Tuesday 21 August 2018

'It was like a merry-go-round at a carnival' - rugby players' rape trial hears of alleged boasting on WhatsApp

Stuart Olding (24) and Paddy Jackson (26) are accused of raping the same woman in June 2016 - both men strenuously deny the charges

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.

Lesley-Anne McKeown

Two Ireland and Ulster rugby players on trial for rape allegedly boasted about their sexual activity on WhatsApp, a court has been told.

Stuart Olding (24) and Paddy Jackson (26) are accused of raping the same woman at a property in south Belfast in June 2016.

Jackson faces a further charge of sexual assault.

Both men strenuously deny the charges.

Details of mobile phone communications were given to the jury of nine men and three women during the opening day of the high profile trial at Belfast Crown Court on Wednesday.

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 case, which has been scheduled to last for five weeks, is being heard before Judge Patricia Smyth.

Two other men have also been charged in connection with the alleged incident on June 28, 2016.

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

Rory Harrison (25) from Manse Road, Belfast, is charged with perverting the course of justice and withholding information.

In his opening statement, prosecutor Toby Hedworth QC, said: "This case, say the prosecution, concerns allegations of serious sexual misconduct by the first three defendants, and attempts by their friend, the fourth defendant to cover up their conduct.

"It involves a young woman going to an after party with other females at the home of a well-known sportsman, Patrick Jackson, the first defendant.

"He was accompanied by the remaining defendants, who were all close friends of his.

"The night ended, we say, 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 interested in considering. The third was hoping to join in."

During the lengthy opening statement, Mr Hedworth warned jurors against applying stereotypical images of those involved.

He said: "As this case concerns a young woman going to an after-party with young sportsmen, there is the danger that stereotypical views are taken of what such a complainant should expect.

"Equally, there may be stereotypical views of the behaviour of young men, particularly when in drink and with their friends."

All four defendants, who arrived at court separately, sat alongside each other in the dock.

They listened intently but gave little reaction as graphic details of the alleged attack were outlined.

Mr Hedworth said: "It is alleged that the young woman in question was vaginally raped and sexually assaulted by way of digital penetration by the first defendant Paddy Jackson and that she was orally raped by his friend, another professional rugby player Stuart Olding.

"Further that their friend Blane McIlroy, who was keen to have sexual activity with her as well, intentionally exposed himself to her.

"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.

"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."

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

Press Association

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