Friday 22 June 2018

'It was like a merry-go-round at a carnival' - Ireland rugby stars accused of rape 'boasted about sex on WhatsApp'

  • Stuart Olding (24) and Paddy Jackson (26) are accused of raping the same woman in June 2016
  • Both men deny the charges
  • Graphic description of the alleged rape heard in court
Ulster and Ireland rugby player Paddy Jackson arrives at Laganside Court in Belfast this week. Photo: REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
Ulster and Ireland rugby player Paddy Jackson arrives at Laganside Court in Belfast this week. Photo: REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

Nicola Anderson and Lesley-Anne McKeown

THE young woman at the centre of a rape claim against Ireland rugby player Paddy Jackson and Ulster rugby player Stuart Olding sent a text to a friend the morning after the alleged assault saying she would not go to the police because it would be her word against theirs and "they have the backing of Ulster Rugby."

Mr Jackson (26) of Oakleigh Park, Belfast and Mr Olding (24) from Ardenlee Street, Belfast are each charged with one count of rape in relation to the same woman at a property in south Belfast on June 28 2016.

Ireland and Ulster rugby player Stuart Olding arrives at Belfast Crown Court this week Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Ireland and Ulster rugby player Stuart Olding arrives at Belfast Crown Court this week Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

Both deny the charges. Mr Jackson  denies a further charge of sexual assault. Two other men are facing charges regarding the same incident.

Blane McIlroy (26) from Royal Lodge Road, Ballydollaghan, Belfast is charged with one count of exposure while Rory Harrison (25) from the Manse road, Belfast is charged with perverting the course of justice and withholding information.

All four have pleaded not guilty and are out on bail.

Opening the trial at Belfast Crown Court today, Toby Hedworth QC for the Prosecution told the jury that the night ended with the first two defendants engaging in sexual activity with that young woman against her wishes, as they well knew or as they simply were not interest in considering, with the third hoping to join in.

The fourth defendant, their friend, while ostensibly seeking to comfort and help the complainant in the aftermath of what happened, in fact sought to cover up what he realised had happened and tried to mislead the police inquiry that followed, he said.

He said it is alleged that the young woman was vaginally raped and sexually assaulted by way of digital penetration by Paddy Jackson and was orally raped by his friend, Stuart Olding.

Ireland and Ulster rugby players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding arriving at Belfast's Laganside courts.
Ireland and Ulster rugby players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding arriving at Belfast's Laganside courts.

Their friend Blane McIlroy was keen to have sexual activity with her as well, intentionally exposing himself to her, he said.

"Effectively this group of friends were keen to have sexual activity with this young woman, regardless of whether or not she was prepared to do so," said Mr Hederworth.

"When she was able to escape from what was being done to her, the fourth defendant, Rory Harrison appeared to give her help and support but in the event, it turned out, we suggest, that his true loyalty was to his friends and what they had done," he said.

The trial will hear that on the evening of Monday June 27 2016, the young woman went to the house of a friend for pre-drinks before going out with a group of former school friends into Belfast city centre at about 10.30pm.

They went to Ollie's nightclub at the Merchant hotel where they went to the VIP section.

Some Ulster rugby players and some Northern Ireland footballers were present.

At closing time, at about 2.30am, the young woman was standing outside the club when it became apparent that a small group of girls she did not know but who were friends of a close friend, were going back to a house party with some of the rugby players.

She decided to join them and travelled in a taxi to the home of Paddy Jackson.

At 3.04am, she sent a text to a friend saying: "Am back at Paddy Jackson's."

At one stage, she went upstairs with Paddy Jackson to his bedroom. She recalled consensually kissing him but made it plain she would go no further.

Nothing untoward happened. However she decided to leave the party because "the atmosphere changed" and realising that her clutch bag was upstairs, she went back to the bedroom to get it.

Mr Hedworth told the jury that Mr Jackson followed her up and into the bedroom where he pushed her onto the bed before pulling her trousers and pants down and raping her.

"He had not in any way sought her consent and indeed had used force to achieve his aim," he said.

Mr Hedworth said it is not suggested that she attempted to fight him off and that the young woman described herself as being numb throughout what happened, "as if she herself was not there."

She then became conscious of Stuart Olding having entered the room while Mr Jackson was still having intercourse with her.

She recalls saying to Mr Jackson "please not him as well."

The Prosecution say that Mr Olding went on to orally rape the woman.

