James Carson, Sports Editor.
The trial of Ulster and Ireland rugby stars Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding has concluded its second week at Belfast Crown Court. Jackson stands accused of one count of rape and one count of sexual assault, whilst Olding faces two charges of rape. They are joined on trial by friends Blaine McIlroy and Rory Harrison who face charges of exposure and perverting the course of justice respectively. All four defendants have pleaded not guilty to all charges.
The second week of the trial resumed on Monday 5th with the complainant taking to the witness box to resume her fourth day of cross-examination from Jackson’s barrister, Brendan Kelly QC. The defence barrister sought clarification on the kiss between the complainant and Mr Jackson which preceded the alleged rape. The complainant confirmed that she had kissed Mr Jackson prior to the incident, but insisted the kiss wasn’t passionate and it was “not indicative of consent for anything else.”
However, following this kiss, Mr Kelly QC suggested that Mr Jackson left the room as he “became tired” of her teasing. This was rejected by the complainant who claims she went downstairs following Mr Jackson’s attempt to undo her trousers and that the rape occurred when she returned upstairs to retrieve her handbag.
Mr Kelly QC suggested at this point a second, consensual kiss began, followed by “mutual sexual touching.” But this was rejected by the young woman who insisted this was “completely incorrect” and Mr Jackson wouldn’t take “no for an answer.” She continued by stating that “everything about me was saying no physically” and insisting that “you cannot underestimate how scared you are in those situations.”
The questioning progressed to the role Mr Olding played when he entered the room to which Mr Kelly QC asked why the complainant did not ask him for help? However, she claimed “it was obvious what Stuart Olding’s intention was as well.” The defence continued by insisting that the young woman had “motioned” the rugby player over to perform oral sex on him. The complainant insisted that this was “non-consensual” and that she was forced to engage in oral sex with Mr Olding.
Mr Jackson’s defence also questioned why the complainant removed her top by “agreement” during the incident. The student insisted that she “was ordered to take my top off. I wanted it to be over, so I took my top off.” Mr Kelly QC also questioned why she did not ask for help from the woman who allegedly entered the room during the incident. The alleged victim claimed she “didn’t know her. I thought she was going to film me.” When Mr Kelly suggested “she might have helped you and stopped them raping you” and stated that the young woman would have been “able to point to the blood and tears if they were there.” The complainant then stated “in that moment, I was so petrified of being recorded I just turned my head away. It was too late. I had already been raped.”
The court adjourned on Tuesday, but as it resumed on Wednesday Mr Kelly QC concluded his questioning by asking if the young woman had “ran with a lie” following being witnessed engaging in consensual group sex with Mr Jackson and Mr Olding. However, the complainant rejected this entirely and claimed she was “handled like a piece of meat” during the encounter. The complainant also rebutted Mr Kelly when he proposed that “in an intoxicated and excited state…you that night engaged of your own choice in sexual activity.” The victim directly responded to the defence, “Mr Kelly, I was raped. I don’t think I can make myself more clear.”
Frank O’Donoghue QC, the barrister for Mr Olding then had the opportunity to begin cross-examination of the complainant. He opened his questioning by asking the young woman why, when Mr Olding entered the room, she did not ask for his help by saying “help me, I’m being raped and I’m going to be raped again.” However, the alleged victim repeated her claim that it was “quite clear what Mr Olding’s intention was as well. So much so I turned to Patrick Jackson and said, ‘please not him as well.’ This man was not going to help me. He was also going to rape me.”
Mr O’Donoghue QC continued by claiming Mr Olding didn’t verbally order her to perform oral sex and that Mr Olding had come into Jackson’s bedroom to “crash out” where he found the alleged victim and Mr Jackson having sex. The alleged victim questioned “why did he rape me then? Those are not the actions of someone who came in to crash out.” The defence barrister claimed that she “beckoned” him to stay and because of this, “he did stay, and you performed oral sex on him quite voluntarily and quite consensually” which the complainant denied.
Mr O’Donoghue QC proceeded to address her account given to a doctor at the Rowan Centre on 28th June 2016. He questioned why the young woman told the doctor she had been vaginally raped three times but did not mention she had been orally raped. Asked to explain her “utterly inconsistent history,” the complainant insisted this was due to the shock after the incident insisting that the defence was “underestimating a state of shock you go into after you have been raped.”
At the beginning of Thursday’s hearing, the young woman was cross-examined by counsel for Mr Harrison, Gavan Duffy QC concerning his client’s actions in the immediate aftermath of the alleged incident. The young woman repeated her testimony from last week that she had “absolutely no complaint” with Harrison as “he took me home and I’m grateful for that.” Harrison joined the other three defendants returning to Mr Jackson’s house after leaving Ollie’s nightclub.
Mr Duffy QC highlighted that Mr Harrison comforted the young woman in the taxi where she declared she “was extremely unsettled, I was not screaming, but I was crying a lot.” Mr Harrison ensured she returned home safely around 0515 where he walked her to the front door and gave her a hug. The alleged victim believed “Mr Harrison’s actions were quite genuine” and said “he was trying to console me. But I don’t think he was aware of what happened.”
It was revealed that Mr Harrison remained in communication with the alleged victim through text messages the next morning. It was revealed at 1215 she sent Mr Harrison a text saying “To be honest, you must be mates with those guys but I didn’t like them. It wasn’t consensual. Thank you for taking me home.” Mr Harrison responded only with “Jesus” at first, which he followed by sending a message saying, “I’m not sure what to say.” The alleged victim deemed that Mr Harrison was surprised by the message and she believed his actions were genuine.
The second week of the trial concluded on Friday with the jury taken from the court to Mr Jackson’s Oakleigh Park home. Judge Patricia Smyth explained the “purpose of this visit is simply so you can see the layout of his house, the size of his house, and the proximity of the rooms in the house.” The jury was not permitted to speak during the visit and when they returned to Laganside Courts, Judge Smyth reminded that the jury “are the only people who will hear all the evidence in this case” and to keep their discoveries to themselves.
The trial resumes on Monday 12th with the final day of cross-examination of the complainant by counsel for Mr McIlroy, following which the prosecution will resume their case.
If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article support is available from the Student Guidance Centre, or from the 24 Hour Domestic and Sexual Violence Helpline on 0808 802 1414.