Tuesday 25 September 2018

'Are you calling me delusional?': tense court exchanges as student in rape case on stand for eighth day

Blane McIlroy arrives at Belfast Crown Court yesterday. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Blane McIlroy arrives at Belfast Crown Court yesterday. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
ON TRIAL: From left to right, Ireland and Ulster player Paddy Jackson, 26, his team-mate Stuart Olding, 24, and third defendant Blane McIlroy, 26, arrive at Belfast Crown Court last week
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

'I'm not going to argue with you over grammar. You're not putting words in my mouth," the young woman told the lawyer, very deliberately and with no small amount of heat.

It was the closest point she had come to snapping during the entire seven long days of her cross-examination and her eight days altogether in the witness stand.

Senior Counsel for Paddy Jackson, Stuart Olding and Rory Harrison had already extensively probed her evidence regarding her claims that she had been raped by Mr Jackson and Mr Olding.

Yesterday saw Arthur Harvey, QC for Blane McIlroy, spend four hours questioning the 21-year-old woman about her version of events that night and what happened afterwards as she reported the alleged rape to the authorities.

Mr McIlroy stands charged with one count of exposure relating to the events which happened in the early hours of June 28, 2016.

Mr Harvey was, at times, highly adversarial in his line of questioning. He accused the young woman behind the curtain in the witness box of "creating a narrative" using information supplied later by friends and of having false memories of the night.

"You have an easy facility of moving from the truth to delusion," he told her at one point.

"Are you calling me deluded?" she asked him, incredulous.

Mr Harvey focused first on the young woman's two police interviews which in Northern Ireland are called her 'ABEs', or 'Achieving Best Evidence'.

She hadn't thought to draw the attention of the police to additions to her evidence that she had since made in court, he put it to her.

No, she said, telling him that unlike in court, she was not asked questions by the police as she was by defence barristers.

And she hadn't re-read it, he asked.

"I don't have to re-read what is the truth, Mr Harvey," she replied steadily.

Mr Harvey suggested that her memory of events that night was "fractured" - but she replied that there are moments where her mind is "very clear as to what happened".

He went further - in fact her memory was "frayed" and "ragged", he said.

"I think that's your opinion. I wouldn't use the words 'fractured' or 'frayed'," she said - but yes, there were moments which were "slightly hazy", she conceded.

He asked her about her account of the alleged rape to medics and how "a third male entered and took off his trousers" when she had later told police Mr McIlroy was naked when he entered the room.

"It's because you are so distressed and you are finding it incredibly hard to process," she explained to him, adding: "In a violent attack like this, you go into shutdown until you've processed what happened."

The barrister put it to her that she had used that phrase "a number of times", adding: "It's almost as if you're repeating something you've read rather than something you've experienced."

"Why do you use 'you' rather than 'I'?" he asked her.

The young woman said it was because she was addressing him and "trying to make it applicable to people here".

"You're trying to say every rape victim feels like this," he said, while she replied this was "completely incorrect".

"It's very simple. You just say 'this is how I felt'," said Mr Harvey.

Condom

He suggested she had "partial memories" over talk of using a condom that night, saying: "This is all within the context of sex, not rape."

"This is all within the context of a rape, Mr Harvey," she said tersely.

And he put it to her that she had had sex with "a number of men" and then had regrets. Any call she had made would have been heard by the three girls downstairs, he suggested.

"That's not how you react when you've been raped," she insisted.

"Oh, I see we're back to 'you'," he said.

"Mr Harvey, I'm not going to argue with you over grammar. You're not putting words in my mouth," she told him.

"I've no doubt about that," he replied.

Irish Independent

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