While this was happening, the woman said the door opened and one of the girls was standing there.

She recalled Mr Jackson asking this girl if she would like to join in but when that other girl left, Mr Jackson started to penetrate her digitally. Mr Hedworth said this conduct was the subject of count two of the Indictment.

At 4.37am, Blane McIlroy sent Mr Jackson a text saying: "Is there a possibility of a threesome" but there was no reply. However at one point when Mr Jackson and Mr Olding were desisting from their attack, Mr Hedworth told the jury, the door of the bedroom opened and McIlroy entered, "stark naked and holding his penis."

The young woman claims she could simply not face the prospect of a further attack and quickly pulled her trousers on and picked up her pants and shoes and left the room.

Mr McIlroy thrust his penis at her when she left the room but she believes he did not make contact.

He said: "You f***ed these guys why not me?" She responded: "How many times does it take for a girl to say no before it sinks in?"

The opening statement heard that the young woman had to go back to the house to fetch her mobile phone and was then followed out by Rory Harrison who was "ostensibly concerned for her welfare" and gave her a lift home in his taxi.

The trial will hear evidence from the taxi driver that the young woman was very upset and he had noticed a dark stain at the bottom of her trousers.

Whatsapp messages between Mr Harrison and the young woman shortly after she was dropped home show that he told her to "keep the chin up".

Later that morning, he asked if she was feeling better.

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."

Meanwhile she had texted two of her closest friends, telling one: "So I got raped by 3 Ulster f***ing rugby scum brilliant f***ing night."

To another girl, she texted: "Worse night ever so I got raped."

She said she had bruising on her inner thighs from the incident.

She said "two and a third guy tried to get involved....I was crying....there was a really nice guy there who took me home."

She was advised by the friend to go to the police but she said: "I am not going to the Police. Going up against the Ulster rugby. Yea because that'll work."

She subsequently wrote; "Thing is I would report it if I knew they would get done. But they won't. and that's just unnecessary stress for me. It's also humiliating...it will be a case of my word against theirs, not like they have CCTV in their house and because there's more of them and they'll all have the same fabricated story about me being some slut who was up for it.

"It will serve no purpose for me but be embarrassing. Because nothing will happen, like they wouldn't get done and they have the backing of Ulster rugby fgs (for god's sake)."

Mr Hedworth said she was persuaded to be examined at a regional Sexual Assault Referred Centre where bruising at her genitals and a one centimeter bleeding laceration to the vaginal wall was observed.

The trial will hear that the young men had met up for brunch the next morning. Mr Olding and Mr Jackson discussed what had happened. Mr Jackson told him he had oral sex with the woman but Mr Olding was not sure if this was before or after him. Both told the other they had not had sexual intercourse with her.

Mr Hedworth said Paddy Jackson was arrested on June 30 2016 and interviewed under caution. He initially refused to answer questions but provided a prepared statement in which he said he strenuously denied the allegations.

"I am shocked and horrified that these allegations have been made against me," he told police.

Mr Jackson and Mr Olding both indicated to police that they had both had consensual sexual relations with the woman.

Blane McIlroy told police that the woman had put her hand down his boxers and that he went downstairs to get a condom but that when he returned to the bedroom, she was getting dressed.

Mr Hedworth said Rory Harrison was originally treated as a witness rather than a suspect but shortcomings in his account  became apparent.

The trial will hear whatsapp messages were sent between Mr Harrison and Blane McIlroy the next morning. Mr McIlroy had asked: "What the f*** was going on? Last night was hilarious."

A subsequent message was not recovered however Mr McIlroy followed that up with: "really f*** sake" and "Did U calm her and where did she live."

Mr Harrison immediately replied; "Mate no jokes she was in hysterics" and "Wasn't going to end well."

In another text to Mr McIlroy, Mr Harrison said: "walked upstairs and there were more flutes than 12th July."

Mr Hedworth told the jury that, significantly, Mr Harrison had messaged Mr McIlroy advising him to leave his phone behind when he attended the police station for interview.

He said that Mr Harrison had realised the activity had not been consensual.

The court heard that Olding allegedly wrote on WhatsApp "We are all top shaggers" and "There was a bit of spit roasting going on last night fellas."

He later added: "It was like a merry-go-round at a carnival."

It is also alleged that Paddy Jackson replied on the same WhatsApp messaging service: "There was a lot of spit."

The hearing will continue tomorrow when the young woman at the centre of the claims will give evidence.

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