consider the smooth running of the airport and the safety of other passengers."

Paul Dickov: 120,000 euros (81,800)
Frank Sinclair: 60,000 euros (40,900)
Keith Gillespie: 60,000 euros (40,900)
Civil responsibility: 48,000 euros (32,700)

Fellow passengers said the trio sat apart at the back of the plane, and were the last to leave when it landed.

The players had been freed from jail late on Thursday after players' representatives paid bail of 288,000 euros (196,500).

The club confirmed they would not be selected to play in the club's game on Saturday.

Leicester chief operating officer Paul Mace said the players were required to report to the Spanish consulate on an "intermittent basis".

Paul Dickov, Keith Gillespie and Tim Davies
Paul Dickov and Keith Gillespie leave prison
"There's no trial date set and there is still further forensic evidence that is being awaited by the judge," he said. "The inquiry is still ongoing."

Mr Mace confirmed he had spoken to Frank Sinclair on the telephone, and said: "The players are in extremely good spirits considering what they have been through in the last few days."

All three continue to deny the criminal charges against them, he added.

Nevertheless, the club said it took the matters very seriously and that its own investigation would be "no whitewash".

Officials will sit down with the players later in the weekend as part of this inquiry.

"There won't be a knee-jerk reaction from us, but this is not something we are looking to postpone or put off indefinitely."

Keith Gillespie, Frank Sinclair and Paul Dickov

"There are situations that we need to avoid in the future," Mr Mace added.

"It's fairly certain that the players' bar will be made completely alcohol-free in the future," he said.

The judge granted the men bail after a private hearing lasting several hours in which he heard evidence from the players and their accusers.

The three players face up to 14 years in prison if found guilty.

Luis Ruiperez, a member of the players' legal team, said a face-to-face meeting, known as a "careo", had been held between one of the players and one of the women.

There was also an identity parade and evidence from hotel staff and another Leicester player, Steffen Freund, who flew back from the UK.

But BBC sports correspondent Kevin Gearey said there was no indication of when the case might come to court but that it could take up to a year.

The BBC's Daniel Boettcher
"The club says they will be spending a quiet weekend with their families"

Leicester trio to miss out
12 Mar 04  |  Leicester City


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