Tuesday 11 December 2018

Harrison replied 'Jesus' to claim of rape in text

Rory Harrison. Photo: PA
Rory Harrison. Photo: PA

Claire O'Boyle

A student who has accused two international rugby players of raping her has "absolutely no complaint" against their co-accused Rory Harrison, a court has heard.

The woman, who claims she was raped by Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding, told Belfast Crown Court she was "grateful" to Mr Harrison (25) for taking her home after the alleged attack. She said: "I have absolutely no complaint against him. He took me home and I'm grateful for that."

Paddy Jackson (26), from Oakleigh Park, Belfast, and Stuart Olding (24), from Ardenlee Street, Belfast, deny rape. Mr Jackson denies a further charge of sexual assault. Mr Harrison, from Manse Road in Belfast, is charged with perverting the course of justice and withholding information. He denies the charges.

Following a night out at Ollie's nightclub in the city in June 2016, Mr Harrison joined Mr Jackson, Mr Olding and Blane McIlroy (26) for an after-party at Jackson's south Belfast home.

Also in the group were the complainant and three other women. In her sixth day giving evidence, the woman, who was 19 at the time of the alleged attack, told the court that while Mr Harrison did not witness what happened during the alleged attack in the early hours of June 28, 2016, he saw her "in an extremely distressed state," adding: "I wasn't screaming but I was crying a lot."

The jury of nine men and three women had already heard Mr Harrison took the complainant home in a taxi after the alleged rape, and sent her several messages in the hours that followed. After ensuring she got home at around 5.15am, he sent a text saying "keep the chin up you wonderful young woman", to which she replied: "Thank you so much for leaving me home, I really appreciate it Rory, you've been far too kind."

Mr Harrison texted the woman again around noon asking if she was feeling better, the court heard. She replied: "To be honest, no. I know you must be mates with those guys but I don't like them. And what happened was not consensual, which is why I was so upset. Again, thank you for taking me home. That was really appreciated."

It was revealed yesterday that Mr Harrison's response to her message was just one word, "Jesus". He added in a later text: "I'm not sure what to say."

When pressed by Mr Duffy about whether Mr Harrison's response indicated surprise, the woman said: "It would seem to appear that way, yes."

The complainant accepted Mr Harrison was "unlikely to have noticed" anything untoward about her clothing in the aftermath of the alleged attack.

In earlier statements she said Mr Harrison "must have seen" blood on her trousers.

Mr Duffy told how Mr Harrison had walked the woman up the driveway at her home and checked someone was in, before asking if she was OK, giving her a hug and leaving.

The court also heard that in a text to a friend in the hours after the alleged attack, the complainant explained Mr Harrison's actions saying: "It wasn't a 'get her out of the house now, she's kicking off' sort of thing."

The court heard that in an earlier statement the woman, now 21, told police "he was trying to console me," adding, "I don't think he was aware of what happened."

McIlroy, of Royal Lodge Road, Ballydollaghan, Belfast, is also charged in connection with the incident. He denies one count of exposure.

The trial continues.

Irish Independent

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