Tuesday 20 February 2018

'I was not staring at Paddy Jackson,' insists accuser

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
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

At one stage of the night in the sitting room, Rory Harrison's barrister claimed, his client had looked over the shoulder of a friend and formed the view that the young woman was looking at Paddy Jackson.

"Given what you've said of your memory of the night, he might be right?" asked Gavin Duffy QC.

"I was not staring at Paddy Jackson," said the witness.

He again put it to her that if she could not recall staring at Paddy Jackson, and if she admitted that her memory was hazy, his client might well be right.

"He could well be right about that - but he's also sitting in the dock," she said clearly and most evenly.

In the witness box for the sixth day - with at least another day yet to come - it was clear that the alleged victim was weary. This has been a long and difficult ordeal by any measure.

She has been giving evidence in the case involving Ulster rugby players Stuart Olding and Paddy Jackson, who both deny raping her at a house in Belfast on June 28, 2016. Jackson also denies one count of sexual assault.

Blane McIlroy (26), of Royal Lodge Road, Ballydollaghan, Belfast, denies one count of exposure.

And Rory Harrison (25), from Manse Road in Belfast, denies charges of perverting the course of justice and withholding information as part of the same rape trial.

The witness smiled as Mr Duffy cracked a little joke by way of a preamble about how "usually when a barrister tells you he won't be long, that you have to take it with a pinch of salt".

"You agree with me that some parts of the evening you do remember and some, I think, your memory is hazy," he began.

"Yes," she said.

"And some parts you don't have any memory of, is that fair?" he asked.

Leaning forward in her seat for emphasis, she said: "I think I'd use the word hazy."

The barrister's cross-examination focused on the role of his own client that night. He put it to her that she had previously told the court that Mr Harrison was "really good" and that he did "absolutely nothing wrong".

She agreed. "I have absolutely no complaint with him. He took me home and I'm grateful for that."

The barrister put it to her that Mr Harrison had said that she had been "crying into yourself and you were unsettled". "I was extremely unsettled, yes, I'd just been raped," she told him.

Mr Harrison had brought her home in a taxi and taken her to the front door, he added. "I think he might've given a hug," the barrister suggested - and she agreed that he had.

His texts the next day after she told him that what had happened in the bedroom was non-consensual gave the impression that this had come as a surprise, he said to her. "It would seem that way, yes," she said.

He put it to her that Mr Harrison had met her at the top of the stairs as she was leaving Paddy Jackson's bedroom, fully clothed.

But this she did not recall, she told the court, adding some time later: "No, I don't agree with that."

Irish Independent

Promoted Links

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News